Is there a Japanese phrase equivalent to "Chopstick gene" (or "Chopsticks gene")? Here's a link to a description in the scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry, and here's one to everything2.com, but the idea is this:

A naive scientist, acting in good faith, tries to determine if there's a genetic component to the ability to use chopsticks. Lo and behold, the scientist finds genetic differences between those who are good at it, and those who are bad at it. However, the findings are useless: the genetic differences have no bearing on chopstick using ability, it's just that some genetic variations are common in Asian people, and some are common in non-Asians, and the scientist didn't think of checking that.

Just to clarify, the "chopstick gene" isn't meant to be about scientists trying to argue that there are innate differences between different races based on genetic differences, such as people claiming that a so-called "warrior gene" (a different version of the MAO-A gene) is more common in Maori people than non-Maoris.

I tried doing a search based on 箸遺伝子 (the Japanese for chopstick, plus the Japanese for gene), but I didn't notice anything relevant.

The phrase "Chopstick gene" isn't very common in English, so there may not be a Japanese equivalent.

  • 2
    "isn't very common in English" does not seem to capture how rare this is. It's not even present in ngram. It appears to be from an article: nature.com/mp/journal/v5/n1/full/4000662a.html
    – virmaior
    Nov 7, 2015 at 9:10
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    The authors wrote about it a number of times, including in a book by one of the authors, Living with Our Genes, which has been translated into Japanese as 『遺伝子があなたをそうさせる』. Maybe find a copy of that book and see what they called it? :-)
    – user1478
    Nov 7, 2015 at 9:49
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    You may know this, but the generic technical term for this kind of bias is 交絡【こうらく】 (confounding in English). I personally have my own set of examples to explain this idea, but I'm not aware of any well-known name for this concept as catchy as chopsticks gene.
    – naruto
    Nov 7, 2015 at 12:29

1 Answer 1


I could find two people who refer to this fallacy as “箸の誤り”:

But as commenters have noted, it is probably not an established phrase, even within the domain.

The words 相関関係と因果関係 (correlation and causation) are more widely understood.

Something like “虚偽の原因の誤謬{ごびゅう}” or “因果関係の誤謬” will work too, especially in the context of logic/skepticism. (An average person off the street may not know what a 誤謬 is.)

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