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Subtleties of phenomenon hypothesis

MarkmarkMarkmark Alum Member

I've been going over correlation causation and it's closely related cousin phenomenon hypothesis arguments and I realized a very important distinction. Phenomenon hypothesis (hereafter known as PH) deals with cause and effect whereas correlation causation deals with cause and effect over time. Here's why this is important:

Nicole Hopkins has a great webinar in the 7sage archives about weakening and strengthening arguments. She says we can strengthen arguments by showing more data that A->B, block an alternate explanation C->A&B, or block no relation between A and B. I'd like to additionally state that chronology can impact an argument as well. If we say A->B, staying that A did indeed come before B strengthens the argument. If B came before A how could A->B?

The important concept I realized was that in many PH questions the above methods don't cut it. In 70.1.6, 70.1.12, and 80LR1.23, we need to use a different approach: if cause, we want to see the effect. If no cause, no effect.

The arguments say "here's a phenomenon, here's my hypothesis." This is implying a casual relationship between A and B. But if I show the effect with no cause, what happens to the hypothesis? It's weakened. If I show your cause with it's effect, this strengths. Too, "no cause no effect" is a very subtle way of strengthening an argument.


  • ahnendc-1ahnendc-1 Member
    642 karma

    @Markmark I recently same to the same realization about how subtly different strengthen/weakening pure causation vs hypothesis/phenomenon questions.

    I think this is just another way to say the same thing but what I tell my self is often in hypothesis/phenomenon questions our task is to just find an additional phenomenon that falls within/is born out by our hypothesis (if we are trying to strengthen). Conversely, we would want to find a phenomenon that is contradictory to our hypothesis (if we are trying to weaken).

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