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Semantic traps: why vague words are risky

Semantic traps: why vague words are risky
Semantic traps are words so vague that we cannot give them specific meaning, or words that are systematically misleading.


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George Orwell


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Semantic traps

Semantic traps

These are ambiguous words used to stir a discussion to a certain direction and to influence people’s judgments. These words don’t have a specific meaning and overall are words that are systemically misleading.

Whenever we talk, we should always be mindful of the words we choose to speak. What we say holds the capability of swaying people's judgements and thoughts.



The elusiveness of "natural"

The word "natural" is a common term we hear in our daily lives. We hear it in advertisements, from our local politicians, and many more.

However, the word "natural" itself is an elusive term and many researchers are trying to provide a precise definition for it. Usually, when we hear the word "natural" we almost always assume that it is "inherently good" even though it is almost always far from its actuality.



Examining "authenticity"

We are told often that we should always try to be our most "authentic" selves. We also like trying new and authentic cuisines or even authentic staples in fashion, yet, we do not completely understand what "authentic" means in a world where change is inevitable.

The word is usually used to describe something that is truthful or genuine. As long as qualifying information is provided while using this term, it can lessen the chances of the word being used for semantic traps.



The risk of being "intuitive"

Being an intuitive person means that you are able to feel that something is true without the need of conscious reasoning.

This word should used carefully because it could easily become a semantic trap mindset wherein the "intuitive" person would always rely on their gut feeling more than logical thought processes when making decisions.




Procrastination Paradox

The more time we are given to complete a task, the longer we will take to do it. 

This is similar to Parkinson’s Law, which states that “work expands so as to fill the time availab...

Urgency Bias

When we are facing multiple deadlines, we often tend to focus on the tasks in front of us rather than the ones that seem far off, regardless of how important they might be. 

Planning Fallacy

The farther away a deadline, the more unrealistic and abstracted our planning becomes. The closer a deadline, the more focussed and productive we become.

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Living in the age o doubt

Living in the age o doubt

We live in a time when all scientific knowledge (the safety of fluoride, vaccines, climate change, moon landing, etc.) faces coordinated and vehement resistance.

The acces...

We now face risks we can’t easily analyze

Our existence is invaded by science and technology as never before. For many of us, this brings comfort and rewards, but this existence is also more complicated and sometimes agitated.

Our lives are full of real and imaginary risks, and distinguishing between them isn’t easy. We have to be able to decide what to believe and how to act on that.

Marcia McNutt  - Geophysicist

Marcia McNutt - Geophysicist

“Science is not a body of facts. Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.”

Albert Einstein

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

Albert Einstein

Hidden skills we should master

There are four overlooked but fundamental skills that can help you thrive in life.

  1. When to trust your gut and when to rely on your rational mind.
  2. Self-control, especially in the age of unlimited distractions.
  3. How to communicate with anyone.
  4. The ability to judge what is true, right, or lasting.

These skills can be acquired with experience and time and can help you achieve success.

When to rely on your gut and when to use rational thought

  • We rely on intuition when we make decisions without active reasoning. 90% of critical decisions are made using our intuition.
  • When we rely on logic, objectivity, and analysis, we depend on rational decision making.

It is advantageous to master both intuition and rational thought processes. When your choices regularly lead to negative outcomes, you may be unconsciously making decisions from the wrong place.