Natural So Must be Good – Logical Fallacy

by | May 15, 2021 | In Depth Articles

“This ________ is natural, people have used it for thousands of years, it must be good.” The argument that because something is natural it must be good is an example of a ‘logical fallacy’, a tool often used in a discussion/marketing that sounds very supportive to the argument but is actually based on a gross misassumption. The suggestion that because something has been done for 1000’s of years it must be good is another logical fallacy. Identifying such logical fallacies is paramount when seeking validity in argument.

Let’s start by highlighting the fact that in many cases, people do not even know they are using logical fallacies in their discussions/arguments. They are extremely useful methods that we learn typically as children can be used to persuade the child/adult in front of us that our opinion is correct, and that we should therefore get what we want.

There are many, many types of logical fallacy, but the one called ‘appeal to nature’ is probably the easiest to see through when we take a moment to examine it. 

Appeal To Nature Fallacy

Let’s use a current example:  “I’m not going to vaccinate, because before vaccines children built immunity naturally for thousands of years.” This is a perfect example of appeal to nature fallacy that implies that if we do things ‘naturally’ things will be ok. It implies that ‘nature’ is designed to ‘look after us’, that as long as we let nature do its thing then we will be ok.

The defeat of this argument lies in the fact that ‘nature’ is not designed to help us.  Nature really doesn’t care if we live or die. Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, these are all ‘natural’, as are deadly animals, poisonous flowers, and so on. The fact that something is natural does not mean that it is good.

And it works of course both ways – the fact that something is not natural does not mean that it is bad. With regards to the anti vaccine arguments, let ‘s not forget that thanks to unnatural vaccines and antibiotics (not natural herbs or oils) we can now deal with once life threatening diseases such as smallpox and measles. Mortality rates (particularly for children) have gone down over time and life expectancy has gone up thanks to the use of non natural products. 

Appeal To Antiquity Fallacy

Now we have seen how a logical fallacy operates, let’s look at another example commonly used example, one that is in fact used in our vaccine comment:

“…People have used it for thousands of years, it must be good.”

Appeal to antiquity (also known as ‘appeal to tradition’ and ‘argumentum ad antiquitam’) is a logical fallacy in which the assumption is made that older ideas / people are better, the assumption that if an idea / person has been around for a long time then it must be true. This as we shall now see is not automatically the case.

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