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Appeal to Novelty

argumentum ad novitatem

(also known as: appeal to the new, ad novitam [sometimes spelled as])

Description: Claiming that something that is new or modern is superior to the status quo, based exclusively on its newness.

Logical Form:

X has been around for years now.

Y is new.

Therefore, Y is better than X.

Example #1: Two words: New Coke.

Explanation: Those who lived through the Coca-Cola identity crises of the mid-eighties know what a mess it was for the company.  In fact, the “New Coke Disaster”, as it is commonly referred to, is literally a textbook example of attempting to fix what isn’t broken.  Coke’s main marketing ploy was appealing to the novelty, and it failed miserably -- even though more people (55%) actually preferred the taste of New Coke, the old was “better”.

Example #2:

Bill: Hey, did you hear we have a new operating system out now?  It is better than anything else out there because we just released it!

Steve: What’s it called?

Bill: Windows Vista!

Steve: Sounds wonderful!  I can’t wait until all of your users install it on all their computers!

Explanation: For anyone who went through the experience of Vista, this fallacy should hit very close to home.  You were most likely assuming that you were getting a superior product to your old operating system -- you were thinking “upgrade” when, in fact, those who stuck with the status quo (Windows XP) were much better off.

Exception: There are obvious exceptions, like in claiming that your fresh milk is better than your month old milk that is now growing legs in your refrigerator.

Tip: Diets and exercise programs/gadgets are notorious for preying on our desire for novelty.  Don’t be swayed by the “latest research” or latest fads.  Just remember this: burn more calories than you take in, and you will lose weight.

References:

Sternberg, R. J., III, H. L. R., & Halpern, D. F. (2007). Critical Thinking in Psychology. Cambridge University Press.



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