An LSAT lesson from the Geto Boys

A couple weeks ago, we looked at Dr. Dre's three necessities. (Be sure to invite him to your party after stocking up on Chronic, Remy Martin, and soda pop.) Today we're going to identify some assumptions in the Geto Boys' 1992 "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta." (Have a listen?)

(Source:  15 Things you Didn't know about Office Space on blog.koldcast.tv)

The Geto Boys don't waste any time getting into their LSAT lesson.  The first verse includes this:

And niggas always gotta high cap Showin' all his boys how he shot em But real gangsta-ass niggas don't flex nuts  'cause real gangsta-ass niggas know they got em 

(Source:  lyricsfreak.com)

Focus on the last two lines:  "real gangsta-ass niggas don't flex nuts, 'cause real gangsta-ass niggas know they got em."

I think that makes sense. Do you? (If not, take a quick visit to Urban Dictionary for a definition of "flex nuts.")  OK... everybody on board? The argument makes sense to me, because when you know you got 'em, why would you need to flex? It's not important what other people know, right? It's important what you know. Quick poker analogy: In poker, "the nuts" means the best possible hand. If you're holding the best possible hand, you'd want to do everything you could to hide that fact from your fellow players... so you could take all their money.

So anyway, the argument makes sense. But in LSAT terms, it's actually incomplete. It's not wrong, but it's missing something. The Boys have offered one premise and one conclusion. And there's a bit of a disconnect between those two. Can you find the evidence? Can you find the conclusion?

The word "'cause" is the clue here. When you say "X, because Y," you're saying that Y is the reason for X. So when the Geto Boys say "real gangsta-ass niggas don't flex nuts," they're starting with their conclusion. Next, they offer the evidence for that conclusion: "'cause real gangsta-ass niggas know they got em."

I don't usually diagram LSAT Logical Reasoning questions unless I absolutely have to, but I sometimes do it for teaching purposes. Here's my starting diagram:

Something's missing! The premise "if you're gangsta, you know you got 'em" talks about knowledge, while the conclusion "gangstas don't flex" talks about action. The Boys have assumed that if you know you've got the nuts, you won't flex.  Like this:

Based on the argument above (before I added the missing piece) LSAC could write a variety of different LSAT questions.

If the testmakers wanted you to identify the missing premise that would prove the truth of the conclusion, they could make it a Sufficient Assumption question:

Which one of the following, if true, would allow the conclusion to be properly drawn?

Answer:  Nobody who has nuts would ever flex them. If that's true, then the argument wins. So that would be a perfect answer for a Sufficient Assumption question.

Or the testmakers could ask you identify a missing piece that, if untrue, would cause the argument to fail. That would be a Necessary Assumption question, like this:

Which one of the following is an assumption required by the argument?

Answer:  At least one person who has nuts doesn't flex them. (This is necessary, because if it's untrue it becomes "everybody with nuts does flex them," which would invalidate the Geto Boys' argument.)

The testmakers could also phrase a Necessary Assumption question as a Must Be True. What if they said this?

If all of the above statements are true, which one of the following must also be true?

Same answer as immediately above: At least one person who has nuts doesn't flex them. That fact must be true, if the Geto Boys' argument is true.

The testmakers could also ask you to attack the argument... a Weaken question.

"Which one of the following, if true, would most weaken the argument?"

Answer:  People who have nuts will always flex them. Since the Boys' argument contains an assumption, it is vulnerable to attack. An opponent could devastate the Boys' argument if she could prove that people who have nuts do flex.

OK, here's your homework. Same song, different verse:

Real gangsta-ass niggas don't talk much  All ya hear is the black from the gun blast  And real gangsta-ass niggas don't run for shit  'cause real gangsta-ass niggas can't run fast  

Focus on the last two lines. "Gangstas don't run for shit, cause gangstas can't run fast." What's the evidence? What's the conclusion? What's the missing piece? How would you answer a Sufficient Assumption question based on this argument? A Necessary Assumption question? A Weaken question?