Metaphors matter. In a study of women who were about to give birth, the mothers-to-be were told to expect a local anesthesia before receiving an epidural. Nurses told one group they were going to get “a local anesthetic that will numb the area so you will be comfortable during the procedure.” Another group was told, “You are going to feel a big bee sting; this is the worst part of the procedure.” Not surprisingly, the group that heard the “bee sting” comment perceived significantly greater pain.
the danger of euphemisms
If every product change or new idea is amazing, epic, and disruptive, what happens when something really significant takes place? Yes, iTunes truly disrupted the music business… but how often do these kinds of revolutions really come along?
Basically, enough already. We’re saturated with top 10 (or top 5) reasons to do something. I don’t know about you, but I’m inundated, and I hardly bother to look at them anymore, unless the headline is unavoidably compelling, which is rare.
The language of economics and individualism has replaced the language of our common circumstances and shared risks. That’s why what used to be considered social insurance is now noted as “entitlements,” viewed by some as a threat to our national well-being instead of as a safety net for family-income security. In the highly emotional issue of illegal immigration, we also see dehumanizing language.
Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. Torture. Whatever your political point of view, the words “enhanced interrogation techniques” are inaccurate and purposely designed to mislead. For one thing, the term has nothing to do with interrogation; it’s all about physical coercion.