However, inductive reasoningis not always valid. Assuming general principles are viable on a limited numberof cases, could be erroneous.Furthermore, trends that we observe could possibly be explained by data fromother phenomena.
This may result in false cause fallacy. In statistics, it isessential to note that correlation between two variables is not equal tocausation. A personal example is my Biology Extended Essay. My essay aimed tofind the effect of increasing concentration of potassium sulfate on the growth rateof Oregano.
I hypothesized a strong positive correlation on the growth ratewith increasing fertilizer solution, but what I observed was a negative correlationinstead. It was not until I analyzed the leaves of the plants with a microscope,that I saw spider mites eating the possibly the chlorophyll of the leaves,forming white spots. This, among other uncontrolled factors, may have contributedto reduced growth. Thus, there are several potential external or hiddenvariables that contribute to the correlation. I cannot say for certain thatincreasing potassium sulfate reduces the growth rate of Oregano. Assumingcorrelation is causation therefore leads to statements of generalization. Anexample of generalization are parental concerns overvaccination safety – vaccinations being linked to autism spectrum disorders.
Althoughno vaccine is completely harmless, the belief in this causal link originates fromparental concern, fed by confirmation bias and past experiences. This is wherethe observation of uniformities is not effective, as making conclusions basedon biased correlation does not imply causation. Rather, it is the cofounding factors between causeand effect that can lead us beyond our immediate sense perception.Past experiences, hence, ourmemories play a role as a guide to future predictions. We place confidence inpast correlations to make propositions about future correlations by ourknowledge that nature is, generally, uniform. The past, in relevant respects,is like the future. Adding to the inductive argument; if “every day in the pastthe sun rose, then tomorrow the sunwill rise”. Here, we make the assumption that nature is uniform – that thefuture will be like the past.
This supports earlier inductive arguments andadds to the principle of uniformity. In another example, analysts havepredicted how many medals each country would win in the 2012 Olympics, based onpast performances from the 1996 and 2008 Olympic games as well associo-economic variables (GDP, population size…).
1The models they produced predicted Olympic successes fairly well when comparedto the actual medals earned for the 2012 Olympics.2Our experiences yield information that allows us to predict possible futureoutcomes. 1 Bredtmann, J., Crede, C. J. andOtten, S.
(2016). Olympic medals: Doesthe past predict the future?. Significance, 13: 22–25.doi:10.1111/j.
1740-9713.2016.00915.x2 Bredtmann, J., Crede, C. J. andOtten, S.
(2016). Olympic medals: Doesthe past predict the future?. Significance, 13: 22–25.doi:10.1111/j.1740-9713.2016.00915.x