There should be a word for this…

I’m reading John Elster’s work on inter-temporal consistency and rationality, and was struck by the fact that there is a parallel in how we use the word “siren”.

In Elster’s work, and greek mythology, a “siren” is a woman who calls (attracts) sailors specifically for the purpose of harming them.

In modern parlance, a “siren” is something which yells at (repulses) you specifically for the purpose of helping you avoid harm.

Thus the word has come to mean exactly the opposite of what it once did. I wonder if there is any research on this, or specifically what allows it to happen.

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