False Cause

The false cause fallacy relates to causal reasoning and occurs when a speaker argues, with insufficient evidence, that one thing caused or causes another. When I was in high school, teachers used to say that wearing baseball caps would make us go bald when we got older. In an attempt to persuade us to not wear hats in the classroom, they were arguing, fallaciously, that wearing baseball caps is what causes baldness. When a false cause argument is made after the “effect,” it is referred to in Latin as post hoc ergo propter hoc, which means “after this, therefore because of this.” Blaming bad fortune on superstitions is a good example of faulty reasoning that tries to argue for a connection between an “effect” that has already occurred and its preceding “cause.” My bad luck is more likely attributable to poor decisions I have made or random interference than the mirror I broke while moving two years ago.

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