CHAPTER 13

Cause and Effect

Storks and Birth Rates

We human beings seem to have an inbuilt desire to seek out relationships between different observed effects, and deduce a cause-and-effect ­association. I suppose that survival depends to some extent on recognizing ­relationships and assuming that one effect causes another. As youngsters we learn of danger by relating climbing to the risk of falling. Crossing the road without looking is related to the possibility of being struck by a vehicle, and so on. However, we are inclined to imagine relationships where none exist, and, worse still, to imagine that these relationships imply cause and effect. The extreme situation is in the area of superstition: a remarkably high percentage of the population ...

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