“On causation.”

It’s funny but we often assume causation when it is not there.

Meaning that we assume that A caused B because they happen around the same time.

We all know that if someone opens a door behind us and then the phone rings that A did not cause B to happen, but what about when someone opens the door at the same time we stub our big toe?  Yeah, maybe, it depends.  What if every time someone opens the door, we stub our big toe?  Sounds like causation to me.  Open the door, stub toe.   So if this was a scientific study, we are apt to conclude in this (rather silly) case I made up that A causes B.

However, what was missing in the above example is that we were not paying attention to sound.  Meaning that in reality, it was the scary sound that the door had that caused us to stub our toe – and was not the door at all.  Had someone come along with an airhorn, it would have had the same impact on our toe.  Thus proving that really the sound was the proper A causing B.

Nothing major here, other than the fact that I noticed that often times, studies that we rely on try to prove cause and effect, when in fact, the study simply focused on the wrong variable.  So that’s one important point to keep in mind, when someone claims A causes B.  Often times, there is a C out there that they failed to see.

However, another thing to keep in mind, is that we attribute causation, when it is not there, based simply on one time experiences or random events.  In fact, just today, a post was scheduled to post, but realized that if I let it, a friend would assume causation, which certainly wasn’t my intent as this post was scheduled weeks before the conversation with this friend, so I pushed it out.  Of course, I don’t usually review upcoming posts, but had I not, I am sure that he would have assumed causation, and misunderstood my position.

So be careful before you claim causation.  Even when things seem obvious, you might have just missed the real reason, or there might be no connection at all!

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