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Sobering disproof of "appeals to tradition"

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3/31/2014 11:11:04 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
This is why "appeal to tradition" [i.e. this policy is good because it's the way we've always done thing] is a logical fallacy:
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
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4/1/2014 5:10:42 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
There is also an "appeal to novelty" fallacy. The age of a tradition, idea or concept does not determine it's validity.

Anyway, the experiment is an example of classical conditioning. The monkeys associated an unpleasant response to something that repeatedly happens before it. Therefore, the beating of ladder climbers was a negative reinforcement in order to avoid a positive punishment (water). Later on, climbing the ladder was avoided in order to avoid being beat up.
Since the new monkeys never tried to climb the ladder without being beat up, the conditioning was never challenged or had the chance to decrease, so the conditioning stuck with no chance of going extinct.

The whole process was based on instinct. A powerful reminder that we should not rely solely on our emotions and prior experience without adding logic to the mix.
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4/1/2014 11:35:09 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Reminds me of a story I once read.

"When the spiritual teacher and his disciples began their evening meditation, the cat who lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. So the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during the evening practice. Years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up. Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice."
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