Logical Reasoning

Logical Reasoning Questions Answered: What are Mistaken Reversals and Mistaken Negations?

what-s-that-1527433Lucy K. reached out to me with some questions about Logical Reasoning and asking for resources on mistaken reversals and mistaken negations. Here's what I told her about these terms and whether they're important when studying for the LSAT. Lucy K.: I'm working on a review of conditional reasoning right now. Do you have any resources on mistaken reversals? And also mistaken negations? I just worked through the LRB chapters on Weaken and Must Be True questions. The Weaken practice problem set went better than the Must Be True problem set, but I want to review them both. Right now I've been noticing that Weaken questions, compare/contrast dialogue between two speakers, // reasoning, principle, sufficient assumption, and flaw questions are LRs I've tended to get wrong.

I've noticed that I tend to get weirded out by long arguments, arguments with lots of formal logic, and some of the science/nature arguments (I always think I don't know what this jargon-word means, or I'm not an architect, biologist, anthropologist, et cetera, what if I'm missing something about a scientific process, or I think it would be great to diagram this LR question as I see the logic words, but I'm really scared that I'd diagram it wrong and/or am debating which abbreviations to use). I would like to practice these more.

Nathan: Oh dear. "Mistaken reversals"... "mistaken negations"... they're one and the same. I'm sorry you even have those two terms in your head, because you really don't need them. This is just something that LSAT dorks say when they want to impress someone. Logically, it's the exact same flaw. All you really need is the big picture. One example should suffice.

Premise: If you're eaten by a shark, then you're dead.

Mistaken reversal: Everyone who's dead was eaten by a shark. This is stupid because there are a lot of other ways to die. Like maybe a flock of rabid turkeys pecks you to death. Or whatever. Point is, it's obviously stupid. And believe it or not, this simple, obvious flaw is the LSAT's favorite thing to test. It's on every single LSAT.

Mistaken negation: If you're not eaten by a shark, then you're not dead. See, that's a slightly different statement but it's logically identical and it's stupid for the exact same reason. What about the rabid turkeys? What about all the other ways to die? This, again, is the LSAT's most common flaw.

Formally, the two flaws are contrapositives of one another. I suppose there is a technical difference in the form of the flaw, but it's simply not important enough of a distinction for you to bother knowing two different names for them. The terms "mistaken reversal" and "mistaken negation" have never appeared on the LSAT. Only in LSAT books. But not in my LSAT books, because I don't want you to waste your time on irrelevant technicalities.Generally, I am not in love with Powerscore's Logical Reasoning Bible for exactly this reason. It focuses on too many trees, so unsuspecting readers often miss the forest. It's not technically wrong (at least not often) but it's far too technical. Students come away thinking that the LSAT is harder than it really is.

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Thou Shalt Pay Attention to the Type of LSAT Question

question-mark-1238622No matter what type of question you're looking at on the LSAT Logical Reasoning section, it's critical that you argue with what you're reading. But that's only half the battle. Once you've argued with the speaker, and made sure you've comprehended what they're saying, it's critical to figure out what kind of question you're dealing with. There's no point in looking at the answers until you know what you're looking for. This Commandment applies to all sections, but particularly to the Logical Reasoning. I'm shocked when a student says, "I didn't pick A because it seemed too strongly worded," on a Sufficient Assumption question. Sufficient Assumption questions love strongly stated answers! Stop being so formulaic, forget everything you learned from whatever gimmicky LSAT book you read before this, and pay attention to what the question is asking. You are smart enough to figure this out. Read every word on the page, figure out what they are asking, and answer the question. If you're not open to the possibility that you're smart enough to do this, then you really shouldn't even attempt it. I believe in you.

Here are examples of what various "question stem" wordings sound like for any given type of question.

FLAW:

-- Which one of the following most accurately describes a way in which the reasoning above is questionable? -- The reasoning in the argument is flawed because the argument -- Which one of the following most accurately describes a flaw in the reasoning above?

WEAKEN:

-- Which of the following, if shown to be a realistic possibility, would undermine the argument? -- Which one of the following, as potential challenges, most seriously calls into question evidence offered in support of the conclusion above? -- Which one of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the support for the arguments conclusion?

STRENGTHEN:

-- Each of the following supports the arguments reasoning EXCEPT: -- Which of the following, if assumed, most helps to justify the reasoning above? -- Which one of the following, if true, most strengthens the columnist’s reasoning?

SUFFICIENT ASSUMPTION:

-- Which one of the following, if assumed, would allow the conclusion above to be properly drawn? -- The conclusion drawn follows logically from the premises if which of the following is assumed? -- The conclusion is properly inferred if which one of the following is assumed?

NECESSARY ASSUMPTION:

-- Which one of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends? -- The argument makes which one of the following assumptions -- Which one of the following is an assumption required by the argument?

MUST BE TRUE:

-- Which one of the following must be true if the statements above are correct? -- The above statements, if true, most strongly support which one of the following? -- Which of the following is most strongly supported by the information above?

MAIN CONCLUSION:

-- Which one of the following most accurately expresses the arguments conclusion? -- Of the following, which one most accurately expresses the conclusion drawn above?

AGREE/DISAGREE:

-- “Robert” and “Sarah” have committed to disagreeing on which of the following? -- “Beth’s” and “Carmen’s” statements provide the most support for the claim that they would disagree about whether -- The dialogue most strongly supports the claim that “Chris” and “Joe” disagree about which one of the following?

EXPLANATION:

-- Which one of the following, if true, contributes most to an explanation of the puzzling situation described above? -- Which of the following, if true, most helps to resolve the apparent discrepancy above? -- Which one of the following, if true, contributes to a resolution of the apparent paradox?

IDENTIFYING A GUIDING PRINCIPLE:

-- Which one of the following principles best justifies the above actions? -- Which one of the following principles is best illustrated by the information above? -- The reasoning above conforms most closely to which one of the following propositions?

APPLYING A PRINCIPLE GIVEN:

-- Which one of the following would be a proper application of the principle stated above? -- Of the following, which one conforms most closely to the principle illustrated by the situation described above? -- Which one of the following best illustrates the proposition above?

COMPLETE THE ARGUMENT:

-- Which one of the following most logically completes the argument? -- The conclusion of the argument above is most strongly supported if which one of the following completes the argument? -- Which one of the following most reasonable completes the argument?

STRATEGY OF ARGUMENTATION:

-- Which one of the following most accurately describes the method of reasoning used in the argument? -- “Which of the following most accurately describes the role played in the Philosopher’s argument by the claim that “…” -- The editorial undermines the conclusion of the causal argument by

MATCHING PATTERN:

-- Which one of the following arguments is most similar to the reasoning in the argument above? -- The reasoning in the argument above is most paralleled by the argument that there is -- In which one of the following is the pattern of reasoning most similar to that in the Doctor’s argument?

MATCHING FLAW:

-- Which one of the following arguments exhibits flawed reasoning most similar to that exhibited by the argument above? -- Which one of the following exhibits both of the logical flaws exhibited in the arguments above? -- The flawed pattern of reasoning in which of the following most closely resembles the flawed pattern of reasoning in the actor’s argument?

This post is excerpted from "Introducing the LSAT” (available on Amazon). Please drop me a line in the comments, or at nathan@foxlsat.com.

