Each week, we analyze a movie that illustrates a logical fallacy you’ll find on the LSAT. Who said Netflix can’t help you study? 🎥📖
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Before he was incepting, or beginning Batman, or prestigious, Christopher Nolan was filming a chronology-bending film called Memento. And it was certainly more stellar than Interstellar.
Telling the story of Leonard, a man suffering from the loss of his wife and antegrade amnesia, Memento wanders along a timeline, creating in the viewer an experience not unlike that of our hero. Much as we don’t learn the context for any of the actions until later, we see how frustrating it would be to lose all memory of what we had just done.
Leonard, along with his friend Teddy, is trying to hunt down the mysterious second man involved in the death of his wife. He knows that the man’s name is John G. Other than that, a series of clues are tattooed into his skin, his system for committing things into long-term memory since his brain won’t do it for him.
After a confusing few hours, a bunch of trickery, and some good, ol’ fashioned Callum Keith Rennie, we learn the shocking truth – Leonard found and killed the real perpetrator earlier, but his condition prevents him from remembering it. And what good is revenge if you can’t remember the satisfying feeling you got from it? (Disclaimer: Or so I would imagine. I’ve never enacted a fatal revenge plot.)
Teddy tells Leonard that there’s an inexhaustible supply of John Gs out there (a Google search pins it at 101,000,000), and his quest will never be over. And thus we have our flaw!
The same name or term can be used to describe more than one thing/aspect. “Bat” can be both a badass animal or a piece of sports equipment (a clear example). “Afford” can have a monetary connotation, or a permissive one. And John G. could refer to any number of individuals.
So when you’re taking the LSAT, be sure to look out for this equivocation – an argument that uses the same term, but shifts its meaning. If you’re not careful, you might end up on a never-ending quest for revenge against the man who wrote the question that you got wrong. And a bunch of LSAT-themed tattoos aren’t going to win you any friends. 📝
Want to learn more about Logical Reasoning on the LSAT? Don’t forget that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person LSAT courses absolutely free. We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
Matt Shinners is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York City. After receiving a degree in Biochemistry from Boston College, Matt scored a 180 on his LSAT and enrolled in Harvard Law School. There’s nothing that makes him happier than seeing his students receive the scores they want to get into the schools of their choice. Check out Matt’s upcoming LSAT courses here!