LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Reframe
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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby Reframe » Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:15 pm

bp shinners wrote:
bp shinners wrote:
Reframe wrote:The question of "softness" isn't a question of whether there's more than one right answer; there never is.


Didn't say there was :) I said it's the same principle in that, sometimes, the LSAT says stuff that it doesn't mean, or at least it could say in a more precise manner.

And I agree with everything you said except for your classification of Parallel and Parallel Flaw questions - the correct answer choices match up with the structure/flaw in question, and any other answer choice that would be correct would, at most, be as correct as the credited response.


Thinking about it more, I'm not sure I fully agree with you for Strengthen and Weaken questions either, and thinking about that while walking my dog has led me to, what I believe, is the most problematic issue with this question.

For a Strengthen/Weaken question, when I come to an answer that strengthens or weakens the argument, I know none of the other answer choices are going to do so. Sure, there might be a possible answer choice that strengthens the argument in the stimulus more, but I can say, with 100% certainty, that it won't be an option. Because then there would be two answers that strengthen the argument, and the LSAT hasn't asked you to make that call. I can deal with each answer choice on its own terms; I don't have to compare it to others to get my correct answer.

Same with traditional Parallel and Parallel Flaw questions - I could read an answer choice and either eliminate it or circle it on its own terms. I didn't have to read the others, because each answer was either Parallel to the argument, or it featured the same flaw, and was correct; or it didn't, and was incorrect. There was no need to look at multiple answers to see which one was closer.

This question is the flipside of that - I don't have 2 answers that I'm deciding between. I have 0 answers that I'm deciding between, because I would have eliminated the correct answer here because even the LSAC admits it isn't completely parallel. That's never happened before. So now, this question is no longer asking me to positively identify something that is parallel, but rather it's asking me to look at each answer choice and find the one that is the least non-parallel. I can't deal with each AC on its own terms because, in doing so, I don't get the correct answer here.

That's, I think, my issue with this question.


Well, maybe you've been tutoring from a different set of PTs than me. :lol: In my experience, there's often an answer choice that could strengthen or weaken an argument, or that seems to strengthen or weaken an argument a little, or parallel answer choices that look right until I see the one that's really right, or necessary assumptions that kind of pass a negation test but don't quite, etc. And the very common experience students have, of being between two answer choices, bears this out to some degree.

In any event, the problem here wasn't with the answer choice, it was with the prompt. So your analysis is kind of pointed at the wrong feature of the question. Of course if you come out of the prompt not quite seeing what they're getting at you won't be too confident picking any answer choice "on its own terms".

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby bp shinners » Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:48 pm

Reframe wrote:Well, maybe you've been tutoring from a different set of PTs than me. :lol: In my experience, there's often an answer choice that could strengthen or weaken an argument, or that seems to strengthen or weaken an argument a little, or parallel answer choices that look right until I see the one that's really right, or necessary assumptions that kind of pass a negation test but don't quite, etc. And the very common experience students have, of being between two answer choices, bears this out to some degree.


Well, to be blunt, if you think one answer choice strengthens the answer choice and then find the real answer, you were wrong the first time. An explanation for why a strengthen question AC is incorrect will never be, "It strengthens it, but not as much as this other one." It will be, "That AC doesn't actually strengthen because..." Same with your other examples.

I'm not saying I've never gone through a question and had to re-read an AC before I decided it was correct/incorrect. I'm just saying that for every other question I've ever come across, you absolutely could eliminate every other answer choice because it was wrong, and pick the correct answer choice because it absolutely was correct. It was never a matter of going back to those two you were between and picking the better one; it was a matter of going back and figuring out why you were wrong in your assessment of one of them. For this one, there is no "correct" answer choice, just one that's not as wrong as the others.

In any event, the problem here wasn't with the answer choice, it was with the prompt. So your analysis is kind of pointed at the wrong feature of the question. Of course if you come out of the prompt not quite seeing what they're getting at you won't be too confident picking any answer choice "on its own terms".


Nope, the prompt isn't the issue. The issue is what the test is getting at. The prompts are shortcuts for what the testmakers are trying to get you to do. Even with the language in the prompt such as "most similar," that's never played into the answer choice before.

I'm not arguing that, taken literally, the prompt isn't asking for exactly what it got in this question. I'm arguing that the test has never before given me a Parallel question (or any question, for that matter, except maybe a few Resolve questions since they play a little fast and loose with the logic there) where I would justifiably eliminate an answer for not being Parallel, only to have to go back and find the one that has the fewest things wrong with it. They wouldn't have to change the prompt to make that the new style, but it would change the way that the test should be approached.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby Reframe » Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:21 pm

Sorry - when I say "prompt", I mean the paragraph above. I use "question" to indicate the question.

