“After it, therefore, because of it”
The post-hoc fallacy is a classic mind-trick. Because one thing comes after another, we assume that the first thing caused the other.
But this is rarely the case – a rooster crows, and the sun rises. Does the sun rise because the rooster crows? Of course not.
This fallacy is often most pronounced when lazy commentators try to link one event with another, and then argue that because the first thing happened, the second thing happened.
We can see this with the way that simple minds are linking the Rudd government’s lifting of the temporary protection visa with the (relatively) small increase in the number of people seeking asylum arriving by boat. It’s a simplistic notion – but it seems that the simpletons have got the loudest voices at the moment.
It is also a problem with the way that many businesses analyse success. The company has an increase in profit, and the most notable thing that they did in the recent past was appoint a new CEO. Therefore, the appointment of the CEO caused the profits.
But the world is often more complex than that.
Or the fridge breaks down, when a new housemate moves in.