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Q and A: Should You Diagram Logical Reasoning Questions?

tools-673837-mA student recently asked me whether I recommend diagramming Logical Reasoning LSAT questions. I'm asked this a lot, so I wanted to answer it here for anyone who is wondering the same.

Student: Firstly, I have all of your books, and I think they're great! I never thought I'd be actually laughing out loud while studying for the LSAT! :)

I've noticed that in your Logical Reasoning (LR) explanations, you rarely diagram the questions. I'm just wondering what your general opinion is on diagraming/using formal logic to answer some of the questions. I find that as I get into the late teens-and into the twenties, the questions get more convoluted and generally harder to follow/keep in my head. In your explanations, I've noticed that you solve these problems by just using the stimulus - but some of these the questions are so dense that I find it difficult to keep the main points in my head (especially for Inference questions and SA questions with a lot of conditional logic).

I want to tackle these questions in the most efficient way possible. So do you think I should practice diagramming, or is that a waste of time? What's the best approach? And do you have any specific diagramming techniques?

Nathan: Thanks for writing! I'm glad you've enjoyed my books. If you have a chance to write me a review, the phrase "laughing out loud while studying for the LSAT" would go an awful long way. No pressure, of course.Your question about diagramming on the Logical Reasoning section is a common one.

You should diagram only when necessary for understanding the argument. What type of question you're dealing with is irrelevant. What's relevant is whether or not a diagram is the only way to understand the argument itself. If you understand the argument, don't diagram. If you don't understand the argument, but you can re-read it and now you understand, then good, don't diagram. If diagramming won't help you understand the argument (like if it is very long, or has rules that don't follow a clear "if->then" or "only if" or "unless," etc. pattern, then don't diagram. If you suck at diagramming, then don't diagram.

Diagram if you can't understand any other way, and if diagramming will actually help. Otherwise don't.

Your practice test scores will clearly indicate whether or not you're ready for the December LSAT. If you want a 165, and haven't gotten a 165 on a practice test, then I'd bet against you getting a 165 on the December LSAT. On the other hand, if you had achieved a 165 on an actual LSAT, strictly timed, then I would clearly bet for scoring a 165 on the December 2014 LSAT. No need to speculate. Instead, get back to work and make it happen. If you're not ready, you can always withdraw.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

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June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q15 linguist vs. philosopher

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Holy hell, what is this bullshit? I only wrote a handful of the Logical Reasoning explanations for this project--the crowd did the bulk of the work--but here, yet again, I want to slap someone in the face. The philosopher is a dumbass.

His nonsensical conclusion is that "Ivan and Joan are siblings" cannot be identical in meaning to "Joan and Ivan are siblings." We all know that's untrue. So how did the philosopher get to the peak of Mount Jackass? Well, the two sentences are "physically different," and in order for two things to be the same, they must have "all the same attributes." If you add those two things together, you get "therefore the two sentences don't mean the same thing." Right? Right? 

Wrong. If I were the linguist, after removing my glove and using it to deliver a swift blow to the philosopher's face, I would calmly explain that "physically different" and "all the same attributes" do not have to be mutually exclusive. For example, if I made a cheeseburger with the cheese under the beef, and made another cheeseburger with the cheese on top of the beef, the two burgers would be physically different. But they would, nonetheless, have all the same attributes. They'd both be cheeseburgers... they'd be "identical in meaning" to my belly. Shit, I could get crazy and put the cheese inside the patty... it would still be a cheeseburger. (I can imagine the geniuses at Carl's Junior getting ahold of that last idea... "We've revolutionized the cheeseburger!")

We're asked to find a "logical counter" to the philosopher's stupid argument. Let's see if we can find an answer that matches up to our cheeseburger retort.

A. No, the linguist doesn't need to prove that the two sentences are identical. Since the words are in different order, they're clearly not. The linguist only needs to show that the two sentences have identical meaning.

B. This is true in real life. "You're on fire!" can mean one thing in the context of a basketball game and another thing entirely in the context of a Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial.

http://youtu.be/dgb-zCnz9mE

But anyway, neither speaker was talking about how identical sentences can mean different things. The point was whether different sentences can mean identical things.

C. No. The point isn't whether the two sentences, in fact, have identical meaning. We're not arguing about the definition of the word "sibling." The philosopher is certainly vulnerable to attack on this point, but the thing about siblings was really just an example. The linguist could make a stronger attack by attacking the foundation of the philosopher's argument, rather than attacking one dumb example. (If the linguist said C, I would be afraid that the philosopher would respond with some other dumb example, and could spend all day coming up with dumb examples.)

D. Yes, perfect. The linguist should calmly point out that generally, identical meaning and identical structure are two different issues. This would prevent any other dumb examples from spilling out of the philosopher's mouth. If the linguist said D, the philosopher be forced to shut up. This answer also makes our cheeseburger example work... two cheeseburgers don't have to be completely identical in order to mean (or taste) the same.

E. Experience is completely irrelevant... neither speaker relies on "experience" to make his point.

Our answer is D, because it shows the philosopher's confusion between structure and meaning.

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

About me: I'm  the owner of Fox LSAT and FoxTestPrep.com. Please email me at fox.edit@gmail.com, call me at 415-518-0630, Tweet me @nfoxcheck out my books here, and watch 15 hours of free LSAT classes here.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q14, pleasure and getting what one wants

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Guest blogger: Chino Baluyut

I'm Chino, and I'm an English teacher.  What am I doing answering an LSAT question on Nathan's blog?  I'm living the ultimate "what if" scenario”¦ what if I opted for law school instead of education?

I think I've made the right choice.

But really, I'm doing this because Nathan is a great guy who has given me tons of (non-law related) advice.

The argument says that if you get what you want, you feel pleasure. Therefore, people must want pleasure. Does this make sense? Apparently not, because the question asks us to find an answer that shares the same questionable reasoning. Before we look at the answer choices, we should make sure we understand the flaw. If X causes Y, does that mean any time you do X, you want Y? Let's see:

Smoking causes cancer. Do smokers want cancer? Drinking causes hangovers. Do drinkers want hangovers? Of course not. Let's see if we can find an answer that matches this flawed thinking.

A. I don't see anything here about one thing causing another. I doubt this is the answer.

B. Thinking about skiing causes terror. Sounds good so far. In order to make this the answer, it should say "so, whenever I think about skiing, I must want to feel terror." But that's not what it says, so this isn't the answer.

C. Stomachache happens when you eat pizza. Stomachache is the natural consequence of eating pizza. So if I eat pizza, I must want a stomachache. YES!

D. This answer is like "X has caused Y in the past, so X will probably cause Y tonight." That's not the pattern we were looking for.

E. No. This one is like "I can't have X without Y, so I can't have Z without Y either." That's not a match.

Our answer is C, because it's the same flaw as the given argument.

Chino Baluyut is the principal and founder of The Sentence Center, which provides expert writing instruction to students in middle and high school.  Chino teaches adolescents how to select, organize, and express their thoughts in a clear manner.  He stresses the importance of mastering the fundamentals of writing, preparing ideas in advance, and developing a unique voice.

