Flaws: Logical Reasoning’s Biggest Challenge

Most of my students with 7Sage.com accounts quickly discover that their highest study priority in logical reasoning should be “flaw” questions. With seven or more flaw questions per test and five confusing answers per question, most students will spend at least six minutes on LSAT day just trying to figure out what those flaw answers are supposed to mean. Every answer you don’t recognize consumes time, adds stress, and increases your odds of picking the wrong answer.

Students can improve both speed and accuracy by learning how to quickly and accurately recognize what the different flaw answer choices mean. The faster you can dismiss a wrong answer, the faster you can find the right answer and move on. A student who can quickly identify the wording used to describe common flaws should gain enough time to do at least two more questions in each logical reasoning section–and may be able to get more of the flaw questions right in the process. That can raise your score on test day significantly!

I have asked many students to study these flaw answer choices on  their own–with disappointing results. If you don’t know what the various flaws are, it’s really hard to figure out what these answer choices mean.  I have yet to find a commercially available LSAT text that enables the average student to quickly, confidently, and accurately identify the different answer choices.

They say it is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness, so this series of posts is my attempt to light the way for a new generation of law students. I hope to identify every flaw answer choice in every “10 Actual Official LSAT Preptest” book. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

 

Flaws: Master Index

 

Master Index of Flaws

  1. Ad hominem
  2. Alternate cause
  3. Appeal to authority
  4. Appeal to emotion
  5. Appeal to the people
  6. Argument from ignorance
  7. Assumption
  8. Circular reasoning
  9. Correlation does not imply causation
  10. Equivocation
  11. Fallacy of composition
  12. Fallacy of division
  13. False dilemma
  14. Genetic fallacy
  15. Hasty generalization
  16. Internal contradiction
  17. Is/ought problem
  18. Mistaken most
  19. Mistaken negation
  20. Mistaken reversal
  21. No true Scotsman
  22. Numbers v. Percents
  23. Overlooked possibility
  24. Possibility v. Certainty
  25. Reverse causation
  26. Straw man
  27. Subjective/objective problem
  28. Survey problem
  29. Unrepresentative sample

Flaws: Mistaken Negation (TM)

PowerScore has trademarked a remarkable number of terms that have become standard LSAT jargon, including the term “Mistaken Negation (TM).” This logical error was identified more than two thousand years before PowerScore trademarked the name, however. Aristotle listed “denying the antecedent” as one of the thirteen original fallacies. Whatever we call this error, it shows up whenever you find this pattern:

  • If you live in Detroit, you live in Michigan
  • Therefore, if you don’t live in Detroit, you don’t live in Michigan.

This error is obvious when you use an intuitive example involving geography, but it is less obvious in other contexts. Don’t let that keep you from looking for it every chance you get–this little error is easy to slip into an argument and hard for the untrained eye to spot. That means you’ll see lots of these errors in easy-to-medium flaw questions.

You’ll see this answer choice often, but it may be the hardest answer to make sense of. The LSAT writers often use abstract terms that tend to paralyze the student. While it is possible to decode these baffling answers and demonstrate that they describe a “mistaken negation (TM),” it is very hard to do that with the clock ticking and your future on the line. That’s why it is so important to learn to identify this and other flaw answers before test day.

Here are some examples of answers that describe this particular flaw. (These are not actual LSAT answers, due to copyrights, but they are inspired by and similar to real answers):

  • “It treats a sufficient condition for an argument’s conclusion to be a necessary condition for that conclusion.”
  • “Takes a sufficient condition to be a necessary condition.”
  • “Mistakes something that is sufficient to make an argument invalid for something that is necessary to make that argument invalid.”

Basically, these answers all indicate that somebody confused a sufficient condition for a necessary condition. That sounds a lot like a “mistaken reversal (TM)” (which is what happens when you confuse a necessary condition for a sufficient condition), but it is different. If you think a condition is necessary, then not having that condition means you can’t have the other condition.  Here’s how that works out:

  • If you live in Detroit, you live in Michigan (true)
  • If you live in Michigan, you live in Detroit (false–you confused the necessary term for a sufficient term)
  • If you don’t live in Detroit, you don’t live in Michigan (false–you confused the sufficient term for a necessary term by saying what would happen if you didn’t have that term)

Flaws: Mistaken Reversal (TM)

PowerScore has trademarked a remarkable number of terms that have become standard LSAT jargon, including the term “Mistaken Reversal (TM).” This logical error was identified more than two thousand years before PowerScore trademarked the name, however. Aristotle listed “affirming the consequent” as one of the thirteen original fallacies. Whatever we call this error, it shows up whenever you find this pattern:

  • If you live in Detroit, you live in Michigan
  • Therefore, if you live in Michigan, you live in Detroit.