I'll leave this discussion as it stands. I don't think much productive is going to come from extending it; we obviously have divergent impressions of this test. Let me know if you find any of those flawed pure parallels you were talking about.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby Dr. Dre » Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:37 pm

I love seeing these two LSAT giants go at it.

Will my LSAT skills improve by reading what you guys write? 8)

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby bp shinners » Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:52 pm

Dr. Dre wrote:I love seeing these two LSAT giants go at it.

Will my LSAT skills improve by reading what you guys write? 8)


Probably not over the past 2 pages - it's mostly navel gazing.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:00 pm

Reframe wrote:
bp shinners wrote:
bp shinners wrote:
Reframe wrote:The question of "softness" isn't a question of whether there's more than one right answer; there never is.


Didn't say there was :) I said it's the same principle in that, sometimes, the LSAT says stuff that it doesn't mean, or at least it could say in a more precise manner.

And I agree with everything you said except for your classification of Parallel and Parallel Flaw questions - the correct answer choices match up with the structure/flaw in question, and any other answer choice that would be correct would, at most, be as correct as the credited response.


Thinking about it more, I'm not sure I fully agree with you for Strengthen and Weaken questions either, and thinking about that while walking my dog has led me to, what I believe, is the most problematic issue with this question.

For a Strengthen/Weaken question, when I come to an answer that strengthens or weakens the argument, I know none of the other answer choices are going to do so. Sure, there might be a possible answer choice that strengthens the argument in the stimulus more, but I can say, with 100% certainty, that it won't be an option. Because then there would be two answers that strengthen the argument, and the LSAT hasn't asked you to make that call. I can deal with each answer choice on its own terms; I don't have to compare it to others to get my correct answer.

Same with traditional Parallel and Parallel Flaw questions - I could read an answer choice and either eliminate it or circle it on its own terms. I didn't have to read the others, because each answer was either Parallel to the argument, or it featured the same flaw, and was correct; or it didn't, and was incorrect. There was no need to look at multiple answers to see which one was closer.

This question is the flipside of that - I don't have 2 answers that I'm deciding between. I have 0 answers that I'm deciding between, because I would have eliminated the correct answer here because even the LSAC admits it isn't completely parallel. That's never happened before. So now, this question is no longer asking me to positively identify something that is parallel, but rather it's asking me to look at each answer choice and find the one that is the least non-parallel. I can't deal with each AC on its own terms because, in doing so, I don't get the correct answer here.

That's, I think, my issue with this question.


Well, maybe you've been tutoring from a different set of PTs than me. :lol: In my experience, there's often an answer choice that could strengthen or weaken an argument, or that seems to strengthen or weaken an argument a little, or parallel answer choices that look right until I see the one that's really right, or necessary assumptions that kind of pass a negation test but don't quite, etc. And the very common experience students have, of being between two answer choices, bears this out to some degree.

In any event, the problem here wasn't with the answer choice, it was with the prompt. So your analysis is kind of pointed at the wrong feature of the question. Of course if you come out of the prompt not quite seeing what they're getting at you won't be too confident picking any answer choice "on its own terms".


I have to chime in on this one. There are never two answers that strengthen an argument. One of them might seem like it does, but there's always an air-tight explanation for why it doesn't.

I say this having written complete explanations for over 20 LSATs. And had many students come to me convinced that multiple answers were right. I've never found an exception.

If you've got one, I would LOVE to hear about it. But I suspect there's a flaw.

That's the genius of this test. It's possible to get a question right AND make several errors at the same time. Common, I'd say.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby Reframe » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:13 pm

Graeme (Hacking the LSAT) wrote:I have to chime in on this one. There are never two answers that strengthen an argument. One of them might seem like it does, but there's always an air-tight explanation for why it doesn't.

I say this having written complete explanations for over 20 LSATs. And had many students come to me convinced that multiple answers were right. I've never found an exception.

If you've got one, I would LOVE to hear about it. But I suspect there's a flaw.

That's the genius of this test. It's possible to get a question right AND make several errors at the same time. Common, I'd say.


Yeah, it might not be there with strengthen questions. I'm fairly sure it's there with some other question types - it's one of the most important things distinguishing "most strongly support" questions from tighter inference stems, for example. (Or else I just really just don't like telling students they're completely wrong!)

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:06 pm

Reframe wrote:
Graeme (Hacking the LSAT) wrote:I have to chime in on this one. There are never two answers that strengthen an argument. One of them might seem like it does, but there's always an air-tight explanation for why it doesn't.

I say this having written complete explanations for over 20 LSATs. And had many students come to me convinced that multiple answers were right. I've never found an exception.

If you've got one, I would LOVE to hear about it. But I suspect there's a flaw.

That's the genius of this test. It's possible to get a question right AND make several errors at the same time. Common, I'd say.


Yeah, it might not be there with strengthen questions. I'm fairly sure it's there with some other question types - it's one of the most important things distinguishing "most strongly support" questions from tighter inference stems, for example. (Or else I just really just don't like telling students they're completely wrong!)


I find with MSS, the wiggle room is with the right answer, but not with multiple answers. I would actually love to see any counterexamples if you have them.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby Reframe » Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:45 pm

Graeme (Hacking the LSAT) wrote:I find with MSS, the wiggle room is with the right answer, but not with multiple answers. I would actually love to see any counterexamples if you have them.


Found an example with another type - just because I had PT47 open from looking at the parallel-flaw question Shinners mentioned - PT47.3#14 is a classic kind of weaken question with one correct answer and one kind-of-correct answer. (B) clearly weakens the argument a little bit: a negative side effect, if it's serious enough, is always a reason to reconsider a medical recommendation. But (A) strikes at the core of the recommendation. Now it's true that (A) is the kind of answer we hope and expect to see, but it's just false to say that (B) doesn't weaken the recommendation, and I'm fairly sure (well, I'd need more examples to really argue this!) that every now and then you'll see a weaken question where a (B)-type answer is correct.

I also found a flawed pure parallel question in the next test, but it's a pretty weird one, so I think it's probably not the one Shinners was thinking of - PT48.1#12.

This might not be exactly what you were looking for, but a great example of a most strongly support question where the strength of one answer choice is made clear in the context of another answer choice is from the very next test after that: PT49.2#20. It's really in relation to (B) that it's clear that (E) isn't the answer. Also note the following: To answer the question, we're required to make an assumption about what we should do: i.e., we shouldn't poison the ash or air, we shouldn't contaminate groundwater, etc. But an inference that makes sense given an implicit assumption is precisely the sort of tempting but wrong answer that'll come up second-best in other most strongly supports (and must be trues, etc.). And the assumption that would justify (E) is not, when you think about it, so much more outrageous than the assumption that would justify (B); all we would need is to say that, first of all, we shouldn't contaminate groundwater, and second of all, perfect operating conditions are rare. One assumption is better than two. But zero assumptions is better than one. Shinners was suggesting that we should be able to pick (B) on its own, and to rule out (E) on its own, without looking at the other answer choices at all. It seems clear to me just on this cursory analysis that I've done here that this is impossible even in principle.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:12 pm

Reframe wrote:
Graeme (Hacking the LSAT) wrote:I find with MSS, the wiggle room is with the right answer, but not with multiple answers. I would actually love to see any counterexamples if you have them.


Found an example with another type - just because I had PT47 open from looking at the parallel-flaw question Shinners mentioned - PT47.3#14 is a classic kind of weaken question with one correct answer and one kind-of-correct answer. (B) clearly weakens the argument a little bit: a negative side effect, if it's serious enough, is always a reason to reconsider a medical recommendation. But (A) strikes at the core of the recommendation. Now it's true that (A) is the kind of answer we hope and expect to see, but it's just false to say that (B) doesn't weaken the recommendation, and I'm fairly sure (well, I'd need more examples to really argue this!) that every now and then you'll see a weaken question where a (B)-type answer is correct.

I also found a flawed pure parallel question in the next test, but it's a pretty weird one, so I think it's probably not the one Shinners was thinking of - PT48.1#12.

This might not be exactly what you were looking for, but a great example of a most strongly support question where the strength of one answer choice is made clear in the context of another answer choice is from the very next test after that: PT49.2#20. It's really in relation to (B) that it's clear that (E) isn't the answer. Also note the following: To answer the question, we're required to make an assumption about what we should do: i.e., we shouldn't poison the ash or air, we shouldn't contaminate groundwater, etc. But an inference that makes sense given an implicit assumption is precisely the sort of tempting but wrong answer that'll come up second-best in other most strongly supports (and must be trues, etc.). And the assumption that would justify (E) is not, when you think about it, so much more outrageous than the assumption that would justify (B); all we would need is to say that, first of all, we shouldn't contaminate groundwater, and second of all, perfect operating conditions are rare. One assumption is better than two. But zero assumptions is better than one. Shinners was suggesting that we should be able to pick (B) on its own, and to rule out (E) on its own, without looking at the other answer choices at all. It seems clear to me just on this cursory analysis that I've done here that this is impossible even in principle.