For more information, visit The Sentence Center at www.SentenceCenter.com.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q23, a botanist experiments with radishes

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Graeme Blake is an LSAT instructor in Montreal. He scored a 177 on the June 2007 LSAT, and has taught for Testmasters and Ivy Global.

The former VP of Curriculum Development at 7Sage LSAT, he's the moderator of Reddit's LSAT forum, and the author of the Hacking The LSAT book series, which offers explanations for LSAT preptests.

You can find his books on amazon, or go to http://lsathacks.com for more information.

This explanation is an excerpt from Graeme's upcoming book of explanations for LSAT 69, which will be available on amazon in the next few days. Graeme thinks LSAT Prep should be a lot less expensive than it is, and thinks that Nathan's project is a great idea.

Guest Blogger: Graeme Blake

QUESTION TYPE: Strengthen

CONCLUSION: Pesticide resistance would spread from crops to their relatives that are weeds.

REASONING: Flower color spread from domestic radishes to wild radishes. Pesticide resistance is genetically engineered.

ANALYSIS: We don't know much about the spread of genetic traits. Maybe flower color is easier to spread than other traits.

  1. A.  Maybe traits can spread easily in radishes, but not in other plants.
  2. B.  Maybe genetically engineered traits are hard to spread.

To strengthen this argument, we could prove the opposite of one of those statements.

For example, suppose traits are harder to spread in radishes than in other plants. Then the fact that the trait did spread in radishes is evidence that traits could spread in other plants too.

___________

A.  It doesn't matter how easy it is to spread a trait from a wild to a domestic. The stimulus only talks about spreading from domestic to wild. B.  This is vague. Maybe it took a 50% increase in the ratio to increase spread speed by 1%. What does that tell us? It's not clear what effect this has on the spread of other traits. C.  If radishes are not representative, then the argument is weaker. Radishes may not prove anything about other plants. D.  Pesticide resistance is a genetically engineered trait. The argument would be stronger if flower color was genetically engineered too. That would prove that genetically engineered traits could spread. This is a weaken answer. E.  CORRECT. This shows that almost any other genetic trait could spread more easily than radish color. So this experiment is fairly strong evidence that other traits such as pesticide resistance could spread.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q22, martial arts magazine circulation

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Graeme Blake is an LSAT instructor in Montreal. He scored a 177 on the June 2007 LSAT, and has taught for Testmasters and Ivy Global.

The former VP of Curriculum Development at 7Sage LSAT, he's the moderator of Reddit's LSAT forum, and the author of the Hacking The LSAT book series, which offers explanations for LSAT preptests.

You can find his books on amazon, or go to http://lsathacks.com for more information.

This explanation is an excerpt from Graeme's upcoming book of explanations for LSAT 69, which will be available on amazon in the next few days. Graeme thinks LSAT Prep should be a lot less expensive than it is, and thinks that Nathan's project is a great idea.

Guest Blogger: Graeme Blake

QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning

CONCLUSION: The magazine won't be the largest selling martial arts magazine in ten years.

REASONING: If circulation keeps rising, the magazine will be the best selling martial arts magazine. But circulation won't keep rising.

ANALYSIS: This sounds like a good argument, but really it just incorrectly negates a conditional statement. We have:

Rising fast âžž Best seller

The argument incorrectly assumes:

Rising fast âžž Best seller

It's possible the magazine will be the best selling magazine in ten years even if sales stop rising. Maybe the magazine is already the best seller. Maybe other magazines will see circulation drop.

___________

A.  This is a different error. The author doesn't have to prove that the changes are the only necessary condition. They just have to prove that the changes are a necessary condition. Failing to meet any necessary condition will negate a sufficient condition. B.  The argument doesn't say that slower growth will cause circulation will shrink. The author only says that the magazine will not be a best seller if growth slows. C.  The argument didn't use circular reasoning.They have some evidence for the conclusion: circulation won't increase at the same rate. D.  Actually, a single fact incompatible with a general claim is always enough to prove a general claim false. If I say ”˜all swans are white', then you just need to find one black swan to prove the statement wrong. E. CORRECT. A continued rise in circulation will ensure that the magazine is the best seller. But the rise in circulation may not be necessary. Maybe the magazine is already the best seller. Maybe other magazines' circulation will shrink.

 

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q21, Skiff's book and Professor Nguyen's vow

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Graeme Blake is an LSAT instructor in Montreal. He scored a 177 on the June 2007 LSAT, and has taught for Testmasters and Ivy Global.

The former VP of Curriculum Development at 7Sage LSAT, he's the moderator of Reddit's LSAT forum, and the author of the Hacking The LSAT book series, which offers explanations for LSAT preptests.

You can find his books on amazon, or go to http://lsathacks.com for more information.

This explanation is an excerpt from Graeme's upcoming book of explanations for LSAT 69, which will be available on amazon in the next few days. Graeme thinks LSAT Prep should be a lot less expensive than it is, and thinks that Nathan's project is a great idea.

Guest Blogger: Graeme Blake

QUESTION TYPE: Sufficient Assumption

CONCLUSION: Skiff will be promoted if his book is as important and well written as he claims.

REASONING: If Skiff releases his book this year, Nguyen will recommend promoting him, and the dean will listen.

ANALYSIS: Who cares if Skiff's book is important and well written?

He has to release it this year to get Nguyen's recommendation.

On sufficient assumption questions, you must connect the evidence to the conclusion. We get:

Important OR well written âžž published this year

That will let Skiff get Nyugen's recommendation. So, for those who like diagrams:

Important OR well written âžž published this year âžž Recommendation âžž Promotion

Three of the wrong answers add necessary conditions for Skiff to get promoted. Necessary conditions can never help you prove something will happen. They can only prove that something won't happen, when the necessary condition is missing.

___________

A.  CORRECT. See the explanation above. B.  This doesn't tell us Skiff will publish in time to get Nguyen's recommendation. It just adds another useless necessary condition Skiff needs to fulfill before getting promoted. C.  It doesn't matter whether Nguyen thinks the book is well written. We only know Nguyen will recommend Skiff once he publishes. We need to know that Skiff will publish this year. D.  Same as B. This adds an additional necessary condition. That doesn't help us prove that the book will be published this year. E.  Same as B and D. This adds a necessary condition. That makes it harder for Skiff to get promoted.

 

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q2, acrylic paint

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Kathleen Thurmond, unlike most of the 20-somethings I work with, isn't entirely certain what she wants to do with her life. It's refreshing to work with her... at 37, I know at lot less than I did at 27. Kathleen might choose law school, or maybe she'll choose something even better. I've never rooted harder for a student to overcome the LSAT hurdle.

Guest Blogger: Kathleen Thurmond

Hi, my name is Kathleen Thurmond and I am definitely one of Nathan's older students. However, I have tons of energy and a curiosity about life that keeps me young... my almost daily workouts also help.  I love life and its challenges, so taking the LSAT and potentially going to law school seemed like the right thing. I spent 18 years in the non-profit world, primarily in health care management and AIDS. Then I unexpectedly needed to take over my father's company when he had a stroke. I obtained an MBA and was CEO for 12 years before selling to a large competitor in Southern California. I moved to San Francisco because it's my favorite city. I decided I wanted to go to law school in late November to give teeth to my advocacy for women and girls. In a month, I'll be in the rainforests of Ecuador with the Pachamama Alliance on a women-only trip. LSAT study will need to wait.

