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**Confusing Correlation with Causation on GMAT Critical Reasoning**

In GMAT critical reasoning, there are several different types of questions that you will encounter. In this short article, we will cover the characteristics of questions involving the misidentification of correlation and causationand how to solve them.

This error is said to occur when an argument confuses a “correlation” or “coincidence” with “causation”; in other words, this fallacy is the result of assuming the existence of a cause-effect relationship where there is none.

Please take a look at the following example and try figuring it out before reading further.

Example 1:

The problem here is that there is no logical cause-effect relationship between people using oil heaters and being thin. These are simply two correlated, or coincidental, factors.

Let us take a look at another example:

Example 2:

Once again, it is clear that there is no logical cause-effect relationship between the two elements mentioned here – Grandma sneezing and a tornado hitting Nebraska.

Now, let’s take a look at a more GMAT-like example. Please try to solve it before reading further

Example 3:

Here, we have a dialogue followed by a question stem.

Step 1 – Read the question stem.

Step 2 – Read the argument.

Step 3 – Come up with a broad expectation from the correct answer choice.

Here, a clear expectation can be that the passage concludes that anger is the “cause” and neurological condition is the “effect”, whereas it is practically possible that the neurological conditions are the “cause” and anger is the “effect”.

Take a look at the correct answer choice

Option 1:

The flaw in this passage is clearly that the passage does not in any way establish that the price of crude oil and the strength of the Japanese yen are in any way related. This is definitely the correct answer choice.

This article has deliberately been kept brief; for a more elaborate explanation, please refer to the Experts’ Global Stage One Critical Reasoning videos.

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