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Fallacies of Cause



Whenever a logical fallacy is committed, the fallacy has its roots in Agrippa's trilemma which is simply the fact that the foundation of all human thought (without Divine revelation) is one of three unhappy possibilities. These three possibilities are infinite regression, circular reasoning, or bare assertions without any evidence.


Fallacies of Cause

  • Causal Fallacy / Gratuitous Inculpation / Spurious Causation / Logical Fallacy of Questionable Cause / Causal Fallacy / False Cause / Assuming the Cause / False Cause and Effect / Phantom Cause / False Cause / Non Causa Pro Causa: occurs when any error is made in trying to find the reason why something happened. This term includes all causal fallacies. A certain cause and effect relationship is claimed but no cause and effect relationship can be proven to exist. Questionable causes include circular cause and consequence, insignificant cause, cum hoc, ergo propter hoc (correlation implies causation), fallacy of the single cause, elephant repellent, post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this), regression fallacy, Texas sharpshooter fallacy, third-cause fallacy, and wrong direction.
  • Logical Fallacy of Limited Depth: occurs when a theory does explain what can be observed but doesn't appeal to the underlying causes.
  • Logical Fallacy of Causal Reductionism / Causal Oversimplification / Fallacy of the Single Cause / Simplistic-Complexity: occurs when a complex cause is reduced to a subset of its components as if it represented the whole. As with many fallacies, reductionism is often used as a tool for thinking, since the human mind is so limited. It is called abstraction in certain disciplines. We usually can't think about everything at once. A model, or abstraction, abstracts certain elements so that we can think about those elements and try to do analysis. However, the problem is that we sometimes forget that the model is not reality itself, and then we add it as confirmation bias to prove to ourselves that some parts of our worldview/paradigm/fake-inner-reality are real, though they are not.
  • Inevitability  / Retrospective Determinism / Path Dependency: occurs when an excuse is made for behavior that there was no choice in the matter, since what happened had to happen. Some may argue that God reveals predestination through Scripture. Take the verses that are thought to say this. Do those passages read exactly that way, or are some assumptions needed. If this is an interpretation of Scripture, can you be certain that you have not used assumptions to add to Scripture or to eliminate Scripture to come up with this conclusion, or is it merely human reasoning added to Scripture? Keep in mind that the word that is translated as “predestination” is actually “set ahead of time” in the same way that God would set an elder. EXAMPLE "The devil made me do it."
  • Determinism / Determination / Determinist Fallacy: occurs when it is assumed that free will/agency is an illusion. There is no way to come to this conclusion without making assumptions; therefore, it is irrational to use it as a basis for further thought. EXAMPLE “The devil made me do it.” The devil can’t make you do anything and God won’t make you do anything. We know this by Divine revelation: Every person has free will. God holds each one responsible for how they use this free will. This doesn’t mean that there is no world outside of each person’s free will, and it doesn’t mean that God is not in control of all that happens to us. He allows some things. He doesn’t allow others. That means that things happen to us that we didn’t will. It means that people get Alzheimer disease that they didn’t want to get, and that their thinking is affected. It means that people are killed in car accidents that they didn’t personally will. And God knew all about the whole mess before any of it happened. None of this conflicts with what God has revealed about free will.
  • Furtive Fallacy: occurs when outcomes are asserted necessarily to have been caused by the malfeasance of decision makers. This is generally applied to history.
  • Fallacy of Multiplication: occurs when extra non-causes are included in the actual causes. Bill Nye arguing against Creation science: “If we continue to eschew science, eschew the process, and try to divide science into observational science and historic science, we are not going to move forward, we’ll not embrace natural laws, we’ll not make discoveries, we’ll not invent and innovate and stay ahead.” It is probably true that we might stop inventing, innovating, and staying ahead if we were to eschew the scientific process. However, knowing the difference between historical and observational science involves knowing the difference between creative imagination and observation. It would seem that that might actually help inventing, innovating, and staying ahead to be able to know the difference between make-believe and reality. Bill added this extra cause. He also added a cause that he called “eschewing science.” Looking at the bulk of Bill’s talk, he was on both sides of the issue of challenging scientific traditions. On the one hand, he said that challenging old ideas is what science is all about. Then, he made remarks like this one in which he defines “science” as the process and the old ideas, and he defines “eschewing science” as challenging old ideas. Every scientific breakthrough happens because someone challenges old ideas. But Bill was really only talking about the old idea of the sacred cow known as the Big-Bang-Billions-of-Years-No-Flood-Molecules-to-Man story.
  • Logical Fallacy of the Conspiracy Theory: occurs when someone assumes that there is a conspiracy of one or more people, but there is no evidence for it because they are so good at covering up the evidence. Of course, conspiracies are going on all the time. Most of us have been part of at least one and probably many. Perhaps they were not dangerous conspiracies, but they were conspiracies nonetheless. EXAMPLE Sandy: "From the very beginning of our quest to unravel the Christ conspiracy, we encounter suspicious territory, as we look back in time and discover that the real foundation of Christianity appears nothing like the image provided by the clergy and mainstream authorities." Rocky: "That is amazing that you could say that, given that Jesus Christ, including His birth, ministry, and resurrection, is by far the most documented human being of ancient times. However, I know that the account of Jesus Christ in the Bible is real and actual because I know Jesus Christ personally. He is the One Who guides me moment by moment, and I'm learning to hear His Voice and to respond in obedience." Sandy: "See! You are in on the conspiracy!!!" (There are many conspiracy theories concerning Christ with one ungodly person trying to out-do the last one. They write books about their silly theories, but the real problem is not that they don't know that Christ is their God. It is not a problem of the intellect but a problem of rebellion against Christ. They don't want Christ to rule over them. We know this by revelation. God says that everyone knows.)