This error is obvious when you use an intuitive example involving geography, but it is less obvious in other contexts. Don’t let that keep you from looking for it every chance you get–this little error is easy to slip into an argument and hard for the untrained eye to spot. That means you’ll see lots of these errors in easy-to-medium flaw questions.

You’ll see this answer choice often, but it may be the hardest answer to make sense of. The LSAT writers often use abstract terms that tend to paralyze the student. While it is possible to decode these baffling answers and demonstrate that they describe a “mistaken reversal (TM),” it is very hard to do that with the clock ticking and your future on the line. That’s why it is so important to learn to identify this and other flaw answers before test day.

Here are some examples of answers that describe this particular flaw. (These are not actual LSAT answers, due to copyrights, but they are inspired by and similar to real answers):

  • “It mistakes a situation that must be present to establish the validity of the conclusion for a situation that would guarantee the validity of the conclusion.”
  • “It treats a requirement for a pig to fly as something that ensures that a pig will fly.”
  • “It takes a necessary condition for an argument’s failure to be a condition that would guarantee the argument would fail.”
  • “Concludes, from the fact that X occurred and that Y would ensure that X occurred, that Y must have occurred.”

In most cases, the answer simply states that somebody has mistaken a necessary condition for a sufficient condition. Until you become familiar with the underlying problem and the way the LSAT writers word these “mistaken reversal (TM)” answers, these can be baffling. After you recognize the problem and the pattern, they become quite simple.

Flaws: Assumption

When a “flaw” answer to an LSAT logical reasoning question contains words like “takes for granted” or “presumes, without justification,” you are dealing with an assumption of some kind. When you assume something that is necessary to the argument, you are definitely engaging in flawed reasoning. (As the old saying goes, “When you assume, you make an ass of u and me.”) Not every assumption is a necessary assumption, however, so the challenge is to discern whether this particular assumption is essential to this argument.

If an assumption is truly necessary, the argument self-destructs if you assume the logical opposite. Thus, for example, if I say, “Tuna is Marcia’s favorite lunch, so she is going to love my solid white albacore salad,” you have to assume that “albacore” is a kind of tuna. If you assume that albacore is not a type of tuna, the whole argument falls apart. You can always determine whether an assumption is truly necessary by seeing what happens when you assume its opposite.

This is why “extreme” statements are so seldom truly necessary assumptions. If I make an extreme assumption (for example, “solid white albacore is the only type of tuna”), then the logical opposite of that assumption generally won’t contradict the conclusion. Thus, if I assume that there other types of tuna besides albacore, my wife may still love her lunch.

That doesn’t mean that extreme answers are always wrong, however! You should check an extreme answer by assuming the logical opposite, and then see what effect that has on the argument. If an extreme answer is the right answer, assuming the opposite makes the argument fall apart. If it is the wrong answer, the opposite assumption has no real impact on the argument as a whole.

(It takes a little training to properly negate a logical statement. The logical opposite of “white” is not “black,” as you might suppose, but “not white.” Thus, pink, green, or tangerine are equally the opposite of white (in a logical sense). 7Sage.com has this post on how to find the logical opposite.)

Flaws: Overlooked Possibility

There’s something wrong with your thinking when you “overlook the possibility” or “fail to consider” something. That’s why these phrases show up so often in “flaw” questions in the logical reasoning section of the LSAT.  (There are an average of 7 “overlooked possibility” answers per test.) You’ll see the same sort of answers on “weaken the argument” questions, with one little difference. The right answer to a weaken question may say, “There is more than one type of tuna.” The right answer to a flaw question may say, “Fails to consider that there is more than one type of tuna.” It is the failure to consider this possibility that turn it into a case of “flawed reasoning.”

