The Arcane and Causal Fallacy
Updated: May 6
(More articles I wrote on spirituality:
As I wrote in another article, dabbling with the arcane is interesting. That's because it can give you a sense of greater importance. A sense that everything is related somehow, and that every anecdote that you experience must be necessary (AKA determinism).
It's gotten to the point where I've taken some courses on the arcane, most notably Tarot reading. I even received a Tarot Master certificate after taking a test and a course beforehand. It was made by someone who appears to me to be a spiritual polymath.
I received a gift for my upcoming birthday: a pack of tarot cards with a manual. I began practicing them. I shuffled and re-shuffled the deck and picked random cards from random, specific selections. With each card I found, regardless of what card it was and whether or not it was taken upside down, it appeared weird to me that each card made sense to my life, and possibly to my future, in some way or another.
Then, it finally came to my realization. Most, if not all, of us are complex beings, because humans are usually like that. We have different genetics, different personalities, affinities, interests, and so on. Because of our complexity, anything random can somehow be associated with ourselves, as long as we tell ourselves that there's a justification for it to be that way.
In other words, if you tell yourself the "right" story about anything that you find regarding the arcane -- coffee reading, tarot reading, or any other practice, then you could tell yourself that there is a necessary connection. A connection between the cause (the things related to you) and the effect (the stuff you've chosen or were randomized to).
It can be true not only of the arcane but of basically any other form of pseudoscience (whether or not it actually is). Certain languages, such as Hebrew, can be analyzed through what is known as gematria, or the study of words and letters by their assigned numbers.
The more you practice gematria, for example, the more likely you are to think of your name, your occupation, and other data, as symbols of something deeper. Something that might be connected to some kind of universal mechanism.
Some people called it the divine, but most people, because of Christianity and Islam (the most dominant religions on Earth), call it God, Jesus, or Allah. However, should we not associate everything and everyone around us with some kind of divine plan, we might come to the realization that not all causes are the products of the effects that we have acquired, through whatever means. To better explain this, cause and effect do not exist like we may think they do. Not every cause leads to specific effects, if at all. Truth and significance are not the same thing, even in philosophy.
What is a causal fallacy? The time right now is 4:02 AM. If we put 4 and 2 together, we have 6. The tarot card representing 6 is called The Lovers. What is this card? It symbolizes attraction, amusement, affection, and love. If it just so happens that this article will get a significant number of likes, can we deduce from the fact that I'm writing this in the very early morning, that this article will be liked more than usual?
I think not, because there is no necessary connection between 4 a.m. and the potential popularity of this article. After all, I could've written this at any time of the day when I was awake enough to focus and think. Let's say that, in a parallel universe, I write the very same article at 7:04 AM and not at the time of the original universe. This is the same article, but in another universe. Will the results of this article be different just because of the time it was published?
The answer is, logically, no, because even if I write it in yet another hour, it will not change the fact that people will read it and have the same reaction to it, whether that reaction is in their thoughts or displayed differently. That is what is called, the causal fallacy — not every effect is caused by the cause you may be referring to.
If dogs bark at sunrise, it doesn't mean that their barks make the sun rise; if a woman is sexually active with several men, and you're meeting with one of them for a coffee, it doesn't mean that this very man is the father, should that woman get pregnant.
Despite the conclusions I've reached to in this article, it doesn't change the fact that the arcane feels very gratifying for me. It creates a narrative, a sense of "destiny" that does not exist in an other-wise ordinary and bleak existence. For many of us adults, life isn't an adventure, and there's nothing necessarily exciting in our daily lives.
In the realm of fiction, for example, anyone can become a hero, because fiction has a logical system different from ours. Thus, when you occupy yourself with things that make you feel important, if not "destined", then life appears differently, it appears more colorful. That is the problem I have as an atheist. The "fact" that I "must" create my own meaning, and not seek it in whatever religion I choose, just because I know English and can learn about other religions.
The arcane, while possibly at fault logically, can actually be therapeutic and inspiring. This comes from someone who learned tarot reading. We all tell ourselves stories in the form of inner speech, inner thoughts. Whether we're wrong or not about them, it's the job of the philosopher to decide, by inspecting, identifying fallacies, and concluding from reason. Concluding whether these ideas are indeed true, regardless of their attributed significance.
So, if you happen to be into coffee-reading, don't drink multiple drinks just to see if your future for the day is changing. I don't think our days are influenced by our coffees. Might be wrong, might not.