Zionism - Israeli Flag

A Fallacy Recognition Handbook

Zionism Israel Zionism Web Definitions about issues history Documents Maps News photo gallery contact help Zionism

 Zionism & Israel Center    Zionism and Israel Pages   MidEastWeb Middle East News Views & Facts

A Fallacy Recognition Handbook

CONTENTS

Zen & Understanding the Middle East

Introduction
Sellers' Market
Will to Believe
Rules of Thumb

"The truth is out there "
Use & misuse of words
False information signals more false information
Technical whiz-bang
Understand the Context
Lies, More Lies, Damn Lies and Newspapers
Beware of Generalizations
Theology and scripture
Misleading Statistics
Smoke in your eyes
What is Missing?
Myth versus fact versus narrative
The past was not like the present; the future will be different

Fallacy Recognition in the Middle East

Fallacies and Arguments
Cause and Effect
Slippery Slope
Gambler's Fallacy
Ad Hominem
Authority
Beliefs
Appeal to Novelty
Appeal to Emotion
Appeal to Tradition
False Dilemma or Black and White Thinking
Special Pleading
The Spotlight Fallacy
Who is to Say?

Fallacy Handbook

Fallacies and Arguments

Fallacies

Ad Hominem

Ad Hominem Tu Quoque

Appeal to Authority

Appeal to Belief

Appeal to Common Practice

Appeal to Consequences of a Belief

Appeal to Emotion

Appeal to Fear

Appeal to Flattery

Appeal to Novelty

Appeal to Pity

Appeal to Popularity

Appeal to Ridicule

Appeal to Spite

Appeal to Tradition

Bandwagon

Begging the Question

Biased Sample

Burden of Proof

Circumstantial Ad Hominem

Composition

Confusing Cause and Effect

Division

False Dilemma

Gambler's Fallacy

Genetic Fallacy

Guilt By Association

Hasty Generalization

Ignoring A Common Cause

Middle Ground

Misleading Vividness

Peer Pressure

Personal Attack

Poisoning the Well

Post Hoc

Questionable Cause

Red Herring

Relativist Fallacy

Slippery Slope

Special Pleading

Spotlight

Straw Man

2 Wrongs Make A Right
Who is to say

Appeal to Tradition

Also Known as: Appeal to the Old, Old Ways are Best, Fallacious Appeal to the Past, Appeal to Age

Description:

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.

 

Example #1:

Sure I believe in God. People have believed in God for thousands of years so it seems clear that God must exist. After all, why else would the belief last so long?

Example #2:

Gunthar is the father of Connan. They live on a small island and in their culture women are treated as property to be exchanged at will by men.

Connan: “You know father, when I was going to school in the United States I saw that American women are not treated as property. In fact, I read a book by this person named Mill in which he argued for women’s rights.”

Gunthar: “So, what is your point son?”

Connan: “Well, I think that it might be wrong to trade my sisters for cattle. They are human beings and should have a right to be masters of their own fate.”

Gunthar: “What a strange and new-fangled notion you picked up in America. That country must be even more barbaric then I imagined. Now think about this son. We have been trading women for cattle for as long as our people have lived on this island. It is a tradition that goes back into the mists of time. “

Connan: “But I still think there is something wrong with it.”

Gunthar: "Nonsense my boy. A tradition this old must be endorsed by the gods and must be right. "


Example #3:

Of course this mode of government is the best. We have had this government for over 200 years and no one has talked about changing it in all that time. So, it has got to be good.

Example #4:

A reporter is interviewing the head of a family that has been involved with a feud with another family.

Reporter: “Mr. Hatfield, why are you still fighting it out with the McCoys?”

Hatfield: “Well you see young man, my father feuded with the McCoys and his father feuded with them and so did my great grandfather.”

Reporter: “But why? What started all this?”

Hatfield: “I don’t rightly know. I’m sure it was the McCoys who started it all, though.”

Reporter: “If you don’t know why you’re fighting, why don’t you just stop?”

Hatfield: “Stop? What are you crazy? This feud has been going on for generations so I’m sure there is a darn good reason why it started. So I aim to keep it going. It has got to be the right thing to do. Hand me my shooting iron boy, I see one of those McCoy skunks sneaking in the cornfield.”

 

PreviousAppeal to Spite      Next:  Bandwagon

See Also: Appeal to Tradition (Middle East Fallacies)


Legal Information

This book is copyright 2002 by Dr. Michael C. LaBossiere. It may be freely distributed for personal or educational use provided that it is not modified and no fee above the normal cost of distribution is charged for it. Visit my web site at www.opifex.cnchost.com.

Reproduced by permission


 

External Links

This site provides resources about Zionism and Israeli history, including links to source documents. We are not responsible for the information content of these sites. These links are NOT intended to be an exhaustive reference about Zionism, but the list will keep growing...

Please tell us about your favorite links and we will review them for inclusion.

Please be careful to credit the Zionism pages and link to us. Please do copy  these links to your Web site,  giving credit to Zionism Israel Center

Sister sites : Zionism Pages Brave Zionism Zionism and Israel information center  and Zionism and Israel On the Web Brave Zionism

 Thank you.

MidEastWeb  History of Israel Palestine and the Middle East Conflict conflict   

MidEastWeb Middle East News, Views, Maps and History

Zionism  Definition and Brief History  A balanced article that covers the definitions and history of Zionism as well as opposition to Zionism and criticisms by Arabs,  Jewish antiZionists.

Labor Zionism   History and Critique  Contribution of Labor Zionism to the creation of the Jewish state, and problems of Labor Zionism in a changing reality.

Concise Guide to IsraeliZionist CyberSpace

Israel-Palestina  (Dutch) Middle East Conflict, Israel, Palestine,Zionism... Israël-Palestina Informatie gids Israël, Palestijnen en Midden-Oosten conflict... Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a European perspective  Dutch and English.

English  Israel-Palestine.info Guide to the Middle East Conflict (Peace, Zionism, antiSemitism ...)

Advocacy

Active Zionism  A Zionist advocacy site with many useful links

PEACE Watch  Middle East Dialog and Peace Process

Pnews  Progressive Views on Zionism Israel Jews & AntiSemitism

Addmorelinkshere

ZioNation - Zionism-Israel Web Log    Zionism & Israel News  Israel: like this, as if History of Zionism Zionism FAQ Zionism Israel Center Maps of Israel Jew  Zionism and its Impact

Israel Christian Zionism Site Map