And this is what I sometimes worry about: do I put them back on top of the stack? Do I put the bowls back in the empty front spot on the shelf? Because if I do that, then guess which dishes are going to get reached for the next time? That’s right, the same ones.

I think about this every time I put our dishes back in the cupboard. I assumed it was just me and that I was crazy.

The worry is that the dishes in regular rotation will depreciate faster than the ones that get stuck at the bottom of the stack.  I would say that if this was a potential problem then you have more dishes than you need.  Do you go a month without a single day in which you work your way to the bottom?  Then you can safely get rid of a number of dishes equal to the number that never gets used.

Maybe you have occasional large gatherings and the extra dishes are there just for those occasions.  Then it would seem that the question turns on a comparison of the time it takes before the difference in wear is noticeable and the frequency of these gatherings.  Still I would say the trade-off is non-existent.  First, unless you are buying really cheap dishes, the time span we are talking about here is measured in years not months.  You can always rent dishes for your party.

Second, we are talking about just a few extra dishes.  Forcing them into the rotation will indeed ensure uniformity.  Now they will all be dented and scratched.  Again, renting is the remedy if your concern is the impression you make on your guests.