Causal connection

The scientific determination of a cause is more difficult than one would expect. In everyday life, we like to rely on a chronological sequence of two events to deduce a cause. So the black cat that crosses our path is held responsible for the happiness or misfortune that subsequently befalls us. In order to prove a causal link between the use of cell phones and brain tumors, for example, high-quality and reliable scientific data is required. In medicine, a causal relationship is determined according to certain criteria named after the British epidemiologist and statistician Sir Austin Bradford Hill.

A causal relationship is more likely …

  1. if the correlation can be observed very frequently,
  2. if other studies come to the same results,
  3. if there are no other causes,
  4. if the effect always occurs after the presumed cause,
  5. if a higher dose leads to a stronger effect,
  6. if the connection can be explained scientifically or does not contradict fundamental medical knowledge
  7. if the effect can be repeated in a laboratory test,
  8. if there is no effect after the cause has been eliminated,
  9. when similar causes lead to similar effects.

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