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In the latest Futurama episode, called Cold Warriors, the professor says the following:

The common cold died out 500 years ago and subsequently humanity lost all resistance to its ravages.

According to the thread dealing with the difference between subsequently and consequently, the line uttered by the professor is ungrammatical, for humanity would lose all the resistance to a virus only if the virus were to die out completely. Therefore, the action follows as a result.

Am I right on this one? Being very strict here, can we claim that the Futurama creators made a mistake, or is this an exception to the rule? Could someone clarify/explain?

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Phenry has the perfect answer and besides the cold dieing out would not cause it, rather it would be a condition met in which it could die out. The cause would be the body's process for creating antibodies where it only creates antibodies it actually needs. So this would be scientifically correct as well as grammatically. – Chad Aug 26 '11 at 18:56
up vote 7 down vote accepted

"Consequently" contains information about causality and "subsequently" does not, but that doesn't mean "subsequently" is improper. Did B (humanity lost its resistance to the common cold) happen after A (the common cold died out)? Yes? Then of course B happened subsequently to A.

While "consequently" means that A caused B, the presence of "subsequently" rather than "consequently" doesn't by itself entitle you to presume that A did not cause B. It just tells you that one event happened after another event.

One word may be less precise than the other in some contexts, but don't confuse imprecision with inaccuracy.

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Kind of a reversal of Post hoc ergo propter hoc. – JeffSahol Aug 27 '11 at 0:29

The common cold died out 500 years ago and subsequently humanity lost all resistance to its ravages.

Using the linked defn of subsequently becomes:

The common cold died out 500 years ago and so following that event (but not necessarily because of it) humanity lost all resistance to its ravages.

Which seems perfectly correct.

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According to the thread I linked in my question you are wrong about the definition of subsequently. – RiMMER Aug 26 '11 at 17:02
@Rimmer - ok, but it still makes sense without the consequences – mgb Aug 26 '11 at 17:03
That feels like a poor reasoning. The result necessarily followed the event (it wouldn't happen without the initial event). And why would two different words exist to describe two various situation, if we decide to ignore them? – RiMMER Aug 26 '11 at 17:13
@Rimmer - in this case consequently would be also correct but you need subsequently for times when there is no cause-effect. SO "Steve Jobs retired and subsequently a hurricane hit NY" – mgb Aug 26 '11 at 17:17

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