The most reliable way to work through any overlooked possibility answer is to use what I call “JY Ping’s Unless Test.” This can  be found in the 7Sage LSAT curriculum. I have been informed by my students that JY Ping, who is one of God’s gifts to aspiring law students everywhere, suggests that you sort out a “weaken” stimulus into its evidence and conclusion and then read it out as follows:

  • BECAUSE [evidence]
  • THEREFORE [conclusion]
  • UNLESS [answer]

Thus, we might see a question like this:

  • BECAUSE My wife loves tuna for lunch
  • THEREFORE She will love this solid white albacore tuna salad
  • UNLESS There is more than one type of tuna

(Note: there is more than one type of tuna and, no, Marcia doesn’t love solid white albacore!)

As you work through flaw questions with a “fails to consider” or “overlooks the possibility” answer, say the word “unless” and then read that answer off to yourself. If this doesn’t immediately and always get you the right answer, spend a little time on that question to see whether this technique will work for you. Leave a comment if it doesn’t help you on a particular question and I’ll see what I can do to make this clearer!

Flaws: Mistaken Most

“Most” is a common and dangerous word on the LSAT. I routinely tell students that “‘most’ is mostly wrong” because there are so many easy ways to write a wrong answer using “most.” It is no wonder, then, that one of the most common parallel flaw patterns is the “mistaken most.” Here are some examples:

Most mammals have four legs.
All dolphins are mammals.
THEREFORE most dolphins have four legs.

Most mammals have four legs.
Dolphins do not have four legs.
THEREFORE dolphins probably aren’t mammals.

Most Congressmen live near Washington, DC.
Most US citizens don’t live near Washington, DC.
THEREFORE, there must be more Congressmen than citizens near Washington, DC.

Flaws: Subjective/Objective Problem

Some flawed LSAT arguments infer a person’s intent from his or her actions (or vice versa).  If I were to accidentally knock a child down, I would not necessarily be guilty of child abuse.

This “subjective/objective” problem shows up periodically on the LSAT, but it is not otherwise common enough to be listed as a major fallacy. It only appears twice in 10 Actual Official LSAT Preptests, Volume VI (once as a correct answer and once as a wrong answer).

  • 72-2-5: Firepower movie (Vol VI, p. 16). 83% identified this as the correct answer to this “medium difficulty” question.
  • 74-4-18: Melatonin (Vol VI, p. 116). 7% chose this wrong answer to this “hardest difficulty” question.

Volume VI Flaws

The following work-in-progress is a hyperlinked list of the ANSWERS to flaw questions in “10 Actual Official LSAT Preptests Volume VI.” This document should immediately increase your accuracy on flaw questions by explaining what each answer means. If you carefully study the different flaws and the words the LSAT authors use to describe it, you should be able to get more right answers in less time in the LSAT logical reasoning section,

I recommend that this document be used as part of the 7Sage “blind review” method. Try to figure out each flaw question on your own, and then, without checking your  answer, look at that question in this document.  If you aren’t familiar with the labels I use  to describe the different flaws, just click the hyperlink to see what Wikipedia or other authors have said about this specific flaw. Then, after you are clear on what each answer actually means, choose your answer. If it is the same answer you originally chose, congratulations! If you changed your answer, congratulations again–you may have just learned something that will help you get into the law school of your choice!

72-2-5: Firepower movie (p. 17)

  1. Ad hominem
  2. Correlation does not imply causation
  3. Fallacy of composition
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Subjective/objective problem

72-2-14: Chocolate depression (p. 19)

  1. Reducing cause eliminates effect
  2. Unrepresentative sample
  3. Correlation does not imply causation
  4. Mistaken reversal
  5. Vague conclusion

72-2-16: Too many artworks (p. 20)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Assumption
  3. Assumption
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Assumption

72-2-18: Blood samples (p. 20)

  1. Assumption
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Assumption

72-2-20: Wild apples (p. 21)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Assumption
  4. Internal contradiction
  5. Circular reasoning

72-2-22: Flawed pattern (p. 22) is a mistaken reversal

72-3-7: Comics and health (p.26)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Assumption
  4. Assumption
  5. Assumption

72-3-11: Hiking trail (p. 27)

  1. Argument from ignorance
  2. Fallacy of composition
  3. Circular reasoning
  4. Hasty generalization
  5. Ad hominem

72-3-14: Wildlife activists (p. 28)

  1. Mistaken negation
  2. Complete rejection of partial solution
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Ad hominem
  5. Rejection of one possible solution

72-3-22: Pathogenic microorganisms (p. 30)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Overlooked possibility