Very interesting, thanks. For a question like PT47.3#14 I usually tell students we must take a 'weaken' statement at it's weakest form to see if it weakens an argument.

But, and here's the interesting part, I also tell students that a weaken answer is correct, even if it only slightly weakens the argument. And I think I have claimed that answers like B do weaken the argument slightly.

Those two ideas are contradictory, assuming there actually are credited answers like B, with a 'many' statement that might harm the conclusion or might not. I'd need to find an example to be sure.

For PT48.1#12, I've seen plenty of parallel questions that are actually flawed. When I worked at Testmasters, I remember Robin Singh confirmed this could happen.

PT49.2#20 is also interesting, because the correct answer says 'should'. I usually think that principles can't be assumed. Maybe this holds more strictly true on questions labelled 'principle'. The line between 'is' and 'should' may be less strict that I've assumed.

I agree that you can't just assumed it's easy or common to operate landfills properly. Eliminating E does only seem possible based on B. I wouldn't say E is a great answer, but if B vanished, I would have felt ok picking it.

Thanks for posting those, makes a few things clearer.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby bp shinners » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:57 pm

Graeme (Hacking the LSAT) wrote:I find with MSS, the wiggle room is with the right answer, but not with multiple answers. I would actually love to see any counterexamples if you have them.


Yep, that would be my explanation, as well. There aren't two good answers; but the right answer has a bit of wiggle room.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby bp shinners » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:15 am

Reframe wrote:Found an example with another type - just because I had PT47 open from looking at the parallel-flaw question Shinners mentioned - PT47.3#14 is a classic kind of weaken question with one correct answer and one kind-of-correct answer. (B) clearly weakens the argument a little bit: a negative side effect, if it's serious enough, is always a reason to reconsider a medical recommendation. But (A) strikes at the core of the recommendation. Now it's true that (A) is the kind of answer we hope and expect to see, but it's just false to say that (B) doesn't weaken the recommendation, and I'm fairly sure (well, I'd need more examples to really argue this!) that every now and then you'll see a weaken question where a (B)-type answer is correct.


As soon as you start throwing "ifs" around, that answer choice is no longer weakening the argument by itself. I don't think you need the "if" here, but that's my rule of thumb.

Here, though, (B) does not weaken the argument. Those side effects are limited to "many" sunblocks (which could mean "all," but, again, then you're assuming things). The people who are allergic (and, again, if the allergy is worse than melanoma and so they need to avoid these sunblocks) can just use other sunblocks.

Graeme, I'm imagining that in the other questions you're thinking of, it was a certainty that the allergic reaction/side effect would affect some people. Here, though, there's no guarantee that anyone would actually suffer from the side effects (heck, mud would count as a sunblock according to the definition in the stimulus, and you won't find many people allergic to that).

I also found a flawed pure parallel question in the next test, but it's a pretty weird one, so I think it's probably not the one Shinners was thinking of - PT48.1#12.


I wasn't thinking of any one in particular, but glad you found one so I don't have to dig those books out :)

This might not be exactly what you were looking for, but a great example of a most strongly support question where the strength of one answer choice is made clear in the context of another answer choice is from the very next test after that: PT49.2#20. It's really in relation to (B) that it's clear that (E) isn't the answer. Also note the following: To answer the question, we're required to make an assumption about what we should do: i.e., we shouldn't poison the ash or air, we shouldn't contaminate groundwater, etc. But an inference that makes sense given an implicit assumption is precisely the sort of tempting but wrong answer that'll come up second-best in other most strongly supports (and must be trues, etc.). And the assumption that would justify (E) is not, when you think about it, so much more outrageous than the assumption that would justify (B); all we would need is to say that, first of all, we shouldn't contaminate groundwater, and second of all, perfect operating conditions are rare. One assumption is better than two. But zero assumptions is better than one. Shinners was suggesting that we should be able to pick (B) on its own, and to rule out (E) on its own, without looking at the other answer choices at all. It seems clear to me just on this cursory analysis that I've done here that this is impossible even in principle.


I disagree :)

To me, you absolutely can pick (B) on its own, and you absolutely can rule (E) out on its own.

