Every week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.
I discovered a new phrase while reading the first paragraph of a book on the Book Club Librarian’s blog. The book was The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor,. Here’s the sentence and the phrase:
post hoc, ergo propter hoc: Later, in weaker moments, Lovell Hall reminded himself of the logical fallacy that young scientists so often committed: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
The author goes on to define the phrase, but by that time I had stopped to figure it out on my own. (That’s what all these weeks of searching new words has done to me.) I already knew a few things: I recognized this as a Latin phrase and I knew the word “ergo” meant therefore and “post” meant after. Now, what do the reast of the words mean. I looked it up and found out this:
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc means after this, therefore resulting from it.
The phrase is used to show that a causal relationship has erroneously been assumed from a merely sequential one. In other words, just because one event follows another event, you can’t assume that the second event was caused by the first event. It’s a pretty clear assumption, but I love that the idea has its own Latin phrase.
That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.