Logical  Fallacy: a error in reasoning
  (adj)     (noun)

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Statement #87 Discussion

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Below is the statement as it appears with the fallacy marked as correct. You can see the totals of most frequent responses to this statement. And after reading the any discussion going on below, you can select your choice(s) for the correct answer. For now, whoever posts each statement can update corrections.
Yesterday Bill went to his friends house and ate an apple. Today it was raining, so if Bill eats an apple at his friends house it will rain.
Post Hoc
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

AKA False Cause, Questionable Cause, Confusing Coincidental Relationships With Causes

Category: Fallacies of Presumption → Casual Fallacies

A Post Hoc is a fallacy with the following form:

  1. A occurs before B.
  2. Therefore A is the cause of B.
The Post Hoc fallacy derives its name from the Latin phrase "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc." This has been traditionally interpreted as "After this, therefore because of this." This fallacy is committed when it is concluded that one event causes another simply because the proposed cause occurred before the proposed effect. More formally, the fallacy involves concluding that A causes or caused B because A occurs before B and there is not sufficient evidence to actually warrant such a claim.

It is evident in many cases that the mere fact that A occurs before B in no way indicates a causal relationship. For example, suppose Jill, who is in London, sneezed at the exact same time an earthquake started in California. It would clearly be irrational to arrest Jill for starting a natural disaster, since there is no reason to suspect any causal connection between the two events. While such cases are quite obvious, the Post Hoc fallacy is fairly common because there are cases in which there might be some connection between the events. For example, a person who has her computer crash after she installs a new piece of software would probably suspect that the software was to blame. If she simply concluded that the software caused the crash because it was installed before the crash she would be committing the Post Hoc fallacy. In such cases the fallacy would be committed because the evidence provided fails to justify acceptance of the causal claim. It is even theoretically possible for the fallacy to be committed when A really does cause B, provided that the "evidence" given consists only of the claim that A occurred before B. The key to the Post Hoc fallacy is not that there is no causal connection between A and B. It is that adequate evidence has not been provided for a claim that A causes B. Thus, Post Hoc resembles a Hasty Generalization in that it involves making a leap to an unwarranted conclusion. In the case of the Post Hoc fallacy, that leap is to a causal claim instead of a general proposition.

Not surprisingly, many superstitions are probably based on Post Hoc reasoning. For example, suppose a person buys a good luck charm, does well on his exam, and then concludes that the good luck charm caused him to do well. This person would have fallen victim to the Post Hoc fallacy. This is not to say that all "superstitions" have no basis at all. For example, some "folk cures" have actually been found to work.

Post Hoc fallacies are typically committed because people are simply not careful enough when they reason. Leaping to a causal conclusion is always easier and faster than actually investigating the phenomenon. However, such leaps tend to land far from the truth of the matter. Because Post Hoc fallacies are committed by drawing an unjustified causal conclusion, the key to avoiding them is careful investigation. While it is true that causes precede effects (outside of Star Trek, anyway), it is not true that precedence makes something a cause of something else. Because of this, a causal investigation should begin with finding what occurs before the effect in question, but it should not end there.

Click For Fallacy Description

 1,131 Total Answer Attempts   55%
 622 Correctly Popped Fallacies
 509 Incorrectly Un/Popped
posted by JGP     

Most Common Responses

622 - Post Hoc
78 - Confusing Cause and Effect
34 - Hasty Generalization
33 - Ignoring a Common Cause
32 - Appeal to the Consequences of a Belief
29 - False Dilemma
26 - Relativist Fallacy
24 - Fallacy of Composition
24 - Misleading Vividness
21 - Circumstantial Ad Hominem
19 - Gambler's Fallacy
19 - Biased Generalization
18 - Appeal to Belief
17 - Slippery Slope
12 - Begging the Question
11 - Appeal to Common Practice
10 - Appeal to Tradition
10 - Guilt by Association
10 - Burden of Proof
9 - Fallacy of Division
9 - Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
8 - Red Herring
8 - Ad Hominem
8 - Appeal to Ridicule
7 - Special Pleading
6 - Personal Attack
5 - Genetic Fallacy
5 - Appeal to Fear
4 - Appeal to Spite
4 - Appeal to Novelty
3 - Poisoning the Well
2 - Middle Ground
1 - Appeal to Authority
1 - Appeal to Emotion
1 - Peer Pressure
1 - Appeal to Pity

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