We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

-Will Durant

The Age Fallacy - A Response to Feedback on Youthful Wisdom

The Age Fallacy - A Response to Feedback on Youthful Wisdom

This is a scrapped script for the podcast, exclusive to the website. Not all ideas make it to the podcast.

Consider the following: You are out on a walk alone in the woods. As a younger member of a tribe you regularly venture out into the wilderness to forage for food. The area your tribe lives in has minimal threats, maybe the occasional snake.

You’re out on your own and encounter a bear for the first time. Not just the first time for you, but your community. The bear chases you and by some stroke of unimaginable luck you survive the chase. As you return home empty handed, the village elders ask why you have nothing from your ventures. You explain what happened, and since the elders have never encountered a type of creature you describe, they scold you for lying and send you back out to find food. Do not come back until you stop messing around and actually work.

The bear wasn’t alone, and because of this ignorance the kid goes out, avoiding the previous area, and runs into another bear. He is killed and the tribe ignores the warnings which leads to more unnecessary death.

Another quick story. A child in target becomes enamored with an art kit and asks her father if she can get it. He brushes her off, saying that she won’t use it.

“Why wouldn’t I use it?”

“Because I know you won’t.”

“I want to draw the cat on the box!”

“But you cant.”

“But daaaaaad! I want to learn!”

“Nobody in our family is an artist, you won’t get that far, it’s not in your blood.”

That child could’ve been a world renowned artist, it WAS in her blood.

If you’ve ever tried to have a legitimate conversation with somebody older than you, the idea of your opinion being pushed aside due to your lack of knowledge is obvious. The youth can’t speak to love, policy, leadership, etc to somebody even a few years their senior. It’s intuitive, until you realize that biologically, and socially, life has NEVER operated that way in the modern era. If it did, progress would never happen.

Consider the following, there is a universal fear through all societies: something unknown moving towards you.

Now imagine a family never experienced this fear, and a child spent time away from the family and encountered this fear. Trying to explain the experience to their parents, they child is told that they are mistaken, no such experience exists, if it did they would’ve experienced by now themselves.

Imagine an apple falls on your head, you think about a force that was pulling it down, your elders tell you that you’re mistaken, as they would’ve known it to be true.

In either case, is the truth any less real? There are organisms that haven’t seen light as a species for hundreds of thousands of years and therefore are unaware of its existence, but it still exists. So if two 21 year-olds have lived their lives, saw relationship after relationship, noticed that if communication fails so does the relationship, and elders turn around and say you do not know what you are talking about because you’re too young, how so does that mean the truth can’t be spoken? How is it that the truth can’t be discovered by the youth? By definition advances succeed ignorance, and time always goes forward. The “youth” have always pushed the world forward. Even if one is 80 years old their innovation succeeded their parents conventional “wisdom.”

The age fallacy is an argument that stifles innovation, societal progress, and social order. When the only reason you discredit an argument is the age of the speaker, you have left objective reality behind. Saying “you’re young, what do you know?” is not the same as saying “I know this to be false because I have seen x, y, and z in my time.”

You may be thinking to yourself: “Taylor, not everyone does this. Chill out.”

No. Here is why. Discreditation based on age is no different from doing it based on race or gender. Discrimination is discrimination. What you are objectively doing with this logic is denying a person's experience with no logical backing. It’s like telling your kid not to try fish because you don’t like it. Let them try it first and decide for themselves. It’s like saying to somebody that they won’t be good at math since you weren’t, so don’t even try. You won’t be at sports because nobody in the family is and we are older and know better. Hell you may even be right but there are somethings you let others experience because they may get something you don’t.

We teach our children that it’s wrong to judge based on skin and gender, but perpetuate the same notion towards age. If you can’t come up with logical reasons why somebody is wrong you can’t default to a characteristic they embody.

Here is what I have seen in my time. I have become part of the most educated society in the history of mankind. In fact, I have become part of a society so educated it has lost sight of many realities of the world. I watch people argue the war is always unnecessary and that capitalism is irredeemable. I have seen the reducing of reason as a viable candidate for thought, all while those “in power” did little to stop it. God forbid I say that communication is crucial for all relationships, or that I may know what I’m talking about.

It’s not even that I’m mad, I’m sure as I grow older I’ll say the same things and become part of the problem, statistically that’s what will happen. I’m just saying be consistent. We are not willing to actually stand our ground on capitalism, but we can’t cede to a pair of 21 year-olds that relationships need communication.

I started this venture wanting to have conversations with others to further my horizons, to learn new things. I prefaced the whole thing by saying I’m 21, I don’t claim to know it all. To have the response be discreditation based on only my age and nothing further is intellectually empty, and antithetical to the cause of this endeavor.

I have previously stated that you must be willing to accept criticism to advance yourself, I suppose I should add a caveat to that idea from the earlier episodes. So here’s the new rule: Accept Criticism to Further Yourself* (if the criticism has zero substance, ignore it, if you’re doing something wrong somebody will empirically correct you.)

The age fallacy needs to stop. Youth tends towards ignorance, fine, but the youth are not ignorant. Attack the ideas of the youth with fact, don’t attack the youth only on the merit of youthfulness. Our society has enough of a problem with an inability to rationalize with itself. As long as society upholds this type of idiocy there will be immovable barriers to problem solving, and unnecessary division will continue.

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