Do cruise ships bring the rain? The mysterious difference between causation versus correlation

I was complaining to a local friend last week about the rain here in Vanuatu. It rained every day for 2 weeks and I was going a bit stir crazy.

“It’s the cruise ships,” my friend told me.  Really?  “Yes, every single time a cruise ship comes to Vanuatu, it rains.  Everyone in my village knows, cruise ships bring rain.”

Sure enough it rained for as long as the ships remained, and yesterday when the ships left, the sun came out.  The natives are on to something!

What was amazing about this discussion was that it came just as I was preparing some articles for this blog about the difference between causation and correlation. This fundamental distinction between “X and Y happen together” versus “X causes Y” is perhaps the most misunderstood concept in the New Age community.

This discussion is important to you because many, if not most, New Age products and ideas, including alternative healing information, is based on this mistake of causation versus correlation.  If you can understand this vital point that even scientists often get wrong, then you have learned one of the key tools in logical thinking that will save you a lot of time and money.

More Vanuatu beliefs

According to Lonely Planet Vanuatu, the hill tribe people of Vanuatu made the connection that malaria occurred near the ocean. Up in the hills they were safe from malaria. Therefore it was obvious that sea water causes malaria.  People were forbidden from even looking at the ocean.  They confused correlation (malaria does indeed occur at sea level) with causation (the sea doesn’t cause malaria).  It was hundreds of years before they learned that mosquitoes – which live at sea level – are the cause.

I learned an even better example in researching today’s articles.  According to this article, the natives in Vanuatu believed that body lice produces good health.  They observed that healthy people always seemed to have lice, and yet sick people had no lice.  The observation is correct (there is correlation).  But lice don’t cause health any more than water causes malaria. They confused correlation with causation.

It took relatively advanced critical thinking to pierce the magical veil and convince tribes people that there was some other factor or cause at work. That mosquitos, living near water, cause malaria.  Or that lice will abandon a feverish body in search of healthy hosts.

This type of logical thinking requires knowledge which the native people did not have.

In other words it’s ignorance and lack of education which causes people to confuse correlation (X and Y happen together) with causation (X causes Y).

What does this have to do with me?

If you are reading my RPT blog you most probably have an interest in alternative health and personal development. That is what RPT is about.  And if you are interested in those subjects, there’s a chance that you are making several of the same logical fallacies that the indigenous people in my native land make.

“Hang on” you think!  “I am educated. I know that malaria is caused by mosquitos and that cruise ships don’t cause rain.  I don’t make that sort of mistake.”

Please relax, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. We all make these mistakes. To tell the truth, I’m as guilty as anyone else.  And in fact even the supposedly smartest brains in the medical profession make these sort of mistakes far too often. Let me share some educational examples.

(a) HRT tests produce shocking results

You might have heard about the surprising results that women who were taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) had a measurably lower risk of getting coronary heart disease. This caused doctors to suspect that HRT can protect women again heart disease.

However tests on random groups of women showed the opposite, women taking HRT have a slightly higher risk of heart disease.  How could the studies show opposite results?

Quite simply there were other hidden factors. In the first study, the women taking HRT were from wealthier backgrounds with better diet and exercise regimes.  Perhaps women who take HRT are more likely to look after themselves through exercise.  What matters is that HRT does not decrease heart disease. It’s just coinciding (correlated) with something else. It is a coincidence in the true meaning of the word.

Even doctors can make these basic mistakes.  For more information about this, and for more examples, see this Wikipedia page.

(b) Eating fatty foods causes intestinal cancer?

You might have heard the reports that there is a direct link between the amount of fatty food in your diet, and your cancer risk. In fact the diagram of the link looks pretty clear-cut.

It looks like damning evidence doesn’t it?  I’m know lots of people looked at that graph and went “that’s it, I’m off the fatty foods.”   I’m sure there are doctors and naturopaths around the world who saw that data and told their clients to get off fatty foods.  And they’d be wrong.

