Confusing the Cause
Also: Post Hoc, Cum Hoc, Correlation vs. Causation,
Single Cause Fallacy, Regression Fallacy, Magical Thinking
Class: Questionable Cause
Assuming one thing caused another because they happened around the same time.

Usually refusing to consider other
explanations or coincidences.

I was just thinking of you, then you texted me. You must have read my mind!
What about all the times you think about people everyday and they don’t text? Eventually it will happen by chance.
After my niece got vaccinated she got autism. Vaccines cause autism!
That’s just a coincidence. Autism is usually noticed around the same age that kids normally get vaccinated.
Several athletes had terrible seasons after they were featured on Sports Illustrated. It’s a jinx!
Athletes usually get featured when they have a lucky season. It’s not likely to get lucky two seasons in a row, so the next season returns to their average.
Minorities commit more crimes. The numbers don’t lie.
The numbers show a correlation, not a cause. Racism increases poverty, and poverty turns more people to crime.
The rooster crows at sunrise, therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise. Duh!
Tip: Consider every possible reason:
    A causes B
    B causes A
    X causes both A and B
    A causes X which causes B
    A and B are coincidences
Foolacy vs. Fallacy

This combines several fallacies related to questionable cause:

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: Assuming A caused B because A was first.
Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: Assuming A caused B because they happened at the same time.
Single Cause Fallacy: Assuming there is only one possible cause for something.
Regression Fallacy: Failing to account for normal random variation returning to the average.

These are combined because it’s not necessary to know the exact type of error. A & B might coincidentally happen at the same time (cum hoc), or coincidentally in sequence (post hoc), or B may in fact cause A (reversal), or both may have been caused by C (common cause), or A may cause C which causes D which causes B (inflated or complex cause), etc., or the actual cause might not be known. Distinguishing these nuances is a more advanced skill, and not necessary for detecting flawed reasoning.
These are Level 1-4 examples   Show Analysis

© Critical Thinking Project   Privacy   Help   Suggest/Contact