LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Quick Hit: How To "Polish Your Flint" (if you know what I mean)

Quick Hit: How To "Polish Your Flint" (if you know what I mean)

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Quick Hit: How To "Polish Your Flint"

45.1.18

Today, our Hotness is Oldness, chosen particularly for The One Who Goes By The Name CocoSunshine. Because with a name like that, I can see that I do NOT want to piss her off.

You guys probably know by now how I feel about flaw types on the Logical Reasoning section of the LSAT [I LOVE THEM AND WISH I COULD GET MORE PHYSICAL WITH THEM], so it'll come as no surprise to you that we're back on that topic.

In this question, we've again been asked to weaken the argument; we don't have to disprove the conclusion (although we might); we just have to make it a little less likely to be true.

The right answer will work by attacking the place where the argument is already weak; it will deny one of the assumptions implicit to the argument.

We can expect the right answer to employ that "middle" language we talked about before; words like "many" and "most" are delicious here.

We can expect a wrong answer that makes the argument better. This might even be an attractive answer, because it might deal strongly and directly with the argument in a way other choices don't seem to. Just keep in mind that we need to hurt the conclusion.

OK, in this instance, we've claimed that humans had an early aesthetic sense, because they polished their flints (here, this language is not intended as a euphemism, I don't think) way more than they needed to for hunting.

This presents us with a beautiful example of what I refer to as a False Choice. It's what happens when the test writers argue by enumeration; "It's not thing X, so it must be thing F". This type of argument presents us with the unproved assumption that X and F are the only two options; it's a false choice.

Here, we've assumed that if they weren't using the flints for hunting, then they must have been using them aesthetically. Well, maybe. But maybe there's some other use for flints. Maybe the hunting/aesthetic option is a false choice.

Now, check out (D). I love it because it does its job so perfectly in line with my expectations; it neatly punctures the False Choice presented by the argument, telling us that there are other uses for flints. If that's true, it doesn't disprove the argument—and remember that it doesn't have to—but it certainly makes it weaker. If (D) is true, that means that just because we've ruled out hunting doesn't mean that aesthetics is all that's left. Plus, did you see the "often" right back there? Perfect stuff for us.

Finally, notice bad answer (C) I warned you about; THEY WERE FOR RELIGIOUS DISPLAYS, you might think loudly to yourself, THIS DEALS POWERFULLY WITH THE TEXT OF THIS ARGUMENT. And you'd be right about that; (C) deals strongly with the actual argument. But if (C) is true, then that means it's more likely that humans had an aesthetic sense; they were, after all, polishing things to put them on display. See? This is the kind of treachery we must be wary of!

OK, I'm headed to Joshua Tree for a couple of days (you know, to POLISH THE FLINT and stuff), but I'll be back on Tuesday.