“The critical thing about names is their plasticity and manipulability, they are mental constructs and so extremely malleable after considerations of latency and cognitive friction are taken into account.
Update: From the comments, this makes my point much clearer:
….The associated metaphysics is secondary to the potentiation of collective action. Once a flag gets carried across a tribal border, be it a tribal flag, a national flag, a religious flag or whatever in the home context, across the tribal border itâ€™s generally a de facto tribal flag.
“I want to emphasize that this issue isn’t limited to religion & metaphysics. After all, how many communists read Das Kapital front to back? Religious or political movements need the appropriate psychological “hooks” to have mass appeal, but they also seem to gain credibility through the generation of obscure intellectual justifications….”
Comment: Researching the witchcraft trials for a chapter in “Mobs, Messiahs and Markets,” I ended up with the same conclusion: a symbol isn’t enough. A red rag alone won’t do to get a crowd going. You need a half-baked theory that no one actually studies but which the cognoscenti can trot out as justification…..