I am reviewing a strengthen EXCEPT question (PT39-S4-Q13 "Nearly every criminal...") and I am a little confused by it. There really isn't a core in this strengthen EXCEPT question, just a hypothesis that states that, "misidentification by eyewitnesses is a common reason for mistaken convictions in criminal trials." Now my first thought was to strengthen the idea that eyewitness' identifications actually mattered, that judges oftentimes will convict someone primarily on the grounds of a eyewitness testimony.
I still don't understand how (B) and (C) strengthen . It seems to just strengthen the idea of misidentification but we are not really concerned about strengthening that, are we? What I mean is that we are supposed to strengthen the connection between "misidentification" and "mistaken conviction." We already know that the misidentification happened - do we need to know why it happened? Does this question even have a core? Whenever a strengthen question talks about strengthening a "hypothesis" or a "claim" then usually a core is not in place. Does that have something to do with what is going on?
(A) seems like the ideal strengthener because it gets at this gap. It says that the misidentification actually means something. What if eyewitnesses misidentify but the jury doesn't take it seriously anyway? (A) rules out the idea that this hypothetical would happen more often than not.
(D) doesn't do much (which is why it is right). It just says that judges will say when eyewitnesses are fallible. But this doesn't answer the question of how misidentification leads to convictions. We want to STRENGTHEN that misidentification actually leads to convictions. Can the courts know when someone is being misidentified? If so, do we know when misidentifications are fallible? There are just too many further questions to ask and the only way to strengthen the hypothesis would be to add unwarranted assumptions.
(E) this also strengthens quite well! If unreliable witnesses (those who misidentify) → usually appear confident → jurors very likely to believe them, then this would help solidify the idea that misidentification leads to false convictions. Why? Because apparently those who misidentify appear confident! Those who appear confident usually win over the jury! If you win over the jury, it seems very reasonable to conclude that the jury would then falsely convict someone.
So I wonder about (B) and (C). I just don't see its function but I knew that they were wrong because they were both similar and (D) was clearly wrong. (B) and (C) just seem like premise boosters - which I know don't strengthen the argument. I just feel like there is something here that I am missing.
Hey WG --
You are right to notice that this is a different sort of q, and that there is no argument here to evaluate -- the test writers tell you as much in the q stem -- "hypothesis" is just like conclusion or claim, and so you know your job is not to evaluate how the answer relates to some sort of premise-conclusion relationship, but rather just to the point being made.
As I've mentioned before, in order to give more specific advice I have to make some conjectures about how you solved the problem and what went wrong for you -- if I'm off please feel free to ignore me, but see if this helps --
In my opinion where things went wrong for you is when you jumped to thinking, "Now my first thought was to strengthen the idea that eyewitness' identifications actually mattered, that judges oftentimes will convict someone primarily on the grounds of a eyewitness testimony." What you did there was jump to one narrow aspect of the point being made, and I think that's what made the other answer choices less attractive.
Imagine the following arguments:
"Eating ice cream caused Mike a stomachache."
So, if I want to support that, I want to think about what you mentioned -- I am looking for some validation that it was indeed the ice cream, or that it wasn't something else.
Now think of a slightly different argument:
"Eating ice cream frequently causes Mike stomachaches."
Notice in this case the point is a bit different -- it's not just about the fact that there is a cause-and-effect relationship, it's that it occurs frequently -- and so, yeah, info about the fact that the relationship does exist would help a bit, but info about frequency is a bit more directly relevant.
Now imagine I change it up a bit more --
"Eating ice cream frequently causes Mike stomachaches at night."
So now I'm not only looking for information that speaks to the frequency of the relationship, but also speaks to a more specific relationship -- not just stomachaches, but stomachaches in the night time.
39.4.13 has a hypothesis that misidentification is a common reason for mistaken convictions. the bolded are the areas I'm looking to strengthen -- if you take a look at the answers on those terms, I think the problem should make more sense.
I'll leave it at that, but I know this is a subtle issue (I've gotten a lot of q's about it) so if you have more follow-up please don't hesitate to continue here or through pm -- do know that, as I think I mention in the trainer, the frequency of LR q's that ask you to evaluate a conclusion rather than an argument seems to be going down. And (I'm sure you already know but) if you need some further instruction on s/w that deal w/conclusion rather than argument, I talk about it both in the mlsat book and the trainer --