Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

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WaltGrace83
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby WaltGrace83 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:43 pm

^ To that point (a good one to think about I would add) I would ask a question. How do you determine when you just aren't getting the problem? Do you do it by time or by process? For example, I read (I forgot where) that sometimes it is better to think more about the process before moving on. For example, some would say "If I read over this stimulus and then the answer choices, and I don't know whats going on then, I read the stimulus again. If I still don't know what's going on, I just move on a circle that question." Do you recommend that method? I think that mastering the "ok, screw it" attitude and when to use it might push me to a better LR/RC score.

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tfinndogm
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby tfinndogm » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:17 pm

So I have gone through the LR book and am now drilling q types. I seem to really be struggling with "Must be True" questions. I just don't understand why some answers are wrong or right. I tried to reread in the book to help clarify, but I think I need an even more "dumbed down" version of how to approach these q types.

Thanks in advance

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:35 pm

tfinndogm wrote:So I have gone through the LR book and am now drilling q types. I seem to really be struggling with "Must be True" questions. I just don't understand why some answers are wrong or right. I tried to reread in the book to help clarify, but I think I need an even more "dumbed down" version of how to approach these q types.

Thanks in advance


Hey there, tfinndogm! I'd love to see an example or two of the kind of questions you're struggling with to try to zero in on what's giving you trouble!

One of the biggest mistakes that I see students make with Inference questions is misinterpreting the information in the stimulus. I call it 'mental spackle', where we add in little bits of information that aren't actually given to us in the stimulus, but seem like they'd be reasonable. These questions really demand that you be super careful in determining what you actually do know for certain (or on MSS questions, what you know to be extraordinarily likely).

Another mistake I see a lot is that students will analyze an answer from the perspective of 'well, it COULD happen like that' - instead of asking 'does it HAVE TO happen like that?!'. You're not just looking for something that's plausible, or reasonable, but rather something that's pretty darn sure fire! An answer choice has to be directly justifiable/supportable from specific information in the stimulus - just like in RC, you have to use the text to back up the answer.

So, the most important things to remember are 1) don't get creative!! and 2) something being possible/reasonable is NOT good enough!

But throw in a question or two that's been bugging you, and we'll see if we can't sort out what the issue is!

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tfinndogm
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby tfinndogm » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:53 pm

Christine (MLSAT) wrote:
tfinndogm wrote:So I have gone through the LR book and am now drilling q types. I seem to really be struggling with "Must be True" questions. I just don't understand why some answers are wrong or right. I tried to reread in the book to help clarify, but I think I need an even more "dumbed down" version of how to approach these q types.

Thanks in advance


Hey there, tfinndogm! I'd love to see an example or two of the kind of questions you're struggling with to try to zero in on what's giving you trouble!

One of the biggest mistakes that I see students make with Inference questions is misinterpreting the information in the stimulus. I call it 'mental spackle', where we add in little bits of information that aren't actually given to us in the stimulus, but seem like they'd be reasonable. These questions really demand that you be super careful in determining what you actually do know for certain (or on MSS questions, what you know to be extraordinarily likely).

Another mistake I see a lot is that students will analyze an answer from the perspective of 'well, it COULD happen like that' - instead of asking 'does it HAVE TO happen like that?!'. You're not just looking for something that's plausible, or reasonable, but rather something that's pretty darn sure fire! An answer choice has to be directly justifiable/supportable from specific information in the stimulus - just like in RC, you have to use the text to back up the answer.

So, the most important things to remember are 1) don't get creative!! and 2) something being possible/reasonable is NOT good enough!

But throw in a question or two that's been bugging you, and we'll see if we can't sort out what the issue is!



I certainly see how I may be doing the two things you suggest NOT to do haha.

So for example PT42-S4-Q17: I selected B, and I understand why the answer is A... but why is it better??

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tfinndogm
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby tfinndogm » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:55 pm

I'll also throw PT51-S3-Q14 in there too. I answered A

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:14 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:^ To that point (a good one to think about I would add) I would ask a question. How do you determine when you just aren't getting the problem? Do you do it by time or by process? For example, I read (I forgot where) that sometimes it is better to think more about the process before moving on. For example, some would say "If I read over this stimulus and then the answer choices, and I don't know whats going on then, I read the stimulus again. If I still don't know what's going on, I just move on a circle that question." Do you recommend that method? I think that mastering the "ok, screw it" attitude and when to use it might push me to a better LR/RC score.


