Skip to main content

Conflation: To Blend or Confuse (Perhaps with the Purpose of Misleading Someone)

There's inflation (to get bigger) and conflation (to bring together). You may have heard people say something like "she's muddying the waters," evoking the idea of someone stirring up the dirt so you can't tell where the water begins and the dirt ends. Or two rivers coming together like the mighty Rio Solimoes (the Amazon) and the Rio Negro.

In arguments, conflation is used when you try to point out to your opponent (or audience) that the thinker is taking one thing and confusing it or muddling it up with another. An example might be something like:

Hitler was a terrible person. He was really immoral.

Hitler believed that the world was round.

The world can't be round, because Hitler was immoral.

Oops, you're conflating Hitler's moral character (or lack thereof), with a statement of truth or falsehood; whether the world is flat or not. We're conflating two separate logical concepts. The world either is, or is not flat, independent of Hitler's moral character.

Wikipedia has a fun, image-based example of conflation from Biblical literature:

An illustrative conflation brings together two Roman Catholic saints named Lazarus. One, a lame beggar covered with sores which dogs are licking, appears in the New Testament (Luke 16:19–31).[6] The other, Lazarus of Bethany, is identified as the man whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:41–44).[7] The beggar's Feast Day is June 21, and Lazarus of Bethany's day is December 17.[8] However, both saints are depicted with crutches; and the blessing of dogs, associated with the beggar saint, usually takes place on December 17, the date associated with the resurrected Lazarus. The two characters' identities have become conflated in most cultural contexts, including the iconography of both saints. 




Popular posts from this blog

How Customer Service Dies at USAA (and Other Places)

Oh, customer service. Of endangered species, you are perhaps the most endangered. Companies with formerly great customer service seem to be abandoning it in droves. Take USAA, the big insurer (of which I have been a member since about 2000). I had the misfortune of credit card fraud on my account, through no fault of my own, and after resetting my credit card with one division, the other division "didn't get the memo." 


Two late fees later, I got an envelope through SNAIL MAIL with an alert. So I call into the call center to reset the credit card and are first told that they'll waive the late fee, and then oops - that they can't. The computers are clearly in charge.

Next, after listening to platitudinous message after message from the Customer Service (SIC) rep, I ask how to file a complaint, and she says, "Oh, we don't have a Complaint Number or Department." We can't actually file a complaint.

So basically the bottom line message was, "Sorry …

How to Get a Negative Review on Yelp - the Chik-fil-A Way!

This is how companies get bad Yelp reviews. Step one. Offer breakfast (which, to be honest, is very good as "fast food" goes at Chick-fil-A), but only serve it to 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Step two. Have an employee literally run out at 10:30 am and flip the signs to lunch. Step three. Be so popular with your breakfast that you have a pile up of cars in the drive thru. Step four. When a car pulls up at 10:32 a.m, having literally been the "next car in line," tell the occupants - Sorry! It's lunch time now (10:30 in the morning for LUNCH?), and that it's too bad. They can't get breakfast. Step five. Let said occupants sit in car for about 5 to 7 minutes while they wait for the other folks ahead of them to get their food, and let them listen to the cars behind them bark into the drive thru - WHAT? NO BREAKFAST? You're kidding me. Step six. Let said occupants, drive hurridly through the drive thru (without getting any food), and be starving while they g…

An Email Sign Up Should Convey the Value Proposition

An email sign up should convey the value proposition. One "easy" thing to do is to show past email newsletters or alerts, so users can see what they "get" by signing up.

Here's REI's email prop: