I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

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wtrc
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I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby wtrc » Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:48 am

PT 58: Section 4 (LR2), #9.

Inference question, asking "what can be properly inferred."

Stimulus says that (since) a lot of pythons came in from Africa, there are a lot that are inexpensive in pet stores. But many hatched in Africa have a deadly disease, so be careful. Some of them hatched in North America have it too, but a larger proportion of the ones hatched in Africa do. All pythons die within six months of getting this disease.

I got the right answer, it was easy to find compared to the others (B- don't know anything about overall susceptibility, C- they could get the disease after they are born; D- not enough support; E- no support) , but going through the section while I still think while A is the "best" answer, it's not a "correct" answer. I don't think A can be properly inferred. The question stem is asking "what can be properly inferred," not "what can be MOST properly inferred," and a proper inference question, IMO, should be regarded as a "must be true" type question, not "most strongly supported." LSAC usually makes these airtight, but I don't think #9 is such.

Answer choice A says "some pythons hatched in North America MAY appear fine but WILL die within six months AS A RESULT OF contracting the liver disease." (emphasis is mine). How can that be properly inferred based on the information provided? The AC isn't saying that this theoretically COULD happen, it's saying it will happen ("may appear fine but WILL die within 6 months"). And the support isn't there in the stimulus.

The question stem makes clear that all pythons with this disease will die within six months. We don't explicitly know, however, that it's a result of the liver disease. We also know nothing about the lifespan of pythons lacking this disease. Perhaps all pythons only live to be six months old. Perhaps pythons hatched in North America just happen to die early because of something like lack of food. If A was in the stimulus, I could see this being a tough "flaw" question with a correct answer choice being something like "the argument assumes that the pythons with the disease will not die of other causes."

For this stimulus to match up with the correct answer choice, there needs to be a stated and direct causal link-- and that's lacking here. For answer choice A to work, we need to make an assumption that the causal link is there in some capacity, and I don't think that's fitting for the question type.

I remember some guy wrote to LSAC about an issue with a parallel reasoning question (anyone have that link?) and LSAC responded pretty extensively. Thoughts on this one?

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby ScottRiqui » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:15 am

I agree that it's not ironclad, but I still think it's a solid inference. The only way the inference would be incorrect would be if *every single* python in North America with the liver disease somehow died of something else before reaching even six months of age.

And while LSAC doesn't require specialized knowledge, I think most test takers should know that a python's life expectancy is significantly longer than six months.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby neprep » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:17 am

wtrcoins3 wrote:PT 58: Section 4 (LR2), #9.
The question stem makes clear that all pythons with this disease will die within six months. We don't explicitly know, however, that it's a result of the liver disease. We also know nothing about the lifespan of pythons lacking this disease. Perhaps all pythons only live to be six months old. Perhaps pythons hatched in North America just happen to die early because of something like lack of food. If A was in the stimulus, I could see this being a tough "flaw" question with a correct answer choice being something like "the argument assumes that the pythons with the disease will not die of other causes."

For this stimulus to match up with the correct answer choice, there needs to be a stated and direct causal link-- and that's lacking here. For answer choice A to work, we need to make an assumption that the causal link is there in some capacity, and I don't think that's fitting for the question type.

I remember some guy wrote to LSAC about an issue with a parallel reasoning question (anyone have that link?) and LSAC responded pretty extensively. Thoughts on this one?


Hmm, just some thoughts here. The stimulus does describe the disease as "deadly," which the OED defines as "Causing death, or fatal injury; mortal, fatal." So I think the word "deadly," since it's given in the premise and assumed to be true, establishes the causality, since contracting something that is deadly (if it is indeed deadly) will cause the thing that's contracting it to die. So I submit that while buried, the causality isn't lacking completely.

As for writing to LSAC: Do it! There's no harm in doing it, and it will satisfy your curiosity. I think usually you can expect a response in 45 days. Do you really want to be thinking about the LSAT after Oct. 5, though? :)
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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby KingofSplitters55 » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:20 am

If you want the LSAC's official thoughts behind the justification of that answer, then write to them. They are usually pretty reliable about getting back to people with pretty thorough justifications.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby Power Clean » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:21 am

Correct me on this if I'm wrong, but the impression I got the first time I did the passage was that "to hatch" an egg was a human process. "Hatched" in the context of the passage, to me, reads differently than "that hatch," "did hatch," "that hatched," etc. As in, the pet store people or breeders are hatching these eggs for sale in the store. If that's the case, than we definitely know that at least one N. American hatched snake will go for sale to someone who will end up seeing it die in 6 months, despite it appearing healthy, being fed, etc.