This is an awesome question, and one's that's difficult to answer. The reality is that it is a judgment call, every time. I don't generally make decisions strictly based on time, though I have a general sense of how long I've spent on a question.

You've got to know yourself, and your own typical thought process really well. This is one of the reasons I always say that the LSAT is an extraordinarily psychological exam. Improving on it requires the ability to step outside your own thought process, look back at it and analyze it. That's tough to do. It requires a fair amount of self-awareness.

I can 'hear' myself spin out on a question. The process you describe above would definitely be an example of it. If I read it, feel like I just read Russian, shake my head, read it again, and it's STILL Russian...I'm spinning out. I can feel the car skidding on ice. It's in that moment you have to 1) know that it's happening and then 2) have your wits about you enough to do something about it *other* than blind panic. If it's that bad, the right answer is probably immediate abandonment (and then to come back later). For whatever reason, your brain is refusing to understand the words on the page right that second, so turn into the skid, and move to something else.

Stalling out has consequences, and not only in the lost time. It's hard to get the engine into full gear again after you've puttered down to zero. That aspect is every bit as significant as the actual time spent/lost.

I have run into countless questions where on a first read they make exactly zero sense, and when I come back a few minutes later they are crystal clear. Since that's so likely, why would I want to pound my head against a brick wall for precious minutes on that first, impossible attempt?

Sometimes I can mentally slap myself after a bad first read, and 'snap out of it', as it were - and then make sense of the question. But if it's not happening, I accept the fact very very quickly, and I do not fight my own brain longer than a few seconds. It's not worth it. I'll come back to it later.

The same thing applies when I'm just not loving the answer that seems to be the best of bad options, or when I'm just dithering between two. What's true about all the scenarios is that my process has ground to a halt. I know what it feels like to be moving efficiently from process step to process step. "Okay, got an assumption question, where's my conclusion? There. Okay, where's the support? Got it. What's disconnected here? Hm...X and....Y. Answer choices. A sucks because 'these words', B's weird, come back to that in a second, C sucks because 'these words', D's the opposite of what I want, E is looking good, back to B, oh right, that's a detail creep, double check E, yeah, we're good, next question, inference question, sort the stimulus..." There's no space between those steps. The car is always moving, tires in contact with the ground.

When that process stalls out, I can HEAR IT. A warning flag goes off in my brain that I may be sliding on ice. I give myself a short period of time to get back into gear, and if it does not happen I cross off what I can, circle the best of bad options, and walk away (for now). And I am utterly ruthless with myself about making myself do that.

Now, it's absolutely possible to go to far with this idea. Some students give up on questions entirely too quickly, out of fear or laziness or who knows what. So this is something you can only implement if you know that that's not you. Again, it all comes back to knowing yourself, and knowing what your own successful process feels like - and therefore what true skidding/stalling feels like. And then there are a million caveats: if a stimulus was super complicated to sort out, and I'm just stuck on a tiny piece of it, then I know that coming back to it later will require an annoying re-investment of time to get back to the thorny bit. That knowledge does diminish my likelihood of abandoning it too fast. (That also makes this whole discussion significantly different for LG and RC - I do not abandon and return to LG questions, ever. The reinvestment costs are too steep. If I abandon a question in LG or RC, I do it with the knowledge that I'm probably not coming back - but it still might be the right choice, so that I can be sure to get to the other questions.)

Honestly, mastering when to say 'screw it', when to say 'that's good enough for now, I'll come back if I can', when to say 'I'm not getting this, and I need to save time for other questions' is all part of the serious meta-game of the LSAT. It's not stuff you want to be obsessing about while you're just trying to build up process, or work out basic comprehension issues, but it's critical to figure out in the final stages for game day.

Apologies for all the mixed metaphors about engines and cars. :p

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:17 pm

tfinndogm wrote:
Christine (MLSAT) wrote:
tfinndogm wrote:So I have gone through the LR book and am now drilling q types. I seem to really be struggling with "Must be True" questions. I just don't understand why some answers are wrong or right. I tried to reread in the book to help clarify, but I think I need an even more "dumbed down" version of how to approach these q types.

