Cause & Effect (Causality/Causation)

Home » Cause & Effect (Causality/Causation)

I was going to make a simple post about the basic concept of Cause & Effect (also referred to as “Causation” and/or “Causality“).  My intent was more-or-less a common-sense discussion of how decisions (individual and/or social/political) affect results.

Yet, when you attempt to search online for topics related to any of these terms, there’s a myriad of hyper-academic papers and incoherent intelli-talk about a myriad of nonsensical details. All of it so complex and disconnected as to be useless to its application in a regular person’s daily life – even someone who purposely focuses on the most intellectual of approaches to living.

I’m more interested in how cause-and-effect impacts the man/woman-on-the-street’s life.  How do individual and politically collective decisions affect the regular man or woman trying to make it in this world? I guess what I’m digging for is less academic minutia and more of a socio-political/cultural impact.

Without going into the mind-numbing dissertation of philosophical if-then’s and modus ponens, all I want to address is the not-so-complicated discussion of either of the following concepts from a broad living-life perspective:

  • A causes B   (or tends to cause B)
  • B is a result of A   (you really can’t get B without at least A)
Stuff happens, but it’s caused by decision(s) made previously by someone up the chain. And decisions made after stuff happens will direct a chain reaction of other effects downstream.
The most basic understanding/axiom of what I’m proposing is thus: 
Decisions are not made and implemented in a vacuum. You absolutely cannot instigate a cause that does not in some way create an effect.

Don’t let your mind blank-out when it comes to contemplating the chain-reaction of possible effects coming from a decision (yours or someone else’s). Yes, I realize that it isn’t reasonable for everyone to stop and coherently identify all effects that could result from a decision they or various “leaders” are making.  That would freeze us in our paths – not able to assess all possibilities.  I understand that. We would end up curled up in a corner not able to face anything in life – ever. 

Yet, it’s utterly stupid to ignore the most likely effects of those decisions. There are some things even the densest of us in society can identify as the major effects of certain decisions.  To not do so is S-T-U-P-I-D.

For example:  When a friend or family member makes a decision to quit their job, you cannot conceive of blanking-out your immediate concern for how that decision will affect them and their family. You worry and wonder how they’ll cover living expenses?  Even if you don’t mention it or act on these thoughts – – – the thoughts are still there.  You can’t help it; they come naturally – perhaps because of the closeness of the relationship you have to the person making the decision.  You absolutely wonder how they will endure. This is the most obvious effect of such a decision. There are many other effects, but this (and perhaps a couple of others) or undeniably obvious.

This kind of cause-and-effect thinking seems to “work” for many people, most of the time. I see it as a more common-sense approach to decisions and living, and through most of my life I naively assumed most human beings have at least a subconscious understanding of these connections. 
However, as I get older and see the idiocy of people and politicians, I’m finally understanding that this “simple understanding” is definitely NOT consciously or subconsciously understood. It’s as if some people are densely stupid or willfully ignorant of the most obvious of effects from huge decisions made day-in-and-day-out.

Personal Decisions

Some people make the most absurd decisions without considering the potential effects (and/or purposely ignoring the obvious ones). 
Many of those decisions are made when we’re adolescents and young adults trying to plow our way through life. And due to our youthful naivete, wherein we “know everything and parents/adults are stupid,” it’s highly likely we’ll make some really bad, unwise and non-informed decisions.
  • What college to go to and what degree to pursue?
  • Should I take up a trade?
  • Should I not even work at all; maybe live in my parent’s basement?
  • Can I play the system sufficiently to live off government programs?
  • Would a life of criminal activity get me what I want?
  • What do I want to do for a living?
  • Do I want to remain in the relationship I’m in, or do I cut-and-run?
  • Do I want to get into a relationship with someone of interest, or work through difficulties in a current relationship?
Interestingly enough, the last three may haunt you for the rest of your life and could spell destruction or success/prosperity based on your decisions and the situation for which you find yourself.