Even if it's not the case, the stimulus purports to be causal. Getting the disease causes death within 6 months. It seems pretty safe to infer that at least one snake out there that hatched in N. America will die from contracting it, despite it appearing to be healthy to anyone that happens to see it. Also, it's within six months - that's the upper boundary of the time it takes to die from it.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby Daily_Double » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:48 am

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby 062914123 » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:11 pm

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby Power Clean » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:24 pm

Daily_Double wrote:Perhaps the disease, while deadly, is not in fact the cause of these deaths.

I get what you're saying - the stimulus says that all pythons die within six months of contracting the disease, not necessarily as a result of it like the answer says. We do know that every single snake that gets the deadly liver disease - i.e. including the ones that carry it to term - lives no longer than 6 months. I think it's safe to assume that (1) we're talking about snakes "hatched" in and sold at pet shops, and (2) therefore there's some level of care going on for these snakes.

I don't think it's a stretch to infer that that when you go into a store and look at the healthy snakes, at least one of those healthy snakes may carry the disease that will ultimately cause it's death in a 6 month window of time, regardless of care. I read A to say that - if you buy the healthy snake and love it with all your heart, it may very well be the one that goes belly up in 6 months time for no apparent reason.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby wtrc » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:03 pm

Hi all, thanks for the responses. While I obviously understand why A is the best answer, my issue here is the question stem of "what can be properly inferred." If this were a MSS question, A would be great. And maybe I'm reading it and interpreting it wrongly, but "properly be inferred" to me needs to be absolutely rock solid.

Like D_D was saying, there isn't a causal connection.

If the answer choice was placed directly after the stimulus, I still think a flaw question could be made, with the correct answer being "fails to consider all pythons dying of other causes within 6 months." It would be a tough question and a stretch, but still plausible.

Def nitpicking, but I'm taking it as a sign that I'm (hopefully) ready for October...

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby ScottRiqui » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:12 pm

Yeah, I think your understanding is solid, whether or not your and LSAC agree about terminology. On test day, you would have gotten right answer, and that's what matters.

I don't know whether "properly be inferred" necessarily has to be as airtight as "must be true". I think the inference is proper, simply because the alternative scenario that would make the inference false is such a stretch.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby Power Clean » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:31 pm

ScottRiqui wrote:I don't know whether "properly be inferred" necessarily has to be as airtight as "must be true". I think the inference is proper, simply because the alternative scenario that would make the inference false is such a stretch.

That's what I'm saying :lol: . To argue against the inference that at least one snake will die from a causal disease on the basis that something else might kill it first is to assume that every single N. American snake afflicted with the disease will die of something other than the disease before the disease can kill it. I think it's pretty feasible to say that at least some live to die from it because we established the 6 month upper boundary where they DEFINITELY die from it.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:19 pm

I'm guessing I've heard the statement "I think LSAC is Wrong" about 100 times in my life (from both teachers and students), and I think that in about 97 out of those hundred situations I've been able to say, quite easily, "no" -- but I really think you may have a case here -- Unless I'm missing something, (A) does require us to assume something else doesn't happen to these pythons, and that's a pretty big assumption -- I will say that I imagine the issue is one that LSAC considered carefully and purposefully, and it's very likely (probably more than likely) that I'm missing something --

First, the technical explanation for why (A) is right (which I know others have already mentioned) --

"Some pythons hatched in America..." = "A few pythons recently hatched in America"
"may appear fine" = "is difficult to detect"
"will die within six months" = "all pythons die within six months"
"as a result of the liver disease" = "deadly liver disease."

If you put yourself in the test writer's position -- she has to consistently come up with new, unexpected ways to talk about causation, and she has far fewer vocabulary options than she does when she talks about something like conditional logic -- "deadly" is a way to test your reading ability and to discuss causation -- "deadly" = something that causes death, and as such is used to support "as a result."

Now, the extra-credit stuff about which you and I might be wrong --

Could it be that something else kills the pythons before 6 months? I really don't see why not --

I think it's a somewhat subjective call, based on how you interpret the word "deadly" --

Let's imagine that eating tofu causes us to get some sort of disease (one we currently don't know about). And let's imagine that this disease is such that it would cause anyone who eats tofu to die precisely 300 years after their first bite of the stuff. Now, it causes us to die, but would tofu then be considered "deadly?" I don't think so. Even though the tofu in and of itself has something that can cause us to die, none of us will die from it (because we won't live 300 years). Thus, you could argue that "deadly" only actually applies to things that will cause death, and we can use that reasoning to infer (A) from "deadly" in the stimulus.

However, even though I wrote the above myself, I think it's complete hogwash. In common vernacular, "deadly" refers to something that can cause death for a general, unspecified group -- the fact that the disease is deadly cannot, in my head at least, be used to infer that any of these particular North American pythons will actually die from it.

