Point-Counterpoint: Are there more doors or wheels? 

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A recent trend on social media, people have been arguing whether there are more doors or wheels in the world. Illustration by Van Nguyen/The Daily Campus.

In this point-counterpoint, Opinion editor Harrison Raskin and writer Owen Silverman debate the number of doors and wheels in the world, without relying on any official statistics. Their argument relates to the quantity of each item on Earth in the year 2022.  

Point: Harrison 

Rather than simply any entrance through which someone might pass, I’ll be charitable and consider doors as hinged objects that open and close in such entryways. While thus excluding many potential doors, we can still say there are far more doors than wheels in the world.  

One simple explanation is that built, immovable structures far outnumber wheeled vehicles. In order for there to be more wheels than doors, there would need to be more vehicles than buildings. Factoring in bicycles, rickshaws and other two and three wheeled vehicles, the average number of wheels-per-vehicle shrinks substantially below the number of doors-per-building. Further, factoring in the number of buildings with more than four doors, the average doors-to-building ratio is far higher than wheels-to-vehicle. Finally, by knowing there are more buildings than vehicles in the world, we know that there are more doors than wheels.  

But the nail finds its place in the coffin of the wheels argument while considering cabinets. Yes, this is unfair because people don’t go through these doors. But because cabinet doors are shaped and function exactly the same as building doors, and often designed to appear similar, we must consider them doors. This means, in every house that has cabinets, the number of doors-per-building skyrockets. In societies where almost every house has a kitchen with cabinets, we add billions of doors to our count, far outpacing the most ambitious figure of wheels.  

Point: Owen 

By definition, a wheel is “a circular frame of hard material that may be solid, partly solid, or spoked and that is capable of turning on an axle.” With this in mind, I believe that cars and other vehicles alone can be used to prove the claim that there are more wheels than doors in the world.  

The wheel-to-door ratio is significant for our argument, as there are objects that possess both wheels and doors. A four-door sedan, as the name suggests, has four doors (brilliant work happening over here at the DC). However, it also has four wheels, six if we include the spare tire and the steering wheel, meaning that these vehicles have, at the minimum, a 3:2 wheel-to-door ratio (six wheels to four doors). I mention this because four door cars are the only ones in which the wheel-to-door ratio is even close, as coupes possess a 3:1 ratio, and larger trucks such as 18 wheelers come in with a whopping 10:1 ratio (2 doors, 20 wheels). The only vehicles that (initially) seem to have more doors than wheels are planes and boats.  

Using the general definition of a wheel being anything that can be rotated around an axis, many common pieces of furniture and vehicles contain many wheel and gears that could be considered wheels. Photo by Mike on Pexels.

But let’s not forget the latter half of the definition above: “capable of turning on an axle.” This opens the door to every gear in said plane or boat being included in our count, as well as every other gear on the planet, catapulting our wheel-to-door ratio through the roof. Almost every mechanism on Earth utilizes gears, adding upward of trillions to our net wheel count, and it is by virtue of gears that the number of doors becomes no more than a diminutive attempt to stand up to their circular superiors.  

Counterpoint: Harrison 

The greatest counter-argument to door numerical supremacy is the phenomenal amount of vehicles. There are more cars than people in most countries of the world, and some extensively rely upon cars for basic transportation such as in the United States. There are also many bicycles without any doors. 

However, vehicle doors substantially diminish this advantage. Most modern cars, the most common vehicle, have four doors, which therefore do not increase wheels-to-doors. Most cars do not have spare tires, and the small number of cars with less than four doors still have two. Further, almost all motorized bicycles have at least one door compartment for engine access. 

Disregarding the bourgeois dictionary, it would be uncharitable to consider axles, and other turning circular features as wheels. Cabinets should be considered doors only because they allow passage, and they look exactly like the doors on buildings and homes; exact in function and aesthetic to the doors we know and love. 

