Journalists, news anchors, politicians, and idiots say that two things are "linked" to imply a causal relationship when in fact none exists.

For a very clear example of how this logic is flawed, assume that a city which is 50% black. Because of reasons totally unrelated to race, some of those black people commit armed robbery. The remaining 50% of the population is composed of white people, and these white people don't commit the same kinds of crimes. The media, government, and politicians say: "Being black linked to armed robbery!"

Now we all read that and realize that it's totally bogus. It's also an extreme example used to illustrate the concept. But look at some of the other things which have been said to be "linked":

  • "Violent video games linked to teen violence." This is reported as violent video games causing violence among teenagers. This is wrong. The situation very well could be that violent teenagers are simply more likely to play the games. All they're saying is that the two things appear related.

  • "Internet linked to increase in sex crimes." People hear "sex crimes" and think of rape, child molestation, and things like that. However, "statutory rape" is also a "sex crime." Trading pornography is sometimes considered a "sex crime." However, this doesn't mean that the Internet has caused an increase in sex crimes. It may mean that the law enforcement agencies are simply catching the people more easily. It may mean that the people committing these crimes are simply moving their operations to the Internet and off the street. But the politicians use this as an excuse to outlaw free speech on the Internet.

    So be wary when you hear arguments of the form "X is linked to Y." Wonder why they didn't say "X is caused by Y."

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