June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q19, insurance versus the lottery

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Guest blogger: Dave Yi

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My BS radar is going berserk right now. This professor is crazy... he equates buying lottery tickets to buying insurance! Yes, both lottery tickets and insurance may be similar in that the average payout is lower than the average cost. But my gosh, while Fortune 500 companies, for example, are willing to pay benefits in the form of (health) insurance to their employees, I'm quite certain they wouldn't trade it off for lottery tickets! And for a very good reason, too – insurance protects against sickness and/or loss that could be devastating to an individual, whereas lottery tickets are about pleasure and/or gaining fortune that most individuals can live without.

Perfect! I'm asked to weaken the professor's argument. The correct answer will either point to the flaw that I articulated, or being as that this is question #19, (questions later in the section tend to be more difficult than average) it will somehow attack the conclusion (i.e., the economists' reasoning is not faulty) in some creative way that I couldn't anticipate. Either way, process of elimination is key; so here I go.

A. This doesn't weaken the argument. If anything it will possibly strengthen the argument, since now that individuals, on average, spend more on insurance, lottery tickets seem less risky and less unwise. A is gone.

B. Yet another reason why buying lottery tickets is less unwise than buying insurance. B is gone. If anything this answer choice strengthens (rather than weakens) the argument.

C. I guess C is describing the benefits of buying lottery tickets? Again, C is gone.

D. Hmm. This one is tricky. Unlike the prior three answer choices it points to the relative benefit of the buying insurance over the benefit of buying lottery tickets. For now, I'm going to keep this one.

E. I like this answer choice. It's similar to what I anticipated and it points to an important reason why buying insurance is wiser than buying lottery tickets.

I revisit D, and I am now convinced that E is the correct answer. D is talking about “odds of winning,” a.k.a. gambling. While individuals may treat the lottery in terms of winning against the odds, this seems inapplicable to buying insurance. If buying insurance and collecting settlement were akin to gambling, then it would indeed be an unwise use of resources. We want insurance policies to pay out irrespective of odds. I like E.

From Dave: I'm the founder of LSAT Sensei, a boutique LSAT prep and tutoring company based in Chicago. I received my JD from the University of Chicago Law School, and I've been teaching the LSAT for a decade (and counting). I took the LSAT three times: 163, 174, and 180. I had to work my tail off to improve my LSAT score, so I completely embrace the the philosophy that succeeding on the LSAT is a journey. You can tweet me here.

I love how even after wrestling with it for ten years, the LSAT is still fun and intriguing. Back when I was studying to get into law school, my favorite thing about the LSAT was the Games (analytical reasoning) section. I was a natural at it, and I totally got huge ego boosts when I could crush the entire section in 15 minutes or less. But over the years, my favorite thing about the LSAT constantly changes - currently, I get a huge kick out of tearing apart the Logical Reasoning prompts/stimuli. The LSAT authors have a way of digging their own grave.

Please ask questions and/or suggest corrections to anything that seems confusing... we want to make this the best resource we can for LSAT students. We'll have all the June 2013 explanations up as quickly as possible. Thanks for reading. Tell your friends! --nathan

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project