# What's the difference between causation and correlation?

Satan phil

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:14 pm
@Ultracrepidarian,
Ultracrepidarian;72846 wrote:
But why do you think explanations MUST come to an end?

I think we've all played the game when we were children of asking our parents "why" repeatedly until they got to a point where they didn't know the answer.

Q. Why do apples fall to the ground?
A. The law of gravity.

Q. Why is there a law of gravity?
A. Beats me.

At some point we simply run out of time or information. No matter what explanation you give, I can always respond with "why" and either you give me yet another explanation ad infinitum or you stop it at some point. I think we should stop it before we go beyond observation and start positing "causes" and "laws" and other metaphysical mysteries.

Zetherin

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:17 pm
@Satan phil,
Satan wrote:
No, I thought this was known for quite a while.

Problem of induction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We still have reason to believe the car will stop from pressing the brake pedal, obviously. And this belief can help us, yanno, not get into a car accident. The fact that we could be wrong, doesn't mean that induction is useless. It just means that it's silly to presume the car will always stop after pressing the break pedal.

Satan phil

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:23 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;72850 wrote:
We still have reason to believe the car will stop from pressing the brake pedal, obviously.

Why? What reason?

Zetherin;72850 wrote:
The fact that we could be wrong, doesn't mean that induction is useless.

Exactly. It's useful. Is it true? It could be but I see no reason to think so. Hume has already shown us that any evidence we give for induction will merely beg the question. We use induction because it's conventional and unavoidable in everyday life.

ACB

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:25 pm
@Satan phil,
Satan;72839 wrote:
At some point explanations must come to an end. Regularists place that stopping point at the way-the-world-is. Necessitarians place it one, inaccessible, step beyond, at the way-the-world-must-be.

Both theories offer the exact same amount of explanation. The only difference is that "necessity" adds something hidden and unobservable. That's why it's unappealing to those of us that rely on observation for knowledge of reality.

One sentence in the article puzzled me:

On both accounts - Necessitarianism and Regularity - what is physically impossible never, ever occurs - not in the past, not at present, not in the future, not here, and not anywhere else.

Why "not in the future"? This sounds like induction. If events are random, surely anything can happen in the future.

Satan phil

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:33 pm
@ACB,
ACB;72853 wrote:
One sentence in the article puzzled me:

On both accounts - Necessitarianism and Regularity - what is physically impossible never, ever occurs - not in the past, not at present, not in the future, not here, and not anywhere else.

Why "not in the future"? This sounds like induction. If events are random, surely anything can happen in the future.

It means that if X happens, it wasn't impossible.

Zetherin

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:36 pm
@Satan phil,
Satan wrote:
Exactly. It's useful. Is it true? It could be but I see no reason to think so. Hume has already shown us that any evidence we give for induction will merely beg the question. We use induction because it's conventional and unavoidable in everyday life.

We use induction because it's useful and it's often right (well, strong induction, that is). It doesn't matter if it's always right, or if there is evidence adequate enough for Hume.

Simply put, most cars stop after pressing on the break pedal. People press on their brake pedals everyday because their cars previously stopped after pressing on said brake pedal. The previous occurrences are reason enough to believe the same occurrence will happen again. Yes, they could be wrong, but who cares? They probably won't be, and seeing as braking is the best alternative they have for stopping the car, it seems like they're on the right track to me. You disagree?

kennethamy

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:39 pm
@Satan phil,
Satan;72839 wrote:
No, I thought this was known for quite a while.

Problem of induction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

---------- Post added at 05:28 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:22 PM ----------

Then I think you skipped this paragraph in the article:

At some point explanations must come to an end. Regularists place that stopping point at the way-the-world-is. Necessitarians place it one, inaccessible, step beyond, at the way-the-world-must-be.

Both theories offer the exact same amount of explanation. The only difference is that "necessity" adds something hidden and unobservable. That's why it's unappealing to those of us that rely on observation for knowledge of reality.

But we all believe things exist that are not accessible to direct observation. Electrons, and photons, for example. We believe that past events existed, but past events are not accessible to direct observation. Are we wrong to do so?

Ultracrepidarian

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:40 pm
@Satan phil,
So are you asserting that we will be unable to explain gravity?

That I don't know how to explain something, does not mean it cannot be explained in the future.

That some kid's parents don't know why the sky is blue does not mean the kid should stop asking the question.

Q: Why do apples fall
A: Mass attracts mass
Q Why does mass attract mass
A: I don't know

You see this as a problem for my position. I don't know why. Not knowing the answer does not mean there is no answer.

Satan phil

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:40 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;72859 wrote:
But we all believe things exist that are not accessible to direct observation.

The bold word is what makes it a straw man.

---------- Post added at 06:41 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:40 PM ----------

Ultracrepidarian;72860 wrote:

Who said it did?

---------- Post added at 06:42 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:40 PM ----------

Zetherin;72857 wrote:
The previous occurrences are reason enough to believe the same occurrence will happen again.

Why? What's your reasoning? Please don't leave anything out because I'm honestly trying to reconstruct how you arrived at your current position.

Ultracrepidarian

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:50 pm
@Satan phil,
You did. Explanations do not necessarily have to come to an end. Our learning about why things happen does not cease. You seem to think that because any one person knows only so much and explains so much that this means "regularists" are correct in believing trying to explain the way the world is is wrong. Trying to explain the way the world is is what science does.

