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Appeal to Novelty

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Leonard: I guess it couldn't kill us to meet some new people.
Sheldon: Actually, it could kill us. They could be murderers or the carriers of unusual pathogens.

Appeal to Novelty is a logical fallacy where someone claims that a proposal, idea, work, or trend is better or more accurate than what came before, solely because it is newer or more recent.

This argument is often made with regard to technology, where it is often supposed that anything "high tech" is automatically better than anything "low tech." However, technology is all about fulfiling requirements, not just improvement for the sake of improvement — while a modern tank is faster and has a much more powerful gun than a World War I tank, it has inferior obstacle crossing abilities because its design represents a trade-off between visibility and obstacle crossing, and therefore claiming the modern tank is "better" is subject to conditions.

This fallacy is the polar opposite of Appeal to Tradition; C. S. Lewis called this fallacy chronological snobbery. Calling goodness "old-fashioned" is an insult because of this trope. It is also known as "Appeal to Youth."

In some forms of media, Appeal to Novelty occurs when a new work includes an original feature solely in an attempt to attract an audience by appealing to their curiosity. Note that in this use, appealing to novelty is not inherently "right" or "wrong;" the novelty might end up actually attracting an audience, drawing lots of imitators in the process, eventually resulting in the original being Vindicated by History.

Also see New and Improved and "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny.


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  • One ad for a home pregnancy test uses this fallacy when it says "ClearBlue Easy is the most advanced piece of technology you'll ever ... pee on." The whole ad makes it rather clear that it's being done at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek, though.
  • Multi-blade razors also rely on this fallacy. If two blades are good, three blades must be better, and five plus a moisturizing strip better yet. See also Shaving Is Science.
  • A car ad that mentioned that the vehicle in question gathered a lot of data about the road surface. And then said absolutely nothing about what it uses the data for.
  • An ad for a cell phone company that depicted James Earl Jones asking, "Talk talk talk pay, or pay talk talk talk?" He never explained why you would prefer the latter.
  • Infomercials rely on this fallacy. "The old way" of cleaning/exercising/brushing your teeth (which is usually a Strawman to begin with) is represented by black and white footage of people Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket, while the new way is backed by dubious science, claims of cutting-edge technology, and being in color.
  • Whenever a new iteration of an electronic device comes out, be it cell phone, media player, gaming console, TV or whatever, you're guaranteed at least one company or line talking about the "new technical innovations" of their product; they of course conveniently don't point out that either those "innovations" have been standard for everyone but them for several years, or that the changes have little or nothing to do with the effectiveness of the product (for instance, a "new and improved grip" for a product that has to be set down to be used.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • When a Documentary wants to portray a position as outdated, it's common to show old Stock Footage of that position being promoted. This may be anything from a newsreel to a 1950s educational film and it may be in black and white or washed-out color, but the important thing is that the footage is clearly old enough to be wrong now!
  • The Jerk parodies this in one scene. The ditzy Nouveau Riche Navin Johnson thinks the posh French restaurant is holding out when they serve him vintage wine. He demands they take the old wine away and bring him the newest wine in the house. The server is aghast, but complies.

  • In the Honor Harrington books, there is an ongoing debate between two strategic and technological schools of thought, one of which is the Jeune Ecole, the other being the Historical School. The jeune ecole believe that tactics and strategy have stagnated over time, so new military technologies need to be developed in order to break the stalemate. The historical school believe that any new technology should fit within established paradigms in order to be effective, and criticize the jeune ecole for supporting new ideas simple because they are new. Series protagonist Honor Harrington is a self-professed member of the historical school and regards the jeune ecole's ideas as Awesome, but Impractical at best, but in the later books their ideas begin to bear fruit after the two schools reached across the ideological aisle.
  • Deconstructed in "Oracle" by Greg Egan. Jack Hamilton is a very old-fashioned Christian apologist in the year 1958, who was humiliated in a debate years earlier by a fellow Christian who, due to her commitment to intellectual honesty, demonstrated the flaws in all of his apologetics arguments, in the hope that Christians could hold their beliefs for legitimate reasons. All this did was convince Hamilton that Christianity is incompatible with reason, but is still objectively true, and nowadays, whenever he sees his colleagues at the university, he silently mocks them for their "fashionable" belief in materialism, as if they only did so because it was new and exciting. Of course, he gets completely proven wrong by the hero of the story, on national television this time. In other words, liking the new thing is not a fallacy if there is actually evidence that the new way is better.

    Live-Action TV 
  • British Television Quiz QI is extremely guilty of this trope. The entire premise of the show is turning "popular" knowledge on its head or proving old preconceptions wrong. As a result, lots of people believe the alternative, not for the inherent value of the statement, but because it's different..
  • How I Met Your Mother: Barney believes that new things are always better. Ted then buys ten year old scotch and makes Barney buy the newest scotch in the bar.

  • The album Pac-Man Fever was released on this principle. After Buckner & Garcia's "Pac-Man Fever" single became a hit, they signed a record deal with Columbia/CBS Records, who insisted on a full album of video-game songs.