Thanks in advance


Hey there, tfinndogm! I'd love to see an example or two of the kind of questions you're struggling with to try to zero in on what's giving you trouble!

One of the biggest mistakes that I see students make with Inference questions is misinterpreting the information in the stimulus. I call it 'mental spackle', where we add in little bits of information that aren't actually given to us in the stimulus, but seem like they'd be reasonable. These questions really demand that you be super careful in determining what you actually do know for certain (or on MSS questions, what you know to be extraordinarily likely).

Another mistake I see a lot is that students will analyze an answer from the perspective of 'well, it COULD happen like that' - instead of asking 'does it HAVE TO happen like that?!'. You're not just looking for something that's plausible, or reasonable, but rather something that's pretty darn sure fire! An answer choice has to be directly justifiable/supportable from specific information in the stimulus - just like in RC, you have to use the text to back up the answer.

So, the most important things to remember are 1) don't get creative!! and 2) something being possible/reasonable is NOT good enough!

But throw in a question or two that's been bugging you, and we'll see if we can't sort out what the issue is!



I certainly see how I may be doing the two things you suggest NOT to do haha.

So for example PT42-S4-Q17: I selected B, and I understand why the answer is A... but why is it better??


Hrm....is this the museum prints question? Because my copy of that test says the answer is C... :p

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:30 pm

tfinndogm wrote:I'll also throw PT51-S3-Q14 in there too. I answered A


This is the additive substances problem?

There are two major mistakes being made in (A). The relevant bit from the stimulus is:

    "addictive only if most habitual users would experience extreme psych/physio difficulty in withdrawal"

First, notice that (A) just talks about a single person! But the relevant rule is about most people. So there's a scope shift we can't justify.

But also, there's a conditional logic problem. "Only if" is a phrase that indicates the necessary clause. So that relevant bit of text from the stimulus would translate to:
    If addictive --> most habitual users have extreme psych/physio difficulty in withdrawal
    The contrapositive is that if that difficult stuff is NOT true for most habitual users, then the substance is not additive.
(A) is trying to to conclude that in a certain situation something IS addictive - but that rule is telling us what we know IF something is additive, then something else is true. It's reversing the conditional!

Tell me your thought process here, and we'll dig a little deeper!

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby tfinndogm » Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:27 pm

TYPO! On the Museum Print Q haha

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby tfinndogm » Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:32 pm

also it's very clear I need to retackle conditional logic 102 and then reread the inference section. oye.

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Tyr
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Tyr » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:42 pm

I just started the LR book and am a little stuck on differentiating between an Intermediate Conclusion and a Premise. In particular on page 40 (3rd Ed.) on question 14. I see the line "Clearly, suppressing information concerning such discoveries is incompatible with the university's obligation to promote the free flow of ideas" as an Intermediate Conclusion. However, it is actually a Premise. Do you have any suggestions on identifying the two more clearly? I'm not having any trouble identifying the differences between Premises and Conclusions, but the Intermediate Conclusion/Premise division is tough right now.

Thanks!

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:48 am

Tyr wrote:I just started the LR book and am a little stuck on differentiating between an Intermediate Conclusion and a Premise. In particular on page 40 (3rd Ed.) on question 14. I see the line "Clearly, suppressing information concerning such discoveries is incompatible with the university's obligation to promote the free flow of ideas" as an Intermediate Conclusion. However, it is actually a Premise. Do you have any suggestions on identifying the two more clearly? I'm not having any trouble identifying the differences between Premises and Conclusions, but the Intermediate Conclusion/Premise division is tough right now.

Thanks!


What a great question!

So, before we get to the question you refer to specifically, I want to point out that sometimes the distinction is a bit debatable (and sometimes it isn't).

Take the following example:

Roses are bright red, and as a result vibrant, so they make great decorations.

Should that be:
    PREMISE: Roses are bright red
    INTERMEDIATE CONCLUSION: and as a result vibrant
    CONCLUSION: so they make great decorations
Or:
    PREMISE: Roses are bright red, and as a result vibrant
    CONCLUSION: so they make great decorations

Now, if the assumption in the answer choices is "all vibrant things make great decorations", then it really doesn't matter which way we read it. Nitpicking the leap to 'and as a result vibrant' might just be a waste of energy. But if the answer choice hones in on 'bright red is always vibrant', then the distinction would clearly have mattered!

