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Logical  Fallacy: a error in reasoning
  (adj)     (noun)

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Statement #183 Discussion

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Below is the statement as it appears with the fallacy marked as correct. You can see the totals of most frequent responses to this statement. And after reading the any discussion going on below, you can select your choice(s) for the correct answer. For now, whoever posts each statement can update corrections.
The war on drugs must be working out great. After all, we've been waging it for so many decades.
Appeal to Tradition
AKA Appeal to the Old, Old Ways are Best, Fallacious Appeal to the Past, Appeal to Age

Category: Fallacies of Relevance (Red Herrings) → Distracting Appeals

Appeal to Tradition is a fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that something is better or correct simply because it is older, traditional, or "always has been done." This sort of "reasoning" has the following form:

  1. X is old or traditional
  2. Therefore X is correct or better.
This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because the age of something does not automatically make it correct or better than something newer. This is made quite obvious by the following example: The theory that witches and demons cause disease is far older than the theory that microorganism cause diseases. Therefore, the theory about witches and demons must be true.

This sort of "reasoning" is appealing for a variety of reasons. First, people often prefer to stick with what is older or traditional. This is a fairly common psychological characteristic of people which may stem from the fact that people feel more comfortable about what has been around longer. Second, sticking with things that are older or traditional is often easier than testing new things. Hence, people often prefer older and traditional things out of laziness. Hence, Appeal to Tradition is a somewhat common fallacy.

It should not be assumed that new things must be better than old things (see the fallacy Appeal to Novelty) any more than it should be assumed that old things are better than new things. The age of thing does not, in general, have any bearing on its quality or correctness (in this context). In the case of tradition, assuming that something is correct just because it is considered a tradition is poor reasoning. For example, if the belief that 1+1 = 56 were a tradition of a group of people it would hardly follow that it is true.

Obviously, age does have a bearing in some contexts. For example, if a person concluded that aged wine would be better than brand new wine, he would not be committing an Appeal to Tradition. This is because, in such cases the age of the thing is relevant to its quality. Thus, the fallacy is committed only when the age is not, in and of itself, relevant to the claim.

One final issue that must be considered is the "test of time." In some cases people might be assuming that because something has lasted as a tradition or has been around a long time that it is true because it has "passed the test of time." If a person assumes that something must be correct or true simply because it has persisted a long time, then he has committed an Appeal to Tradition. After all, as history has shown people can persist in accepting false claims for centuries.

However, if a person argues that the claim or thing in question has successfully stood up to challenges and tests for a long period of time then they would not be committing a fallacy. In such cases the claim would be backed by evidence. As an example, the theory that matter is made of subatomic particles has survived numerous tests and challenges over the years so there is a weight of evidence in its favor. The claim is reasonable to accept because of the weight of this evidence and not because the claim is old. Thus, a claim's surviving legitimate challenges and passing valid tests for a long period of time can justify the acceptance of a claim. But mere age or persistence does not warrant accepting a claim.

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 557 Total Answer Attempts   56%
 314 Correctly Popped Fallacies
 243 Incorrectly Un/Popped
posted by wikiworldorder     
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Most Common Responses

 
314 - Appeal to Tradition
20 - Appeal to Common Practice
19 - Confusing Cause and Effect
15 - Gambler's Fallacy
15 - Misleading Vividness
12 - Begging the Question
12 - Relativist Fallacy
12 - Appeal to the Consequences of a Belief
11 - Appeal to Belief
10 - Fallacy of Composition
10 - Appeal to Ridicule
10 - Hasty Generalization
8 - Post Hoc
8 - Biased Generalization
8 - False Dilemma
8 - Red Herring
7 - Circumstantial Ad Hominem
6 - Burden of Proof
6 - Appeal to Novelty
6 - Appeal to Authority
5 - Slippery Slope
5 - Ignoring a Common Cause
4 - Special Pleading
4 - Appeal to Pity
3 - Middle Ground
3 - Appeal to Popularity
3 - Appeal to Spite
2 - Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
2 - Fallacy of Division
2 - Appeal to Emotion
2 - Genetic Fallacy
1 - Ad Hominem
1 - Appeal to Flattery
1 - Peer Pressure
1 - Guilt by Association
1 - Appeal to Fear

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