The right kind of fat is good for you so under certain circumstances a high fat diet can be excellent for your health.  It’s a myth that eating fat causes you to get fat, for instance.  Fat is often the most nutritious part of the meal. You see this in nature where predators that can afford to be selective eat the fat of their prey, not the leaner muscles.  My own diet is very high in avocados and nuts, both considered fatty foods.

Unfortunately a lot of healthy people have been misinformed that fat in foods (like nuts and avocados) is bad for you. It isn’t!  If you have been taught this, you need to go back to your teachers, and your teachers’ teachers, to expose the confusion between causation and correlation.

So why did the doctors get it wrong? Well it’s like that idea of salt water “causing malaria.”  Some other invisible factor causes both results.  People in richer countries tend to eat more fat, and are exposed to more carcinogens.  There are many types of cancer that are more common in rich countries because of the lifestyle that people can afford.  The people in poorer countries who cannot eat fat also cannot afford the sort of lifestyle that causes cancer.  Whatever the cause of the cancer – it isn’t fat. (Source:

(I’m not advocating poverty! There are lots of diseases more common in poor countries; it’s just that cancer isn’t one of them.)

So you see, even highly trained “experts” make the mistake of confusing correlation with causation. Is it any surprise then that New Age teachers, untrained in statistics, make these mistakes every day.

In my next article this week I’m going to continue this theme, examining as many New Age myths about correlation that I can think of. For now, I’d really like to hear from you.

Do you think that you confuse correlation with causation? Can you think of times when you saw A and B happening and assumed A causes B?   And what about New Age myths? Can you help me with some funny (or tragic) examples of healers or spiritual teachers confusing correlation and causation? I’d love to hear from you.


Simon Rose

April 19, 2011 in Logic and skeptical thinking
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

23 Responses

  1. Interesting… can’t think of any examples, but looking forward to your next article “examining as many New Age myths about correlation that I can think of”.

    Just a thought – often we *want* to believe in causation, right? Actually, the belief in divine intervention is just that isn’t it? A kind of ‘forced’ connection between two things – God and ‘event’…



    Simon Rose Reply:

    You are right, Divine Intervention is a form of Magical Thinking which is a way of confusing causation with correlation. A person prays, someone is healed, and wow Divine Intervention. But what of the 99.9% of the time when nothing happens? That is somehow not considered dis-proof of divine intervention. I think of this every time an athlete credits their gold medal to God / Jesus / FSM. What about the thousands of atheletes who lost races that day who prayed just as hard?

    Ben, we have a lot of work ahead of us raising consciousness about this form of self-delusion. But think how great the results will be if we succeed – a world in which people take responsibility for their lives and the consequences of their actions.

    Magical thinking is a dangerous force, a virus that has taken over the New Age.

    It’s so sad because the world really needs a new age. Global consciousness needs to shift around health (relying on drugs), education (rote learning not learning how to think), the environment, politics, etc. We need a new age, but we certainly don’t need the New Age movement as it stands.



  2. Hi Simon,
    thanks for the article. Basically you´re right but here are some comments and thoughts.
    “In other words it’s ignorance and lack of education which causes people to confuse correlation (X and Y happen together) with causation (X causes Y).”
    So in other words we only need to know more so we can explain the world. Sorry but that´s the old Newton Paradigma and is refuted. I could refer to Quatum Mechanics but here is a better example.
    When you look at a pendulum ( you can describe the behavior very exact by equations and the cause is the gravity. But in one point you can´t, when the pendulum is in the top point. When it is exactly on the top you have a Bifurcation Point ( The wind, the train in the next Station or a photon from Alpha Centaury can “cause” whether it falls on the one side or the other. So I would say it is connected to the whole world. When you only take a Triple pendulum ( you have a infinite number of such points.
    So i think Nils Bohr described it good: “We can perceive causality as a form of perception by which we organize our senses.”
    The concept of causality also require a external “something” which is the startpoint.
    “The argument of cause, by definition, separates cause from consequence.
    If mankind were the result of cause, it would not be able to know its own source,
    which would, by definition, be external, neither innate nor within, and therefore not truly knowable.” David Hawkins
    And my favorite story:
    Two monks were watching a flag flapping in the wind.
    One said to the other,
    “The flag is moving.”
    The other replied,
    “The wind is moving.”
    Huineng overheard this. He said,
    “Not the flag, not the wind; mind is moving.”

