World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Third-cause fallacy

Article Id: WHEBN0003298821
Reproduction Date:

Title: Third-cause fallacy  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Questionable cause, Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Causation (sociology), Causal fallacies, Ignoratio elenchi
Collection: Causal Fallacies, Informal Fallacies, Logical Fallacies
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Third-cause fallacy

The third cause fallacy is a logical fallacy where a spurious relationship is confused for causation. It asserts that X causes Y when, in reality, X and Y are both caused by Z. It is a variation on the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy and a member of the questionable cause group of fallacies.

When third causes are ignored, it becomes possible to corral shocking statistical evidence in support of a nonexistent causality. For example:

"It seems that every time empty beer cans are piled up in a car, an accident occurs. It seems that the excess weight and shape of the cans must cause other cars to want to crash into the victim's car."

The fallacy in this situation would be the fact that the arguer focused on the first (beer cans) and second (car crashes) facts without looking for possible causes of both phenomena, such as drunk driving.

Other names

  • Ignoring a common cause[1]
  • Questionable cause[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Labossiere, M.C., Dr. LaBossiere's Philosophy Pages
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.