Ignoring a Common Cause Examples

Ignoring a Common Cause

A fallacy is an argument or belief based on erroneous reasoning. Ignoring a common cause is one type of fallacy. This fallacy happens when someone believes that one thing caused another, without considering another factor that could have caused both things. For example, you think that event 1 caused event 2 to happen. However, they both were actually caused by event 3.

Examples of Ignoring a Common Cause:

1. Sarah has a sore throat and a runny nose. She thinks her runny nose caused her sore throat. In reality, Sarah's doctor discovers that she has strep, which caused both the sore throat and the runny nose.

2. Mark notices that a tree in his yard is dying. A few weeks later, he notices that the flowers planted around the tree are dying. He notices that many leaves from the tree are piled around the flowers and concludes that the dead tree killed the flowers. His landscaper, however, tells him that the river near his house was recently polluted by a local factory and that the toxins in the water got into the soil, killing his tree and flowers.

3. When I get out of bed, my dog outside also gets up and begins barking. I conclude that my getting out of bed wakes up my dog. In reality, it is likely the rising sun that wakes him up.

4. Maurice had high SAT scores. Maurice does well in college. Maurice concludes that his high SAT scores caused him to do well in college. In reality, Maurice's intellectual ability caused both.

5. Jessica saw a flash of lightning just before the rain began to fall. She concluded that the rain was caused by the lightning. In reality, the approaching storm, and changes in the atmosphere, caused both.

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