I liked this question because I had a nightmare situation with a house in Long Beach. A house where the first painter didn't scrape the old paint thoroughly enough so as soon as he painted, it began to peel. I had to hire a new painter and paid twice! The facts are the following:

  1. Acrylics are a great choice for house painting. (This doesn't mean that other paints aren't.)
  2. Paint can't correct badly cracked surfaces. My house painter should have read this paragraph!
  3. Badly cracked surfaces indicate a big problem that needs repair. Seems obvious.

Since the question asks us to choose the answer that is “most strongly supported” by the given facts, all we need to do is pick an answer that seems boring and obvious based on what we already know.

A. In real life, harsh weather is certainly a cause of cracked paint. But the given facts didn't say this, and we're supposed to be picking an answer that is supported by the given facts (and only those facts). This can't be the answer.

B. The given facts don't say acrylics are the only solution... simply that they are an excellent choice. There could be a million other excellent choices on the market. This is out.

C. The facts never mention anything about "painting over" other types of house paint, so this can't be the answer.

D. This is almost certainly our answer. House paints are not required to correct surface defects, because repairs must be done first. That's exactly what we were told in the facts.

E. Completely irrelevant. Who cares about the color at this point? The given facts said nothing about color.

Our answer is D.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q24, an LSAT lesson from Adam Carolla

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project As a daily listener of The Adam Carolla Show, I was surprised to find that this question seems to have been written by Adam. He might have had to dictate it to an assistant, otherwise we'd still be hearing the <click>... <click>... ... ... <click> as he hunt-and-pecked out the argument. But the words are right out of his mouth. Stop naming every player "MVP." Stop giving trophies to every player on every team. Stop making such a big deal about birthdays, the "ultimate participation award." If you praise kids for everything, you're praising them for nothing at all.

I try to argue with everything I read on the LSAT, but this one simply makes too much sense. I don't agree with Adam on everything either, but on this point, I agree wholeheartedly.

The question simply asks us to identify the conclusion of the argument. We should always be able to answer a question like this before looking at the answer choices. Ask yourself: What's the main point of this rant? If you could boil it down into one sentence, what would you say? My prediction is something like "stop fucking up your kids by praising them for every solid poop they make."

A. Uhm... hell no. This is exactly the opposite of the point.

B. This looked good to me at first. The argument absolutely did say this. But the ultimate point really wasn't "the kids will stop hearing praise." The point was "you'll fuck your kids up by making them unable to hear praise." I liked this answer on my first pass through, but there's a later answer that turns out to be better.

C. No, let's not overcomplicate it. The point wasn't about kids' actual abilities vs. parents' expectations. It was about ruining them by overpraising them for mundane shit. This isn't it.

D. Yes, this is exactly the point. This will be the answer. B was part of the argument, but D is the main point.

E. Terrible answer. This is the opposite of what the argument was saying.

Our answer is D.

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

About me: I'm  the owner of Fox LSAT and FoxTestPrep.com. Please email me at fox.edit@gmail.com, call me at 415-518-0630, Tweet me @nfoxcheck out my books here, and watch 15 hours of free LSAT classes here.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR1, Q23, an anthropologist on eating animals

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project The anthropologist plays it safe in her conclusion. "That conclusion [that taboos against eating certain animals came from practical considerations] is unwarranted," she claims. She doesn't say "you're wrong about practical considerations, this is what really causes animal-eating taboos," instead she just said "well, what about this?" Nor does she say "taboos did not arise from practical considerations." All she says is "your conclusion is unwarranted," i.e. "I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying you haven't proven your case."

Maybe it's an argument that only an LSAT teacher could love, but I do love it. Ninety percent of the arguments presented on the LSAT go way beyond what's justified by those arguments' facts. This one doesn't, and that's a refreshing change of pace.

We're asked simply, "in the argument, the anthropologist," which indicates that the correct answer will describe a Strategy of Argumentation used by the speaker. I'm going to pick a conservative answer, since the anthropologist was very conservative. Anything too strong or speculative will be easy to eliminate.

A. I like this one. The anthropologist didn't "disprove an explanation," she only "called an explanation into question." And she did propose an alternative explanation: "symbolic, ritualistic reasons." This could very well be our answer.

B. You can stop reading this one after the very first word. "Establishes" means "proves." The anthropologist didn't prove, or even try to prove, anything at all. No way.

C. You can stop reading this one after the first word as well. "Rejects" means "claims false." Remember, the anthropologist didn't say "some researchers are wrong"... she only said their beliefs are "unwarranted."

D. No. The anthropologist didn't say "it must not have been practical reasons, because people actually did preserve animals for non-practical reasons." Rather, she said "you haven't proven it's practical reasons, because it might have been other reasons." A is still leader in the clubhouse, and there's a strong wind blowing across the 18th green. E will have to make birdie, or else A wins.

E. No, the anthropologist didn't say "these things caused the taboo against eating animals, but they happened in a different order." Rather, she said "maybe the taboo came from something else entirely." This one is out of contention, leaving A our winner.

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

About me: I'm  the owner of Fox LSAT and FoxTestPrep.com. Please email me at fox.edit@gmail.com, call me at 415-518-0630, Tweet me @nfoxcheck out my books here, and watch 15 hours of free LSAT classes here.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR1, Q12, I sincerely apologize

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project After reading the first sentence, I almost started diagramming this one. I actually got out a pencil, and hovered it over the page. But then I read the rest of the argument, and put the damn pencil away. Diagramming on Logical Reasoning is dangerous. That's because you're either writing down every single word (in which case, what's the point of the diagram, cause the words are already on the page), or you're abstracting the words, like changing "apology" into "A" and "wronged" into "W."

The problem with the abstractions is that they get confusing really fast. The second sentence says "apologize sincerely." So did your "A" from the first sentence mean "apologize"? Or did it mean "apologize sincerely"? The fourth sentence makes it even worse, by introducing "accept an apology sincerely." Is this "A"? Or "AA"? Or "AAS"? If the next sentence were to say "accept a sincere apology sincerely," would you then need an "ASAS"? Are you picking up what I'm laying down? Diagrams scare me.

So instead of making a diagram, I just read all four sentences and tried to understand them as best I could. It's a bunch of definitions... here's what "apology" means, here's what "sincere apology means," and here's what "accept an apology means." After finishing reading the passage, I'm like "OK, but who gives a fuck." There's no conclusion here... the author doesn't seem to have a point. It's just a bunch of facts about apologies. I'm bored.

The question stem says "the statements above, if true, most strongly support which one of the following," which means all I have to do is pick an answer that has been proven true (ideally) by the given facts. If I can't find something that has been proven true, then I'll settle for the one that has been most strongly suggested by the given facts.

A. Tricky, but no. If you intend not to re-commit an offense, you can sincerely apologize. The fact that you actually re-offend doesn't go back in time and negate your apology. The rule we were given was about your state of mind at the time of apology.

