by Patrick Appel

Julian Sanchez considers "how the analogy between sound judgment and balancing weights may constrain our thinking in unhealthy ways":

Perhaps the most obvious problem with balancing metaphors is that they suggest a relationship that is always, by necessity, zero sum: If one side rises, the other must fall in exact proportion. Also implicit in balancing talk is the idea that equilibrium is the ideal, and anything that upsets that balance is a change for the worse. That’s probably true if you’re walking a tightrope, but it clearly doesn’t hold in other cases. If you have a perfectly balanced investment portfolio and somebody gives you some shares of stock, the balance is upset (until you can shift some assets around), but you’re plainly better offand would be better off even if for some reason you couldn’t trade off some of the stock to restore the optimal mix.