good chemistry is complicated,
and a little bit messy -LW
If Perl made a distinction between numerals in scalars and characters in scalars, yes. As the typing system is weak (that is, a combination of internal Perl magic and context determine which operation is more appropriate), it's helpful to be able to specify explicitly which kind of comparison is desired.
That's also why you'll see empty lists and the keyword scalar sometimes -- just a way of being sure that the operation has the desired effect by enforcing context and giving hints to the internal magic.