Quickly register to comment, Ask questions, and/or keep up to date on new fallacies.
Register!

one moment please...




Regression Fallacy

  Get the Book!


Get the book, Logically Fallacious by Bo Bennett, PhD by selecting one of the following options:


Get It!

(also known as: regressive fallacy)

Description: Ascribing a cause where none exists in situations where natural fluctuations exist while failing to account for these natural fluctuations.

Logical Form:

A occurred after B (although B naturally fluctuates).

Therefore, A caused B.

Example #1:

I had a real bad headache, then saw my doctor.  Just by talking with him, my headache started to subside, and I was all better the next day.  It was well worth the $200 visit fee.

Explanation: Headaches are a part of life, and naturally come and go on their own with varying degrees of pain.  They regress to the mean, the “mean” being a normal state of no pain, on their own, with or without medical or chemical intervention.  Had the person seen a gynecologist instead, the headache would have still subsided, and it would have been a much more interesting visit -- especially if he were a man.

Example #2:

After surgery, my wife was not doing too well -- she was in a lot of pain.  I bought these magnetic wristbands that align with the body's natural vibrations to reduce the pain, and sure enough, a few days later the pain subsided!  Thank you magic wristbands!

Explanation: It is normal to be in pain after any significant surgery.  It is also normal for the pain to subside as the body heals -- this is the body regressing to the mean.  Assuming the magic wristbands caused the pain relief and ignoring the regression back to the mean, is fallacious.

Exception: Of course, if the “cause” is explained as the natural regression to the mean, then in a way it is not fallacious.

My headache went away because that’s what headaches eventually do -- they are a temporary disruption in the normal function of a brain.

References:

Poulton, E. C. (1994). Behavioral Decision Theory: A New Approach. Cambridge University Press.



Registered User Comments



 Copyright 2017, Archieboy Holdings, LLC.