LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Quick Hit: The Causal Flaw. AGAIN!

Quick Hit: The Causal Flaw. AGAIN!

Quick Hit: The Causal Flaw. AGAIN!


Good god I love it when a plan comes together. It tastes just like awesome.

Only three posts ago—and literally FIVE questions ago on the test as administered—we saw an example of the causal flaw. Specifically, the assumption that the causal relationship wasn't actually operating in reverse. And now, just five questions later, WE'RE SEEING THAT SAME SHIT ALL OVER AGAIN.

You'd be quite forgiven at this juncture if you were to roll your eyes at the test writers, say "Really? Is this all you've got?" and drop the mic.

Here, we're told that that bastion of killjoy-iness, the Department of Health, has asked a bunch of 17-year-olds to take a pledge not to drink. Then, to their delight, they found that most of the kids who took that pledge didn't drink! And from this, they've concluded that their pledge works; they've claimed that the pledge is keeping the kids off the Purple Drank.


But then again, it's really super easy to take a pledge not to do somethin that you know you're not going to do anyway.

Like this:

I solemnly pledge never to vote for Justin Bieber for any elected office. Ever. I mean, never, ever. Not even a little.

I further pledge that I will not mix the lime with the coconut and drink them both together.

I also pledge that I will not get a tattoo of a butterfly on the small of my back. Or anywhere at all.

I pledge not to wear a mankini to the beach. Or anywhere at all.

I pledge not to wear Axe body spray.

I pledge not to order an appletini to drink.

I pledge not to stop eating just because I'm full if I'm at a buffet (I mean, come on).

I pledge not to drive a Hummer.

I pledge not to pants my grandpa.

I pledge not to pants your grandpa.

And, I mean, I could go on, but you probably get the point.

So, yeah, the kids that took the pledge didn't drink, but it's possible that they took the pledge BECAUSE they didn't drink. Like every argument that posits a causal relationship, this one fails because it just assumes that there was no other cause; specifically, this argument assumes that the cause was not running the other way.

And, of course, we get answer choice (C) to neatly sum up that flaw in the kind of delightful language only a test writer could love.