    In love


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Dear Peter

    I do not understand your comment at all. At best I think you misunderstood my point.

    I cannot even slightly understand where you are coming from and I would welcome your clarification.

    All I’m saying is that when it comes to magical thinking, the enemy is ignorance. Education raises awareness and critical thinking abilities. In fact, unlike what you call the Newtonian paradigm, there is no specific knowledge required. For instance I can refute the malaria and salt-water hypothesis without any knowledge of protazoan parasites.

    Are you really arguing against that?

    Please also exercise care when trying to pull quantum physics into a debate that has nothing to do with sub-atomic particles. One of my biggest objections to New Age pseudo-science is the constant claim “this is quantum physics.” (Think What the Bleep for instance.) For the most part there’s very little in New Age mythology that is supported by quantum physics. I am happy to have that debate – I will write an article on the topic and would love your contribution. My only point is that it isn’t relevant here to a very basic self-evident statement about the relationship between ignorance and education.

    I hope I haven’t come across harsh in my reply. I admit to just being quite confused by your comment.



    Simon Rose Reply:

    hi Peter, I’m sorry you haven’t had a chance to get back to me yet – I’m really looking forward to getting more clarity on what you were talking about.

    In relation to ignorance and the benefit of training, I was just watching a great video on the Dunning-Kruger effect or “Illusion of Superiority.” Put simply, people with poor judgment (people who believe in magical thinking) are always the same people who believe they have good judgment. This explains why New Agers (for example), or certain indigenous tribes perhaps, truly and honestly believe that their way is the right way and that they know better. They believe this no matter how much science you can show them which proves otherwise.

    Dunning & Kruger were able to measure this effect in remarkable ways. They also showed (at about the 6-6:30 mark) how EDUCATION and TRAINING helps people to improve both their skills and their self-assessment of their abilities.

    Well worth watching.



    Sue Healy Reply:

    Can we say “always”, Simon? As in “the people who have poor judgement are always the same people who believe they have good judgement”. Sometimes they are, indeed I’d be willing to bet there’s a substantial correlation, but to take that as it reads I’d have to conclude that anyone who believes they have good judgement actually has poor judgement. Don’t know. Unable to judge. Sue x

    Simon Rose Reply:

    Oops good spot Sue! Thanks. Yeah I meant “usually” not “always.”

    Funny thing – you could argue I just made the same correlation v causation fallacy.

    Dunning & Kruger said poor judgment was correlated with poor self-awareness and I turned it into poor judgment causes poor self-awareness.

    See we are all guilty of this one. Looks like I need some more education and training. (Lucky I’m doing that today whilst researching the next article. I’ve learned lots about skeptical thinking.)


    Peter Reply:

    Hi Simon,
    I don´t have much time and I need too much to write because of my bad english…
    I don´t wanted to confuse you and perhaps I misunderstood you. You talked about causation vs. correlation and
    that we only must replace all correlation with the right causation and so we know how the world goes?!
    And then I posted some thoughts on causation.
    I did consciously not referred to quantum physics. Because every one refer to it :)
    I read a lot about it and you can interpret it that there is no matter. I like this view.
    Quantum physic not only have to do with sub-atomic particles. You can see the impact in the world,
    for example in everybodys pocket is a mobilephone. It only works due quantum theory and in general
    the effects are only averaged and you can use the “old” Physic laws and causation.
    But this means not that the effects are not there!
    Did you get what I want to say with the Pendulum example? These bifurcation points
    are the points where the pendulum is “alive” and connected to the whole world. The pendulum needs continual energy
    to stay “alive” and to be dynamically stabilized. I belive that these concept can also be find in life general.
    Everybody thinks his opinion is the truth or do you think somebody belive something and think it is not true?
    That ist absolut normal.
    Sure you are right in a world where you want to grap a apple to eat but I´m not sure if
    this is the last reality. Which we can´t perceive with our mind.
    So again when you belive that everything has a cause -> ;)