I say this because I can think of tons of regular, two part cores where I could have nitpicked the premise into a premise-intermediate conclusion pair. But it's not always worth the effort. But if you do construct a three-part core, even when it's not strictly necessary, it may not be wrong to do so. Just less useful than you might have hoped. And then there are blatant, clear-cut and distinct three-part cores that you'd actually have to work to smoosh into a two-part core.

All that being said, carving out an intermediate conclusion is only valid when there really is some separable support for the intermediate conclusion. The "premise-intermediate conclusion" pair has to be just as much a clear argument core as the "intermediate conclusion-final conclusion" pair is. If there's not genuine support for something, it can't be an intermediate conclusion.

So, now I'm going to do that annoying teacher thing and answer your question with a question: what's the support in Question 14 for that statement "clearly, suppressing information concerning such discoveries is incompatible with the university's obligation to promote the free flow of ideas"? (PT9.2.19, for anyone wanting to follow along) What are you using as your initial premise that leads to that as an intermediate conclusion?

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Tyr » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:26 am

Christine (MLSAT) wrote:So, now I'm going to do that annoying teacher thing and answer your question with a question: what's the support in Question 14 for that statement "clearly, suppressing information concerning such discoveries is incompatible with the university's obligation to promote the free flow of ideas"? (PT9.2.19, for anyone wanting to follow along) What are you using as your initial premise that leads to that as an intermediate conclusion?


I was going to say something like:
Universities should encourage the free flow of ideas, and a university that retains the right to patent the inventions of its faculty members has a motive to suppress information about a potentially valuable discovery until the patent for it has been secured, THEREFORE suppressing information concerning such discoveries is incompatible with the university's obligation to promote the free flow of ideas.

Then with the final conclusion being "A university should not be able to patent inventions of its faculty members." This results in a P + P -> IC -> C

The first two premises add together to support the IC which then goes on to support the conclusion. At least that is how I was seeing it last night.

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:06 pm

Tyr wrote:
Christine (MLSAT) wrote:So, now I'm going to do that annoying teacher thing and answer your question with a question: what's the support in Question 14 for that statement "clearly, suppressing information concerning such discoveries is incompatible with the university's obligation to promote the free flow of ideas"? (PT9.2.19, for anyone wanting to follow along) What are you using as your initial premise that leads to that as an intermediate conclusion?


I was going to say something like:
Universities should encourage the free flow of ideas, and a university that retains the right to patent the inventions of its faculty members has a motive to suppress information about a potentially valuable discovery until the patent for it has been secured, THEREFORE suppressing information concerning such discoveries is incompatible with the university's obligation to promote the free flow of ideas.

Then with the final conclusion being "A university should not be able to patent inventions of its faculty members." This results in a P + P -> IC -> C

The first two premises add together to support the IC which then goes on to support the conclusion. At least that is how I was seeing it last night.


So, how do those two premises really support your intermediate conclusion?

Think for a bit about what it really means for a premise to be offered 'as support' for a conclusion. It's being put forth as a reason to believe what's proposed in the conclusion. Now, it may not be a great reason, but that's the author's intention.

If I say "Roses are red, therefore they are the bestest flower!!", the redness is being offered as a reason to believe the claim of 'bestest'.

But this initial core you are proposing is equivalent to something like: "Joe wants to make money. Joe also wants to help people. Clearly the goals of making money and helping people are incompatible." Those first two sentences don't give even an attempt at a reason to believe the conclusion of incompatibility. I've simply stated Thing A, stated Thing B, then stated that the two things are "clearly incompatible". There's no support at all for the idea of incompatibility.

If there is not even the attempt at direct support for soemthing in the stimulus, then it cannot possibly be any kind of conclusion at all!!

I've got to give a shout out to WaltGrace1983 here, for his breakdown of this core on the Manhattan Forums:
WaltGrace1983 wrote:University with the entitlement to patent the faculty's inventions has a motive to suppress information
+
Suppressing information is incompatible with the university's obligation to promote the free flow of ideas

University should not be entitled the patent the faculty's inventions



Now, I do feel rather strongly about that final sentence of the stimulus NOT being an intermediate conclusion, but let's be clear about what the harm/damage is in identifying it as one anyway. You *should* still get the answer to a problem like this correct, as it should be apparent to you that the correct answer gives a necessary assumption that fits between your IC and your final conclusion. So, what you lose is just the time it took to consider the possibility of an intermediate conclusion!

