Can it be that we tend to overestimate the influence of language partly because we so often underestimate the intelligence of other people? Think about common arguments on the lines of ‘if you call something X, people will believe it’s X just because of the name.’ We rarely hear, ‘If you call something X, I will start believing it’s X just because of the name.’ I obviously know better. But others don’t. This type of overestimation has a long history. One of the earliest discussions of the influence of language on thought was an essay by the Bible scholar Johann David Michaelis from 1760, which won the prize of the of the Prussian academy. In it, Michaelis explains that if, for example, one gave completely different names to two vegetables which are in reality quite similar, ‘the people’ would never suspect that they are similar. He’d obviously not heard of clementines, mandarins, tangarines, and satsumas.