#MovieFailMondays: Independence Day (or, How Movies Can Teach You About Logical Fallacies and Help You Ace the LSAT)


blog-IDEach week, we analyze a movie that illustrates a logical fallacy you’ll find on the LSAT. Who said Netflix can’t help you study? 🎥📖

Readers, you’re in for a treat today. We’re going to examine an all-time classic, point out a huge flaw in the movie, and look at a deleted scene that functions as an answer to a completely different type of LSAT question!

Which movie are we pointing our lens at this week? Independence Day. Welcome to Earth!

When one asks oneself, as one often does, what makes Independence Day so great, the answer is always that it has everything. Explosions? Check. Aliens? Check. Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman (most famous for being confused often with Bill Paxton)? Check on all fronts. It even has Brent Spiner, TNG’s Data, for the truly nerdy amongst us.

The plot is so simple—aliens invade Earth to steal all of our stuff. We fight back. And, whaddya know, the day of our ultimate triumph is July 4th, Independence Day. What are the odds? (1/366, I’m told—1996 was a leap year.)

“How dare you say there’s a flaw in the logic of Independence Day!” I hear you shout. And, unfortunately, there is one.

Jeff Goldblum (playing himself, I think) flies into the alien mothership with Will Smith to plant a virus into their mainframe, and other buzzwords. All of humanity is betting on this one gamble. Was it a good one?

In the movie, yes. On the LSAT? No.

What flaw did Dean Devlin commit when writing this contrivance? He fell into a comparison trap.

Sure, we were able to interpret the alien computer’s communication signal using human technology. However, that doesn’t mean they’re similar enough for a virus written by a human programmer to disrupt the advanced alien technology! When two things have one similarity, it doesn’t mean that they share all relevant features.

Bonus time!

If Independence Day was an Explain the Result question, it’d read like this:

When aliens invaded Earth, it was obvious they were technologically superior to us. However, a virus written on a human computer was able to disrupt the actions of the alien software.

And the answer? Well, it can be found in a brilliant deleted scene that should have been in the movie:

In this scene, it’s revealed that the alien technology recovered at Roswell formed the basis for all modern computing. In short, we appropriated the alien technology when we built our computers and programming language. This resolves the paradox of how humans were able to program an alien virus. And also how Steve Jobs was able to find time to reinvent modern computing while also shopping for such stylish turtlenecks. 📝

Matt Shinners Manhattan Prep LSAT InstructorMatt 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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