Guestus Aurelius wrote:Dictionaries are for privileged people who can afford to use words straightforwardly because their arguments don't hinge on equivocation.
Considering JackSkepticâ€™s signature â€“ "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to meanâ€”neither more nor less."
â€“ and its source, it seems that that attitude has been around for rather a long time.
However, I canâ€™t argue that it is an intrinsically or a categorically fallacious process â€“ to extrapolate from one set of cases to others, to search for and use analogies
between those groups or sets of cases. For instance, consider these two definitions for the word â€œreligion
reâ€¢liâ€¢gion (r-ljn) n.
1. a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
Presumably, item (4) was the result of the prevalence of various colloquial expressions that manifested or entailed that connotation â€“ for example, â€œgolfing is their religionâ€. And which also justifies the claim that for some â€œnew atheistsâ€, â€œatheism is their religionâ€ â€“ and, for people like PZ and his ilk, a rather dogmatic and narrow-minded one at that.
The problems tend to mushroom though when people fail to note that the various cases being compared in the analogies are no longer similar in some aspects even though they might be so in others. For instance, in the previously noted definition for â€œmisogynyâ€, â€œhatred for all womenâ€ might, at a stretch, be considered somewhat analogous to â€œdislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats [some] womenâ€. But that hardly justifies trying to apply the quite reasonable pejorative connontations of the former case to the latter ones â€“ except maybe in the minds of sloppy thinkers or egregious demagogues.