LR question from June 2000

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LR question from June 2000

Postby Dixi » Wed May 18, 2011 1:13 pm

Can someone please help me understand the following question? It can be found on page 92 of the LRB:

One of the most vexing problems in historiography is dating an event when the usual sources offer conflicting chronologies of the event. Historians should attempt to minimize the number of competing sources, perhaps by eliminating the less credible ones. Once this is achieved and several sources are left, as often happens, historians may try, though on occasion unsuccessfully, to determine independently of the usual sources which date is more likely to be right.

Which one of the following inferences is most strongly supported by the information above?

B. Some of the events for which there are conflicting chronologies and for which attempts have been made by historians to determine the right date cannot be dated reliably by historians.

The correct answer is B, but I can’t see how we can infer that “the right date cannot be dated reliably by historians”. “Cannot” implies that it sometimes is impossible to determine the right date, but this is not supported by the stimulus. The stimulus merely suggests that historians, with their current methods, are unable to determine the dates it never says that those dates cannot be determined. What if there are other methods currently not used by the historians to determine the dates?

What is it that I’m not understanding? Am I making a mistake by challenging the assumptions of the author?


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Re: LR question from June 2000

Postby SanDiegoJake » Wed May 18, 2011 2:56 pm

The fact that the stimulus says, "On occasion unsuccessfully" supports the inference that "some" of the events cannot be reliably dated.

Any hypothetical method not used by the historians is irrelevant, as the stimulus and the answer choice only concern historians.

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