72-3-25: Flawed pattern (p. 31) is a false dilemma

73-2-3: Movie rights to video games (p. 56)

  1. Hasty generalization
  2. Mistaken inference
  3. Circular reasoning
  4. Assumption
  5. Mistaken reversal

73-2-5: Primeval atom (p. 57)

  1. Appeal to authority
  2. Equivocation
  3. Correlation does not imply causation
  4. Evidence may support more than one hypothesis
  5. False dilemma

73-2-7: Flawed pattern (p. 58) is ad hominem

73-2-13: Crime rate (p. 59)

  1. Assumption
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Assumption
  5. Assumption

73-2-15: Advertising campaign (p. 60)

  1. Assumption
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Assumption
  4. Assumption
  5. Mistaken reversal

73-2-18: Planimetric art (p.61)

  1. Ad hominem
  2. Equivocation
  3. Mistaken reversal
  4. Internal contradiction
  5. Argument from ignorance

73-4-3: Sunscreen lotions (p. 73)

  1. Assumption
  2. Overlooked distinction
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Statistical error
  5. Overlooked possibility

73-4-10: Vacuum cleaner (p. 74)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Assumption
  3. Assumption
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Overlooked possibility

73-4-18: Flawed pattern (p. 77) is the gambler’s fallacy

73-4-25: Roberta is irritable  (p. 79)

  1. Correlation does not imply causation
  2. Circular reasoning
  3. Hasty generalization
  4. Mistaken reversal
  5. Mistaken reversal

74-1-5: Children’s television (p. 89)

  1. Mistaken reversal
  2. Argument from ignorance
  3. Ad hominem
  4. Appeal to authority
  5. Internal contradiction

74-1-16: Pedagogical practice (p. 92)

  1. Concedes opponent’s assumption
  2. Assumption
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Equivocation
  5. Assumption

74-1-18: Sleep deprivation (p. 93)

  1. Alternate cause
  2. Alternate cause
  3. Mistaken reversal
  4. Assumption
  5. Overlooked possibility

74-1-25: Flawed pattern (p. 95) is mistaken reversal

74-4-8: Kodiak bear (p. 114)

  1. Hasty generalization
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Equivocation
  4. False dilemma / Assumption
  5. Appeal to authority

74-4-15: Interest rates (p. 115)

  1. Relies on experts
  2. Confuses terms
  3. Assumption
  4. Mistaken negation
  5. Unwarranted inference

74-4-18: Melatonin (p. 116)

  1. Subjective/objective problem
  2. Bias
  3. Equivocation
  4. Reverse cause
  5. Unrepresentative sample

74-4-20: Global recessions (p. 117)

  1. Circular reasoning
  2. Fails to establish claim
  3. Circular reasoning
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Possibility v. Certainty

74-4-22: Fish with teeth (p. 117)

  1. Correlation does not imply causation
  2. Argument from ignorance
  3. Mistaken negation
  4. Possibility v. Certainty
  5. Appeal to authority

74-4-25: Flawed pattern (p. 119) is a mistaken most

75-1-7: Sherwood opposes higher taxes (p. 130)

  1. Unrepresentative sample
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Mistaken negation
  4. Ad hominem
  5. Fallacy of division

75-1-12: Duke of Acredia (p. 131)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Contrapositive (not a flaw)
  3. Unreliable evidence
  4. Correlation does not imply causation
  5. Assumption

75-1-18: Police graft (p. 132)

  1. Hasty generalization
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Appeal to character
  4. Assumption
  5. Internal contradiction

75-1-22: Flawed pattern (p. 134) is mistaken most

75-3-7: Profit projections (p. 145)

  1. Assumption
  2. Overlooked distinction
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Hasty generalization
  5. Equivocation

75-3-10: Television host (p. 146)

  1. Argument from ignorance
  2. Circular reasoning
  3. Appeal to authority
  4. Confuses standards
  5. Questions conclusion merely because it was reached quickly

75-3-14: Flawed pattern (p. 147) is unique

75-3-16: Planned locomotion (p. 148)

  1. Mistaken reversal
  2. Assumption
  3. Assumption
  4. Assumption
  5. Assumption

74-3-18: Consumer advocate (p. 149)

  1. Mistaken reversal
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Unrepresentative sample
  4. Assumption
  5. Assumption

76-2-1: Reptile hormones (p. 176)

