troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Appeal To Tradition
"And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word..."

Appeal To Tradition:

Also called

  • Appeal to Antiquity.
  • "We've Always Done It This Way."

The polar opposite of Appeal To Novelty, where the older position is right. See They Changed It, Now It Sucks, Nostalgia Filter, Older Is Better, Ludd Was Right and Good Old Ways. This tends to be rolled out regarding consumer products and morality; in the former case, they don't make 'em like they used to, and in the latter, it was better in the good ol' days. Old ways do tend to be workable, or they don't become old ways in the first place; what makes this a fallacy is the unstated assumption that no better way is possible. See also Culture Justifies Anything.

Examples:

Advertising
  • A commercial for the allergy medicine Claritin bragged that "while other brands have recently changed their formulas, Claritin chose not to change", leaving out that, when many companies change formulas, it's usually for a pretty good reason (e.g. dangerous ingredients). Well, when it's not just to keep their patents going, anyway. It's not as if multinationals spend millions to overhaul their production protocols and practices for fun.
  • Blue Bell claims to 'taste just like the good old days'. Its commercials also include a lot of old timey things.
  • In The Seventies and The Eighties, all three American car manufacturers at various times used this to sell outdated models.

Literature
  • In "The Lottery", this is how the townsfolk justify the eponymous event. They're appalled that nearby towns have given up the grand old tradition of stoning a randomly selected person to death, because it's what they've always done.
  • In the Discworld novels, used to justify pretty much everything the Unseen University does. In The Science of Discworld, when Ponder Stibbons has a radical new idea, he has to claim he got it from a book a few hundred years old for the faculty to take him seriously.
  • There's a similar situation in another Discworld book, Pyramids; the pharaoh's time is spent carrying out rituals, and the whole country is being held in a sort of stasis because the pyramids are recycling the same bit of time over and over.
  • In the Gormenghast books, so many traditions have grown up around the castle and its ruler that the Earl must spend virtually his entire life carrying out one pointless ritual after another, leaving only an occasional hour before bed in which to do something because he wants to. Many of the castle's servants are born into their professions, and trapped in a similar bind. The court even includes a "Master of Ritual", a sort of Grand Vizier whose entire job is to keep track of all these traditions.
  • In Rivers of London DCI Nightingale's defence of The Masquerade pretty much comes down to we've always done it this way. To say Peter is not impressed would be an understatement.

Music
  • Weird Al's song "Weasel Stomping Day" is about a fictional holiday where people spread mayonnaise on their lawns, then put on viking helmets and hiking boots in order to crush weasels to death. Complete with tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as "It's tradition, that makes it okay" in order to mock the idea that an abhorrent act is acceptable if it is 'traditional'.
  • The "Tradition" song from Fiddler on the Roof
  • Hinted at in the 1969 Doors song "The Soft Parade", which, given the constant religious/mythological imagery in the lyrics, is probably meant to be a critique of religious traditions: "All our lives we sweat and save / Building for a shallow grave / Must be something else we say / Somehow to defend this place / Ev'rything must be this way."

Webcomics
  • In Goblins, this is Young-and-Beautiful's reason for not letting the goblin tribe use their magic items.
    Young-and-Beautiful: For countless generations we have done things a certain way. We can't do everything differently now because it... "makes sense".
  • In Roommates the answer the Erlkönig (Elf King) gives his son's roommate:
    Erik: Excuse me, is there some kind of mystical significance to why a Scandinavian/Germanic death avatar has just appeared in the living room and bargained favors with my 1980's children's fantasy film villain of a flatmate? Because as far as I know, The Wild Hunt never involved goblins, and I really don't think I'll like where this is going.
    The Erlkönig: It is tradition.

