You are here

Deceitful Conflations

The disingenuous who cannot refute your arguments often resort to sleight-of-hand alterations in terminology to make their case. Conflations are their stock in trade..... Lets not let our opponents get away with it.

This delightful cartoon, by Marco Marilungo Pictor, depicts a conflated Pinocchio, apparently overwhelmed by his own complexity, under the somewhat calculating regard of his inventor, which so seemed to suit this topic that I purchased it from


noun \-?fl?-sh?n\
Definition: blend, fusion; especially : a composite reading or text

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonyms: admixture, alloy, amalgam, amalgamation, cocktail, combination, composite, compound, blend, emulsion, fusion, intermixture, meld, mix, mixture, synthesis
Related Words: half-and-half; absorption, blending, coalescence, coalition, commingling, commixture, compost, concretion, homogenization, immingling, immixture, incorporation, integration, interfusion, intermingling, mergence, merger, merging, mingling; assortment, hash, hodgepodge, hotchpotch, jumble, medley, mélange, mishmash, motley, patchwork, potpourri, variety; accumulation, aggregation, conglomeration
Near Antonyms: component, constituent, element, ingredient

The disingenuous who cannot refute your arguments often resort to sleight-of-hand alterations in terminology to make their case. Conflations are their stock in trade. They exploit a common weakness---our inability to notice nuances that make one word or one concept fundamentally different than another. Our failure to identify these subtle differences allow the polemicist to confuse the audience or the readership by blending two distinct ideas. Here are some classic examples of these deceitful tactics which confuse the issue:

Anti-Zionism = anti-semitism
A critique of Islamic fundamentalism = Islamophobia
Well-founded fear=phobia
In-group altruism=nativism
Concern about cultural displacement=xenophobia
Opposition to human population growth = misanthropy
Pro-choice = Pro abortion
GDP= per capita GDP
Anti-socialist = pro-capitalist
Ethnocentrism = racism
Opposition to cultural diversity= Opposition to racial or genetic diversity
All races are equal = all cultures are equal
Internationalism = Globalism
Internationalism = support for a borderless world
International cooperation = removing impediments to migration
Population growth=economic growth
Nimbyism=support for development elsewhere
Being left wing = support for environmental causes
Being right wing= being anti-environment
Equal opportunity == Equal results
No proof of discrimination=systemic racism
Social justice=egalitarianism
Climate skepticism=Climate denialism

And my personal favourite is (drum-rolls):

If more come to your mind, please suggest them .

Conflations are the inverse of false dichotomies. Instead of "either or", conflations blend polarities. The first is a case of binary thinking, the second is a case of lazy thinking. Lets not let our opponents get away with it.

Tim Murray
August 19, 2012

Image icon pinocchio_47352-med.jpg104.24 KB
Image icon pinocchio-frag.jpg6.12 KB


The one that came to my mind before reading your list was NIMBY-ism but you have covered them all I think . The acronym "NIMBY" can be used very effectively in Australia even amongst friends to tear asunder a pleasant afternoon when used to belittle someone and gain a point in a conversation. Although a concern for and ability to have an effect on one's immediate environment is empowering and conducive to saving one's sanity,(or perhaps because of this) it is discouraged by the powers that be. One planning bureaucrat at a recent conference even included in the title of her talk.."How to eliminate NIMBY-ism..." When we lose control over and interest in our immediate surroundings , how can we genuinely care about the wider environment?