If I incinerate these old appliances, heavy metals poison the ash and escape into the air. Poison* has absolutely no positive connotations.

(E) would be fine if it just rested on not contaminating groundwater, as the LSAT "assumes" that pollution is bad. But your second assumption kills this answer choice, so I'd throw it out on its own terms. Even without (B), I wouldn't pick (E).

So for the sake of argumentation, I'll concede that both of these have a similar assumption - pollution is bad. I'm going to say that's not an assumption (as being harmful is part of the definition of pollution), but if you want to, that's fine. However, that's an "assumption" the LSAT always lets you make. Which again reinforces the idea that you need to keep the overall history of the test in mind when studying for and teaching the exam.

So in my cursory analysis, it is possible to eliminate the one and pick the other on their own terms.

(And, as a side note, the other "assumption" allowed on the test is that voting in a democracy is a good thing.)

*Edit
To say that this is only the case if you discount the Bret Michaels-fronted band. Which you should never do. Just when you count them out, they come roaring back up the tracks.
Last edited by bp shinners on Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby Reframe » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:21 am

bp shinners wrote:I disagree :)

To me, you absolutely can pick (B) on its own, and you absolutely can rule (E) out on its own.

If I incinerate these old appliances, heavy metals poison the ash and escape into the air. Poison has absolutely no positive connotations.

(E) would be fine if it just rested on not contaminating groundwater, as the LSAT "assumes" that pollution is bad. But your second assumption kills this answer choice, so I'd throw it out on its own terms. Even without (B), I wouldn't pick (E).

So for the sake of argumentation, I'll concede that both of these have a similar assumption - pollution is bad. I'm going to say that's not an assumption (as being harmful is part of the definition of pollution), but if you want to, that's fine. However, that's an "assumption" the LSAT always lets you make. Which again reinforces the idea that you need to keep the overall history of the test in mind when studying for and teaching the exam.

So in my cursory analysis, it is possible to eliminate the one and pick the other on their own terms.

(And, as a side note, the other "assumption" allowed on the test is that voting in a democracy is a good thing.)


Can you show me an example of "pollution is bad" being an "allowed" assumption in a question type that's not as soft - like must be true or sufficient assumption? If that's really an assumption the test always lets you make, you'll be able to find a tighter question type where we're allowed to make it. By the way, the question isn't whether being harmful is part of the definition of pollution; it's whether there's a "should" in the definition of pollution. As a general rule (with some exceptions - but never on the tightest question types), all "should" premises on the LSAT must be made explicit; this is what justify-principle questions are about, and beyond that, it's just good argumentation.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby bp shinners » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:50 am

Reframe wrote:Can you show me an example of "pollution is bad" being an "allowed" assumption in a question type that's not as soft - like must be true or sufficient assumption? If that's really an assumption the test always lets you make, you'll be able to find a tighter question type where we're allowed to make it. By the way, the question isn't whether being harmful is part of the definition of pollution; it's whether there's a "should" in the definition of pollution. As a general rule (with some exceptions - but never on the tightest question types), all "should" premises on the LSAT must be made explicit; this is what justify-principle questions are about, and beyond that, it's just good argumentation.


I'd throw an example from a strengthen/weaken question at you (since that's the one I have on the top of my head), but I think you'd say that's a "soft" question, so we're just going to have to agree to disagree here. But, again, pollution being bad isn't an assumption - it's part of the definition of the word. And, anyway, we're just butting heads.

As far as the "should," this isn't the tightest question type; this is a soft Must Be True question. And "assumptions" likes "you shouldn't pollute" are exactly the type of "assumptions" that this question type lets you make.

The ones they don't let you make, however, are ones like, "At least some of these appliances would end up at a poorly-operated landfill" (paraphrasing since I don't remember the question exactly). (E) is absolutely wrong for that reason alone, and I don't need the context of (B) for that.

And with that, I bow out.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby Jeffort » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:29 am

Reframe wrote:By the way, the question isn't whether being harmful is part of the definition of pollution; it's whether there's a "should" in the definition of pollution. As a general rule (with some exceptions - but never on the tightest question types), all "should" premises on the LSAT must be made explicit; this is what justify-principle questions are about, and beyond that, it's just good argumentation.


As Shinners pointed out, you don't have to assume that pollution is bad for the environment since by definition pollution is harmful to the environment, and by definition harmful things are bad for whatever is being harmed. These are just common sense definitions/meaning of the words being used in the stimulus.

