Semantic traps: why vague words are risky

In politics and linguistics, semantic traps are words so vague that we cannot give them specific meaning, or words that are systematically misleading. Semantic traps are often used to stir a debate in a certain direction, or to influence people’s judgement. A famous example is when Republican strategist Frank Luntz wrote a memo to George …

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Thinking in maps: from the Lascaux caves to modern knowledge graphs

What do hieroglyphs, flowcharts, road signs, and knowledge graphs have in common? They’re all thinking maps. Humans have been thinking in maps since the very first symbolic communication systems. While thinking in maps may first bring to mind the idea of cartography, a map does not need to be geographic—it can be any symbolic depiction …

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Untranslatable words and your well-being

Sometimes, things get lost in translation. If you’ve seen the beautiful 2003 eponymous movie, you’ll know how powerful culture shock can be. It’s one of my favourite films, which is why my colleagues—when I was an intern at Google—gifted me a voucher to spend an evening at the Park Hyatt Tokyo’s cocktail bar, admire the …

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