Naming and Labeling Fallacies

There are multiple types of naming and labeling fallacies that can change the apparent value of something just by manipulating its name or the labels used to describe it. Namely:

  • The absence or presence of names;
  • Russel conjugations” (coined by the EDGE Foundation team);
  • Using scientific terms;

Underlying Psychology/Biases



  • Absence or presence of names
    • Including or removing something’s name changes our attitude towards it;
    • Including the name personalizes something. Removing it de-personalizes it;
      • The reason why in trials, the defense lawyer always uses the defendant’s name (“Mr. Wilson did this”) and the prosecutor never uses it (“The defendant did this”);
      • The reason why when people have farm animals, they can easily eat them if they’re nameless, but not if they give them a name (“Daddy, are we going to eat Daisy?”);
  • Russel conjugations
    • Out of a set of synonyms, choosing one that has an implicit negative connotation to attack someone;
    • Someone being “obstinate” or even “pigheaded” versus “stubborn” or “persistent”;
  • Scientific words or keywords
    • Using “theory” instead of “thought” and similar, especially in product descriptions;
    • Using specific keywords such as “quantum“, “atomic“, “exponential” or others in product names to make them seem more sophisticated;


Commercial/Known Uses

Key Takeaways