The correlation-causing fallacy is defined by our textbook as an "error of assuming that because one thing is associated with another; it must cause the other". Before starting psychology 1001 this semester, I definitely fell victim to this fallacy on multiple occasions. Believing that wearing my tie-dyed socks would help me get a better grade on my AP chemistry tests or that cleaning my instrument the night before a performance would make me mess up are just a few examples of the false conclusions I had made when in reality, the two things do not relate at all. Clearly, I am not the first person make bad conclusions based on coincidences. Just google searching "correlation versus causation" will bring up articles about how atmospheric carbon dioxide will cause obesity or how sleeping with the lights on will cause myopia. As humans, we look to draw such conclusions in order to make sense of a complex world and further develop our understanding of life. What we don't realize is that these assumptions actually set us back. We can blame belief perseverance for the fact that we tend to resist changing our views once we believe something to be true. I honestly was astonished to learn about these "third variables" that actually cause the things I, and many others, believe relate to each other. How could I live eighteen years and not notice that it was waking up early, not wearing my tie-dyed socks, that caused better scores on my chemistry tests? I know can look at the world much more objectively, understanding that an infinite amount of variables impact my daily life.
As we continue the semester, I hope to learn more about how humans think. I know this sounds excruciatingly vague but understanding your own thought process as well as that of others is a critical skill in communication, learning and success. I now know that it is imperative to examine new information carefully before accepting them as truths, and to challenge that which we already accept as true. I want to keep learning about the flaws in my logic and what has lead me to inaccurate conclusions. Questioning my own beliefs will allow me to grow as a student as well as an individual.
-Shannen Swier, Section 09