  • Unnatural Fallacy: occurs when an argument that something (object, being, phenomenon, etc.) in existence is not a result of natural causes. This argument is most often used when comparing man-made phenomena to those that occur without human intervention. With this definition of natural and unnatural, humanity is not part of what is natural. In another sense, what is natural is what is according to the design and plan of God. Without acknowledging God and His will as it has been revealed, there is no rational way to say what is natural and what is not natural in this sense. However, God does reveal His will to whomever will acknowledge Him and stand in His Presence. This is available only through Jesus Christ. Those who do acknowledge Him are given His faith by which they can believe and trust Christ. This gives them spiritual senses that can be developed by listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit and keeping step with that leading.
  • Blame a Scapegoat / Scapegoating / Framing / Blame A Non-Factor: occurs when a person/organization/concept/factor is blamed for an error or problem that was not caused by the person/organization/concept/factor. Framing here is not to be confused with the framing fallacy. The framing fallacy has to do with asking the wrong question. Framing has to do with trying to place blame wrongly.
  • Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Coincidence / Appeal to Luck / Appeal to Bad Luck: occurs when a certain effect or result is attributed to chance even though the evidence strongly points to another cause.
  • Logical Fallacy of Subverted Support: occurs when an explanation of the cause of a phenomenon is given, but there is no evidence that the phenomenon happens. EXAMPLE Marshall Brain: "The theory of evolution further proposes that billions of these mutations created all of the life forms we see today. An initial self-replicating molecule spontaneously formed. It evolved into single-cell organisms. These evolved into multi-cell organisms, which evolved into vertebrates like fish, and so on." There is no evidence that any of this happened. Nor is there any evidence that a similar thing is happening today.
  • Lurking Variable / Confounding Factor: occurs where incorrect assumption regarding one or more variables results in a spurious correlation of cause and effect. In other word, there can be another undetected variable that makes it seem like two other things are related in a cause and effect relationship. EXAMPLE Age of the Earth calculations often leave out certain variables such is the fact that data is cherry-picked, and there are various ways of rationalizing to deal with “unexpected” results. These are lurking variables that are seldom openly discussed.
  • Taking Undeserved Credit: occurs when credit is taken for work by a minor contributor (or non-contributor) with power or opportunity to take the credit. This is a false cause fallacy. EXAMPLE Uri Geller, the illusionist, was adept at taking credit for phenomenon that happened around him. At Waterstone's Bookshop in Manchester, UK, a banging noise came from upstairs. Geller stopped and said, "I hope that wasn't me." EXAMPLE It is very common for human beings to take the credit for their own success (of for politicians to take credit for God's blessings) when the success was a gift from God.
  • Logical Fallacy of Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc / Post Hoc Reasoning / After This; Therefore Because of This: occurs when it is assumed that just because something follows something it is caused by whatever it follows.
  • Correlation Proves Causation / Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc / Coincidental Correlation / Correlation Implies Causation: occurs when a statistical correlation between two variables is thought to be proof that one causes the other, but there is no proof that one causes the other. This fallacy is often applied very selectively for political reasons. It can sweep away a lot of evidence. Correlation, however, does have some significance. It is just not conclusive.
  • Logical Fallacy of Reversing Cause and Effect / Wrong Direction: occurs when two things happen together and the real cause is seen as the effect and the effect is seen as the cause. The cause and effect are swapped, what was thought to be the cause is actually the effect and what was thought to be the effect was actually the cause.
  • Logical Fallacy of Ion / Regression Fallacy: occurs when cause is claimed when none exists in reality. It is a failure to acknowledge natural fluctuations, and it is a particular type of post hoc fallacy. This fallacy applies to such things as golf scores, the earth's temperature, and chronic back pain. In medicine, the natural regression toward the mean makes it difficult to know whether a given treatment is the cause for improvement. Ion is a particular kind of post hoc fallacy.
  • Logical Fallacy of Joint Effect / Common Cause / Confounding Factor: occurs when one thing is thought to cause another, but, in reality, both are caused by a third thing.
  • Logical Fallacy of Insignificant / Insignificant Cause / Genuine but Insignificant Cause: occurs when the thing that is identified as the cause is a genuine cause but not the main cause.
  • Elephant Repellent: occurs when a claim is made that one thing prevents some other thing that doesn’t happen anyway. It is a false cure based on a false cause for a non-existent problem. Often, this fallacy is confused with a fallacy of solving a real problem with a radical action (such as gun control or wealth redistribution) that is not going to solve the problem (such as violent crime or poverty). That would be a fallacy of a wrong solution, an ineffective solution, or a harmful solution. Elephant repellent refers to non-existent problems such as global cooling and the coming ice age, which was thought to be a problem by most scientists between 1970 and 1980 and was reported in the media (at least 65 articles still exist on the Internet). EXAMPLE “We must give up freedom to stop the imminent disaster.” Generally, the disasters are not elephant attacks, but other kinds of non-existent problems.