  3. An interesting video about coincidences… just to throw into the mix…


  4. But but but

    global warming is caused by humans…ahh I mean climate change (the planet is actually not warming if you look at extensive enough data) and carbon emissions.

    In fact all these earthquakes and tsunamis are clearly caused by humans screwing up the planet. I actually put these two down to an over exaggerated sense of self.

    On another topic but one within the theme presented: An example of causation not correlation: A guy or lass goes for a long run and instead of running a typical 5km that they are comfortable with, decides to push it and run 10km.While running they feel stressed yet push on. A day later they get a cold. Their response is something like “I knew I shouldn’t have gone for that long run”. The fact is typically that the persons body was providing signs that it was stressed and the persons brain stuck their body into overdrive and pushed the body on. The body was saying “hey stop you moron I’m stressed here”. Then when falling ill (a body under stress requiring R&R) they see the initial cause of illness for what it is.

    I find this topic interesting since it goes beyond our own human bodies, healing and spiritual development. Since its my passion and business, I think of when I study stock markets and business sectors as I see the same things. There are certain events that will almost certainly cause certain other events to take place (extension of credit to developers in an over supplied market here in Thailand for example). The result will ultimately be a strong correction in the market and quite likely many banks in trouble with non performing loans on their books. This is causation. Correlation may well be for example the tsunami hitting Japan which will likely be blamed in years to come for the default by Japan on their sovereign debt. This is correlation since they are going to default on their debt anyways, and that was the case well before the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Its just a shame that it may well turn out that historians will see it as the tsunami either causing the default or at least being correlated. Neither are true.


  5. I went on a cruise ship and stopped at Vanuatu…… and yes it rained!

    Another example I heard the other day was a doctor giving advice to my friend (scary when doctors get it wrong) – he was advising her against going to the chiropractor as “neck manipulation causes stroke and osteoarthritis”. Somebody somewhere must have seen a higher rate of oseoarthritis in the neck in people who visit Chiropractors. Never mind the obvious explanation that those people were seeking help after the fact.


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Brilliant Lisa! Thankyou for corroborating 2 of my theories. Cruise ships cause rain and lots of doctors don’t know what they are talking about.

    I do hasten to add that there are lots of good doctors. The brain surgeons who saved my life for instance are GREAT doctors. They were fine about me complementing their work with alternative therapies, and they did great surgery. I just want to be clear that I’m not anti-medicine, I’m pro-science and pro-logic.

    We are all guilty of logical failures – doctors and alternative therapists alike. This blog is committed to changing that.

    thanks for joining us;


    PS I think I forgot to mention in the article, it ALWAYS rains in Vanuatu during the wet season (6-8 months?). I mean how do people think everything got so green!


    Chris Reply:

    Is it the wet season or the cruise ship season?

    Pro science and pro logic. I like that.

    Another example of misguided fallacies is to be found in Africa where Zulu peoples believe in the Tokoloshe.

    This is a devil like creature that is dwarf like in size. Zulus put their beds up on bricks so that this creature cannot get to them in their sleep. I know of a believer who slept on the floor of a hut and was bitten by a snake. This was attributed to the tokoloshe. Clearly sleeping on the floor of an African hut can be dangerous, and possibly thus the myth was born (I haven’t researched its origins).

    Another example that comes to mind is the drinking of sea water by the Basotho people in Lesotho. They believe that drinking pure sea water with sand present will cleanse them. They back up this logic with the violent vomiting that follows the drinking of the water.


