Final week ABC journalist and doctor Norman Swan prompt the center assaults of two excessive profile individuals over the previous 12 months had been unlikely to be a coincidence. The suggestion was that it was too unlikely two individuals of their 50s died of coronary heart assaults after being contaminated with COVID for these occasions to not be linked.
Nevertheless, with out entry to some other details about the well being of those individuals, there was no foundation for making this connection. And it later emerged one of many two might by no means have had COVID.
To Swan’s credit score, he apologised instantly. But it surely highlights that irrespective of how effectively knowledgeable we’re, all of us may be tripped up by errors of logic. These “logical fallacies” may cause us to imagine with nice conviction issues which can be both not true or extremely unlikely.
The logical fallacy at play right here is named the publish hoc fallacy. This is likely one of the commonest errors in considering we’re vulnerable to when making an attempt to make sense of occasions. It’s additionally one of the frequent methods dangerous actors use when deliberately spreading false info – which there was no scarcity of all through the pandemic.
So what precisely is a publish hoc fallacy?
The fallacy is that simply because one occasion happens earlier than one other, the primary occasion should be the reason for the second.
One instance of that is when a black cat crosses our path and one thing dangerous occurs later that day, we instantly join these two occasions. There may be additionally a component of affirmation bias right here – if we now have preconceived beliefs, we’re extra prone to make explicit connections.
Cognitive biases and mind biology assist clarify why details don’t change minds
Through the pandemic, this error in logic has been used to argue the case for teams holding diametrically reverse views. With round two-thirds of Australians beforehand contaminated with COVID and 95% double-dose vaccinated in opposition to the illness, nearly any medical incident goes to be preceded by both COVID an infection or vaccination, and thus may be blamed on these occasions.
Specifically, these opposing COVID vaccines frequently recommend severe medical occasions occurring in high-profile individuals will need to have been on account of COVID vaccines, just because these affected had been vaccinated. This straightforward tactic is extremely efficient, because it leverages the best ally of those that unfold false info – concern.
Nevertheless it’s not scientifically credible to deduce one medical occasion induced the opposite solely on the premise of 1 occasion occurring earlier than one other. Understanding the reason for a medical occasion requires way more proof.
Nationwide Most cancers Institute/Unsplash
COVID and coronary heart assaults
Two-thirds of Australians, or round 16.5 million individuals, have been contaminated with COVID because the starting of the pandemic.
Coronary heart illness is the main killer of Australians, with greater than 50,000 individuals having coronary heart assaults annually. Greater than 10% of those are deadly.
So the truth that somebody who had a coronary heart assault might have beforehand been contaminated with COVID just isn’t that shocking.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t low cost the truth that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, might have an effect on your threat of getting a coronary heart assault.
We already settle for that COVID an infection has extra instant results on the center. Rising proof additionally suggests there’s an elevated frequency of future heart problems akin to coronary heart assault, stroke and coronary heart failure after COVID an infection. Whereas this early proof must be interpreted with some warning, these findings are clearly regarding.
Even delicate COVID raises the prospect of coronary heart assault and stroke. What to know in regards to the dangers forward
Avoiding the publish hoc fallacy
Its essential that we resist the urge to imagine that one occasion causes one other simply because an occasion occurred earlier than one other.
Its additionally essential to know that these searching for to mislead you’ll use plenty of ways to induce you to make this and different errors of reasoning.
In recognising logic fallacies the hope is that you can be much less vulnerable to being manipulated by these spreading false info.
Hassan Vally doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.