As a general matter, investigate carefully whether a statement is actually being supported specifically by another statement.

What do you think?

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Tyr » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:07 am

Christine (MLSAT) wrote:So, how do those two premises really support your intermediate conclusion?

Think for a bit about what it really means for a premise to be offered 'as support' for a conclusion. It's being put forth as a reason to believe what's proposed in the conclusion. Now, it may not be a great reason, but that's the author's intention.

If I say "Roses are red, therefore they are the bestest flower!!", the redness is being offered as a reason to believe the claim of 'bestest'.

But this initial core you are proposing is equivalent to something like: "Joe wants to make money. Joe also wants to help people. Clearly the goals of making money and helping people are incompatible." Those first two sentences don't give even an attempt at a reason to believe the conclusion of incompatibility. I've simply stated Thing A, stated Thing B, then stated that the two things are "clearly incompatible". There's no support at all for the idea of incompatibility.

If there is not even the attempt at direct support for soemthing in the stimulus, then it cannot possibly be any kind of conclusion at all!!

What do you think?


Okay, I think I see it. What I was calling the IC does not actually have any support. I was filling in the support in my mind because (like what you'd do in everyday conversation). I was thinking, "Okay, it is saying those two are incompatible which seems reasonable, it must be the summation of the two premises into an IC" when in reality, it is another premise that adds up to the final conclusion.

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby mrs.miawallace » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:54 am

hi noah, tell ohthatpatrick that i love him

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Manhattan LSAT Noah
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Manhattan LSAT Noah » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:11 pm

mrs.miawallace wrote:hi noah, tell ohthatpatrick that i love him

Done!

I'll add this evaluation of him I saw from a student a while back:

Dr. Patrick Tyrrell is a gentleman and a scholar. I would also include
that he is a breeder of fine horses, but he has taught me that I cannot
make such baseless inferences as my limited time in his class does not
indicate such a quality.

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby WaltGrace83 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:39 pm

I thought after 200+ strengthen/weaken questions I would have seen everything by now! I just found 20.1.12 ("It is probably not true that colic in infants...). How on earth do you go about strengthening/weakening a claim that posits ~(A→B) rather than the typical argument positing (A→B). Is there a cookie-cutter way to weaken a conclusion like 20.1.12, because I cannot think of it.
    We cannot merely show that something else caused B, that would strengthen the argument.
    We cannot show ~(cause) and the same (effect) because that is exactly what the argument is purporting!
    We cannot show (cause) with ~(effect) cause that just wouldn't make sense.
    Saying that B → A wouldn't work and saying that C → B would be basically the same thing.

I am assuming we take questions like this on a more case-by-case basic rather than establishing a few "rules" on how to strengthen/weaken the claims, no?

EDIT: I'm looking hard at this. Could you perhaps treat a question like this as actually a STRENGTHEN question. In other words, the argument asserts ~(Cow's milk → Colic). Well to weaken this we would probably want to show (Cow's milk → Colic), the opposite. Therefore, maybe we could STRENGTHEN the idea of (Cow's milk → Colic). Seems easier but I don't know if its better.

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:07 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:I thought after 200+ strengthen/weaken questions I would have seen everything by now! I just found 20.1.12 ("It is probably not true that colic in infants...). How on earth do you go about strengthening/weakening a claim that posits ~(A→B) rather than the typical argument positing (A→B). Is there a cookie-cutter way to weaken a conclusion like 20.1.12, because I cannot think of it.
    We cannot merely show that something else caused B, that would strengthen the argument.
    We cannot show ~(cause) and the same (effect) because that is exactly what the argument is purporting!
    We cannot show (cause) with ~(effect) cause that just wouldn't make sense.
    Saying that B → A wouldn't work and saying that C → B would be basically the same thing.

I am assuming we take questions like this on a more case-by-case basic rather than establishing a few "rules" on how to strengthen/weaken the claims, no?

EDIT: I'm looking hard at this. Could you perhaps treat a question like this as actually a STRENGTHEN question. In other words, the argument asserts ~(Cow's milk → Colic). Well to weaken this we would probably want to show (Cow's milk → Colic), the opposite. Therefore, maybe we could STRENGTHEN the idea of (Cow's milk → Colic). Seems easier but I don't know if its better.