  6. Here are two examples from my childhood. They still make me laugh!

    1.) Dancing causes pregnancy
    2) LIstening to rock music causes the Devil to posess you and then enter your home

    If this were true, I’d have more babies than a truck load of rabbits and be possessed by the devil a 1,000 times over. Yes, I snuck in dancing to rock music wheneven possible. I only have two kids and never needed an excorcism. ha ha


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Excellent examples of magical thinking. Sounds like your upbringing was similar to mine – different religion but same crazy ideas.

    Did you know orthodox Jewish men are not allowed to hear a woman sing? I’m not sure who’s at risk of getting pregnant (the rabbi or the singer) but surely someone.

    I had a very strange childhood, but what’s strangest is that the strangeness became normal. Fortunately I escaped early enough (age 12) to develop a very grounded sense of reality.

    I think this experience protected me against some of the sillier New Age mythology to which most “spiritual healers” are normalized. They don’t realize they’ve swapped one cult (religion) for another (New Age myth). More on this later.

    I always enjoy your posts.



    WendyB Reply:


    That’s an interesting belief about the Orthodox Jewish men. Religion seems to give us a long list of examples of causation V correlation. You were lucky to break free at such a young age. Good for you! I was much later. But hey, better late than never. Right?

    I agree that some people trade traditional religion for New Age. It’s like trading one drug for another. I think it’s the same as when people trade addiction for religion. Yes, this is all another topic so I better shut up now! :-)


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Oh don’t shut up please, it’s a great topic, and one that doesn’t really neatly fit into any other page.

    The way I see it, it’s even worse than what you have said. The people selling New Age books and healing techniques have deceitfully altered the truth specifically to sell books and workshops to ex-Christians (/Jews / etc).

    Example: Reiki in Japan is about universal energy, more or less the same as qigong in China. “Ki” in Japanese is the same word as “Qi” in Chinese. It’s the same energy source. But in the West it became about “God’s unconditional love.” Given that most Japanese and Chinese do not believe in a Western concept of God, this is ridiculous. It’s an example of how Eastern truths were distorted PURELY FOR MARKETING REASONS to a Western audience. You can actually pin down the person and the date that “God’s unconditional love” was invented as a marketing ploy.

    It’s sad because now New Agers believe not only in an artificial interventionist god but also that love is the highest vibration in the universe. Sorry, but it’s not because it is still mired in duality of love/hate, love/fear.

    [Note - this is not an anti-Reiki statement. I know many of our readers are Reiki fans. I suggest trying to find an authentic Japanese source for atunement, because in my experience it is nothing like the Western idea. Reiki and qigong I experienced in the East is a billion times more powerful than any energy healing I experienced from a Western trained practitioner. You cannot distort truth without losing the power of your product.]

    This isn’t about Reiki, the entire range of New Age books and workshops do this. I was totally guilty when I taught New Age healing workshops (Theta) and told people “this wont interfere with your religious beliefs.”

    My point is simply that the reason why New Agers left one religion for another one which is even less plausible, is because the New Age religion was directly targeted at them. New Age mysticism isn’t about truth, it’s about selling books and workshops. Take it from me as an “industry insider.”

    Sorry to rant, had to get that off my chest.

    with love

  7. Hi Simon,

    Interesting article however umm, I’m confused.

    As much I am interested in general statistics which I did understand that causation and correlation are part of that field of science. Mind you I don’t have the experience to apply this science in practice very well.

    The bit I am not sure of which I quote your article eariler “In other words it’s ignorance and lack of education which causes people to confuse correlation (X and Y happen together) with causation (X causes Y)…Do you think that you confuse correlation with causation? Can you think of times when you saw A and B happening and assumed A causes B? ”

    Two points if I may to add to this debate.

    1) On the premise that education is a process of learning the items within a subject matter.

    The items to learn (at any age, I guess?!) within the subject matter is to bring together a connection between two or more (possibly a set of) items. An example (from memory of my business mathamatics assignment at Year 12 at High school) would be to know that good choices of buying shares will return a greater returns of money later down the track and will become rich. In other words, I would simpify that A = SHARES, B = RETURN OF MONEY, thus A and B happening means good fortune? and that one can make good fortunes by excerising good choices. This disagrees with “lack of education” bit.

