Causal

Causal fallacies are those centered around flawed notions of correlation and causation.

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Gambler’s fallacy:

Definition Example
When it is suggested that the likelihood of a random event can be affected by or predicted from other, independent events. The coin flip has resulted in 5 “heads” in a row. I’m overdue for a “tails”.
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Appeal to motive:

Definition Example
When a claim is dismissed, by calling into question the motives of its sponsor. You are claiming that my girlfriend is cheating on me only because you want to date her yourself!
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Wrong causal direction:

Causal Fallacy
Definition Example
When actual cause and effect are erroniously reversed. I’ve noticed that people with psychological disorders tend to use recreational drugs. They must be taking drugs to relieve the trauma of their disorders.
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Slippery slope:

Definition Example
When it is claimed that a small first step will inevitably lead to a chain of related events culminating in some significant undesirable impact. If we allow alcohol use on campus, we will eventually be forced to allow illicit drug use.
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Retrospective determinism:

Definition Example
When it is assumed that, because some event has occurred, its occurrence was inevitable, and should have been clear from the “obvious” causes. From the time the young Wayne Gretzky first put on skates, it was obvious from his natural ability and determination that he was destined for greatness.
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Regression fallacy:

Definition Example
When the cause of some apparent phenomenon is assumed to be some factor outside statistical noise and artifacts, when natural and expected statistical dynamics may in part or wholly account for the apparent phenomenon. Last year we had 12 car accidents on main street, double the previous year’s figures! The frequency of accidents on Main Street fell to only 6 again after a speed camera was installed early this year. Therefore, the speed camera has improved road safety.
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Post hoc ergo propter hoc

Causal Fallacy
Definition Example
When a cause of a phenomenon is attributed to a prior phenomenon without providing sufficient evidence of a causal link. After I started wearing a copper bracelet, my health improved! It worked!
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Single cause fallacy:

Definition Example
When it is assumed that there is merely one cause of a phenomenon, while other possibly contributing causes go undetected, are ignored or are illegitimately minimized. The recent drop in crime in our neighborhood is due to better policing.
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Correlation is not causation:

Causal Fallacy
Definition Example
When a correlation found between two variables is presumed to demonstrate a causal relationship Children who eat breakfast have higher grades, so eating breakfast causes higher grades.
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Circular cause and consequence:

Definition Example
When the consequence of the phenomenon is said to be an unavoidable cause of the phenomenon when the truth may be otherwise. My music CD is not popular because people are not listening to it. And people are not listening to it because it is not popular. If they would only listen to it, it would become popular.
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