B. Nope. The standard for sincerely accepting an apology had nothing to do with whether the given apology was sincere.

C. No, this is backward. We know that if you're going to give an apology, it should only be for committing a wrongful act, and only to the person who you have wronged. But that doesn't mean that we should apologize to those we have wronged... only that we should not apologize to those we have not wronged. I imagine that this was a tough answer choice to get past for a lot of students. Avoiding it involves a fairly sophisticated understanding of the Necessary and Sufficient conditions. You also have to avoid imposing your own system of morality: Most of us do believe that we should apologize when we have wronged someone; this question isn't asking us about our own beliefs, it's asking us to apply solely the given statement.

D. Nope. The rules say that you can't accept an apology if you intend to hold a grudge. But that has no bearing on the sincerity of the offeror. If you intend to hold a grudge then you can't sincerely accept, but the apology can be sincerely offered.

E. As I arrive at this answer, I remind myself that even though I dismissed A-D, I still need to critically evaluate E. It's tempting to start rooting for an answer, but I'm going to do my best to remain fully skeptical until I am sure that I have arrived at the correct answer. That said, after reading E I am sure it is the correct answer. The rules do say that you can't offer, or accept, an apology unless you acknowledge that a wrong has been committed. So our answer is E.

 

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

About me: I'm  the owner of Fox LSAT and FoxTestPrep.com. Please email me at fox.edit@gmail.com, call me at 415-518-0630, Tweet me @nfoxcheck out my books here, and watch 15 hours of free LSAT classes here.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR1, Q1, Jake, Karolinka, and germs

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project The first thing I noticed about Mer is that she laughed loudly at my stupid jokes in LSAT class. The next thing I noticed is that she was getting it. She started with a 145, and within a few months she was knocking on the door of 170. I think students can learn a lot from Mer's enthusiasm. Have fun with it! The Logic Games are, literally, games. The Logical Reasoning can also be a game, once you learn how to play.

--nathan

Guest Blogger: Meredith Haspel

Hello, nerds! A little bit about me... I'm originally from Durango, Colorado and currently work in marketing. I'm also a Game of Thrones enthusiast and prospective law student. While taking the June 2013 LSAT, many times I found myself reading a question and hearing Nathan's voice in my head, or asking "what would Nathan say?" Here's my best attempt at a Nathan Fox answer:

Jake and Karolinka converse about one of the topics I often find myself conversing with friends about”¦ household cleaning products.  The argument here reminds me of a discussion I had with some friends: “You should always use Purell because it kills germs!” “But if you use Purell all the time some germs will become resistant to the hand sanitizer and that will make your inevitable sickness worse. Don't use Purell!”

Now, what am I doing discussing Purell with my friends?  I'm not too sure. But let's try now to figure out what our buddies Jake and Karolinka actually agree on:

A. They both agree that cleaning products with antibacterial agents kill some bacteria. Blamo!  This has got to be it.

B. Who the hell is talking about dirt? Not Jake!  Not Karolinka!  Nope, nope, nope.

C. Karolinka said this, Jake did not. Move on”¦

D. “Serious,” huh? No way.

E. If you pick this, like Gob, you've made a huge mistake. Jake said that certain people - "people who want to minimize the amount of bacteria in their homes" - should use these products. Just "people" is too broad. And Karolinka definitely wouldn't agree with E either.

Our answer is A, because it's the only one that they've both agreed on.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR1, Q21, Nobel prize for science

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project My class includes optional proctored practice tests. They've usually been at 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings, when most students would probably prefer to be sleeping off Friday night's revelry or, well, doing anything else besides the LSAT. Not too many students take me up on those tests... I'll have 30 people in a class and only 10 might show up on Saturday morning. Emily Kenyon was always there, bright and early. The first ingredient for a great LSAT score is the willingness to put in the work. Emily put in the work, and it obviously paid off... to the tune of a bitchin' 174.

Guest blogger:  Emily Kenyon

Hi everyone! My name is Emily and I'm originally from Monkton, Vermont. I moved out to California after college for some warmer weather! I love traveling, photography, and pugs. I spent 3 months studying for the LSAT. I started studying with Nathan's class in March. My first diagnostic score was a 153. Nathan's class helped me get started with the logic games and begin to understand the test as a whole. In addition to teaching the LSAT, he also provided tons of advice about the law school application process. I didn't know anything about the merit based scholarships or fee waivers before the class. Thanks Nathan!

After one month of class, I decided to study on my own for two months. I used the Powerscore books and I took a lot of timed practice tests under varying conditions (for example, taking a test in a noisy library). I knew that stamina might be a problem, so I added a fifth section to each practice test in May. I bought the newest tests from LSAC, and they really helped me get an accurate feel for the current test. I found them to be more representative of the difficulty, in each respective section, of the current test.

My advice for future LSAT takers is to try as many methods as possible until you find one that works, and give yourself tons of time. I'm convinced the LSAT is simply a test of how hard you are willing to work. I was originally planning on studying for a month and taking the test. Thankfully, Nathan talked me out of this. I'd say most test takers need at least 3 months. If you don't have much time during the week to study, give yourself 6 months. My favorite thing about the LSAT is the Logic Games. I actually think they are fun. Yikes!

Question #21 is one of only two Logical Reasoning questions I missed on the test. Looking back, I wish I had slowed down a little. This is a Must Be True question, so I know that any information needed to find the right answer is right there in the stimulus. I like to immediately rule out any answers that are outside the realm of the question. I then distinguish between answers that could be true and the one answer that must be true.

A: This is the answer that I choose on test day. It is wrong because although it could be true according to the given facts, it doesn't have to be true. It is possible, given the facts, that all the amateur scientists who have made significant contributions to science have won Nobel prizes for science.

B: This answer tries to confuse the test taker, because the stimulus doesn't explicitly say this. The stimulus says that professional scientists are often motivated by economic necessity, or by a desire for fame, but it never says they aren't motivated by the love of the discovery at all.

C: Here is our answer! This is a paraphrase of part of the stimulus. It combines sentence two and three. The stimulus states that amateur scientists have provided many significant contributions, and that amateur scientists are motivated by the love of discovery alone. If these two statements are true, then answer choice C must also be true.

D: What? Just because winners of a Nobel prize are typically professional scientists doesn't mean that professional scientists have made a greater contribution to science than amateur scientists. This answer goes beyond the scope of the stimulus.

E: This answer is completely irrelevant. Easy to cross off.

This is a pretty straightforward question. All test takers have to do is watch out for the little tricks the test makers have set out. But why take advice from someone who got the question wrong anyway?

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q3, a punk letter to the editor

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project I was terrified on the eve of teaching my very first LSAT class”¦ public speaking has always scared the shit out of me. My voice breaks, I forget everything I planned to say, and I sweat profusely. It's gross, and it's something I avoid at all costs. I'd prefer death to making a wedding toast. So that night, sitting on the roof of my old apartment in the Mission, I was close to quitting my LSAT teaching gig before it started. But my old friend Chantill Lopez was there to offer the single greatest piece of advice I have ever heard about teaching: “Just be honest,” she said. So the next night, in front of 20 LSAT students who trusted me with their careers, I opened with, “I'm contractually obligated not to tell you that this is my very first LSAT class.” It got a laugh, and I realized that my audience was actually on my side. Then I told them that I had scored a 179 on the LSAT, and that I'd like to help them see how easy it could be. I've never been nervous in front of an LSAT class in the five years since. I'm indebted to Chantill, a great teacher who now teaches teachers for a living.

