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From the Vaults: Diajammable Statements


You’ve been studying for the LSAT for some time. Plugging away, figuring out how to tag a Reading Comprehension passage, and memorizing those common fallacies that recur on Logical Reasoning. You’ve been diligent, methodical, indefatigable.

Except you’re probably exhausted at this point. Especially if you’re doing this on top of a full slate of classes or a full-time job. You’re ready for a break. You’re probably eyeing today, a day in which we celebrate a bunch of slave-owning John Locke stans signing a strongly-worded letter, and thinking about getting some respite from your relentless study schedule.

But you also see that the July LSAT is a just a few weeks away. Even if you’re studying for the September LSAT, that’s still just a few months. You’re acutely aware that there are a finite number of days left to study. You feel a pang of anxiety, a fear that not studying on one or more of the remaining days would constitute an egregious waste of these limited resources. Should you take a break?

Someone who’s been studying as long as you have must know that to assume that two options are mutually exclusive — in this case, studying for the LSAT and getting a restorative break — is to commit an exclusivity fallacy of the gravest sort. Why can’t you do both? Remember the wisest words from 2016: you should probably campaign in Wisconsin, Hil get you a study program that can do both.

But how can you do both? Well, one of the most important concepts to brush up on is how to diagram conditional statements. Conditional statements, as you know, show up all over the LSAT. Fortunately, they show up all over pop music too. So we’ve compiled some of our favorite songs that prominently feature conditional statements into a three-hour Spotify playlist. Introducing, for your listening pleasure, Diajammable Statements, Vol. 1:

So throw this playlist on, kick back, enjoy a refreshing beverage. But also take note of the conditional statements when they show up in the lyrics. Mentally diagram them, or, if need be, write down the conditional statement on your red-white-and-blue cocktail napkin. Through these tracks, you’ll get an overview of all the different ways conditional statements are introduced on the LSAT. And if you can figure out how to diagram these statements in a barbecue- and beer-fueled haze, amidst all the loud explosions of light and fire in the skies, it’ll be super easy to diagram similar statements on the real LSAT.

To help you get started, we’ll discuss a few tracks on the playlist.

Beyonc√© “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”

Easily the most memorable “if-then” statement in recent music history, the Queen’s command of “if you like it, then you should have put a ring on it” is technically a principle. We would likely see a similar principle appear in a Soft Must Be True Principle question. The right answer? Probably something like “Shawn Carter liked it — it being the attention given to him by a young Barbadian singer named Robyn Fenty. Therefore, Shawn should have put a ring on Robyn.” Sorry, Solange.

Spice Girls “Wannabe”

Pre-Bey, pop music’s most famous conditional statement came from five British ladies, each reduced to one defining quality, singing “girl power” anthems over sort-of-stale but somehow-still-infectious house tracks. The 90s were weird. At any rate, the claim “if you wanna be lover, you gotta get with my friends” is easy enough to diagram, but what does it mean? Is it a declaration that any suitor must accept that a woman’s friends will always come first? An invitation to group sex? A hidden reference to party drugs? Thankfully, on both the LSAT and 90s pop imports, understanding the underlying logic of a statement is much more important than understanding the meaning of the words themselves.

Saint Etienne “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”

This quasi-cover of a Neil Young classic should provide some solace for you as you study for the LSAT. Remember, “only” introduces necessary conditions. So if something is going to break your heart, it has to be love. The LSAT, as you’re well aware, shows you no love. Ergo, the LSAT cannot break your heart, difficult as it may be.

The Notorious B.I.G. ft. Mase, Puff Daddy, and Kelly Price “Mo Money Mo Problems”

This is a good example of what we sometimes refer to as a “hidden conditional statement.” Sometimes a question won’t use the obvious conditional language we typically look for — your “ifs,” “alls,” “onlys,” “unlesses,” and so on — but nonetheless features conditional statements. Pro-tip: if you think something sounds like a conditional statement, try to reformulate the statement as an “if-then” statement, and see if holds up. Kelly Price’s exhortation of “the more money we come across, the more problems we see” can be translated to “if more money, then more problems.” Make sure you’re looking for these “hidden” statements in both late-90s shiny suit-era rap jams and questions that frequently involve diagramming.

Steve Monite “Only You”

If this playlist, which admittedly leans heavily on songs from the 80s, 90s, and early aughts, didn’t already make me look positively ancient in your eyes, here’s an anecdote that should do the trick: In my younger years, I (unsuccessfully) attempted to woo many a romantic partner with “mixtapes.” In retrospect, handing out CD-Rs with music I thought a girl “should” listen to feels somewhat misguided if I’m feeling generous towards my high school-self and actively sexist and patriarchal if I’m not. Anyway, my patented move on these mixtapes — a move I would describe as my own to my friends, but probably stole from Chuck Klosterman or something — was to mix in, amongst surefire jams, a slightly more obscure track that would reveal my feelings about the mixtape recipient. In dubious honor of those tracks, I’m choosing “Only You” by Steve Monite. Older and wiser, I’m now well aware this cold slab of Nigerian funk won’t help me in any courtship rituals, but maybe it’ll help you diagram “only” statements.

There are many, many more conditional statements on this playlist, ranging from obvious and easily diagrammable to hidden and difficult to diagram — just like those that appear on the LSAT. So throw on this playlist, get some R&R with your R&B, and try squeeze in a little practice before you return to you studies in earnest this week. Happy Fourth, everybody.