So, I kind of love this issue, in a sick, sadistic teachery kind of way, because it's one of the places where being overly formulaic will likely confuse the hell out of you. What you need to do is take a step back and really ask yourself what you're trying to do in weakening his claim.

What you say in your edit is exactly where you want to be thinking with this. This author claims that [cows milk probably not the cause for colic]. We want to make it more likely that's he's wrong. Well, the more likely cow's milk is as the cause, the more likely this guy is wrong! So, in a way, we want to make it more likely that it IS cow's milk that causes colic.

But this guy has some evidence against cow's milk. If we want to make it more likely that cow's milk IS the cause, we're probably going to want to deal with his evidence against it. And if his evidence doesn't mean what he thinks it means, that would be cool. So, how could we live in a world where cow's milk likely IS the cause, but his evidence still happens?

It's kind of like a paradox question - we need something that could explain away that evidence even if cow's milk is the cause. If we can do that, we will have completely undermined his evidence for his concluding that cow's milk probably isnt' the cause, and therefore made it a bit more likely that cow's milk IS the cause!

Does this sound at all familiar? Because it reminds me an awful lot of a nasty little question about dioxin....

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby WaltGrace83 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:06 pm

Christine (MLSAT) wrote:
WaltGrace83 wrote:I thought after 200+ strengthen/weaken questions I would have seen everything by now! I just found 20.1.12 ("It is probably not true that colic in infants...). How on earth do you go about strengthening/weakening a claim that posits ~(A→B) rather than the typical argument positing (A→B). Is there a cookie-cutter way to weaken a conclusion like 20.1.12, because I cannot think of it.
    We cannot merely show that something else caused B, that would strengthen the argument.
    We cannot show ~(cause) and the same (effect) because that is exactly what the argument is purporting!
    We cannot show (cause) with ~(effect) cause that just wouldn't make sense.
    Saying that B → A wouldn't work and saying that C → B would be basically the same thing.

I am assuming we take questions like this on a more case-by-case basic rather than establishing a few "rules" on how to strengthen/weaken the claims, no?

EDIT: I'm looking hard at this. Could you perhaps treat a question like this as actually a STRENGTHEN question. In other words, the argument asserts ~(Cow's milk → Colic). Well to weaken this we would probably want to show (Cow's milk → Colic), the opposite. Therefore, maybe we could STRENGTHEN the idea of (Cow's milk → Colic). Seems easier but I don't know if its better.



So, I kind of love this issue, in a sick, sadistic teachery kind of way, because it's one of the places where being overly formulaic will likely confuse the hell out of you. What you need to do is take a step back and really ask yourself what you're trying to do in weakening his claim.

What you say in your edit is exactly where you want to be thinking with this. This author claims that [cows milk probably not the cause for colic]. We want to make it more likely that's he's wrong. Well, the more likely cow's milk is as the cause, the more likely this guy is wrong! So, in a way, we want to make it more likely that it IS cow's milk that causes colic.

But this guy has some evidence against cow's milk. If we want to make it more likely that cow's milk IS the cause, we're probably going to want to deal with his evidence against it. And if his evidence doesn't mean what he thinks it means, that would be cool. So, how could we live in a world where cow's milk likely IS the cause, but his evidence still happens?

It's kind of like a paradox question - we need something that could explain away that evidence even if cow's milk is the cause. If we can do that, we will have completely undermined his evidence for his concluding that cow's milk probably isnt' the cause, and therefore made it a bit more likely that cow's milk IS the cause!

Does this sound at all familiar? Because it reminds me an awful lot of a nasty little question about dioxin....


Yea, thanks! So I might think about strengthening the negation as sort of a jumping off point as, typically, there won't be more than one or two answers that strengthen/weaken the claim. After a first elimination I could probably dig more deeply into the evidence.

You know, I never understood what the big deal with dioxin was. Everyone says how hard of a question it is but I remember looking at that famous question even very early on in my LSAT studies and I really didn't think it was too bad. Then again, I will miss some of the easiest questions in the world due to a misinterpretation of the stimulus so you win some and lose some I suppose!

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Tyr
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Tyr » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:21 pm

Could you explain the core for practice test 8 in section 1 question 5 (developing asthma)? I'm now drilling and I got it correct, but I'm not certain of the argument core. And because I am struggling to isolate the core, I'm having a hard time articulating why I selected the correct answer. It doesn't do me much good to get an answer correct while drilling if I don't know why I got it correct.