  • Atari's Hercules was sold on the basis of being the largest pinball machine ever made. However, the game itself was uninteresting to players — a bigger ball turned out to be a much slower ball, not helped by the field's simple layout — and a constant maintenance hassle for owners, and it is now remembered only for its novelty.
  • Banzai Run was mainly sold through its vertical playfield.
  • James Bond 007 (Gottlieb) was marketed through its time-based gameplay, though this is also what led to its downfall.
    • Williams' Safe Cracker uses a similar time-based gameplay motif.
  • Flipper Football attempted to realistically portray soccer in a pinball game. Unfortunately, this simply proved too dull for most players.
  • This was also the case for Apollo 13 and its 13-ball multiball.
  • Viper's remembered for two things: its rotating Roto-Shooter and the naked Fembot on the backglass.
  • Xenon was originally intended as a single-ball game centered on the plastic transport tube. Bally management decided to add a female voice after Williams' Gorgar and Stern's Flight 2000 arrived with simple Machine Monotone voices.
    • The two-ball multiball was added in a day after management later heard that another pinball was about to be released with multiball play.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man Pinball got this with its "Vid-Grid" maze game.
  • Orbitor 1 was designed entirely around its warped transparent table, which gave the effect of pinballs orbiting playfield obstacles superimposed on a lunar landscape. Unfortunately, the novelty of trying to aim shots on an uneven surface didn't entice players as hoped...
  • Varkon, Williams Electronics' attempt to disguise a pinball machine as an arcade video game.
  • Contact was centered on its ball-kicking solenoids, which rewarded good players by sending balls to higher-value scoring holes.
  • Bally's Spectrum is Pinball + Mastermind.
  • Flash Dragon is remembered for its embedded Polaroid camera that dispensed instant pictures of players.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Averted with Dwarfs, who are very long-lived and view anything new with suspicion (despite many of their traditions resulting in more dead dwarfs). Despite being the first to come up with gunpowder weapons, there are still some dwarfs who complain that they were perfectly happy with crossbows.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Averted by the Adeptus Mechanicus, who believe that humanity once knew everything there is to know about technology, and that any deviation from the known and accepted Standard Template Constructs (computer blueprints that let the Imperium use standardized gear across the galaxy) is heresy. It doesn't help that the people innovating in terms of mechanical warfare either fell to Chaos or are the Tau, further reinforcing the Admech's point.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The dot-com bubble was caused by many investors believing this fallacy; the new technology often blinded them to the unfeasability of many dotcom startups' business plans. Similar market bubbles have been associated with other new technology industries, including railroads, automobiles, radios and transistors.
    • And tulips, yes, tulips. When tulips were first imported to the Dutch during the Dutch Golden Age, there was a massive craze for the new flowers. Prices for rare bulbs rose to (relative) heights that would make any millionaire seem like a pauper. The ensuing financial havoc after the bubble popped was devastating.
  • C. S. Lewis's formulation of this fallacy — the aforementioned "chronological snobbery" — dealt primarily with Values Dissonance, culture, and science. It goes like this: 1) It is argued that A. 2) A is an old argument, dating back to the times when people also believed B. 3) B is clearly false. 4) Therefore, A is false. Lewis notes how this leads to the names of time periods being used as negative slurs (e.g. "medieval" as an adjective referring to superstition and savagery) and to Artistic License – History for the sake of propping up the supposed inherent superiority of the modern day (e.g. claiming that all the "good" things and ideas of the present did not exist in any way, shape, or form until the past 100 years or less).
  • The UNIX operating system tends to be a target of this fallacy; in that it is derided on the basis of its age. Not so much Linux, but the BSDs will have this fallacy thrown at them, from time to time.
  • The Internet meme "IT'S THE CURRENT YEAR" mocks a variation of this fallacy in which the year is cited as an argument in favor of a newer position, e.g. "we must support X because it's [current year]". Obviously, if X is a good position, it should be supported because of its merit, not because a certain year has been arrived at. This variation was parodied as long ago as the 1959 Disney film Sleeping Beauty, in which "after all, this is the 14th century" was used as an argument for being more open-minded.
    • The original version was not a fallacy, however, but instead was expressing exasperation that racism and sexism still exist in the 21st century despite the justifications for both prejudices being completely disproven decades ago, in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and women’s lib in the 1970s, respectively.
  • A few sports fans will claim their current idols are better than old legends, not only because of actual skill, but deeming their feats are diminished by how things were when they played (semi-professional athletes, shorter championships, etc.).
  • This was the case during the Dieselisation of British Railways during the 50s. BR wanted an efficient and modern fleet of new diesel engines, viewing steam locomotives as obsolete. However, while seeing some successes, many diesel classes suffered numerous technical issues to the point that railway staff wished to keep the steam engines BR intended to replace.
  • The Tropes Are Tools and The Tropeless Tale pages exist as counters because this fallacy is so prevalent - the belief that a work has to be wholly innovative to be any good.