  1. Provides no explanation for other abnormalities
  2. Overlooked possibility (resolves the mistaken reversal in the stimulus)
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Unrepresentative sample

76-2-4: Chameleon behavior (p. 177)

  1. Hasty generalization
  2. Fails to explain
  3. Appeal to authority
  4. Fails to demonstrate
  5. Holds critics to a higher standard

76-2-16: Legislature survey (p. 180)

  1. Is/ought problem
  2. Circular reasoning
  3. Fallacy of composition
  4. Survey error
  5. Rough estimates yield precise conclusion

76-2-19: Union leaders (p. 181)

  1. Genetic fallacy
  2. Assumption
  3. Genetic fallacy
  4. Assumption
  5. Assumption

76-2-21: Flawed pattern (p. 182) is multiple causes

76-4-5: Traditional rituals (p. 193)

  1. Assumption
  2. Assumption
  3. Assumption
  4. Assumption
  5. Assumption

76-4-6: Flawed pattern (p. 193) is affirming a disjunct

76-4-13: Government statistics (p. 195)

  1. Equivocation
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Assumption

76-4-15: Nutritional supplements (p. 195)

  1. Equivocation
  2. Appeal to authority
  3. Appeal to emotion
  4. Ad hominem
  5. Assumption

77-2-5: Flawed pattern (p. 217) is unique.

77-2-14: Cancer and pollutants (p. 220)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Assumption
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Overlooked possibility

77-2-18: Shakespeare snobs (p. 221)

  1. Assumption/Ad hominem
  2. Assumption
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Circular reasoning

77-2-22: More than one newspaper (p. 222)

  1. Confuses inabilities
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Is/ought problem
  4. Assumption
  5. Concerned only with important stories

77-4-6: Popular sports (p. 233)

  1. Correlation does not imply causation
  2. Hasty generalization
  3. Equivocation
  4. Circular reasoning
  5. Ad hominem

77-4-9: Joshi campaign (p. 234)

  1. Correlation does not imply causation
  2. Mistaken reversal
  3. Is/ought problem
  4. Reverse causation
  5. Circular reasoning

77-4-12: Movie critics (p.235)

  1. Argument from ignorance
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Unrepresentative sample
  4. Ad hominem
  5. Overlooked possibility

77-4-15: Flawed pattern (p. 239) is hasty generalization

78-1-7: Air traffic (p. 249)

  1. Hasty generalization
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Argument from ignorance
  5. Overlooked possibility

78-1-9: Prairie plants (p. 250)

  1. Reverse causation
  2. Fails to describe mechanism
  3. Assumption
  4. Unrepresentative sample
  5. Numbers v. Percents

78-1-21: Flawed pattern (p. 254) is “‘or’ does not equal ‘and’.” (This is an especially difficult question because the phrase “sand or organic material, or both” sounds so plausible. If you replace “organic material” with “pixie dust,” however, the flaw becomes apparent.)

78-1-22: Toxic chemicals (p. 254)

  1. Internal contradiction
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Argument from ignorance
  4. Reverse causation
  5. Overlooked possibility

78-3-1: Nonprofit  organization (p. 264)

  1. Unrepresentative sample
  2. Assumption
  3. Survey error
  4. Relies on majority opinion to determine minority opinion
  5. Assumption

78-3-5: Site drainage (p. 265)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Overlooked possibility

78-3-15: Good manager (p. 267)

  1. Confuses qualities
  2. Confuses qualities
  3. Mistaken reversal
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Assumption

78-3-25: Flawed pattern (p. 271) is mistaken most.

79-1-2: Trusting neighbors (p. 288)

  1. Mistaken negation
  2. Is/ought problem
  3. Internal contradiction
  4. Circular reasoning
  5. Reverse causation

79-1-6: Body size (p. 289)

  1. Alternate causation
  2. Unrepresentative sample
  3. Alternate causation
  4. Fallacy of division
  5. Hasty generalization

79-1-13: Zoo animals (p. 291)

  1. Assumption
  2. Hasty generalization
  3. Straw man
  4. Mistaken reversal
  5. Rejects a claim because its proponent holds an inconsistent view

79-1-15: Success and luck (p. 291)

  1. Mistaken reversal
  2. Appeal to authority
  3. Circular reasoning
  4. Reverse causation
  5. Ad hominem

79-1-26: Flawed pattern (p. 295) is “some dogs are pets but no cats are dogs so no cats are pets.”