Axles, on the other hand, look dissimilar to external wheels, and function to spin the wheels themselves, not to carry a vehicle or receive friction against a ground as wheels do. If an axle is required in the turning on any given wheel, the axel should be considered part of the wheel, not a second wheel. Wheels were invented thousands of years before axles, which did not arrive until advanced vehicles in recent centuries. It would be ahistorical and disrespectful to science to suggest that axles are the same as wheels. 

Doors are typically any structure built to change states and allow people through. While this definition is fairly strict, there are a large number of stationary structures with hundreds of doors in them. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

Counterpoint: Owen 

I must give Mr. Raskin credit for bringing up office buildings, as any given city skyscraper easily consists of 20-50 floors, each with numerous rooms accompanied by doors. Additionally, cities such as New York or Chicago, despite having a large population of drivers, easily have more buildings than cars.  

However, my colleague forgot about one thing: office chairs. These buildings’ doors are corporate portals leading to rooms filled with office chairs, most of which are mounted on rolling wheels (typically four, one for each leg). For every room, one door is vastly outnumbered by the number of wheels on each chair, making my opponent’s claim that more buildings than cars equates to more doors than wheels nothing more than a fallacious blunder.  

Secondly, to combat the kitchen cabinet argument, we must not forget about drawers. Most sliding drawers found in a home, whether it be for silverware or clothing, rely on sliding apparatuses that consist of, you guessed it, wheels. Additionally, cabinets seldom exist outside of the kitchen, whereas many other rooms in homes have drawers, each of which contribute to our total wheel count.  

I raise one final question: what about sliding doors? Whether between rooms or cabinets, there are plenty of doors that rely on sliding tracks rather than hinges to open and close, and much like our aforementioned drawers, these tracks require wheels. In light of this, it has become increasingly clear that we live within a utopian, wheel-dominated world — one which will continue to roll forward.  

3 COMMENTS

  1. Great arguments ! The entire discussion revolves around the issue of definitions. I think when most people first hear the debate, when they think “wheels”, they are thinking wheels related to vehicles. Of course if you include mechanical gears and the internal parts of machines, wheels would win, but I think that win is mostly a technicality. If you go by what most people think of when you think of wheels vs doors, there are far more doors in the world. Yes, there are more cars in the world than people, but all of those cars have doors that are almost proportional to the number of wheels. Yes, bicycles have no doors, that is true. But when you look at the number of physical structures in any city, even the countryside, you have millions of office buildings that each have hundreds , thousands, or tens of thousands of doors and there just aren’t enough wheels to compete with that when you’re going with the standard colloquial understanding of wheels vs doors. So doors win, but wheels should still not be underestimated.

  2. In terms of the ‘office chairs’ argument, that’s a salient point, but office chairs with rolling wheels, although ubiquitous in certain environments, are not abundant in every single office building in the world. There are many buildings and offices that don’t have or use wheeled chairs at all. There are also buildings like hotels where there are an enormous number of banquet halls and several floors of guest rooms that have numerous doors and no wheels at all outside of an occasional vacuum cleaner, luggage carts, etc. You’ll find more wheels in urban environments, but when you tally up all of the doors throughout the entire world and all of its houses/ buildings : they win. Wheels only win when you include interior mechanical parts of machines.

  3. A friend/colleague explained his encounter with this question as being, his son utilizing it a a catcher breaking into the batter’s concentration.
    The topic interested me, in my immediate surroundings were the arguments, I have now read. However, my interest quickly waned. You see, my background is in construction, manufacturing, service, processing, and distribution; possibly weighted in that order. My experience (There are exceptions to these rules, but in the minority) tells me that everything guided, that moves in a solid state requires a minimum of three wheels.
    When considering the components in a factory, plant, distribution center, etc, the quantity added for by these tips the already weighted scales toward the wheel.
    When sitting in your spot of contemplation, it’s easy to think there may be a close match, however if you open any hatch (door) to see what makes a thing do what is does mechanically, you’ll see that there’s one way in, but numerous wheels reducing friction to enable efficiency. Don’t think about the driving mechanisms. There are often only one to the caring mechanisms that number in the 10, 100, 1000’s. All of which only need one door.

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