Appeal to tradition is a common flaw in many of societies ignorant human nature. Staying with ideas that are older or traditional is often easier than testing new ideas. Hence, people often prefer traditional things. Thus, appeal to tradition is a common fallacy and occurs when time-honored customs or traditions are not challenged. This appeal is fallacious because the age of something does not automatically make it correct or better than something newer. Everyday society faces problems due to appeal to tradition, such as creationism, and this ignorance can be seen through many works of literature.
Appeal to tradition has occurred in society since the birth of mankind. The claims made by creationism and evolutionism is disputed with the use of appeal to tradition in the article “Creationists and Scientific Logic”, by Scott Anderson. Creationism is a great example of appeal to tradition, as people of many different beliefs for years have studied it, yet there is not a lot of evidence supporting this idea. One may ask a creationist why they follow that belief and it will often be responded with, “well that is how it has been for centuries”, as they make a claim based off of tradition. Evolution is a particularly new theory compared to
creationism as it has been expanding for one hundred and forty years. However, with all the conclusions drawn thus far (that support evolution) it would be impossible to throw out the theory. To replace evolution with creationism would dictate that we throw out all the data we have about the universe. Anderson states, “We’ve been through [this] before_ it was called the Dark Ages. I see no logical reason why should return them”(lines 32-33). Though most still follow creationism because it is traditional. Illogical arguments in literature often portray societies use in appeal to tradition like creationism.
“The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson, and The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, acknowledges this movement perfectly. These stories revolve around a lottery, or in Collins case, “a reaping”, that culminates in violent murders every year, bizarre traditions thatrepresent how tradition has the power to override faulty logic. No matter who the people in the culture are or the era in which they live in, there has always been horrid customs that are accepted and rarely challenged. As the society we are today, we have a right to criticize the traditions outlined in these stories because we are that society. It may seem like ethnocentric thinking, but looking back at history, society has used gruesome techniques similar to the ones discussed. Like “The Lottery”, acts of genocide and stated earlier, the Dark ages, are similar realities society has displayed and ridiculed in the past. Many of the characters in these stories also seemed to be of the opinion
that what they were doing was wrong. One of the characters in Jackson’s short story asserted, “some places have already quit lotteries”, though a person who was ignorant of change quickly rebutted her (130). Hence, appeal to tradition is appealing to readers because it is relatable; especially when inflicted by authority. An authority figure in The Hunger Games states, “Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch – this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. ‘Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen’”(76). The districts all pay a yearly sacrifice to the Capitol in the form of their tributes, or members, and when disobeyed genocide occurs.
Just as in our own society characters in “The Lottery” pass traditions on through generations. For example, “the children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles”(132). Though this isn’t much different from our society as kids are given water pistols and are taught to admire guns and weapons of mass destruction. Jackson and Collins are both exploiting a flaw in human nature and making a mockery of societies ignorance. The fallacious use of appeal to tradition is almost always ridiculed in literature without the notice of how commonly it is used in society. Appeal to tradition is a fallacy that is not only used very common in literature but in society of the present and the past. The tradition of creationism has remained one of the examples for thelongest time even as evolution rides it down with science. Literature often holds this fallacy against human natures ignorance and gains a strong appeal from it. This is a fallacy that is very effective as it is often grasped by society.