79-4-9: Fitness experts (p. 314)

  1. Correlation does not imply causation
  2. Assumption
  3. Infers that a factor that is a contributor is the only contributor
  4. Hasty generalization
  5. Fallacy of division

79-4-16: Flawed pattern (p. 316) is mistaken reversal

79-4-18: High school graduates (p. 316)

  1. Fails to establish
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Assumption
  4. Assumption
  5. Assumption

80-1-2: Hair dryers (p. 328)

  1. Numbers v. Percents
  2. Does not provide specific information
  3. Fails to discuss sales figures
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Provides no independent evidence

80-1-13: Purpose of laws (p. 331)

  1. Mistaken negation
  2. Correlation does not imply causation
  3. Equivocation
  4. Is/ought problem
  5. Fallacy of division

80-1-16: Commercial flights (p.332)

  1. Assumption
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Ad hominem
  4. Assumption
  5. Argument from ignorance

80-1-24: Flawed pattern (p. 335) is mistaken most

80-4-1: Community cleanup (p. 352)

  1. Hasty generalization
  2. Assumption
  3. Mistaken reversal
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. No true Scotsman

80-4-11: University food vendor (p. 355)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Unrepresentative sample
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Argues that a popular position ought to be adopted

80-4-16: Software company logo (p. 356)

  1. Correlation does not imply causation
  2. Mistaken negation
  3. Fallacy of division
  4. Circular reasoning
  5. Hasty generalization

80-4-23: Flawed pattern (p. 358) is roll the dice

80-4-26: Macedonian tombs (p. 359)

  1. Assumption
  2. Assumption
  3. Does not show
  4. Fails to evaluate
  5. Assumption

81-2-8: Employee bonuses (p. 377)

  1. Overlooked possibility
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Fails to justify
  4. Fallacy of division
  5. Assumption

81-2-20: Voting records (p. 381)

  1. Faulty comparison
  2. Fails to take into account
  3. Provides evidence but not explanation
  4. Reverse causation
  5. Overlooked possibility

81-2-24: Flawed pattern (p. 383) is argument from ignorance

81-2-25: Technological innovations (p. 383)

  1. Circular reasoning
  2. Argument from ignorance
  3. Stronger evidence than conclusion requires
  4. Mistaken reversal
  5. Hasty generalization

81-3-7: Economic productivity (p. 386)

  1. Assumption
  2. Assumption
  3. Unfairly criticizes politicians in general
  4. Assumption
  5. Fails to address

81-3-9: Brain area (p. 386)

  1. Assumption
  2. Overlooked possibility
  3. Hasty generalization
  4. Overlooked possibility
  5. Assumption

81-3-13: Legislator investment (p. 388)

  1. Treats a character trait as evidence of a viewpoint
  2. Fails to address the argument
  3. Assumption
  4. Assumption
  5. Overlooked possibility

81-3-15: Car manufacturers (p. 388)

  1. Hasty generalization
  2. Assumption
  3. Overlooked possibility
  4. Assumption
  5. Equivocation

81-3-23: Negotiated legislation (p. 391)

  1. Circular reasoning
  2. Mistaken negation
  3. Equivocation
  4. Assumption
  5. Bases conclusion on a different principle

Grow Your Brain

I believe that most students can improve on the LSAT, for two reasons. First, I’ve seen it done. Second, I suspect that the brain actually grows when it is repeatedly exercised. Recent research supports this idea.

Researchers at Berkeley studied a group of students who are preparing for the LSAT. They imaged their brains before and after a three-month BluePrint course, and compared those results to a control group of similar students who weren’t preparing for the LSAT. They found that the LSAT students had measurably more “white matter” (the axons that connect the “gray matter” of the neurons). Here’s a popular write-up and here’s the published research.

I work on the assumption that repeated stimulation of neurons changes them in some way. The neural network experts assure me that the receiving end of a neuron (the “dendrite”) changes with use, and the Berkeley research shows that there is some change to the sending end (the “axon”) as well. I assume that thinking hard, long, and often about any topic will increase the number of possible connections between nerve cells, resulting in long-term change to the brain itself.

To boil this down to a bumper sticker, you are what you think. Think a lot about any given topic, and you’ll wind up thinking more about it.  That’s bad news if the topic is lust, rage, greed, or fear. It’s good news if you want to go to law school and you’re thinking about logical reasoning!