If you’re studying for the LSAT, you’ve probably begun to notice that the test loves to ask questions regarding flaws in Logical Reasoning. At first, these flaws can seem somewhat ethereal and abstruse, but in time they will become clearer. One way that I practiced recognizing flaws was by noticing their prevalence in popular culture. This post will focus on the flawed reasoning directed toward a lightning rod figure in pop culture — Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Manziel LSAT Flaw #1: Ad Hominem
Ad Hominem flaws arise when someone attacks the arguer rather than the argument itself. For example, if I said that Donald Trump is wrong about L’Oreal products being superior to other hair care products because he himself has almost no natural hair left (or because he uses Dove products), then I would be guilty committing this type of flawed reasoning.
Recently, Andre Reed, a former NFL player, made some rather inflammatory comments regarding a tweet sent out by Manziel in which he referred to LeBron James as “my guy.” I don’t want to get in trouble so I won’t quote Reed directly, but he basically ripped into Manziel for sending the tweet and chose to ignore the actual sentiments espoused by Manziel, thereby committing an ad hominem fallacy by attacking the source rather than the “argument.” (Reed went on to make some similarly inflammatory comments against Bon Jovi, interestingly enough).
Johnny Manziel LSAT Flaw #2: Circular Reasoning
Circular reasoning — one of my personal favorite flaws — is when an argument’s conclusion is the same as its premises. In other words, when an argument presupposes the truth of its conclusions. I always compare it to a dog chasing its tail; the argument never gets anywhere, keeps going around in circles, and looks really stupid.
Former NFL head coach Herm Edwards recently said that no one should be surprised about Johnny Manziel’s partying ways because of his antics in college while playing for Texas A&M. In other words, Edwards’ presupposed that Manziel would be a party animal when he came to the Browns because he is a party animal (this could also go along the lines of a temporal fallacy, but that’s a different topic). He also compared Johnny Football to a Disneyland ride — which is just plain awesome.
Johnny Manziel LSAT Flaw #3: Sufficient/Necessary Assumption
The sufficient/necessary assumption flaws usually occur when an argument assumes that something that guarantees a certain outcome is also necessary for the outcome to occur, or vice-versa. As an example, if I said that smoking pot will guarantee that you get the munchies and an argument tried to say that, because I have the munchies, I must have smoked pot, then they would be committing this fallacy.
Recently, a picture surfaced of Johnny Manziel in a nightclub bathroom with a tightly rolled one-dollar bill. Some critics have argued that this picture proves that Johnny Manziel was doing cocaine or some other illegal drug. These critics are confusing a necessary condition (if you are doing cocaine in nightclub bathroom, then you use a tightly rolled one-dollar bill) with a sufficient condition. Thus, these critics are guilty of flawed reasoning.
As you read news article and watch TV, I encourage you to look for real life examples of LSAT flaws. This will help make you more comfortable with the errors in reasoning as well as provide you with helpful examples to refer back to!