image Sommige filosofen kunnen aanstekelijk schrijven, ook voor een groot publiek. W.V.O Quine hoort daar zeker bij. Hier een relatief lang citaat uit zijn populair-filosofische boek Quiddities (1986). Hier blijkt hij een van de weinige filosofen die over eten schrijft, en over neppen. Hij introduceert er zijn eigen neologisme voor: "misling". Misleiding, is een van zijn punten, komt in gradaties.

At some point each of us has perhaps been misled, or has known some equally literate acquaintance to have been misled, by the preterite and participle "misled". He encountered the word, graspede its meaning by context and even used it in his own writing. At length he even spoke it, as "mizzled", never detecting that it was just the old familiar preterite and participle of "mislead" that he had been pronouncing correctly for half his life. But the verb 'misle" that is born of that misconception is too pat to pass up, descriptive as it is of the very circumstance that engendered it. Perhaps we can press it into service as a mild word for the restrained sort of deception, not quite actionable as fraud even in Ralph Nader's day, that has a respected place in enlightened modern merchandising.

A venerable case is that of the sardine, the Sardinia pilchardus of the French and Iberian coasts. The young of this species, oiled and tight-packed in tins, are so good that packers have found it expedient to extent the term "sardine" to other and humbler members of the herring family when similar purveyed. Maine fisheries are permitted by law to apply the term to the local herring, and the Norwegians have followed suit, misling with the brisling.

The sardine has gone on so long and on such a scale that it perhaps no longer qualifies as misling: the word "sardine" might simply be said to have come to mean the canned young of any species of the herring family. I have read that by international agreement every country's definition is now respected, and that twenty-one species are so countenanced. But then we need a distinctive word for those particular succulent young herring, Sardinia pilchardus. Well, we have "pilchard".


The nostalgic curvaceous Coca Cola bottle was an eloquent case of wordless misling. Its fluid capacity of six and a halve ounces was modestly marked in conformity with the law, but wat uninquiring mind would dream up that a whole Coke could be got into a little paper cup? A likely reaction, on downing a bottle, was "I picture the second nickel ("eheu fugaces!"), and not the piddling saving in water and syrup, as the payoff of the imaginative packaging."

A startingly barefaced try at misling has lately appeared on some soup cans. The cans are generous in size., because the soup is not concentrated; is has its full aqueous bulk. So far so good. But how is it explained on the can? "Full strength; no need to add water." Bewildering yes; but misling? None will be misled who does not richly deserve it.

I saw a companion piece on a billboard for vodka. "Now in 80 proof," it screamed, making it sound like an extra special added feature attraction.

I turn to a more sinister case. I am told of a canner of salmon whose product was persistently white instead of the canonical pink. He made a spurious virtue of this chromatic deficiency by proclaiming: "Guaranteed not to turn red in the can." How many neophytes may he have turned against good pink salmon?

To that sad tale there is again a companion piece. This time the can contains the little black lumpfish eggs that look like caviar. The label says "It's real caviar. Lumpfish, not sturgeon." The last half is true. The first half, therefore, is false, putting the case beyond the case of mere misling, except as the Food and Drug Administration may see fit to generalize the word "caviar" after the manner of "sardine". The label may initiate two grave misconceptions -first that sturgeon caviar is not the real thing, and second that the lumpfish product is entitled tot the title in a way that the larger and more flavorful salmon-pink alternative, salmon eggs, is not. The real thing is indeed on the reach, but I give you salmon eggs.
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