Post Hoc Ergo Proptor Hoc: Examples

Examples in Medicine

Example 1
"Yet the assertion that physical illness is due to psychosocial stress is absurdly common, in both the popular media and the medical literature. Here are some illnesses that are so described: high blood pressure; skin complaints; migraine; menstrual disorders; cancers; multiple sclerosis; leprosy; Lyme disease; myalgic encephalomyelitis; Parkinson’s disease; diabetes; headaches; migraine; stomach aches; reproduction and growth problems; gastrointestinal dysfunction; immune problems; fatigue; hypothyroidism; cardiovascular disease; flu and the common cold. The abundance of conditions supposedly caused by psychosocial stress is enough to raise alarm bells in a critical, scientific enquirer.

One logical flaw in such reasoning is that stressful life events and circumstances are themselves ubiquitous. The British psychiatrist Eliot Slater understood this in 1965, when he said that: ‘Unfortunately we have to recognise that trouble, discord, anxiety and frustration are so prevalent at all stages of life, that their mere occurrence near to the time of onset of an illness does not mean very much.’ Even positive life events or conditions can be stressful." From Bad Thoughts Can't Make You Sick

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