Appeal to tradition

Being always wrong doesn’t make you less wrong.


Argumentum ad antiquitatem (also known as “appeal to tradition”) is a logic fallacy consisting in claiming that if something has been done or believed for a long time ago it means it must be right or true.


People have always travelled by horse. There’s no need to travel by car now. (Refutation: nowadays we make longer journeys, and horses wouldn’t be adequate to run such distances).

That’s probably a bad idea, since nobody has tried before. (Refutation: just because it hasn’t been tried before it doesn’t mean the idea will fail).

These laws have been applied for 100 years. There’s no reason to change them (Refutation: relatively important changes could have happened that would render change as suitable).

Women should stay at home because that’s how it has always been. (Refutation: due to social inequalities, women in the past had few options to find a job out of their homes. That’s not the case nowadays).

To refute it
The simplest way is pointing to social changes, or changes in the subject itself that invalidate the argument.

Whenever the source is not referenced, both definitions and examples have been extracted from a translation of Jaime Wilson [email protected] based on Stephen’s Guide to the Logical Fallacies. Copyright 1995-1998 Stephen Downes. Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.

These texts have been modified by Miguel A. Lerma and now by us to adapt them -and those taken from Wikipedia- to our format.