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False Cause

 

Disciplines Argument > Fallacies > False Cause

Description | Discussion | Example | See also

 

Description

A causes B (without real proof that this causal relationship actually exists).

This causal relationship is often claimed when there is correlation between A and B (that they vary together) or a relatively distant causal connection.

Example

It is dark now, which makes it very dangerous. [It is not the dark that causes danger].

Drinking fresh water will keep you well. [It may contribute, but it is not the only or sufficient cause].

Money makes people arrogant. [Not all people, and not always just money]

Discussion

Cause-and-effect reasoning is a valid form of rational logic, but only if the causal relationship is established. It is very easy to find that two things vary together and assume cause-and-effect, but this only proves correlation. It may be, for example, that both are effects of a prior common cause.

Causal arguments are often wishful thinking, where the speaker is seeking to prove their case, and hopes (as with other fallacies) that their causal assertion is not challenged.

Classification

Assumptive, Causal, Falsehood

Also known as

Questionable Cause, Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (with this, therefore because of this).

See also

Cause-and-effect reasoning

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