Satan phil

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:53 pm
@Ultracrepidarian,
Ultracrepidarian;72866 wrote:
You did. Explanations do not necessarily have to come to an end.

Which is a completely different sentence...

What I said was: I can always respond with "why" and either you give me yet another explanation ad infinitum or you stop it at some point.

Unless you're immortal, you will eventually have to stop asking why at some point. Don't you agree?

Zetherin

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:53 pm
@Satan phil,
Satan;72861 wrote:
Why? What's your reasoning? Please don't leave anything out because I'm honestly trying to reconstruct how you arrived at your current position.

I'm using what's called "Inductive Reasoning".

Inductive reasoning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"A strong induction is an argument in which the truth of the premises would make the truth of the conclusion probable, but not necessary."

Most observed cars stop after pressing the brake pedal.
Therefore:
Most cars stop after pressing the brake pedal.

The conclusion isn't definite, it's probable. The fact that it's probable is reason enough for me to press on the brake pedal the next time I wish to stop my car. We are using inductive prediction: Taking a sample Q out of group G with X attribute, and stating there is a probability that other samples of group G will have X attribute.

You've honestly never used induction, of any sort, in your daily life? I often use it to even function.

Ultracrepidarian

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 05:56 pm
@Satan phil,
Satan;72868 wrote:
Which is a completely different sentence...

What I said was: I can always respond with "why" and either you give me yet another explanation ad infinitum or you stop it at some point.

Unless you're immortal, you will eventually have to stop asking why at some point. Don't you agree?

You're so right. When I die, I will have to stop asking why.

ahem...

Others will replace me. Resistance is futile.:detective:

---------- Post added at 06:57 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:56 PM ----------

It has been fun, folks. I'm officially tapping out.

Satan phil

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 06:01 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;72869 wrote:
I'm using what's called "Inductive Reasoning".

It's also a fallacy called affirming the consquent:

Quote:
Although affirming the consequent is an invalid inference, it is defended by some as a type of inductive reasoning, sometimes under the name "inference to the best explanation". That is, in some cases, reasoners argue that the antecedent is the best explanation, given the truth of the consequent. For example, someone considering the results of a scientific experiment may reason in the following way:

Theory P predicts that we will observe Q.
Experimental observation shows Q.
Therefore theory P is true.

However, such reasoning is still affirming the consequent and still logically weak. (e.g., Let P = geocentrism and Q = sunrise and sunset.) The strength of such reasoning as an inductive inference depends on the likelihood of alternative hypotheses, which shows that such reasoning is based on additional premises, not merely on affirming the consequent.

Affirming the consequent - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Zetherin;72869 wrote:
You've honestly never used induction, of any sort, in your daily life? I often use it to even function.

Right and some people need Jesus to function. It's funny that many of your arguments sound like those used by religious adherents.

---------- Post added at 07:02 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:01 PM ----------

Ultracrepidarian;72871 wrote:
Resistance is futile.:detective:

So is the idea that you could complete an infinite series of questions.

Zetherin

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 06:07 pm
@Satan phil,
Satan wrote:
It's funny that many of your arguments sound like those used by religious adherents.

No need to try to attack me, fellow. You know as well as I that inductive reasoning is useful (you even admitted it), and yet you seem to be enjoying playing devil's advocate. You should be aware we're speaking about probability.

Oh, and don't bother typing - you have no reason to believe letters will actually be outputted from your keyboard and sent to your computer screen, right? You're probably just going out on a limb with this one, huh? :rolleyes:

Satan phil

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 06:10 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;72878 wrote:
No need to try to attack me, fellow. You know as well as I that inductive reasoning is useful (you even admitted it), and yet you seem to be enjoying playing devil's advocate.

Useful does not equal true. :brickwall:

"It's useful to believe X therefore X is true."

NO. WRONG.

Zetherin

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 06:13 pm
@Satan phil,
Satan;72880 wrote:
Useful does not equal true. :brickwall:

"It's useful to believe X therefore X is true."

NO. WRONG.

Please direct me to the post where I stated this conclusion.

Thanks, brick.

Satan phil

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 06:14 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;72881 wrote:
Please direct me to the post I came to this conclusion at.

Thanks, brick.

Well, if that's not your conclusion then I apologize but what do you think you're accomplishing by saying that I think induction is useful?

So what? I think it's useful.

I can still argue that there's no rational reason to believe it's true, can't I?

Zetherin

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 06:19 pm
@Satan phil,
Satan;72882 wrote:
Well, if that's not your conclusion then I apologize but what do you think you're accomplishing by saying that I think induction is useful?

So what? I think it's useful.

I can still argue that there's no reason to believe it's true, can't I?

What are you accomplishing by arguing it's not necessarily true?

Anyone with sense will know that induction is about coming to a conclusion that's probably true, not necessarily. Of course it's silly to presume we can necessarily predict the future. That's absurd, and no one here, that I know of, was arguing that.

Satan phil

Sat 27 Jun, 2009 06:26 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;72883 wrote:
What are you accomplishing by arguing it's not necessarily true?

I'm not because that's a straw man. Please use the quote feature to avoid this in the future.

---------- Post added at 07:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:26 PM ----------

Maybe you just don't get it. Read Hume. There's no reason to think the principle of induction holds at all. Not necessarily. Not probably. Not at all. It's not based on rationality. It's based on convention.