#MovieFailMondays: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (or, How Movies Can Teach You About Logical Fallacies and Help You Ace the LSAT)

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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? 🎥📖

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Wise words from John Hughes, delivered by Matthew Broderick in the role of Ferris Bueller.

A modern masterpiece (about to be re-released in theaters for its 20th anniversary), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off follows the adventures of a trio of high school-ers as they skip school to experience all that Chicago has to offer (apparently, that takes only one day).

Ed Rooney hunts him down as Mia Sara pines and Alan Ruck goes along for the ride. And all the while, Jennifer Grey—playing the sister, whose name I only remember because of the song that’s sung after she makes out with Charlie Sheen—spends the day trying to prove that her brother is playing hooky.

And therein lies the logical fallacy, my friends.

Jeannie Bueller is trying to show the world that her brother isn’t the great guy they all think of him as.

Which is going to be hard, since that was a pretty awesome rendition of Twist and Shout he sang at the Von Steuben’s Day Parade. It’s a thing.

Why? Well, she doesn’t think that he should be able to get away with skipping school for a day. What’s her response?

…Skip school to thwart her brother’s fun.

How’s that work out for her? Well, she gets arrested and makes out with Charlie Sheen. And is excited by it. So we’re going to go with “not so well.”

In short, Jeannie Bueller views her motivations as good—she’s trying to expose her brother as a fraud, which, to be honest, he is—so her actions to bring about that goal must also be good—skipping school and assaulting Principal Rooney, who’s largely after the same thing as she is.

On the LSAT, many questions rely on motivations, goals, and reality. In short, these things aren’t always aligned. Your motivations don’t determine whether your goals are noble; they also don’t determine whether, in reality, your actions are good or bad. Same with your goals—a noble goal might not justify bad actions. And just because something happens, that doesn’t mean there was a motivation to carry it out.

This disconnect between the motivations and goals of people, and what the actual outcomes are, shows up frequently on the LSAT. If you notice that a question is talking about any of these concepts, be careful that we don’t jump between good intentions and good outcomes. After all, we’ve all had good intentions go horribly wrong before!

Danke schoen for tuning in this week.


matt-shinnersMatt Shinners is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York City. After receiving a science degree 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!

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