War of Words: The Map Is Not The Territory

The maxim “the map is not the territory” was coined by philosopher Alfred Korzybski, who also said, the word is not the thing,” perhaps inspiring Zen teacher Alan Watts’ dictum, “the menu is not the meal.” Experience is deeply affected by (and often confused with) the way we label it. One of Korzybski’s proofs was to give students cookies in two unmarked bags; all munched happily until the plain label was torn from one bag, revealing that the cookies it contained were dog treats. Reading the words — rather than eating the cookies — was what sent students running to the toilet…