Thanks again!

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:38 pm

Tyr wrote:Could you explain the core for practice test 8 in section 1 question 5 (developing asthma)? I'm now drilling and I got it correct, but I'm not certain of the argument core. And because I am struggling to isolate the core, I'm having a hard time articulating why I selected the correct answer. It doesn't do me much good to get an answer correct while drilling if I don't know why I got it correct.

Thanks again!



First, I am going to do the happy dance for the bolded! YAY FOR REVIEWING QUESTIONS YOU GOT RIGHT BUT DON'T COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND!! That's where it's AT!

Okay, I'm done, I swear.

This question is super funky in structure. I blame that on the fact that it's PT8, but the reality is, you never know when there's going to trot something like this out again. We have a couple of key indicators for what's going on here. The first is the phrase "assuming the truth of the passage". Okay, so everything in the stimulus is true. That's a bit weird for an argument question, isn't it? Usually we just take premises to be true.

The very next phrase is "once can conclude from it blahblahblah". Whoa - so they are giving me the conclusion in the question stem. Super weird. Alright, the conclusion is "equal numbers of asthma teen boys and asthma teen girls." And question is saying that we CAN conclude this IF we also know [answer choice]. Ahhhh.... so it's a sufficient assumption question.

Okay, so I know the conclusion is "equal numbers of asthma teen boys and asthma teen girls." And there are five different facts listed in the stimulus that could be my premise(s):
    1) peeps can outgrow asthma whenever
    2) pre teen boys more likely to develop asthma than pre teen girls
    3) boys are less likely to outgrow asthma than girls
    4) % of teen boys with asthma = % of teen girls with asthma
    5) lots of teen girls develop asthma in early teens

the most interesting premise is #4 - it's the only one talking about teen asthma boys and teen asthma girls. Once I put them side by side:
    PREMISE: percentage of teen boys with asthma = percentage of teen girls with asthma
    CONCLUSION: equal numbers of asthma teen boys and asthma teen girls

I realize that this is a class percents vs absolute numbers assumption! If we knew that the number of teen girls was equal to the number of teen boys, then this conclusion would be totally supported!

There are a couple key elements here: recognize that the stimulus is all premises, recognize that the conclusion is being handed to you in the question stem itself, and be able to pick out the most likely useful premise out of 5 statements of fact.

What do you think?

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Tyr
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Tyr » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:05 pm

Christine (MLSAT) wrote:
Tyr wrote:Could you explain the core for practice test 8 in section 1 question 5 (developing asthma)? I'm now drilling and I got it correct, but I'm not certain of the argument core. And because I am struggling to isolate the core, I'm having a hard time articulating why I selected the correct answer. It doesn't do me much good to get an answer correct while drilling if I don't know why I got it correct.

Thanks again!



First, I am going to do the happy dance for the bolded! YAY FOR REVIEWING QUESTIONS YOU GOT RIGHT BUT DON'T COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND!! That's where it's AT!

Okay, I'm done, I swear.

This question is super funky in structure. I blame that on the fact that it's PT8, but the reality is, you never know when there's going to trot something like this out again. We have a couple of key indicators for what's going on here. The first is the phrase "assuming the truth of the passage". Okay, so everything in the stimulus is true. That's a bit weird for an argument question, isn't it? Usually we just take premises to be true.

The very next phrase is "once can conclude from it blahblahblah". Whoa - so they are giving me the conclusion in the question stem. Super weird. Alright, the conclusion is "equal numbers of asthma teen boys and asthma teen girls." And question is saying that we CAN conclude this IF we also know [answer choice]. Ahhhh.... so it's a sufficient assumption question.

Okay, so I know the conclusion is "equal numbers of asthma teen boys and asthma teen girls." And there are five different facts listed in the stimulus that could be my premise(s):
    1) peeps can outgrow asthma whenever
    2) pre teen boys more likely to develop asthma than pre teen girls
    3) boys are less likely to outgrow asthma than girls
    4) % of teen boys with asthma = % of teen girls with asthma
    5) lots of teen girls develop asthma in early teens

the most interesting premise is #4 - it's the only one talking about teen asthma boys and teen asthma girls. Once I put them side by side:
    PREMISE: percentage of teen boys with asthma = percentage of teen girls with asthma
    CONCLUSION: equal numbers of asthma teen boys and asthma teen girls

I realize that this is a class percents vs absolute numbers assumption! If we knew that the number of teen girls was equal to the number of teen boys, then this conclusion would be totally supported!

