“It’s always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it’s the victim of violence who is “really” inciting it.”
Christopher Hitchens


Conflate and false equivalence are possibly two of the most underused (when used properly) and most important linguistic tools available to us today. In a world seemingly devoid of nuance and unnecessarily gifted with simplistic “this versus that” narratives these two tools are what is needed to combat that shit.

I thought of this when I saw Fateme’s list of words (which I agree with) on LinkedIn.

Authentic gets conflated with genuine. Empower is a false equivalence to responsibility. Hustle is a false equivalence and conflates with ambition. You get it. The list gets mangled in simplistic ways ignoring the important nuances that make them truly meaningful.


The reason I call these two words/phrases linguistic tools is because they can be used to disrupt patterns of misguided narratives. Misguided narratives blends shit together into simplistic spaces where simple minds thrive.

Conflate is a sharp tool to use instead of saying “you have incorrectly mixed together two different things” <to the ‘simple’ folk, one word versus 8 is sharper>.  False equivalence is less against mixing shit together but rather when people mistakenly compare two things as equal in value. You can use both, or either, when someone is saying something that doesn’t coincide <conform exactly – which summarizes almost everything in Life>, but you get on tricky ground when someone suggests the things ‘correspond’ <they have comparable elements>. Why is this tricky? Because correspond can very quickly get you into the ‘correlate’ space <a reciprocity without sameness> and all of a sudden someone can try and convince you authenticity correlates to genuine <they are only in the same galaxy> or hyperbole <stretching the truth> correlates closely to ‘lying’ <they are only different planets in the same solar system>. But even the examples I just shared can not be agreed upon in today’s society. Why? In my opinion its laziness or a lack of mental acuity to understand that the distinctions, and nuances, are not only real and important, but meaningful.


Comparisons shouldn’t be flippantly vague or purposefully misused. Comparisons aren’t “unorganized phenomenon” <Noam Chomsky>, but for the purpose of clarity they should be systematic and organized. They are not. So conflate and false equivalence should be used as a battering ram against poor quality comparison relationships. Why? Because understanding, the really important understanding, is found in nuance. If we are aware of the relevant nuances, we can shape our thoughts <mindset, beliefs, attitudes, opinions> in a much more effective way.

But let me be clear, we use these words to combat what I call an oversimplification crisis.

In a world, and society, divided by more less-informed opinions than possibly any time in history, people are leaning in on oversimplification. They do so in order to skate on the superficial surface of truthiness. This skating permits them to throw just enough things into the same bucket so bad things don’t look bad and good things look less good. In other words, this oversimplification exploits our innate desire to feed a “both sides” narrative of any given topic or discussion. The horrible situation this puts us in is, while there truly may be two sides to some issue, each side may not be equidistant from the mean. Pseudoscience is not equal to real science and lies are not equal to ‘spin’ and equating them can be done by conflating the pseudo with actual or by making a false equivalence between selective fact usage and no facts.

What I do know is:

  • politicians, and political conversations, tend to thrive on false comparisons

  • business tends to thrive with conflating things

  • and “both sides” is a sweeping generalization to cloak the fact some shit is equivalent to a ton of shit

Look. I have written almost 3000 pieces on my site and I have actually used ‘conflate’ in only 6 pieces <albeit one was called “thought viruses”>. I use it only to combat oversimplification, thought viruses and ‘both sidism’. I have used ‘false equivalence’ even fewer pieces and, yet, will not hesitate to use it to shut down some stupid oversimplified comparative shit.

In the end.

Conflate and false equivalence are really not linguistic tools in today’s world, they are linguistic weapons which are necessary to kill superficial narratives. Even better, they tend to put a full stop on stupid.

Wield your ‘conflate’ and ‘false equivalence’ well, the world needs less stupid.

Written by Bruce