Re: label abstinence

Bill Hamilton (
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 12:34:20 -0500

At 8:52 AM 3/27/97, Paul Arveson wrote:

>But in our context, of what use are labels?
>How would you label yourself?
>If you can't come up with an immediate, precise answer to that question,
>(and I certainly can't) then perhaps you'll agree that we should
>dispense with them entirely.
>The other problem with labels, which we constantly get here on the list,
>is from uninitiated people who don't know what the acronyms mean. So
>I suggest that out of *compassion* we reject the ways of the world,
>abstain from the nasty habit of acronyms, and "always err on the side
>of clarity." I realize this has a cost in terms of keystrokes, but
>you'll get your reward in heaven.

I agree. President Reagan once refused to label himself, saying "Labels
are what divide us." When we label an individual we have expectations
about the behavior of our mental stereotype of that label, and we more or
less automatically expect the person we label to behave according to the
So labels really do interfere with communication, for the small advantage
of saving a few keystrokes.

Bill Hamilton
William E. Hamilton, Jr, Ph.D. | Staff Research Engineer
Chassis and Vehicle Systems | General Motors R&D Center | Warren, MI
810 986 1474 (voice) | 810 986 3003 (FAX) | (home email)