    2) Comphrension issues

    Given a student is learning items of the subject matter. The teacher helps to the student to make associations between A and B. This was consitute LEARNING. I wonder (philosophically speaking) if the student fails to comphrend the two items and the connection of association altogether. Would the student think that A causes B? This potentially breeds ignorance and lack of education???



    Simon Rose Reply:

    hi Peter T (to distinguish you from the other Peter on this page)

    I didn’t understand your point, especially at (1). However I think if I define what I mean by education it may clear up any misunderstanding you – and the other Peter – might have about what I mean.

    To me, rote learning is not what education is about. I think you are saying what if the student get’s it wrong, hasn’t learning caused ignorance? In your example, yes. But to me, learning is learning HOW to think (not WHAT to think).

    If I may go back to my original examples with the sea water and malaria? Most school age students know that mosquitoes “cause” malaria (even if they don’t understand how). So armed with this rote learning they could disprove the native superstition.

    But I was fortunate to have an education where I was trained in logic and how to think, not facts and figures. So as I said to the other Peter, I believe that if I had never heard of mosquitoes or malaria, I could still disprove the association based on logical causation.

    That’s what I really mean by education. Facts and figures help, but really people need to learn how to think for themselves.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but (forgive me for saying), some people’s opinions are just whacky. Like the people who are convinced about the Reptilian conspiracies etc. They are caught in drama and have not been taught how to think critically. This type of conspiracy theory thinking is an education failure on par with the Vanuatu examples.

    Hope this explains where I’m coming from.

    I have to say that I’m amazed that what seems to be the key topic for discussion, education, was I thought the least controversial point in the entire article!



  8. Yes, I am in great agreement that religion is often used as a subterfuge and attributes false correlation. The Episcopal Church in one diocese in the US elected a controversial Bishop and instead of saying – “It’s who we chose by vote.” The electing commitee replied “The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways.” What? It was an election and apparently the electorate was more socially conservative than they had let on.

    Could you please elaborate, however, on your point about love being necessarily dualistic. There is an emotion described with the term love that can be possessive and by turns manipulative. This expression of human relationship needs a new term. I think that is love that gets conflicted in the tummy, or the gut as you call it and the fear there distorts the expression. In my observation, love is simply that respirating, animating electric pulse of life that moves through the particular intelligence of a being. The the living thing might be a peach tree and so that love/animating energy moves through the that encapsulated intelligence and bears a tree and fruit. That animating engery comes through you and it creates RPT and these blogs. The greater our authenticity, or coherence to use your word the more love/animating energy comes through in healthy, authentic and creative expression – of relationship, or of work produced for example. I don’t see that love is dualistic. As I understand, it is all the vibration that is not love that is dualistic. What is your understanding.

    with love and thanks for the conversation,



    Simon Rose Reply:

    Hi Sarah

    The way I see it, we are debating definitions, but agree on our ideals.

    That wonderful energy you described exists, but I don’t call it Love because that it has nothing to do with the Love that humans experience every day.

    Sure you can preach New Age mythology that it’s Love, but a certian special type of Love, God’s Love or an Ascended Master’s Love or somesuch. The moment you do that, you take it out of reach of ordinary humanity, which means you are changing the meaning of the word. So why call it Love, when every human knows what love (small “l”) is and we all know that love is mixed with fear, hurt, hate, etc. Love (small “l”) is mired in duality, as it must be because it is the opposite of fear.

    Why use a word and give it a meaning inconsistent with the ordinary human meaning of the word? Isn’t that frightfully arrogant and confusing?

    I find “God’s Unconditional Love” to be worse – for anyone who had a religeous childhood in which God was really the source of punishment and fear. I know this is religious baggage (which can be cleared) and not truth about God in any way, but it still defines our understand of word’s like “God’s live” which are mired in conditions and duality.

