Welcome to Ask Giz, where we answer your questions of all types from the Gizmodo-adjacent world.
If you’ve got a burning question from the tech, science, gadget or science world, submit it to us and we’ll get on the case. This is a reader-involved series and we love the wacky questions that get sent our way.
Today’s question comes from KM in Brisbane. KM wants to know: Are there more wheels or doors in the world?
KM has also added a brief descriptor: “I believe there are far more wheels than doors because of ‘hidden’ wheels like wheels in sliding doors, wheels in desk drawers, wheels in your gaming controller (to make it vibrate) etc.”
Thank you for your question, KM. We love this question.
According to Know Your Meme, it started with a Twitter poll. It quickly spread all over the internet, with people choosing their sides quickly in this fairly innocuous but very brain-wormy debate.
This debate is pointless. It serves only to be viral and doesn’t offer anything of substance beyond its own argument-centric existence.
… Let’s get on with it.
Are there more wheels or doors in the world?
There is no answer. There is no way to actually answer this in an objective manner today, whereby you get data from every country and actually count the number of wheels versus the number of doors. Not only does this data not exist, but it also raises some questions about the nature of how we perceive definitive objects.
Here’s The Guardian on this question:
“Humanity does potentially have the resources to carry out a full global audit of the world’s doors and wheels. But none of us, as long as we live, will ever possess the ability to ask a dog what sort of trousers it would theoretically prefer to wear. The question itself is a fool’s errand. So, despite humanity’s inherent need for objective truth, there can never be a conclusive answer – to this, or indeed many of the internet’s daftest debates. And that, in the end, is why we love them.”
See, one thing we can all agree on is that: there are a lot of wheels and doors on Earth. There are so many that we can glance at an object briefly and immediately identify it as a “wheel” or a “door”, but as this argument is an ideological pitfall, we only get deeper and deeper.
We start by thinking about common touchstones: for many, this is vehicles, which include both doors and wheels. We begin to justify our positions based on popular assertions, that most vehicles have more wheels than doors (thinking specifically about vehicles that might not have doors or might only have two on a four-wheel axel).
This isn’t exclusive to the wheel side of the argument, however. Door truthers may argue that there are more doors, based on apartment blocks or door-heavy buildings in cities.
Both of these arguments are easily defused by each side: does a home have more doors than the car and bicycles in its garage? How many inner-city apartment renters actually have cars in their carparks?
When we get deeper and deeper, we begin to interrogate the nature of our reality (the nature of wheels and doors). What is a door if not a lever? What is a wheel if not a rotational force, of which we can apply many definitions and of which there are many hidden in innocuous objects like desks and gaming controllers (as KM said earlier)?
And when we begin to think about the operations of these objects, we also interrogate their substance. Some doors (sliding ones, in particular) have wheels. Such is the argument of former Gizmodo Australia writer, Lavender Baj:
“Pretty much any type of machinery involves some sort of wheel. So, we’re not only including the wheels (and tyres) on every car, bus, plane, trailer and every other motor vehicle, but we also must account for every sliding door or drawer on rollers, as well as all of the other rogue wheels in our lives — like the scroll wheel on your computer mouse.”
I’m sorry, KM, but I cannot provide you with an answer to this question. Not out of, simply, a lack of information, but in response to the nature of the question itself. This is the perfect question to get mad at a friend over, but it’s also one that could make you spiral.
I would encourage you, dear reader, to not think about this too hard. For your own good.
You can’t handle the truth
There you have it. The answer is whatever your overly-argumentative friend at 1 am can shout effectively. If you’d like us to answer what the meaning of life is or, by chance, what a cat’s favourite shade of purple is, you can submit your burning question here. But please try for something we can actually answer.
Ask Giz is a fortnightly series where we answer your questions, be it tech, science, gadget, health or gaming related. This is a reader-involved series where we rely on Gizmodo Australia’s audience to submit questions. If you have a question for Giz, you can submit it here. Or check out the answer to our last Ask Giz: How Can I Make My Wi-Fi Faster?