There are a couple key elements here: recognize that the stimulus is all premises, recognize that the conclusion is being handed to you in the question stem itself, and be able to pick out the most likely useful premise out of 5 statements of fact.

What do you think?


Okay, I see it. Where I stumbled was not even realizing that the conclusion is given to me in the stem. And it's no good to try and turn a premise into a conclusion. I was digging through the passage to find a conclusion, hence my confusion. Knowing that the conclusion is "# of boys with asthma = # of girls with asthma" helps me to identify the key premise of the percentages being equal. Well, if the percentages are equal and we know that the numbers are equal: ta-da!

Even though it may not be a guarantee, it seems as though when LR questions start throwing stuff like "x%" or "x times as likely," they will often try to catch you on the numbers issues.

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby WaltGrace83 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:48 pm

I'm still working on those weakeners and I have a blanket question. In 33.1.17 ("Ten times...a single drop of the defendant's blood was allowed to fall"), we get two pretty sticky answer choices: (B) and (C).

I initially chose (B) but then, during review, I liked (C) better which was good because it was the right answer. (B) seems to be wrong because of its weakness. We don't know what expert witnesses "sometimes" fudge data and how often "sometimes" really is. On (C) though, it shows that the evidence - the 10 blood drops - were not enough to make the conclusion follow. The 11th blood drop was almost twice the size of the first 10 and so we have reason to believe that the evidence has been undermined and we need more blood drops to actually make the case.

Now this leads to my question. We get very general answers quite often in strengthen/weaken stimuli. Am I right to assume that if one of these "general" answers establishes a (relevant) general majority then it will most likely be correct? For example, (B) seems to hinge on the word "sometimes." If (B) would have said "Expert witnesses usually have been known to fudge their data" or "Expert witnesses usually fudge their data" then this would have probably been the correct answer, no? In that case, (C) might not have been included.

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Fri May 02, 2014 11:30 am

WaltGrace83 wrote:I'm still working on those weakeners and I have a blanket question. In 33.1.17 ("Ten times...a single drop of the defendant's blood was allowed to fall"), we get two pretty sticky answer choices: (B) and (C).

I initially chose (B) but then, during review, I liked (C) better which was good because it was the right answer. (B) seems to be wrong because of its weakness. We don't know what expert witnesses "sometimes" fudge data and how often "sometimes" really is. On (C) though, it shows that the evidence - the 10 blood drops - were not enough to make the conclusion follow. The 11th blood drop was almost twice the size of the first 10 and so we have reason to believe that the evidence has been undermined and we need more blood drops to actually make the case.

Now this leads to my question. We get very general answers quite often in strengthen/weaken stimuli. Am I right to assume that if one of these "general" answers establishes a (relevant) general majority then it will most likely be correct? For example, (B) seems to hinge on the word "sometimes." If (B) would have said "Expert witnesses usually have been known to fudge their data" or "Expert witnesses usually fudge their data" then this would have probably been the correct answer, no? In that case, (C) might not have been included.


This is some excellent processing that you're doing. What I really like about it is that it can tie in quite explicitly to what your TASK is on strengthen/weaken questions. We're trying to make the argument more or less *likely*. So statements of a relevant majority (and I love that phrase) are pretty much exactly the kind of thing that would do the trick.

Statements of 'sometimes', or unfulfilled conditionals (or conditionals that may be filled, but we have no idea about how often), are generally speaking not enough to tell us whether that thing/condition/situation is MORE or LESS likely than the alternative - and therefore will not make the argument MORE or LESS likely to be solid. We need those signifiers of likelihood. (And relevant facts that are simply solid facts might be thought of as having 100% likelihood attached to them).

You know me - I'm typically pretty wary of hard and fast blanket rules (see what I did there?), but as a general matter: YES, this is exactly how likelihood statements in strengthen/weaken questions should be viewed.

The critical detail, of course, is making sure you identify whether a majority/likelihood discussed is in fact relevant though. :wink:


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