Logical Fallacy: Argument from antiquity

The argument from antiquity is a form of the argument from authority fallacy that I covered in a recent post, where the authority that the claim supposedly derives its truth value from is that it’s been around and practiced for a long time. An obvious counterexample to this being any basis for truth is bloodletting which was practiced for 2000 years. And yet for some reason the fact that acupuncture has been practiced for many thousands of years must mean it has some validity is offered as evidence. Curious.

It’s easy enough for people (any people including you and me) to fall for some delusion and then if it becomes institutionalized in the form of a tradition it’s like a cancer that never seems to go away. Therefore it cannot be the case that just because something has been around for a while it must be true. “Those ancient alchemists must have been on to something.” An argument must be evaluated based on its own self-contained merits, and not whether it has been practiced for any length of time. Modern science has been around for a few centuries now, but it as a method has internal consistency, rigor, and produces the goods when used. That it’s been around for a while isn’t why we do it today.

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