Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people...

@fribbledom This is the most perfect sentence I have read on Mastodon all day. Thanks

It is, but sometimes traditions have been selected by cultural evolution for very good reasons. Sometimes it's completely pointless. Sometimes there used to be a good reason, but it's not justified anymore. It's not always easy to see when you should drop a tradition.

If you have an actual reason besides "that's how others have done it", is it really tradition?

@Primo I think it's a bit more subtle: those who follow the tradition may not know the reason. It can have evolved on its own, with fake justifications invented later.

I can't think of any very good examples, but instance:
- Some religious food taboos (shrimp, pork, etc) that probably evolved because of allergies or diseases or for a more efficient use of limited resources, but are simply seen as God's will.
- The complex preparation of manioc that contains dangerous levels of cyanide: "Ask why they do this, and they will not mention hydrogen cyanide. They will simply say "this is our culture". " (from

Don't remember where I 've read it (some discussion, some link on vinegar, here in mastodon, maybe), but it was talking about fermentation, and how we did it, for centuries, without having a clue why it really worked. A good example of following the tradition.
Pork and such, on the other hand is a good example not to follow tradition. Example: fasting. What a stupid idea.

@syntaktis @guillaume I propose different reasons for the vinegar situation:
1) they had use for vinegar - that's why they made it.
2)It worked, that's why they did it that way.

No need to call for tradition.

Once people understood the mechanisms behind it, they were able to develope new ways to make vonegar.

@Primo @syntaktis
But how did they guess how to make it, without any modern chemistry or biology knowledge?

@guillaume @syntaktis Not through tradition.
Someone left vine, it turned sour and they liked it so they recreated the process.

@Primo @syntaktis
Ah, if you're using "tradition" in the narrow sense of what we were talking about earlier (a tradition with fake justifications/beliefs/rituals attached to it), then I agree. I have not heard of beliefs like "you need to perform this silly dance in order for the wine to turn into vinegar".

I would says there are traditions of vinegar making, cheese making, etc. The process was not only repeated, it was refined over generations, even without any theoretical understanding, just by trial and error. It's cultural evolution. But again it sounds like we use the word tradition in different ways.

My example is simplified but, @guillaume, you take "simplification" to extremes. Of course, this is not how things worked. When they made something, they followed a procedure. Some of the steps were necessary some of them were totally useless. But people followed them, because that is how they were taught to do it. People couldn't go around reinventing the wheel for every single thing.

so much yes!

...although, yeah, some tradition does serve a purpose and saves us from having to reinvent useful behaviour again, each generation.
But then again, the times they are a-changing ... somebody should write all those traditions down, and why we have them, so we can then periodically check whether the reasons still exist, or maybe we've found a better way to deal with the thing ...

@muesli tradition is dissemination of the fire not worshiping of the ashes.

@fribbledom what a backwards false-"enlightened" observation


I'm not sure what you're trying to say here?

@fribbledom Tradition is how culture is transmitted, for good and bad. I play traditional music, for example, including some 400-600 years old. That's not "peer pressure".


Nice! When you get some time, check out the tradition of humor, too! 😉

about 100 PSI of ghosts in here, we gotta perform some traditional acts to lower the pressure!!

@fribbledom That's a wonderful statement. The sort that makes you go "Oh damn, that's true! Wait ... that's so simple! Why didn't I think about that?" Good job!


If it's of any relief, it's not mine either, I think 😂

I've scribbled it down in a notebook some years ago and just stumbled upon it again, today.

@fribbledom Interesting. If you ever remember where you first found it, please let me know.

@fribbledom Disagree. It's tried and tested patterns of life infused with meaning.

Modern cultures, conflate technological progress with moral progress and to their detriment, rid themselves of their traditions. They'll have to learn the hard way.


I think you're taking it a bit too seriously...

@fribbledom haha, perhaps :)
In general, I'm very critical of the modern mindset when it comes to our past. This backwards idea that "we know better" is very very common.

@fribbledom Thoreau said something similar to this in Walden but in other words and reading it in my teens was freeing. I realized it was not only permissible but desirable to examine tradition and just use what actually works.

birdsite link, db-word 

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!