False Equivalency, or why semantics are important

Today I got into a discussion on one of the FaceBook groups that I am a part of and had a comment made about semantics becoming divisive. And yes, semantics are by their nature divisive. They cut through the layers of false equivalence. I have written before about how Pagan does not necessarily equal Celtic or Wiccan, but there are still people who have that equivalence because people did NOT insist on separating them.

It was said in the discussion that the use of semantics stifles constructive communication. I find that it often is the exact opposite in that people ask “why did you say that?” and so end up learning something new.

For me, semantics are part of the reason that I use the term “Revivalist” instead of “Reconstructionist” these days. It is part of the reason that I deem Halloween a SECULAR holiday in my home and Samhain a religious one — even though they fall on the same day (my hubby is an eclectic Pagan and celebrates Samhain while I do not).

Semantics are at the core of clarity for me. And clarity is a necessity for someone who writes. If not, then we tend to make the mistakes of false equivalence. When we do that we muddy the waters for people who are new to the various viewpoints.  That is something that I do not want to do. I want to help keep things as clear as possible for people who are exploring the rich variety of Pagan and Polytheistic thinking (and yes, those terms are NOT equivalent as Shinto and Hindu beliefs are polytheistic but not Pagan)

I refuse to engage in eclectic thinking for the sake of being “eclectic” and will not draw equivalence based on an incomplete knowledge of the society that would be doing the equating. Somehow, this feels right…..

One thought on “False Equivalency, or why semantics are important

  1. Bravo, Ann. I, too, am concerned with the proper use of semantics and language. Fuzzy logic and language is NOT in the end a productive way to communicate or educate; however, this seems to be the way many modern people seem to want to operate. It is sloppy and lazy in my opinion. The ancient philosophers must be rolling over in their graves.


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