Last updated: Sep, 2014
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Causal Fallacy / Gratuitous Inculpation / Spurious Causation / Logical Fallacy of Questionable Cause / Causal Fallacy / False Cause / Assuming the Cause / False Cause and Effect / Phantom Cause / False Cause / Non Causa Pro Causa

Logical Fallacy of Limited Depth

Logical Fallacy of Causal Reductionism / Causal Oversimplification

The Logical Fallacy of Inevitability / Retrospective Determinism / Path Dependency

Determinism / Determination / Determinist Fallacy

Furtive Fallacy

Fallacy of Multiplication

Logical Fallacy of the Conspiracy Theory

Unnatural Fallacy / Persuasive Definition of Nature

Blame a Scapegoat / Scapegoating / Framing / Blame A Non-Factor / the Blame Game

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Coincidence / Appeal to Luck / Appeal to Bad Luck

Logical Fallacy of Subverted Support

Lurking Variable / Confounding Factor

Logical Fallacy of Taking Undeserved Credit

Correlation Proves Causation / Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc / Coincidental Correlation / Correlation Implies Causation

Logical Fallacy of Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc / Post Hoc Reasoning / After This; Therefore Because of This

Logical Fallacy of Reversing Cause and Effect / Wrong Direction

Logical Fallacy of Ion / Regression Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Joint Effect / Common Cause / Confounding Factor

Logical Fallacy of Insignificant / Insignificant Cause / Genuine but Insignificant Cause

Elephant Repellent Fallacy

Bread Crumbs

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Toons & Vids



General Fallacies

Fallacies of Presumptions, Bare Assertions, and Lies (using no evidence at all)

Fallacies of Flawed Evidence

Fallacies of Limiting Presuppositions

Statistical Fallacies

Fallacies of Contradiction

Fallacies of Comparison

Fallacies of Choice

Fallacies of Cause

Fallacies of Circular Reasoning

Fallacies of Non Sequitur

Fallacies of Invalid Form

Fallacies of Ambiguity

Relevance Fallacies of Authority

Relevance Fallacies of Emotion

Relevance Fallacies of the Source: Person, Organization, Book, etc.

Relevance Fallacies of Pressure

Relevance Fallacies of Distraction/Misdirection

Fallacies of Omission

Tactics and Mind Games

Faulty Conclusions that Affect Future Reasoning

Answer to Critic



Answer to Critic

Appeal to Possibility

Circular Reasoning

Argument to the Future

Insignificant Cause

Word Magic

Love Between a Man and Woman


Colossians 2

Righteousness & Holiness

Don't Compromise


Proof by Atheism

Scriptures About Marriage

Genuine Authority

The Reason for Rejecting Truth

Witness on the Internet

Flaky Human Reasoning

How Do You Know?


The Real Purpose of the Church

The Real Purpose of Life

From Glory to Glory

REAL Faith--What it IS & IS NOT

REAL Love--What it IS & IS NOT

How to be Led by God

How to Witness

Wisdom: Righteousness & Reality

Holiness & Mind/Soul

Redemption: Free From Sin

Real Reality

Stories Versus Revelation

Understanding Logic

Logical Fallacies

Circular Reasoning-Who is Guilty?

How Can We Know Anything?

God's Word

God's Process

God's Pattern

Mind Designed to Relate to God

Answers for the Confused

Fossil Record Says: "Creation"

Avoid These Pitfalls

Public School's Religion

Twisting Science


Public School Failures

Twisting History

How can we know anything about anything? That's the real question

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