Philosophy Index

False Cause

A false cause fallacy occurs when one cites to sequential events as evidence that the first caused the second.

The argument generally looks like this:

Event A happened.
Event B happened after A.
Therefore, A caused B.

The false cause fallacy is sometimes summarized and presented under the slogans “correlation is not causation” and “sequence is not causation”.

Example of false cause fallacy:

Every day, I eat cereal for breakfast. One time, I had a muffin instead, and there was a major earthquake in my city. I've eaten cereal ever since.

In this case, the speaker seems to have the superstitious belief that the earthquake was his or her fault, because it coincided with the odd occurance of having eaten a muffin for breakfast, despite there being no logical connection between these events

For a related problem with all claims of causality, see David Hume on causality in the problem of induction.