In Need of Neologisms March 8, 2015Posted by Ubi Dubium in Brain Glitches, Questions.
Tags: atheism, critical thinking, neologism, religion, words
How many words are there in the English Language? The OED has over 600,000 words defined, so that’s a good approximation. You’d think that would be enough, but so often lately I can’t find exactly the word that I need to express a specific idea.
In recent years I’ve learned some really good new words from my readings:
Patternicity – the human tendency to see patterns in random data.
Pareidolia – the tendency to see familiar images, especially faces, in random images.
Agenticity – the tendency to attribute anything that happens to the actions of an intentional agent.
Deepity – a saying that sounds deep at first, but really isn’t.
Groupishness – the tendency to root for members of your own group, and against outsiders, even in a randomly selected grouping.
and of course –
Meme – an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.
But there are words that I’m looking for, and can’t find. Perhaps they exist and I just haven’t heard them yet. And perhaps they need someone to coin them. A new term, like the words above, should preferably be simple and yet evoke the basic ideas of the concept in the word itself.
So here’s some of the ideas that I’m wanting a word for. I’ve mentioned some of them in previous posts, but I want to collect them all in one place:
- A replacement for spiritual that does not have any connotations of belief in the supernatural. It should mean “filled with awe and fascination at the immensity of the universe and filled with appreciation to be a part of it.” I’d use it this way: “You know how some people say ‘I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual’? Well I’m not spiritual. But I am ________.” I want a really good word here, one where the word itself conveys the idea without having to use a lot of further explanation. And I want a work that hasn’t already been hijacked by the newage woo-woo pushers.
- A term for that thing that you do that is personally very demanding of your time or money or effort, and is basically pointless in itself, but you are doing it to be accepted and trusted by another individual or group as a person who is loyal and committed. The word could either be a noun to describe the thing that is done, or a verb to describe doing it. Examples of this kind of thing could be Mormon missions, gang tattoos, snake handling, or giving expensive engagement rings. I went to a talk from Andy Thomson recently, and he called this “hard to fake, costly, honest signals of commitment.” That term captures the meaning, but there’s got to be a shorter catchier way to say it.
- A term for the tendency of people to need to mark their “turf” with visible signs that their group holds dominance. Things like gang tags, or christians putting the ten commandments on courthouse lawns or “in god we trust” on money.
And, referencing my last post, here, a term for the confusion between a mental model of a thing and the thing itself.
Success! While I was working on this blog post, for the last item I happened upon the very word I’ve been looking for. It’s the Reification Fallacy, or the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness. I like the word “reification”, because it comes from the Latin roots “res” meaning “thing” and “facere” meaning “make” or “do”. So it’s the fallacy of making a thing out of something that is not actually a thing. That’s exactly the kind of word I was wanting. Any ideas on the others?