"I think there's a fallacy you didn't tell us about," she said.
"I'm sure there is," I responded. "We just hit some of the common ones. What did you find?"
"Well, it's like... the 'exotic fallacy.' Sort of the opposite of the naturalistic fallacy. If something sounds exotic, and especially if it comes from some place distant and mysterious like Japan or Tibet, it must be real, or useful, or beneficial."
And she's right, of course. Attributing anything -- especially some sort of health-related item -- to the Wisdom of the Ancients gives it immediate credibility. And you'll notice that those Ancients never seem to come from, for example, Omaha:
Of course, this also applies to religion and philosophy, doesn't it? Wicca wouldn't have nearly the esoteric air it has without the constant mention of the Druids -- who, if not exactly from an exotic place (sorry, British readers), still have that same air of the mysterious. A quick Google search turned up literally hundreds of books, videos, and websites that purport to teach you about Ancient Wisdom from (these were just the first few I saw):
- the Bolivian Andes
- various Native American tribes (especially those in the Southwest)
- Japan (usually connected to Zen practices)
- the Yucatán
It's a little mystifying why some places have a lot of exotic cachet, and others don't. Polynesia has always seemed to me to be the ultimate in exotic destinations, but you don't hear much about Ancient Polynesian Vitamin Supplements or the Teachings of the Mystical Polynesian Elders. (One exception is that the cult of Cthulhu comes from there, but I'm not sure that it would qualify in most people's books as "appealing.") Likewise, Peru and Bolivia have appeal; Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia, right next door, don't. Exotic stuff from Africa is seldom attributed to a particular country, because most of the governments of African countries are in such a disastrous state that any gain in exotic appeal a product might garner by being from, say, Cameroon would be canceled out if the potential customer knew what it was like to actually live in Cameroon. So stuff from Africa is often attached to tribes rather than countries:
On the other hand, I have to say that I'd pass up a nice juicy hamburger if I could get some Trinidadian curried goat roti. So I suppose, like most things, it's all a matter of what you find appealing.