False cause: Ignoring common cause

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In general, the false cause fallacy occurs when the “link between premises and conclusion depends on some imagined causal connection that probably does not exist”. There are three different ways an argument can commit the false cause fallacy: post hoc ergo propter hoc; cum hoc ergo propter hoc; and ignoring common cause. This chapter focuses on one of the common fallacies in Western philosophy, ‘ignoring common cause’. The commercial exploited the false cause fallacy to get consumers to buy its product. This fallacy is also present in many of the arguments concerning the alleged connection between vaccines and autism despite the plethora of evidence otherwise. The chapter consists of various examples showcasing the fallacy of ignoring common cause. It also compares the examples, showing that slight changes can lead the other types of false cause fallacies to occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBad Arguments
Subtitle of host publication50 Common Fallacies and How to Avoid Them
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781119165811
ISBN (Print)9781119165781
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Cum hoc ergo propter hoc
  • Ignoring common cause
  • Post hoc ergo propter hoc
  • Western philosophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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