TOK - Natural Science

Correlation – Causation

We experience the world in a time-oriented manner through cause and effect. We get into trouble when the mind seeks or creates an artificial cause/effect relationship that doesn’t actually exist. After something especially beneficial or harmful occurs, we want to know what caused it. We tend to focus on the first action we noticed before the effect, then assume that it must have been the catalyst triggering the later event. Nine times out of ten, we’re right.

That makes us lazy intellectually; we forget that, one time out of ten, we pick the wrong cause.

In Latin, this type of logical mistake is called the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which means “After this, therefore because of this.” It’s the idea that any event which happened first must be the particular event that caused a good or bad event later, and once we find a possible answer we tend to snatch hold of it and then stop thinking about other possibilities.

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