Guest blogger: Chantill Lopez

I feel like a fish in the Sahara Desert. As someone who lives as far from the LSAT as you can possibly get (I teach Pilates teachers), I read the question five times and went crossed-eyed. But the fog cleared once I sat back and let go of my nervous assumptions and my crippling “please don't let me f____ this up” mentality. Without panic, visibility improves.

Here is what I see:

I don't like this argument, first of all, because the writer sounds like a punk, a punk who believes that they can validate an argument with paper-thin logic: that an assertion can be made about an entire group based on the behavior, opinion, or business practices of a single member of the group.

So, if I keep it simple and go with my first instinct I can dive into the answer choices.

(Editor's note: She might not know it, but Chantill has already answered the question... before looking at the answer choices. On this test, it is good to think the arguments are made by "punks." If you're angry at the argument, you probably already understand the heart of the matter. --n)

A makes no sense to me, because the writer doesn't even seem to be drawing any conclusions based on “premises that are entirely about what is the case.” We don't know what the case is. He doesn't assert enough of anything to make it this far. He simply pulls a reason out of his hat (editor's note: I would have said "ass" --n)  and calls it “inefficient” because it suits his position. This one seems pretty flimsy, although the language tied me up a little so I read it multiple times to be sure.

B is looking like a gem. It supports and even fuels my irritation with anyone who pretends to be smarter than they are.

C is just wrong. The author doesn't make it as far as really attacking the proponent of the claim. He goes right to the assertion that Byworks Corporation is representative of all nonprofit sector businesses... which is exactly what B described.

D is, again, off point. The answer talks about evidence, but in my mind no evidence or lack of evidence is being considered at all. (Editor's note: D is describing the flaw "absence of proof being taken as proof of the opposite," like "You can't prove there's life on Mars, therefore there is definitely not life on Mars." That's not what happened in this argument, so this isn't the answer. --n)

E ”¦well, at this point I think B is my answer and because I have to re-read E several times before I begin to gleam the point I decide that it is, in fact, not the answer I'm looking for. (Editor's note: E is describing a scenario like "Cigarette smoking is fun and causes cancer. Therefore cancer is fun." That's certainly not similar to what happened in the argument, so this isn't the answer. --n)

B it is.

Phew. Where was that drink recipe? Here I come, Lynchburg Lemonade.

So what am I doing on a LSAT blog? Good question”¦

At heart I'm a creative entrepreneur. In practice I'm a teacher of teachers and a writer. For the past 15 years I have taught Pilates, yoga, dance, meditation and other movement modalities to a wide variety of folks while developing an in-depth year-long mentoring program for teachers in training and running two Pilates studios. These days I am out of the studio working on my second book, which is very conveniently about teaching (useful tricks and tools for teachers of any sort), expanding my mentoring program to national and international stages, and building my fourth business – an online educational company called Skillful Teaching. What floats my boat and keeps me inspired is building relationships with teachers who want to be their best, take their teaching beyond the clockwork pieces of technique and blow the top off their potential. I write every day, re-write every day, and spend lots of time creating (and re-creating) my work. It's an awesome life and I'm happy to share a sliver of it here in the LSAT world.

Learn more about Chantill:

Books, Articles, and Videos Moving Beyond Technique – Amazon.com Blog – Skillful Teaching Blog Articles & Videos – Resources for Teachers

Businesses Skillful Teaching – Founder: Skillfulteaching.com & Skillfulteaching.com/teacher-training Pilates Collective - Co-Founder, Director of Education and Mentoring:  Pilatescollective.com/about Mobile Pilates Master – Founder, Principle: MobilePilatesMaster.com Pilates Student Retention – Co-founder: PilatesStudentRetention.com

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR1, Q24, advice from a law professor

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project If there were ever going to be an exception to the rule that a great teacher can make any subject interesting, a class called Statutory Interpretation: Federal Income Tax would have to be it. As I lugged the required 1800+ pages of tax cases, statutes, and regulations out of the bookstore, my back and heart felt as if I were digging my own grave.

But Professor Heather Field quickly became my favorite instructor at UC Hastings, with her amazing ability to learn names, use every minute of her allotted lecture time to full effect, and explain what “ordinary and necessary” mean by inquiring whether Nelly is allowed to deduct his Grillz. I wouldn't say she instilled in me a love of tax law””far from it””but I did take two more tax classes from her. I never should have been in law school in the first place, since I never really wanted to be a lawyer. It was an unhappy time. But Professor Field made me laugh, and made me curious about things I never imagined I could be curious about. Maybe law school was worth it, just for the opportunity to learn from one of the best teachers I ever had.

Guest blogger: Heather Field

Hi! I'm delighted to be participating in this project with Nathan!

A little bit about me – I am a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where I serve as the newly-appointed Associate Academic Dean and where I hold the Bion Gregory Chair in Business Law. I am in my eighth year of teaching. Before that, I practiced for almost six years at a big firm in LA.

I teach a variety of tax courses (basic tax, corporate & partnership tax, tax policy, etc.). I was lucky enough to have Nathan as a tax student when he was in law school. Interested in knowing why you should take tax? Check out this video! I also teach Financial Basics for Lawyers, which is a course that I recently developed.

I want students to succeed, and I want to be their partner in that process. I define “success” broadly””academic (measured in learning, not just grades), professional (measured in career satisfaction, not just money), and personal. That is, I strive to see and support the whole student. When I say I want to “partner” with students, I mean that we both have responsibilities””I can't, by myself, make students succeed, but they also shouldn't have to do everything themselves. So I'll do my part to try to provide students with opportunities, and students have to seize opportunities to create the educational, personal, and professional experiences they desire.

As an aside, I also have a super cute little dog named Daisy, and she often comes to school with me. She is clearly more popular than I am, and for good reason! :)

A few words of advice – You didn't ask for my advice about law school, but here are a few thoughts anyway. If law school is the right thing for you, it can be an amazing intellectual experience where you grow, learn, and become empowered to pursue whatever is important to you. But law school can be challenging and sometimes grueling. Some topics, but not all, will captivate you. Thus, if you go to law school, I encourage two things:

  • First, try to connect the course material to your life, to things you hear about in the news, or otherwise to the world outside the classroom. This will help make abstract or obscure concepts more meaningful, which will (I hope) make your learning experience both more effective and more fun.
  • Second, remember to do things outside of law school that enrich your life””exercise, see friends, watch movies, go for hikes, etc. Whatever you do for fun now, you should continue to do. Law school and the practice of law involve a lot of hard work, and it is important to try to maintain balance. Plus, sometimes (especially when we're feeling frustrated), our brains work better after we've let them relax and recharge.

And finally the explanation to the question –

There is something wrong with the argument. But what is the problem? Let's walk through the answer choices to see if we can figure it out--

A. Clearly no. The facts don't say anything about morality. No “drinking is bad”; no “drinking is a terrible thing for society.” The argument has nothing to do with a normative judgment (that is, a judgment about the way the world “should be.”) Totally off-base.

B. Not quite. It is true that an alternative method might be more effective at reducing underage drinking (e.g., bigger fines for people who sell alcohol to minors or who procure alcohol for minors; alcohol education programs in schools; etc.). But that's not the biggest problem here. Really, the biggest problem is that the argument concludes that this method (having underage individuals pledge not to drink) is effective at all in causing underage individuals not to drink. Which brings us to . . . .

