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Galton Board: balls dropped on staggered pegs carom downward causally in accordance with a statistical random distribution Fallacy of
False Cause,
Non Causa Pro Causa
Examples Exercise

Abstract: False Cause , Non Causa Pro Causa, and related fallacy examples are provided and analyzed for credibility in a self-scoring quiz.

Fallacy Practice Directions:

(1) Study the features of the False Cause Fallacy from this web page: False Cause or Non Causa Pro Causa.

(2) Read and analyze the following passages.

(3) Explain with a sentence or two as to whether or not you judge the False Cause fallacy to be present.

  1. “[W]hat above all is here worthy of observation, is the generation of the animal spirits, which are like a very subtle wind, or rather a very pure and vivid flame which, continually ascending in great abundance from the heart to the brain, thence penetrates through the nerves into the muscles, and gives motion to all the members; so that to account for other parts of the blood which, as most agitated and penetrating, are the fittest to compose these spirits, proceeding toward the brain, it is not necessary to suppose any other cause …”[1]

  2. “Conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck said last year the Japanese earthquake and tsunami were God's ‘message being sent’ to that country. A year earlier, Christian broadcaster and former GOP presidential candidate Pat Robertson tied the Haitian earthquake to that country's “pact to the devil.” Previously, Robertson argued Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for abortion, while the Rev. John Hagee said the storm was God's way of punishing homosexuality.”[2]

  3. “[F]iery [star] Sirius, that bearer of drought and pestilence to feeble mortals, rises and saddens the sky with baleful light.”[3]

  4. “[Former Education Secretary Arne] Duncan writes, “Universities … often miseducate teachers … and school districts across the country mismanage new teacher by consistently placing them in situations for which they're unprepared.” … [D]uring the 2011-12 school year … 8 percent left in the profession (“leavers”) during the following year according to the National Center for Education Statistics' most recent data on teacher attrition and mobility. … The same data set found that “51% of public school teachers who left teaching in 2012-13 reported that the manageability of their work load was better in their current position than in teaching. Additionally, 53 percent of public school leavers reported that their general work conditions were better in their current position than in teaching.”[4]

  5. “[P]hilosophers have attributed a thousand effects to the abhorrence of a vacuum … [They] commonly teach that vessels full of water break when they freeze, because the water contracts, and thus leaves a vacuum which nature cannot endure.”[5]

  6. “Home buyers have actually sued over undisclosed hauntings. For example, when Jeffrey Stambovsky bought a turreted turn-of-the century Victorian in Nyack, New York, in 1990, he wasn't familiar with local legends. Nor had the seller disclosed her experiences to him, which included a ghost that periodically shook her daughter's bed, another that hovered in midair, and one that dressed as a Navy lieutenant during the American Revolution and confronted her son ‘eyeball to eyeball outside the basement door.’ Once Stambovsky got wind of all this, he wanted out of the purchase. He got his way, but only after taking the seller and real estate agent to court, claiming fraudulent misrepresentation. Eventually, a New York appellate court made the astonishing ruling that the house was haunted as a matter of law, because the former owner had previously reported the ghosts to the media.”[6]

  7. The ability to intuit causes is suggested in the following comment made by Benedick concerning the playing of music:

    Don Pedro: Come, shall we hear this music? …

    Benedict: [Aside] Now, divine air! now is his soul ravished! — Is it not strange, that sheep's guts should hale souls out of men's bodies? — Well, a horn for my money, when all's done.”[7]

  8. “If you marry my Daughter I make you my heire: … if you will have warre, looke for cost, trouble, and daunger, for these are incident, and cleave to every person, that will live in warres.”[8]

  9. “Aesop's Fly on the Chariot Wheel doubtless argued ‘Seeing that I am on this chariot, which proceeds so gloriously, is it not rational to imagine that I am the cause of its speed?’”[9]

  10. Donald Trump: “Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news — it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”[10]

  11. “Until 1954, it was considered pretty much impossible to run a mile in four minutes, and in that year it was actually done. After that, the record was broken again and again by runners. Why? The first runner to break that limit proved the belief that it was impossible wrong and mentally enabled other runners to succeed.”[11]