Political Decisions

Politicians seem to have a knack for implementing policy that reeks of a lack of common-sense cause-and-effect. Is it because they want to satisfy a constituency that desires something-for-nothing or impossible pie-in-the-sky naivete?  It’s as if they turn on their “IGNORE COMMON SENSE” switch and proceed blindly.
  • Do you really think the cause of going to war with yet another country to obtain their natural resources, or just for imperialistic control reasons, will not create an effect of multi-generational terrorists who desire to burn our nation to the ground?
  • Do you really think the “noble” cause of raising generations of people on nothing but the government tab will not create the effect of a nation of people without purpose, self-responsibility, nor any sense of meaningful accomplishment? Perhaps that’s the intent – to raise generations of indentured citizens/servants?
  • Do you really think that taking money from those that DO produce and give it to those that DON’T produce will not cause the effects I just noted in the previous bullet – not to mention (at some point) a nation of citizens who’ve had enough?  Increasing taxation (cause) will not create prosperity (effect).
  • Do you not realize that lax immigration policy and open borders (cause) will increase the following (effects):
    1. People needing to be on social programs for housing, clothing, food, etc.?
    2. Homelessness (which is already sky-rocketing nationwide – and for which we have no answer)?
    3. Crime and/or terrorism?
    4. Health issues (COVID-19 anyone)?
    5. Infrastructure and support inadequacies (affordable housing, schools, transportation, daycare, retail, etc.)?

Moral Decisions

Just a couple that come to mind . . .

  • Conservatives say they’re pro-life.  Do they not realize that their “pro-life” stance is an empty virtue signaling facade considering they’re more than ready to kill off our young adults via support for endless wars against perceived “enemies?” When you sanction senseless killing (cause) human life cannot be maintained (effect).
  • Liberals say they’re pro-choice.  Do they not see the common-sense cause-and-effect relationship that you can NOT have a human life without first having an embryo?  Ignoring this reality is a complete heap of illogical irrationality and stupid rationalization. The bastard Leonardo DaVinci would be non-existent had his unmarried mother chosen to terminate her pregnancy. This is not a singular example. Human life (effect) cannot occur without an embryo (cause).
And just to be clear, I am neither conservative nor liberal.  I align more with libertarian/objectivist philosophy and policies. Ayn Rand, the mother of Objectivism, was pro-abortion. I have never been able to reconcile her views on that matter. I’m an atheist/agnostic who doesn’t really believe in an afterlife or higher theistic power, but the illogic of abortion by choice (primarily for use as a birth control method) is beyond sanity. For theist and atheist alike: LIFE should be the ultimate human value. Period.

Consideration For Others

A less critical element of cause-and-effect falls into another basic human concept – consideration of others. Apparently, this isn’t inherent in the brain waves of “regular” people either. Some examples . . .

  • Cutting off people in traffic – C’mon, this isn’t difficult. Are you happy and pleased when someone cuts YOU off in traffic? So, why would you even think of doing it to others? The possible effect you may cause is triggering someone who’s had a horrible day/week and has exercised their last bit of patience they can muster prior to your transgression. Maybe they also happen to have a pistol in the car. Pop; you’re dead. Was it worth it?
  • Mouthing off to someone publicly – Again, this isn’t rocket science. Are you happy and pleased when someone mouths off to you? Read the prior example for the possible effect to your cause if you choose to do so.
  • Rudeness – Why? Just why?  Do you not realize that your rudeness (cause) will evoke an extremely negative reaction (effect) whether visibly manifested by the recipient of your rudeness or not? Does it please you when someone is rude to you?  Just be a human, not an ass-hat.

In Summary . . .

Causes Have Effects. 

Effects are produced from Causes.
Live your life accordingly.
Wonder.  Think of possibilities.
Consider the ramifications of your decisions.
Get some common sense.
Use it.
This really isn’t that hard.           Is it?

Featured image by Kurt:S on flickr, unmodified, licensed by CC BY 2.0