C. Aha! Exactly. Just because two things happen (someone pledges not to drink; someone doesn't drink) doesn't mean that one causes the other. This is a classic problem””confusing correlation with causation. The survey cited in the problem has shown correlation (two things both happen at the same time or to the same people), but the survey doesn't establish a causal link between (i) pledging not to drink and (ii) actually not drinking.  Another easy (though not all that clever””sorry, I'm missing the creative spark right now) example: Right now, I'm writing and I'm eating a cookie. But that doesn't mean writing makes me eat cookies or that eating cookies makes me write. (Editor's note: In this example, causation is not proven but it's a damn good hypothesis. Same thing happens when I write, except with bourbon. Not sure which causes which, more studies required. --n)

D. Nope. Pledging not to drink is not sufficient to cause underage individuals not to drink””the facts even indicate that some underage people do drink despite taking a pledge. Nor does the argument treat it as necessary. All the argument claims is that it seems to be successful. The sufficient/necessary problem is a common logical flaw in arguments, but that is not the issue here.

E. Again, no. There is some confusion here, but this isn't it.

Hope that was helpful! Good luck with everything!!!

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q4, statistical records of crime rates

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project If there was one person in my 1L section at UC Hastings who was meant to be a lawyer, it was Nikki Black. I was too naive to realize it at the time, but “I don't care what kind of law I practice, I just want to practice law” is actually a very sensible stance, if you've spent time around lawyers and actually want to do what they do every day. She kicked ass in law school, of course, and became a star on Hastings' vaunted moot court competition teams. I got in an argument with Nikki exactly once””I thought Zuckerberg was intolerable in “The Social Network,” she defended him””and I will never get in an argument with her ever again. Instead, we'll just drink and play video games. I'm proud to have introduced her to my buddy Mike Krolak.

Guest blogger:  Nikki Black

When I finished reading this question, my first thought was "what a slam dunk argument!"  (What can I say, I'm pretty gullible.)  My second thought was, why am I so convinced by this? (Nathan has taught me well.) Because I'm impatient (and not a preeminent LSAT professional), I cruised right to the answer choices to see if anything jumped out. I'm looking for an answer that correctly describes the strategy of argumentation used.

A.  The argument does not address any contrary positions. What if crime rates are calculated by robots, which are incapable of motive? (Trust me, I'm a walking Voight-Kampff Machine.) This can't be it.

B.  I can understand all the words in this answer, that's nice. It's also on the right track: the question doesn't contain any contrary positions, just a conclusion and some convincing statements. Yet, I hesitate, because the argument didn't give "examples." (The word "may" in front of each one makes me suspicious that these aren't things that have happened, but rather things that might happen. Also the "probably" in the first sentence is a red flag.) I'm going to see if there are any other, better choices.

C.  Wow, this is a mouthful. I don't really know what this means, so I'm going to move on for now.

D.  Nope, not a proposed solution in sight. This can't be the correct answer.

E.  Again, no contradictory arguments here. I'm going to say no to this one, too.

Welp, none of the answers were clear winners. Looks like I'm going to have to slog through answer C to determine whether it's the correct answer, or if instead the test writers are trying to fool me with big words. (They will try!)

"A generalization that it assumes to be true:" I like this statement because it acknowledges that the author hasn't offered any facts, just "probablys," and "mays." "Deriving implications" sounds like brainstorming to me (or bullshitting, if you are more cynical.) I like answer C better than answer B because it calls the author out for his wishy-washiness. C is my answer.

Editor's note: I quite like the way Nikki went through the answers here. Rather than agonizing on each answer choice, she dismissed each one of them fairly quickly in pursuit of "the one." She eliminated all five answers on her first pass, which you SHOULD do occasionally... if this never happens, you're not being critical enough. When she didn't find a perfect answer on her first pass, she went back to B and C, which were the least terrible of the five. Since B has the fatal flaw of talking about "examples" when none were provided, the answer must be C. --nathan

Editor's note 2: Yikes, the answer actually turns out to be B! Thanks to the thoughtful readers who pointed this out. My corrected analysis is in the comments. --nathan

About Nikki: I practice immigration law in the sub-specialties of employment-based and family-based immigration.  After the recent passage of the immigration reform bill in the Senate and the Supreme Court's (no brainer) decision in Windsor v. United States, my office has been BUSY.  (Listen up, future law school students: Immigration law is where it's at.)  When I'm not zealously advocating for the rights of immigrants, I'm playing every video game ever and watching Dr. Who.  My nerdy immigration blog "A Geek's Guide to Immigration," is coming soon to my law firm's website, www.dayzadlaw.com.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q5, Blythe Danner, spiders, and calcium

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

Mike Krolak edited my first two books, and the title “Cheating the LSAT” was all his. We met at UC Davis in the late 1990s. Since then, we've been drunk together at a dozen baseball stadiums in half a dozen states. He's one of the few people in the world who has beaten me at both Mario Kart and Mario Golf. One of my greatest achievements is introducing him to Nikki Black. We grew the mustaches, at left, for our buddy Craig's wedding.

Guest blogger: Mike Krolak

OK, so this doctor is saying "Hey, if you don't get enough calcium, you're way more likely to get osteoporosis, and dairy has a lot of calcium, so, uh, eat some dairy." I'm with the doc so far. (You could also ask your doctor about Prolia, according to Blythe Danner, aka the hottest 70-year-old on the planet, because apparently that does something with your bones too. I'm too busy gazing into her beautiful eyes to really pay attention to get the details in those commercials.)

But hold up a second: In countries where dairy is rare and fruits and vegetables are the main source of calcium (poor bastards), people get way less osteoporosis than the folks who get most of their calcium from dairy and are also way less happy because, well, cheese. (Emphasis and psychiatric determination mine.)

So this one is a Strengthen question, because we're asked, Which answer, if true, would make this physiologist less of a dolt?

Well, let's think about some possibilities. The first thing that leaps to mind is that there must be some fundamental difference in the calcium you get from dairy and the calcium you get from fruits and veggies. Like in Medicine Man, starring Sean Connery, where he and Lorraine Bracco are brilliant doctors trying to figure out why this one sample of their medicine is CURING FUCKING CANCER in this Amazonian tribe, but whenever they replicate it ingredient-for-ingredient, they can't get the same results. Well, spoiler alert -- it turns out that the sugar they used in that one sample came from a sugar container infested with spiders. So it's the spiders that make the difference! THE SPIDERS CURE CANCER! Which is pretty much my worst nightmare, because I fucking hate spiders.

The point being, maybe it's not just the calcium. Maybe it's some other shit in fruits and veggies in addition to the calcium, because maybe the other stuff helps you absorb the calcium better or something? I don't know, I'm no Sean Connery. But that would indeed connect those dots, because then you could eat a ton of dairy, ingest a ton of calcium, and still get like no benefit, and henceforth be at risk of calling up Gwyneth Paltrow's mom for some Prolia. So let's see if that's one of the answers.

A. This one doesn't do much for us. You'd think the people eating fruits and veggies would be pretty healthy, so if they're losing calcium, that doesn't explain anything. That might mean everyone should get osteoporosis at the same rate, which we know isn't the case.

