A Look at the LSAT Flaws in the Oscar Pistorius Case

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As those of you who have been following it know, the Oscar Pistorius case has been pretty crazy. A few weeks ago the South African Paralympian fired rounds through a closed door, killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius maintains he thought she was an intruder, while the prosecution is claiming that it was a crime of passion. No one can say for certain at this point, but using LSAT logic we can deconstruct some of the claims that are being thrown around. Claims such as:

There have been allegations of abuse prior to this; he therefore killed Steenkamp purposefully. – Just because he was abusive before doesn’t actually prove that he murdered her. Does it make it more likely? Maybe. But just because something is more likely, that doesn’t show that it’s definite. Relevant data can strengthen a claim, but that doesn’t imply sufficiency to know that that claim is in fact certain.

If he was frightened of crime, he wouldn’t have left his window open. – This argument makes a very big assumption. You could be generally concerned about crime in your neighborhood, but still open your windows. Not acting as though you’re under constant threat doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be scared if you thought someone had broken into your home.

The lead investigator is being charged with attempted murder; his testimony therefore cannot be trusted. – This is committing an ad hominem fallacy. Just because the prosecutor may have committed a crime, we can’t say anything about his work on the Pistorius case. The cases themselves were unrelated. Furthermore, just because he was charged with attempted murder doesn’t mean he’s necessarily guilty of it.

Pistorius didn’t flee the scene; he must therefore be innocent. – This makes the assumption that killers always flee the scene of the crime, but that doesn’t have to be true. Maybe he was in shock. Maybe he knew that evidence showing he was the shooter would be everywhere, and he made a calculated decision to stay. Just because he didn’t run doesn’t mean he’s not guilty.

So did Pistorius mean to murder his girlfriend, or was it all a tragic accident? We may never know, but anyone who has a firm belief one way or another at this point is probably making some sort of logical fallacy.

Feb 28, 2013 - 6:04 pm - By Colin Elzie
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Photo By dahorsburgh Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
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