I write about this every now and then: the difference between cause-and-effect and correlation. I continue to write about it, because I continue to see the misuse of it, prompting faulty reasoning that leads to incorrect assumptions and conclusions.
When we share those incorrect assumptions and conclusions as fact, we become dangerous influence, infecting others with misinformation.
A quick review: When A was the policy, leader, way of life, cultural norm, or so on, B was happening (or not happening). Now, C is part of the picture, and D is happening. Therefore A caused B, and C caused D. If we want B, we have to have A, and if we want D, we have to have C.
Is it possible A and B or C and D are related because of cause-and-effect? Of course. Some things or people precipitate consequences. Other times, the things and people happen around the same time but are not directly connected. They correlate to each other but don’t cause each other.
And much of the time, we don’t truly know whether or not a relationship is cause-and-effect or correlational, because there are so many other factors we can’t control or exclude. Should we consider the possibility of cause-and-effect? Yes. Should we assume and point fingers or draw conclusions that could have unhealthy ramifications?
I know it’s difficult. I think sometimes it’s simply our curiosity. We wants answers. We want to be able to explain and understand. But it’s okay that we continue to seek without settling on a simple answer. We can continue to search. We can consider to filter what tests as truth and hold other explanations loosely as possibilities—to keep or replace with more trustworthy understanding.
Let’s keep our curiosity, which helps us seek answers and understanding but also helps us change as we mature and grow. Educating ourselves is different than seeking education. Educating ourselves often focuses on what we most want to learn. We slant the information coming in because of what we’re looking for. Seeking education widens the perspective a bit. It uses reliable filters of truth. We can’t take it all in. We have limits. But we often expand our limits too broadly and shrink what makes it to the filters.
Let’s use the rational, reasonable, curious, creative minds God has given us.