This is a bit far afield of my own expertise, but I’m curious: if I predict that an event in the future is a causal outcome, but it was an event that has already occurred that was causal, how can I be proven correct or wrong? I’m thinking about Obama and the Democratic primary, Iowa/NH, and the Feb. 5 2008 primary. Fabio has made the case that Super Tuesday is the crux of the primary, though he’s certainly not alone. And the specific question is more interesting as a broader question of history, evidence, and causation.

Now, if someone else (Clinton or Edwards) wins on Feb. 5 and goes on to win the primary, it seems pretty clear that Feb. 5 would be at least more decisive than Iowa/NH if not completely decisive. But if Obama wins on Feb. 5 and goes on to win the nomination, does that mean that he won because of Feb. 5? Or because of his wins in Iowa/NH?

In other words, if I bet that Obama wins not because of Feb 5. but because of Iowa, and Bowers/Rojas bet that Obama wins because of Feb. 5, what would it take to win or lose my money? Obviously Iowa affects Feb. 5, so they are conjunctive determinants, but is there an actual methodological answer to this question? How do we know decisive, causal, historical events?

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