Western Animation
  • Illustrated in The Simpsons episode "Whacking Day", where snakes are herded to the town square and beaten to death with clubs. Lisa and Barry White are the only characters who are initially disgusted with the idea.
    • Ultimately subverted, though, because it turns out (in-universe) that Whacking Day isn't even an ancient tradition, but a fictional holiday dreamed up as an excuse to commit hate crimes against the Irish.
  • Family Guy: Pepperidge fahhhrrrm remembers.
  • In the episode of Hey Arnold! where Harold steals a ham, the rabbi is upset that Harold committed a theft, yes, but appears more concerned that he took unkosher food.
    "We don't eat ham! We haven't eaten ham for over 5000 years, there's no need to start now!"
  • An episode of The Critic had Jay Sherman's stepsister being pressured by her mother into attending a debutante ball, insisting that she herself had come out as a debutante as a girl and it was important for the daughter to carry on the tradition. (Of course, an Alternate Character Interpretation is that the mother hated being a debutante, too, but can't stand the idea of her daughter having a better adolescence than she did, and so is determined to make her suffer.)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has had a few:
    • Winter Wrap Up has the ponies physically clearing out winter, using plows to remove snow, bells to awaken hibernating birds, and etc. Spike even asks why they don't just use magic and Twilight points out that, even though that would be much easier and faster, since Ponyville was founded by earth ponies it's tradition to do it manually instead. Later on Twilight does cheat with magic and gets thoroughly chewed out by Applejack for it.
    • Over A Barrel has this for the buffalo's entire motivation: They're upset that settler ponies built an orchard over their traditional stampeding grounds.
    • The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 was basically a 30 minute Appeal to Tradition. The episode had the Apple Family making cider the traditional way until Flim and Flam came into town in a new machine that made cider. They entered into a contest to see who can make the most cider in an allotted amount of time and while The Apple Family lost the contest, they still kept the farm and kept their traditional ways because the machine made cider was terrible.

Video Games
  • Deconstructed in Final Fantasy X, as the people of Spira rely solely on the tradition of the Grand Summoner and their pilgrimages in order to defeat Sin and bring about The Calm (the period in which the populace can live without fear of their villages being randomly destroyed by an evil whale-thingy). However, this only lasts for a few months at most, so Sin would return again, and perpetuate the 'spiral of death' that the land is caught in. In addition, the machina-using Al Bhed, the only ones who challenge the ritual because of what happens to the summoner in the process, are ostracized by the rest of society, as they believe that Sin was born because of the use of machines. And it turns out it was actually the traditional Summoner's sword that was allowing Sin to come back, among other factors.

Real Life
  • Often used in political debates, especially about social issues. And we'll leave it at that.
    • A German pamphletist sympathizing with the French Revolution mocked appeals to traditions saying: "our forefathers wet their pants, therefore we too have to wet our pants."
    • Which is interesting because Germany often mocks its own stickling to tradition with the Three Laws:
    1. "Das haben wir immer schon so gemacht." ("We've always done it this way")
    2. "Das geht nicht."/"Das haben wir noch nie so gemacht." ("Them's the Rules.")
    3. "Da könnte ja jeder kommen." ("Then anyone could ask for the same.")
  • The British general Sir Charles Napier, during his deployment in India in the 1840s, attended the funeral pyre of a local dignitary, when he, to his horror, saw the wife of the deceased being led onto the pyre. Napier ordered his men to intervene and hang the offenders. When an outraged local priest asked by what right he had killed men for following their people's tradition of burning widows alongside their dead husbands, Napier answered: "My people have a tradition of hanging men who attempt to murder women".
    • Strictly speaking, a suttee has to be voluntary on the part of the widow, so the men leading her to the pyre would have been guilty of being accessories to suicide under British law. Still, Napier also clearly affirmed the British tradition that due process did not apply to wogs.
  • A bit of dry observational humor at Texas A&M University (a school often obsessed with tradition to the point of self-parody) is that the college (or more specifically, the Corps of Cadets) has been going down the drain since 1876.note 
    • A related bit of humor is that anything that happens five years in a row has always happened that way and is sacred unbreakable tradition (until it is inevitably changed to suit the needs or preferences of the current university students and administration.)
  • Claiming paper books are better than ebooks because they're older is this trope. Preferring the feel of real paper, freedom from needing electricity, preferring to study away from the many distractions offered by most ebook readers, frequently jotting notes in the margin, and enjoying buying a physical object are personal behaviors and preferences.

Looks like this fallacy but is not:

If a novelty is logically inconsistent with what the reformer is ostensibly setting out to do. If a would-be religious reformer attempts to change doctrines on which the entire religion rests, then his opponents are right to point out that he does not seek reform, but rather the complete destruction of that religion.
Appeal To RidiculeLogical FallaciesAppeal To Wealth
Appeal To RidiculeLogic TropesAppeal To Wealth
Appeal To RidiculeThe Only Righteous Index of FanaticsAppeal To Worse Problems

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
21722
7