Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. After this, therefore because of this.
It’s a logical fallacy disdained by those who understand argumentation and value honesty, but resorted to frequently by less logical or discerning debaters.
A classic example is the primitive who thinks a rooster makes the sun rise because its crow precedes dawn.
There is an association between the two events, but not necessarily one of cause and effect – unless the two get confused.
In short, a cock-a-doodle-do does not make the sun come up, though one might effectively argue the reverse: the coming dawn prompts the rooster to crow.
This is basic stuff that ordinary people know if they listened closely in 16-20 years of formal education. It’s certainly not unreasonable to expect a lawyer to understand the fundamentals.
And yet, Michael P. Glisson of Williamson, Webster, Falb and Glisson in Alton hopes to convince a Madison County Circuit Court jury that a man’s death from kidney failure was caused by a fall at a Walmart store.
The death is not in question, though there is some confusion about the date. The fall did occur, obviously, prior to the death. The cause-and-effect relationship between the two, however, is not obvious.
Roger Raines died at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Alton on Thursday, August 26, 2010.
Roger’s wife, Cheryl, claims that her husband’s kidney failure resulted from a fall at the Walmart store in Jerseyville on August 6, 2010 and that he died 14 days later. That would be August 20th, six days before the date listed on his obituary in the Alton Telegraph.
Maybe the grief that Mrs. Raines endured for 20 months before her suit was filed affected her arithmetic?
In any case, we can’t wait for the rooster to make the sun rise on the day that Michael Glisson tries to show how Walmart was responsible for her husband’s death.