LSAT Logic in Arrested Development

LSAT Logic Arrested DevelopmentArrested Development is probably my favorite TV show ever, so I've been looking for an excuse to mention it here for a while. Luckily, one of my favorite episodes ("Pier Pressure" in Season 1) contains LSAT-style logical fallacies worth mentioning on LSAT Blog.

George Michael (the dorky kid on the show, not the singer-songwriter) believes doing well in math is necessary for success. He also thinks failing math is sufficient to destroy his chances at success. (Learn about necessary and sufficient on Wikipedia and in this week's blog post on necessary and sufficient conditions.)

You can watch this clip in the video below, in this link, or you can just read the quote. You'll probably enjoy it even more if you watch the whole 20-minute episode, but watching it isn't necessary to understand the LSAT-related part.

The quote starts at 5:37 in the video. George Michael (a classic burnout case) is doing his homework when his dad walks in...
George Michael (Michael Cera): [Arguing with his math book] Dumb, dumb George Michael, dumb...

Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman): Hey, calm down there, you two; it's just a math problem.

George Michael: Yeah, but if I fail math then there goes my chances to get a good job and have a happy life full of hard work, like you always say, right Dad?




So what's wrong with George Michael's statement?

Necessary and sufficient
George Michael assumes failing math is sufficient to end his chances of getting "a good job and...happy life full of hard work." There might be ways for him to get that "good job and happy life full of hard work" even if he fails math.

Another way to say this is: George Michael believes not failing math is necessary to get those things. We only need one example of someone who got those things after failing math to disprove the principle underlying his argument.

Appeal to authority
George Michael makes his argument simply by appealing to his father's authority. Citing an authority doesn't count as sufficient evidence for any argument.


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Believe it or not, even after searching through a comprehensive list of Arrested Development quotes, I was unable to find any examples of actual logical fallacies made by "Gob" (played by Will Arnett).

Arrested Development fans, please post examples of logical fallacies from any character in the comments.



7 comments:

  1. Matthew from Tampa,FlJune 26, 2009 at 7:34 AM

    Wouldn't G.O.B. be guilty of multitudes of ad hominen attacks? The most prominent one (or at least my favorite) is when he out and out dismisses anything Michael says during the third season by simply pointing out that, as a robot without enough RAM, Michael is incapable of feelings.

    Although, wouldn't his actions in ¡Amigos! towards Ice reflect his lack of understanding about necessary and sufficient clauses. He wants a friend (sufficient clause) and assumes that friends talk and are around each other. When he hires Ice, who must talk with and be around his new client, he automatically assumes that because he has fulfilled the necessary condition (talking and proximity) he has attained the sufficient condition (having a friend).

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  2. Hey Matthew,

    You're spot-on with both points. Neither one appeared in the quotes list, and I wasn't going to watch all 3 seasons again! (Although doing it "for the blog" would have been a good excuse, haha).

    I especially like your point about Ice. Poor Gob, he just didn't get it.

    By the way, the "relationship" between Gob and Ice reminds me of the one between Lindsay and Bob Loblaw.

    -Steve

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  3. Best show ever!

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  4. I absolutely loved/love Arrested Development, too!

    Somehow, the fact that an LSAT instructor also loves AD makes me more comfortable about my chances of getting a good LSAT score. Heh. :-)

    Should've called this post the "Bob Loblaw Law Blog"!

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  5. Just stumbled on to this blog, this post convinced me to hit the subscribe button, absolutely brilliant!

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  6. the one armed man is a huge fallacy of faulty cause. how does getting his arm ripped off pertain to any of the lessons?

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  7. I know this is old, but I have to point out Gob's use of equivocation in hiring a "business model."

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