- Wrong direction
Wrong direction is a
logical fallacyof causation where cause and effect are reversed. The cause is said to be the effect and vice versa.
For instance, a
tobaccocompany executive once suggested that cancercaused smoking as a matter of pain relief, to explain the high correlationbetween them.Fact|date=February 2007
Another obvious example::"Driving a wheelchair is dangerous, because most people who drive them have had an accident."
In other cases it may simply be unclear which is the cause and which is the effect. For example::"Children that watch a lot of TV are the most violent. Clearly, TV makes children more violent".
This could easily be the other way round; that is, violent children like watching more TV than less violent ones.
Likewise, a correlation between
recreational druguse and psychiatric disorders might be either way around: perhaps the drugs cause the disorders, or perhaps people use drugs to self medicate for preexisting conditions. Gateway drug theorymay argue that marijuanausage leads to usage of harder drugs, when hard drug usage instead predicts marijuana usage (see also " confusion of the inverse").
A historical example of this is that people in the
Middle Ageswere convinced that licewere beneficial to your health, since there would rarely be any lice on sick people. The reasoning was that the people got sick because the lice left. The real reason however is that lice are extremely sensitive to body temperature. A small increase of body temperature, such as in a fever, will make the lice go look for another host. The medical thermometerhad not yet been invented, so this increase in temperature could not be noticed. Noticeable symptoms came later, giving the impression that the lice left before the person got sick.
In other cases, two phenomena can each be a partial cause of the other; consider poverty and lack of education, or procrastination and poor self-esteem. One making an argument based on these two phenomena must however be careful to avoid the fallacy of
circular cause and consequence. Poverty is "a" cause of lack of education, but it is not the "sole" cause, and vice versa.
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