    My point being, why use a word (“Love”) to define a beautiful concept that is at odds with the ordinary human experience of the word? Clearly it’s the wrong word.

    We need a new word.

    My former spiritual life coach Soleria called it “Sourcefullness.” That’s a beautiful word. She talks of Sourcing from Within.

    To quote you, Sourcefulleness is “simply that respirating, animating electric pulse of life that moves through the particular intelligence of a being.”

    Another advantage of Sourcefullness is that by definition of the word it is our own internal Sourcing of creativity. You cannot corrupt this word in the usual New Age way to speak of “God’s Unconditional Sourcefulleness” because everyone would know you were a fraud.

    Somehow the jingo-ism of “God’s Unconditional Love” slips through the boundaries of the 99% of people who don’t know enough to say “hang on – that doesn’t make actually sense.” That’s because it sounds so GOOD and so NICE. It’s utter crap, but A+ brilliant marketing.

    But Sourcefullness – that works for me and I hope it works for you.

    Sourcefullness is where healing, inspiration, ideas, intuition, yoga, creativity and health come from. From within.



  9. Hi Simon!
    Mostly I agree with your thoughts in this post. They are really enough clear and it was even a bit strange to see that this post already have 20 comments. But after reading the comments I understand what’s the matter.
    Your post (in two words) looks like: “There are a lots of people who can’t see difference between “X and Y happen together” versus “X causes Y”. So we should develop our logic for not to fall in such delusions”.
    Despite your thoughts are quite obviously correct, they are still based on incorrect dualistic Aristotelian logic. It’s incorrect ’cause we’re live in multidimentional and multi-order unverse where each thing somehow interconnects with other. So any exact wording like “X causes Y” is quite incorrect, for real reson for Y anyway is not only X but whole universe. And despite it curious, but ships also has something to rain. That was the point about which wrote both Peter’s.
    In example with malaria there are Result Z (malaria) and two reasons X (sea level) and Y (mosquitoes).
    People misguide “correlation between X and Z” with “Y causes Z” – but if you look carefully – you’ll see that there’s also one indirect causation “X causes Y” for mosquitoes could live only in wet conditions so they needed in a sea level. So really people found indirect causation between X and Z.
    The only problem is that they accept it as a direct one. But the same problem will arouse in any situation when you point on any A and B and say “A causes B”. For “mosquitoes cause malaria” is also quite incorrect statement.
    So my main idea is: We should never say dualistic wording like “A causes B”, but multi-order one “It seems like A have some casuative correlation towards B”.


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Dmitry, I think we are saying the same thing, I’m just trying to keep it simpler.

    I am wondering if this is the most unclear article that I have written because I seem to have confused people. I feel like you are debating me when I agree with every word you said, so how can we disagree?

    > We should never say dualistic wording like “A causes B”,


    I want to remove “A causes B” from the vocabulary – unless you have overwhelming proof.

    The entire world is interconnected – as you say. And a butterfly flapping its wings over Brazil might cause tornadoes over USA (chaos theory). But these do not constitute causation in the normal sense of the word.

    What I’m arguing is that the rational person should see CORRELATION not causation as the default position.

    Let’s accept everything you say, and everything is connected and we are all One. Now do you agree with me that given any given set of X and Y, it is phenomenally more likely that X and Y are both symptoms of the universe’s invisible magic (some unknown variable Z), rather than X causes Y?

    If the readers of this blog go through life seeing patterns and thinking “something interesting is happening which causes both A and B” rather than “A must cause B” then their social IQ will have doubled; they will save thousands of dollars on silly courses and products, and they will save themselves from being taken advantage of, lied to or ripped off.

    Going back to previous comments, this is what I mean by teaching people how to think critically. I don’t want to teach people WHAT to think (because I make lots of mistakes and I don’t know the truth). But HOW to think logically and critically – I can help with that.

    Now do you agree that we agree!? :-)



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