  12. “One thing I would like to repeat, ancient Rome declined because it had a senate. Now what's going to happen to us with both a Senate and a House? Let's be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.”[12]

  13. “While there is no question our Judeo-Christian values took a hit in recent years, we have not yet reached the point of a totally godless government that sets itself up as the supreme authority and giver of rights. As a nation, we must decide definitely whether we believe in God and godly principles. We must decide whether we revere the Bible and what it means when our elected officials take their oaths of office with one hand upon it. If we do nothing, we allow by default the elimination of God as a central figure in our culture. ”[13]

  14. “Weather Underground comrade William Ayers is a professor of education on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Unrepentant, in the wake of 9/11, Ayers told us: “I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough.” Bernardine Dohrn, his wife, is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law. Her stated mission is to overthrow capitalism. Ayers and Dohrn, as well as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are people who hate our nation and are longtime associates of President Obama's. That might help in explaining our president's vision.”[14]

  15. “Galen mentions an amulet belonging to an Egyptian king, who is said to have lived 630 B.C. It was composed of a green jasper cut in the form of a dragon, and surrounded with rays. This was applied to strengthen the stomach and organs of digestion.”[15]


[Source title links below connect to the online page reference.]

1. Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method, (1637 London: J.M. Dent, 1912), 43.

2. Dana Milbank, “Signs of Divine Intervention for Republican Party,” Index-Journal 94 no. 116 (August 24, 2012), 7A. Also here: “Milbank: Signs of Divine Intervention for Republicans?,” The San Diego Union-Tribune [accessed 2020-01-02]

3. Virgil, Aeneid, X:273-275.

4. Esther Cepeda, “Teachers Need Better Preparation to Get the Best Results,” Index-Journal 100 no.254 (November 27, 2018), 6A. Also here: “Cepeda: Teachers Need Better Preparation to Get the Best Results,Gwinnett Daily Post. Study Link: Rebecca Goldring et al. “Teacher Attrition and Mobility: Results From the 2012-13 Teacher Follow-up Survey,” (September 2014). 3. [accessed 2020-01-02]

5. Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole, The Port-Royal Logic, trans. T. B. Baynes 5th ed. (Edinburgh: James Gordon, 1861), 135.

6. Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991) source: Ilona Bray, Selling Your House: Nolo's Essential Guide 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA: Nolo, 2017), 85.

7. William Shakespeare, “Much Ado About Nothing,” II:3:46,59-63.

8. Ralphe Lever, The Arte of Reason, Rightly Termed Witcraft; Teaching a Perfect Way to Argue and Dispute, (London, 1573), 69, 192. Also quoted in Sister Miriam Joseph, Shakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language (Ravenio, 2016), 352.

9. John Scott and John Taylor, “Diary for the Month of March,” The London Magazine: New Series, VII no. 27 (January – April, 1827) (London: Hunt and Clarke, 1827), 508.

10. Donald Trump, Twitter Tweet (January 2, 2018) quoted in David A. Graham, “Trump's False Claim of Credit for Aviation Safety,The Atlantic (January 2, 2018).

11. Joel Falconer, “Find & Replace Limiting Beliefs, Part 2: Replace Old Ideas,” Life Hack (May 7, 2009).

12. D. R. Hann, “Mark Twain, ” My Interviews with Famous Dead People, (Las Vegas, NV: Create Space Publishing 2009), 159.

13. Ben S. Carson, “Still One Nation Under God,” Index-Journal 95 no. 270 (February 15 2013), 9A. Also here: Ben Carson, “Still One Nation Under God?, ” Creators Syndicate (February 4, 2014). [accessed 2020-01-02]

14. Walter Williams, “Academic Cesspools,” Index-Journal 94 no. 359 (April 25, 201), 7A. Also here: “Academic Cesspools,” Creator's Syndicate, (April 24, 2013). [accessed 2020-01-02]

15. C.B. Davenport, “Vulgar Specifics and Therapeutic Superstitions,” Popular Science Monthly, ed. J. McKeen Cattell (July to December, 1913) vol. LXXXIII (New York: The Science Press, 1913), 83.



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