B. If you eat large quantities of fruit and also eat dairy, that might explain it. That would mean the fruits and veggies discussion is a red herring of sorts. But the guy also said that those folks eating fruits and veggies for calcium live where dairy is rare. So this ain't the pepper, because it's contradicted by info in the setup.

C. My guess is that this one is true, that more people have a calcium deficiency than have osteoporosis. But so what? This doesn't explain the discrepancy at all.

D. If you have a calcium deficiency, you are also likely to have other mineral deficiencies. Totally makes sense! Also: doesn't fucking matter! There's not even a mention of osteoporosis in here. Definitely doesn't clear anything up. It's just making me think about how I should probably eat some spinach right now instead of ice cream, and eff that noise. We're running out of choices, but let's move on”¦

E. Unnhh! That's almost exactly what we were looking for! It introduces new factors (fats) that affect calcium absorption, and therefore that would screw up the calcium benefit of dairy, which would explain why dairy doesn't get the job done despite a lot of calcium. THE FATS ARE THE SPIDERS! AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

So yeah, I feel pretty good about picking E here. Despite the spiders.

About Mike: I edited Nathan's first two LSAT books, and I used to be his roommate in SF, so I've absorbed a whole lot of LSAT info from that guy. I went to school to be an environmental scientist but soon realized I kinda sucked at it and liked making dick jokes, so I became a writer. I currently do silly internet things with television at ABC. Hope you liked the picture of me and Nathan with gross mustaches. You're welcome.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q11, Plumb-Ace certification

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Guest blogger: Mollie Murphy

Like many LSAT questions, this one is trying to trick you by giving you way more information in the argument than the conclusion actually depends on. Instead of the text describing some fake scientific “facts” or a bullshit study, it starts you out with a different claim, by advertisers, about how qualified Ace's plumbers are, based on their difficult certification process. Note that the conclusion sentence begins with “Plumb-Ace plumbers may or may not be more qualified” which tells us that the conclusion takes no position on actual qualification, focusing instead on the other item in the equation: the “difficult” certification process.

The idiot claims that because almost everybody who takes the written portion of the exam passes it without difficulty, the whole process is easy. Now, we don't know anything about what the certification process looks like beyond this alleged written portion. What if the exam is like the LSAT and the writing portion is the least worrisome section of an otherwise challenging test? What if, you know, the plumbers have to fight a dragon before they take the test as part of the certification process? We do not know enough about the process to buy the assumption that the written portion is indicative of the entire test.

Let's look for an answer choice that points out that one portion of the test does not prove anything about Plumbing-Ace's larger certification process.

A. This answer describes the LSAT's most common flaw, confusing a sufficient condition for a necessary condition. If that flaw would have been present in the given argument, I would have seen it. It wasn't there.

B. The argument is actually anti-certification, not pro-certification. This answer describes the exact opposite of what actually happened.

C. The text never mentioned anything about any plumbers outside the region, and it doesn't matter anyway, because the conclusion only cares about whether or not this certification process is difficult. Even if they existed, outside randoms wouldn't affect that.

D. This answer describes a flaw that sounds like this: "Because you tried to reach the moon on a bicycle, and failed, it is therefore impossible to reach the moon." That's bad logic, because there are other ways to reach the moon just as there are other ways to prove that a plumber is qualified. But that's not the flaw that was present in the given argument.

E. Here is our answer, and it's really pretty obvious. The only hard part was getting past the other answers, which was a whole lot easier because we were armed with a strong prediction. The argument claimed that just because one part of the certification process (the writing sample) was not difficult, then the whole process must be easy. That's bullshit, that's what we were looking for, and that's exactly what E describes. So this is our answer.

 

From Mollie:  Though I have been thinking about it for a long time, I decided it was time to go to law school just a few weeks before starting Nathan's class. I work with children and I'm non-profit junkie, which means that writing and talking about my feelings are my top two skills in life. Thus, studying for the LSAT was like opening an entirely new chapter in my brain. Thanks to long hours, and Nathan's help, however, I am getting much better, and enjoying myself more than I thought I would.

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

June 2013 LSAT, LR2, Q12, frivolous pharaohs

Crowdsourcing the June 2013 LSAT:  June 2013 LSAT Explanation Central | About this project Guest blogger: Rachel McCauley

So, question 12 involves some crazy talk about pharaohs.  The argument sounds complicated but really isn't too bad. Apparently pharaohs spent as much money on buildings or statues for ceremonies as they did on roads and irrigation.  That's not soooo bad, right? I mean, if I were a pharaoh I'd probably spend some big bucks making cool pyramids too.  According to the historian, this money isn't wasted because if people could realize their pharaoh's mastery then their loyalty wouldn't need to be maintained with a military.

Ok, so now that we understand the prompt, let's check the question. This is a Role Played in the Argument question. We have to identify what role the claim that the expenditure wasn't frivolous plays in the argument. The first thing I do in role questions is identify the conclusion. If the part I'm identifying doesn't sound like the conclusion, then I dig deeper to see if it is a premise or some other thing. In other words, fingers crossed that it's the conclusion. It seems to me that the conclusion of this argument is that the spending isn't a waste. That's phrase we are asked to identify.  So, I think that the “claim that early Egyptian expenditure on largely ceremonial architecture was not frivolous” is the conclusion of the argument. Hopefully there aren't two conclusion choices to decide between in the answers. Let's check those out now.

A. This looks like it to me. It's a conclusion, and its support is the realization of the people causing the lack of need for military coercion. The “psychological effects” thing sounds close enough to “realization of the extent of their ruler's mastery.” If that's not a psychological effect, then I'm really not sure what that is anyway. I am feeling good about this choice, and if there aren't other answer choices with the answer saying “it's a conclusion” then I think we are good to go.

B. No, we are not looking to show that they did in fact spend as much on architecture as they did on roads. The argument was about whether this spending was frivolous or not. Moving on.

C. Nope, the loyalty thing was supporting the argument that the spending wasn't frivolous, not the other way around.

D. Illustration of the principle? That's a fancy way of saying that they provided an example. No, this was not an example. We didn't hear about any specific pharaohs or anything.

E. Spending “scarce” resources, eh?  I don't think those pharaohs had scarce resources. That certainly wasn't in the prompt. I mean, those dudes built everything in gold, didn't they? And structures that “only have military utility”?  That means the structures were solely used for military purposes. Well, we were just told in the prompt that they were used for ceremonies, not for the military. That makes this a really bad choice.

So, I am choosing A. It matches my prediction, and when I went through the other answer choices I found them all to be incorrect.

From Rachel: I'm from Moraga, CA. I went to UC Santa Babara and graduated with honors as a double major in business economics and psychology in 2011. I'm passionate about access to education, and I currently volunteer as a mentor at East Bay College Fund, where I help low income students grapple with the demands of college, as many of them are the first of their families to attend. I currently work at a law firm in downtown San Francisco, where I get a little taste of my lawyer dreams. In my free time I enjoy baking, running, interior design, and random DIY projects that sometimes involve driving to a local lumber yard and picking out wood even though I don't know sh*t about wood. I just like building things. I'm also a super math nerd; I've been known to hang out doing math problems for fun, especially the puzzle kind on the GRE. My favorite part of the LSAT is figuring how to set up challenging games and mastering them.

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