Vague Weaken/Strengthen Question about Correct Answers

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Vague Weaken/Strengthen Question about Correct Answers

Postby bartleby » Sun May 30, 2010 2:39 pm

Can anyone think of any specific strengthen/weaken questions where one of the answer choices goes something along the lines of...

"In another study, when blah blah blah was applied to blah blah blah, the results were inconclusive"


"In another country, where blah blah blah happened, blah blah blah did not happen / was not effected"

I think I get tripped up by these kinds of answer choices because I waste a lot of time wondering if it is within the scope. Does anyone have any general rules pertaining to weaken/strengthen questions that refer to a similar/parallel study/case?

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Re: Vague Weaken/Strengthen Question about Correct Answers

Postby WhatSarahSaid » Sun May 30, 2010 2:49 pm

These are pretty tough for me too. I'd say the best thing you can do is look at exactly what the conclusion is saying. With your example, if the given conclusion were something like:

"The study showed that, for the residents of Country X, blah blah blah causes blah blah blah."

Then, the fact that another country had different results would be irrelevant and wouldn't weaken the conclusion. Once you do a lot of these, you start to see the subtle differences in scope that they'll use to trick you -- "high school students" will turn into "all students," "people who live in large cities" will turn into "all people," and so on.

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Re: Vague Weaken/Strengthen Question about Correct Answers

Postby dakatz » Sun May 30, 2010 3:10 pm

Always keep in mind that, for strengthening and weakening questions, the "scope" of the answer isn't really important. Look at the phrasing of the question. "Which of the following IF TRUE...". So use your crystal ball and look into some hypothetical world where the particular answer choice is true. If it were true, would it help/weaken the argument? For example, we might want to strengthen some argument about the merits of growing some crop in order to help our economy. An answer choice might say that some other country did just that in order to help their economy and it worked out well. Remember what kind of question you are being asked, because your mindset should depend on it. You could easily say to yourself "well, that other country may be fundamentally different from our country, so it might not apply at all". But we are in strengthening mode, so I'm not trying to be skeptical. "Hmm, well we have this proposal about helping our economy through growing crop X. In so and so country, they did it and it worked. So now I have at least one instance of this strategy being successfully implemented, and thats one more than I had before". You see how different the interpretations are of the same answer choice? So don't worry about the scope, and just say "if it were true, would it help/weaken the argument?"

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