Annoying Assumption Questions

Bigsby
Posts: 71
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:03 pm

Annoying Assumption Questions

Postby Bigsby » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:15 am

I'm having some difficulties with Assumption questions.

I'm getting most of them right but sometimes I am torn between certain contenders and have trouble explaining some away.

For example:

Barnes: The two newest employees at this company have salaries that are too high for the simple tasks normally assigned to new employees and duties that are too complex for inexperienced workers. Hence, the salaries and complexity of the duties of these two newest employees should be reduced.

The answer to this one was obvious but what does choice A mean:
A. The duties of the two newest employees are not less complex than any others in the company.

If they aren't less complex, then they are just as complex or more complex. I explained this away by saying, if they are just as complex as the others they should be paid just the same as everyone else. however this is not the case, as they are being paid more than the average new inexperienced worker. and if they are more complex, they shouldnt be because they are new workers. this is precisely the problem.

i dont think i exactly understand the core point of assumption questions, even though i went through the LRB and the explanations but..somethings missing for me...for example, isnt this an assumption that Barnes takes?

Heres another one:
One of the effects of lead poisioning is an inflammation of the optic nerve, which causes those who have it to see bright haloes around light sources. In order to produce the striking yellow effects in his "Sunflowers" paintings, Van Gogh used Naples yellow, a pigment containing lead. Since in his later paintings, Van Gogh painted bright haloes around the stars adn sun, it is likely that he was suffering from lead poisoning cause by ingesting the pigments he used.

A. is correct, which states:

A. In VG's later paintings, he painted some things as he saw them.

This makes sense because if I negate, it says he paints NO things as he saw them thus weakening. Right?

However what about this one:

D. the paints Van Gogh used in the Sunflowers paintings had no toxic ingredients other than lead.

If this is negated it could say, some toxic ingredients. and then u can say, wellll these toxic ingredients could have caused the bright haloes symptoms and not lead posinoning. He says it is LIKELY that he was suffering from lead poisoning, does this mean that 'D' doesn't weaken it since he allows rooms for other possibilities?

But then how is A correct, because if he saw some things as he painted them, then it could very well not be anything with yellow haloes around them.

i think im approaching these assumption questions wrong :(

bhan87
Posts: 850
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2007 8:08 pm

Re: Annoying Assumption Questions

Postby bhan87 » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:43 am

Bigsby wrote:I'm having some difficulties with Assumption questions.

I'm getting most of them right but sometimes I am torn between certain contenders and have trouble explaining some away.

For example:

Barnes: The two newest employees at this company have salaries that are too high for the simple tasks normally assigned to new employees and duties that are too complex for inexperienced workers. Hence, the salaries and complexity of the duties of these two newest employees should be reduced.

The answer to this one was obvious but what does choice A mean:
A. The duties of the two newest employees are not less complex than any others in the company.

If they aren't less complex, then they are just as complex or more complex. I explained this away by saying, if they are just as complex as the others they should be paid just the same as everyone else. however this is not the case, as they are being paid more than the average new inexperienced worker. and if they are more complex, they shouldnt be because they are new workers. this is precisely the problem.

i dont think i exactly understand the core point of assumption questions, even though i went through the LRB and the explanations but..somethings missing for me...for example, isnt this an assumption that Barnes takes?


I think the assumption the right answer pointed out was that the two new workers are inexperienced. The argument says nothing to the regards of other workers. Rather, he's grouping people into experienced and inexperienced and concludes because new workers = inexperienced (the assumption), the tasks are too complex for the two new workers. Answer choice A, however, has no relationship to this argument because regardless of whether or not the task is more or less complicated than other workers' tasks, Barnes is speaking to whether an inexperienced person is capable of doing it. If we were to negate A (a standard test for necessary assumption questions) we get the premise "The task is less complex than others in the company". Does this premise destroy the argument? No, because even if it's less complex, Barnes may indeed be right that the task is still too complex for new workers. Thus, the argument does not rely on this assumption to draw its conclusion.

Bigsby wrote:Heres another one:
One of the effects of lead poisioning is an inflammation of the optic nerve, which causes those who have it to see bright haloes around light sources. In order to produce the striking yellow effects in his "Sunflowers" paintings, Van Gogh used Naples yellow, a pigment containing lead. Since in his later paintings, Van Gogh painted bright haloes around the stars adn sun, it is likely that he was suffering from lead poisoning cause by ingesting the pigments he used.

A. is correct, which states:

A. In VG's later paintings, he painted some things as he saw them.

This makes sense because if I negate, it says he paints NO things as he saw them thus weakening. Right?

However what about this one:

D. the paints Van Gogh used in the Sunflowers paintings had no toxic ingredients other than lead.

If this is negated it could say, some toxic ingredients. and then u can say, wellll these toxic ingredients could have caused the bright haloes symptoms and not lead posinoning. He says it is LIKELY that he was suffering from lead poisoning, does this mean that 'D' doesn't weaken it since he allows rooms for other possibilities?

But then how is A correct, because if he saw some things as he painted them, then it could very well not be anything with yellow haloes around them.

i think im approaching these assumption questions wrong :(


You arrived at Answer choice A correctly. Mainly, if you negated A the argument would fail. Answer choice D, as you conclude, would strengthen the claim, but it is not a NECESSARY assumption to the argument. Because even if there were a shitload of other toxins present in the paintings, that does NOT necessarily mean that the pigments did not cause the lead poisoning.

One thing to note, however, is if this was a Strengthen question, Answer choice D would be an acceptable answer because of the same reasoning you demonstrated (eliminating alternate causes). However, not all answers that strengthen the claim are necessary assumptions. Necessary assumptions, if negated, should destroy or nearly destroy the entire argument. In this case, it didn't




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