Fallacies of Charlie Sheen:
Let’s face it, the headlines have been pretty grim lately. One of our last remaining middle-eastern allies is in complete chaos and is now more susceptible to the influence of fundamental Islamist groups. It’s important to keep up with the latest developments in the world, but we also need a break. That’s where my man Chuck Sheen comes in to save the day. Mr. Sheen is a proud alumni of the high school I attended, and I feel compelled to follow up on any developments to make sure us local Santa Monicans are doing all right. Plus, the details of Charlie Sheen’s absurd shenanigans provide entertainment, as well as LSAT enlightenment, for us all.
As you study for an exam that tests your ability to reason and to recognize formal logic, Chuck’s “high jinks” can also provide you with immaculate, untainted examples of fallacious reasoning in their purest form. Here are a few:
The story: “Charlie Sheen earns over $1 million every week. All people who earn this much dough are insanely successful. Almost all insanely successful people are disciplined and under control. Anyone who is disciplined stays away from cocaine. Therefore Charlie Sheen stays away from cocaine.”
The fallacy: You don’t have to follow pop culture headlines to realize how preposterous this argument is (though it would help). Our buddy Charlie makes the type of “F.U.” money that makes even the most powerful attorneys with Yale Law degrees cry with envy. This certainly doesn’t mean that he has their focus and discipline. The guy films 22-minute sitcom episodes for shit’s sake. This is simply a transitive argument gone awry. The quantifier “most” leaves open the possibility that some insanely successful people are off their rocker.
The story: After a two-day, drug fueled partying binge. Chuck Sheen hands one of his “companions” a $30,000 check for her services.
The fallacy: If you look close, you’ll see a classic Percentage vs. Amount fallacy. Let’s say Charlie makes $30 million a year for yuckin’ up one-liners every Monday night on CBS (check your local listings). $30,000 is 0.001% of this impressive annual income. In other words, it’s the type of money that Charlie could use as fuel in his diamond-encrusted fireplace. While a minuscule fraction of his total fortune, it’s still $30,000. Does the guy walk around paying $10,000 for a cheeseburger? $5,000 for a cup of coffee? Despite his crazy reasoning, something tells me that neither Chuck’s accountant nor his publicist are going to be speaking up.
The story: Persuaded by friends and family, Charlie checks into rehab. He stays for 24 hours, before determining that his hillside mansion would be a better place to rest up and get better. They let him leave.
The fallacy: “The argument appeals to the opinion of an authority whose expertise is irrelevant to the issue under debate.” If you need advice on purchasing 18 year-old Scotch, then Charlie Sheen would probably be an appropriate person to consult. When you are trying to determine whether or not Charlie Sheen should stay in rehab, Charlie Sheen is not the person to ask. You’ll see this fallacy on the LSAT, but it is more likely that it will be about a mayor trying to make an assertion about climate change rather than an A-list television actor making an assertion about his mental health.
Get better Chuck.