LSAT Reasoning in the Real World | Examples

LSAT Blog Reasoning Real World Example
I recently posted some real-world examples of potential LSAT-style correlation/causation confusion.

However, I saw a few articles this week in the NYTimes where correlational relationships were questioned:

1. Scientists questioned a correlational relationship they saw between dog ownership and reduced heart disease risk:

But most of the evidence is observational, which makes it impossible to rule out the prospect that people who are healthier and more active in the first place are simply more likely to bring a dog or cat into their home.

So, this potential alternate explanation suggests that dog ownership may not cause people to be healthier, but that being healthy may may you more likely to get a dog. In other words, the proposed causal relationship may actually be the reverse, at least to some extent.

However, other information in the article does suggest that pet ownership can reduce cortisol levels and lead pet owners to be healthier.

2. Another article presented various potential explanations for a decrease in driving among young people.

Here's one of the potential explanations:

Online life might have something to do with the change, he [Sivak] suggested. “A higher proportion of Internet users was associated with a lower licensure rate,” he wrote in a recent study. “This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that access to virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact among young people.”

Here's another:
Young people have been slow to buy cars, he [Poole] said, in part because of “the very large degree of youth unemployment and underemployment,” a situation that might change with an improving economy. 


Try to be like the skeptics in these articles. When you're reading anything, always question the causal claims that you see.

Please leave your thoughts on the articles in the comments!

Photo by gareth1953


  1. Whatever the correlation is between pets and people, I know petting your cat calms the nerves after a brutal PrepTest, even if she has walked over your test booklet during a Game. (It's happened!) And remember "Natalie" who earned a perfect 180 after once practice testing with her cat sitting on her? Sorry, I'm not quite ready for that challenge!

  2. Read this on the Subway.
    We are 900 NY startups hiring for over 3000 jobs.
    Struck me quite immediately as being misrepresentative. Kind of like a flaw.