preptest 35; section 1 q 13

cord
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preptest 35; section 1 q 13

Postby cord » Fri May 07, 2010 1:18 am

Can someone break it down for me , why all the wrong questions are wrong and why the right one is right? I initially picked A.

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matt@atlaslsat
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Re: preptest 35; section 1 q 13

Postby matt@atlaslsat » Fri May 07, 2010 1:23 pm

This argument says that people will hold onto acquired beliefs even in the absence of any credible evidence to support them. The problem with this argument is that just because the subjects were told that their new beliefs were false doesn't mean that the subjects hadn't already acquired evidence to support their new beliefs. The conclusion assumes that the subjects do not have any evidence to support their beliefs, when in fact the subjects may have evidence that outweighs being told that the belief is false.

Simple Analogy: Sarah is told that most people prefer green to any other color. She asks around and everyone she talks to says they prefer green. Then she is told that it is not true that most people prefer green. Now she doesn't know what to believe, but she does remember that when she asked around people told her that they liked green. To continue to believe that green is the most popular color is very reasonable, because the evidence she has gathered points her in that direction.

(A) would have been the correct answer if it had worked in something about evidence of the belief being true. The fact that the belief is true, doesn't tell us that we have evidence that the belief is true.
(B) is irrelevant. Knowing that it is unrealistic to expect people to change their beliefs does not undermine the conclusion that people hold onto beliefs in the absence of evidence to support them.
(C) is irrelevant. Whether the statements are misleading or not, does not inform us as to whether these subjects had any evidence to support their claims.
(D) undermines the argument. With this information it is less likely that these subjects are holding on to their beliefs in the absence of evidence.
(E) is irrelevant. If the subjects were initially skeptical, why did they acquire the belief. Maybe they needed evidence. This answer choice doesn't undermine the conclusion that people hold on to beliefs even in the absence of evidence.

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Atlas LSAT Teacher
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Re: preptest 35; section 1 q 13

Postby Atlas LSAT Teacher » Fri May 07, 2010 1:24 pm

Sure -- this is a tricky question.

The conclusion is that even if there's no support for an idea, people tend to continue to believe that idea if they believed it at one point. Why? Because there was a study - ah, how the LSAT loves studies! - in which folks were led to believe something by giving them some facts, then told that those facts were untrue, and regardless of finding out those facts were untrue, folks still believed what they had been led to believe in the first place.

We're asked to weaken that argument, so ideally we can spot an assumption to attack. Frankly, it's unlikely that one would identify the assumption here until it shows up in an answer choice, and so wrong answer identification would be especially important, but there is an assumption that there wasn't something else that muddied the waters of this study. That's generally the issue with arguing with the results of studies ("but you didn't do your experiment in a complete vacuum, so it might have been contaminated by...". What if, as (D) suggests, in between the time that the subjects (a.k.a. "folks") were given the belief-causing-facts and the time they were told those facts were untrue, the ghost of Einstein appeared and said "Folks! What you have learned is indeed correct! Don't believe the hype if you're told otherwise..." Then the fact that some dorky scientists come by and say "Oops, we were just kidding before!" wouldn't really affect the subjects, since they have a stronger reason to believe in the veracity of the facts -- so it's not that they're holding on to something in the fact of opposing evidence, it's that there's strong supporting evidence.

(A) is very tempting as it seems to provide the same sort of factor that would disturb the validity of the experiment. However, the fact that the belief-causing facts were actually true might not affect the subjects. Let's imagine the facts were about the cellular structure of avian viruses. Since most people don't know a thing about that, whether a fact is actually true would not affect how most of us would react to someone telling us that a fact we were previously told is untrue. The missing component is that the subject knows that the fact is actually true.
(B) is subtly out of scope. The argument is not about whether it's realistic to expect anything. If anything, this strengthens the argument, in that it suggests people will forget the original basis for their belief, and so finding out that the basis is false will not matter, since it's been forgotten.
(C) is tempting, as perhaps this would make the experiment invalid. However, even if the belief-causing-facts were misleading, they led the subjects to believe something that they later continued to believe regardless of finding out that the misleading facts were, well, misleading (false).
(E) is similar to (C) in that it establishes a context for the experiment, but it does not mean the results are invalid. If anything, this strengthens the argument in that it shows that folks will hang on to ridiculous ideas in the face of opposing evidence.

Does that clear it up?

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Atlas LSAT Teacher
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Re: preptest 35; section 1 q 13

Postby Atlas LSAT Teacher » Fri May 07, 2010 1:26 pm

Wow, we need to take a rest!

cord
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Re: preptest 35; section 1 q 13

Postby cord » Tue May 11, 2010 4:14 pm

thanks, really appreciate it!




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