Questionable Cause

AKA: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation

This fallacy takes two forms - one being Post Hoc, Ergo Prompter Hoc ("this happened before that, therefore this caused that"), and Non Causa Pro Causa ("non-cause for a cause.")

As an example of the first type, Marty starts singing "Frosty The Snowman." As soon as the song is over, it starts snowing - so Marty concludes that his singing caused the snowfall.

Or, let's say a highschool student steals a car. The boy happens to be a fan of the Grand Theft Auto game series. His mother concludes that playing these games must be responsible for his behavior - even though thousands of people play this series without going on to steal cars, and thousands of car thieves have never touched the game.

Or, statistical studies of a minority demographic show that there is a higher rate of suicide, depression, and poverty among this demographic. After reading a study, Annie concludes that simply being a member of this minority is the reason for this - that members of this minority are simply more inclined toward suicide, depression, and poverty. Annie does not examine the possibility that members of this minority are often shunned in society (which contributes to depression and suicide), and shunning means they have a difficult time getting good jobs, which means they often cannot afford to care for themselves (hence poverty and untreated depression).

An an example of the second type, Chelsea shares a taxi cab with a man who has a cold. After getting out in the car, she finds herself in a freezing rainstorm. Later, Chelsea comes down with a cold, and concludes that exposure to the cold weather and rain, rather than exposure to the cold virus, was the cause.

Or, let's say a superhero movie with a female lead does terribly in theaters. Roger concludes that it's because the movie had a female lead, rather than other possible causes such as poor writing, bad acting, or being overshadowed by a more highly-anticipated or better-publicized film. (This type of thinking is unfortunately common in the entertainment industry. Meanwhile, plenty of films with male leads fail all the time, and nobody ever chalks their failure up to being male-lead. And then there are plenty of female-lead films and TV shows that do perfectly well - eg, the Hunger Games series, Once Upon A Time, etc.)

Or, Gina sees various popular TV and movie characters, and she notices that many of these characters are exceptionally skilled or powered in some way. Gina concludes that these characters are popular solely because of their powers and skills, and so she creates a character who is even more powerful, thinking it will make her character even more popular. However, in reality people liked these skilled/powerful characters for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to having story arcs that built up believable suspense and drama around the character and having traits, quirks, and nuances that made the audience care what happened to the characters as people, rather than simply admire them for having skills powers.

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