reverse causality explanation

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reverse causality explanation2016-12-14T14:38:31+00:00

reverse causality explanation  


An alternative explanation “B” for a particular phenomenon, which has been traditionally attributed to pathophysiological explanation “A”.

As an example, in one study, increased blood pressure was linked to increased lead in bone. The reverse causality explanation is that diuretics used to manage hypertension might have led to reduced lead excretion and result in the increase in lead in bone JAMA1996; 275:1171oa.

Economist Jodi Beggs helps us here: When two events A and B are correlated (i.e. happen together), we can’t tell whether event A caused event B (rain caused me to bring my umbrella), event B caused event A (bringing my umbrella caused it to rain), or some event C caused both event A and event B (the existence of storm clouds caused both the rain and the umbrella-bringing). We point out a lot of situations where the real explanation is the think with the outside C event and relatively few with the “reverse causality” explanation, probably because a lot of the reverse causality scenarios don’t pass the sniff test of sanity. (I don’t like assuming things based on intuition, but even I would feel comfortable ruling out the possibility that bringing my umbrella caused it to rain.) Nonetheless, reverse causality is entirely possible, and even sort of has its own name: Exigology A statement whose converse is its own explanation.

Reference JAMA 1996; 275:1171oa      

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