The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) fallacy occurs when a person erroneously assumes that because B followed A, then A must be the cause of B. Studying this fallacy teaches us one lesson, in particular: don’t make assumptions. Sometimes we can conclude that A caused B without researching A and B, and we are correct–but that’s a lucky guess. We have to learn the cause or causes of events, not make assumptions. Research is necessary!
For example, I can conclude that A (Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 Presidential election) caused B (the occupation of Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, by Donald Trump supporters), but I should not come to this conclusion before researching this event. I can begin this research process by asking questions. Why were these 2,000-2,500 Trump supporters not prevented from occupying Capitol Hill, one of the supposedly most secure sites in the country, as it’s the seat of U.S. government? I should also ask: how was this group organized, and by whom? Astoundingly, none of the supporters were shot, although there seems to be reliable evidence that some of them were armed, and some supporters directly caused the hospitalization of police officers: “[they] … used knives, stolen police shields, a stun gun, fire extinguisher and more. Hand-to-hand combat led to more than a dozen officers being sent to the hospital, some of whom had bone fractures and concussions” (Holmes Lybrand, CNN).
In 500 words (two pages), share two stories in which …
1. A did not cause B, but people assume A did cause B, so a post hoc, ergo proper hoc fallacy has been committed!
2. A did cause B, so no post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy has been committed.
You can research the stories or share stories from your own life.
• Label each story: “A did not cause B” or “A did cause B,” as appropriate.