Monday, March 29, 2010

Doh! Nut Metaphors

Neal Whitman deconstructs the recent doughnut hole metaphor buzzing around the health car reform debate.  Money quote:

... reading about the doughnut hole in the newspaper or hearing about it on the radio, I kept having a feeling I wasn't understanding something. It was when I called upon my real-world knowledge of doughnut structure that I finally realized it wasn't the issue itself that was troubling me, but the choice of metaphor. Figure 2 shows a typical donut. We can observe that it is a glazed, cake doughnut, without sprinkles. We can also see that the gap in coverage from Figure 1 corresponds not to the doughnut hole, but to the sweet, cakey goodness of the doughnut itself.

He suggest a castle moat as an alternative metaphor. And yes, he really does use two different spellings: doughnut and donut. This may reflect an underlying ambivalent on his part, but I suspect it's just a good case of legitimate spelling change that hasn't fixed upon a final form. I suspect we'll all use donut soon enough.

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