From a standpoint of valid reasoning and logic to support a recommendation/prescriptive (should) conclusion I understand the point you are making about wanting a premise that contains a value judgement principle about what we should or should not do/seek to achieve since according to rules of logic a prescriptive conclusion needs to be backed up with a prescriptive premise to be considered valid. With that in mind you are really arguing that since the stimulus doesn't state that we should not harm/do bad things to/pollute the environment, we need to assume that principle as a premise to support (B).

However, with the question as constructed you do not need to make any such unwarranted/unsupported assumption to support the correct answer choice, it is already implied in the question. The stimulus is presented as statements from an Environmentalist. By definition, an environmentalist is "A person who is concerned with or advocates the protection of the environment", which gives us the tacit premise that, according to his/her point of view, we should not do things that harm the environment. The question stem tells us to find an inference supported by the statements of the environmentalist so it's fair to take his/her tacit/known point of view towards the environment into account when evaluating whether the statement in the answer choice is well supported or not by what he said.

Similar to the question this thread started about, having an identified source of the stimulus (journalist, environmentalist, politician, scientist, etc.) can and sometimes does establish tacit premises that are fair game to use in the reasoning as if they were explicitly stated.

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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby Reframe » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:51 am

Jeffort wrote:
Reframe wrote:By the way, the question isn't whether being harmful is part of the definition of pollution; it's whether there's a "should" in the definition of pollution. As a general rule (with some exceptions - but never on the tightest question types), all "should" premises on the LSAT must be made explicit; this is what justify-principle questions are about, and beyond that, it's just good argumentation.


As Shinners pointed out, you don't have to assume that pollution is bad for the environment since by definition pollution is harmful to the environment, and by definition harmful things are bad for whatever is being harmed. These are just common sense definitions/meaning of the words being used in the stimulus.

From a standpoint of valid reasoning and logic to support a recommendation/prescriptive (should) conclusion I understand the point you are making about wanting a premise that contains a value judgement principle about what we should or should not do/seek to achieve since according to rules of logic a prescriptive conclusion needs to be backed up with a prescriptive premise to be considered valid. With that in mind you are really arguing that since the stimulus doesn't state that we should not harm/do bad things to/pollute the environment, we need to assume that principle as a premise to support (B).

However, with the question as constructed you do not need to make any such unwarranted/unsupported assumption to support the correct answer choice, it is already implied in the question. The stimulus is presented as statements from an Environmentalist. By definition, an environmentalist is "A person who is concerned with or advocates the protection of the environment", which gives us the tacit premise that, according to his/her point of view, we should not do things that harm the environment. The question stem tells us to find an inference supported by the statements of the environmentalist so it's fair to take his/her tacit/known point of view towards the environment into account when evaluating whether the statement in the answer choice is well supported or not by what he said.


Yeah, I gave this some thought as I was writing up some of my previous posts, but I don't really buy it, just like I didn't buy the part of LSAC's letter that concerned the fact that the speaker at issue was a journalist. In fact, we need a stronger assumption than mere environmentalism to get us to either (B) or (E). It needs to be explicitly put in terms of a "should" (e.g., "If doing X is bad for the environment, we should not do X") in order to generate the conclusion. Imagine, for example, that the refrigerators or whatever, if neither put it in a landfill nor incinerated, would gain sentience overnight and attack the large metropolitan area nearby, killing all the residents and destroying all human-made structures, but that they would then go on to dispose of themselves in an environmentally friendly way unknown to man. This would be a net gain for the environment (assuming they were also environmentally conscious in how they disposed of the humans and destroyed the city), but obviously no (or almost no) environmentalist would find it preferable to the landfill or the incinerator. Actually, more or less any real-world "ism" is like this: it indicates a kind of ceteris paribus belief that's part of a network of values and principles. That means it is without question insufficient to generate a "tight" conclusion in a deductive fashion. Which is exactly my point: A most strongly supported question is not always airtight, and just how airtight it will be is impossible to figure out without looking at the answer choices.

bp shinners
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Re: LSAC responded to my claim that a question was flawed.

Postby bp shinners » Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:56 am

Reframe wrote:Imagine, for example, that the refrigerators or whatever, if neither put it in a landfill nor incinerated, would gain sentience overnight and attack the large metropolitan area nearby, killing all the residents and destroying all human-made structures, but that they would then go on to dispose of themselves in an environmentally friendly way unknown to man.


And when that's the reason that you feel an answer choice isn't air-tight, you have the correct answer to a "Most Strongly Supported" (or, as we call them, Soft Must Be True) question.




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