Again, I reserve my right to be totally wrong here :). Great q, and interested in seeing what LSAC writes back to you.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby wtrc » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:42 pm

Mike: thank you for putting so much more eloquently what I was trying to express :)!

Thanks everyone for the comments. I think I will send LSAC a message, just because I'm curious of the response and justification.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby neprep » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:47 pm

wtrcoins3 wrote:Mike: thank you for putting so much more eloquently what I was trying to express :)!

Thanks everyone for the comments. I think I will send LSAC a message, just because I'm curious of the response and justification.


Are people usually allowed to share this? I'd love to take a look. Keep us informed!

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby wtrc » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:12 pm

neprep wrote:
wtrcoins3 wrote:Mike: thank you for putting so much more eloquently what I was trying to express :)!

Thanks everyone for the comments. I think I will send LSAC a message, just because I'm curious of the response and justification.


Are people usually allowed to share this? I'd love to take a look. Keep us informed!


Will definitely share it, maybe even post a draft! I'll write it later this weekend... going home for Yom Kippur but that ends Saturday night.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby AAJD2B » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:25 pm

I was under the impression that outside speculations can never be used for inference questions. Given solely the information (statement) provided, A is 100% valid and IMHO an ironclad AC we can deduce from what is provided.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby 062914123 » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:40 pm

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby AAJD2B » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:53 pm

bee wrote:
AAJD2B wrote:I was under the impression that outside speculations can never be used for inference questions. Given solely the information (statement) provided, A is 100% valid and IMHO an ironclad AC we can deduce from what is provided.

...how? I would definitely say that A is something we can PROBABLY infer, but I don't think it's ironclad after a close reading of the question. We still have to assume that there's a causal relationship between the liver disease and the pythons' deaths. It's never explicitly stated in the stim.


So we are told we are already two months in, some NA pythons already have this disease and within six months of contract, pythons will die. I was under the impression that the causal link is if contracted within 6 months, pythons will die from the disease.

True, it may not be from the disease itself but inference questions leave no room for outside speculations. Anyway, that's my take on this.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby 062914123 » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:13 pm

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby Power Clean » Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:50 pm

bee wrote:It never says that the pythons die from the disease.

But some snakes do live long enough to die to the disease. The stimulus says that ALL pythons to have EVER contracted the disease die within 6 months. No python in the entire universe that has ever contracted the disease has lived longer than 6 months. That means when you try to control for the every single other causal factor or try to prove them wrong, the absolute best hope for that snake is 6 months before the disease causes the python to drop dead.

One last point - I still think that it's safe to assume that we're talking about a phenomenon that applies to snakes in pet shops. Despite the best attempts at care by hatchers, shop owners, or pet owners, no one can keep these diseased snakes moving through pet shops alive for more than six months.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby 062914123 » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:29 pm

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby ScottRiqui » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:33 pm

bee wrote: I forget, does the stem ask what MUST be true?

Because then A doesn't HAVE to be true. It's like 99.9% likely to be true, but not 100%.


The stem asks "which one of the following statements can be properly inferred".

You're right that A doesn't *have* to be true. The confusion is whether "properly inferred" has to be ironclad and airtight.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby 062914123 » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:38 pm

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby ScottRiqui » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:48 pm

bee wrote:
ScottRiqui wrote:
bee wrote: I forget, does the stem ask what MUST be true?

Because then A doesn't HAVE to be true. It's like 99.9% likely to be true, but not 100%.


The stem asks "which one of the following statements can be properly inferred".

You're right that A doesn't *have* to be true. The confusion is whether "properly inferred" has to be ironclad and airtight.

I was always taught that if something is properly inferred, then it must be 100% true. A quick google confirms this. Will be really interesting to see what LSAC says (:

eta: lol when I did this q, I just selected A and moved on. would never even have noticed the slight equivocation if it hadn't been brought up :oops:


Well then, if LSAC considers "can be properly inferred" to be identical to "must be true", then they messed up the question.

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Re: I think LSAC is Wrong. PT 58, Section 4, #9

Postby Power Clean » Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:43 pm

What do you guys think about ScottRiqui's initial comment, that we can reasonably understand 6 months to be a less than complete segment of the pythons life? I think there's merit to that, and for me it hinges on the pet shop reading. The stimulus offers a warning - those looking to buy a snake must be wary of pet shops recent influx of snakes! Why should we beware? Because some snakes, from Africa and N. America, have this disease, and those that have the disease die within six months. The warning only makes sense if we assume that this is less than the expected lifespan of the snakes typically purchased by pet owners.

I still believe that the only way we could know what the upper limit to their life span with the disease would be if some snakes actually hit that limit or never exceeded it before dying from the disease. It's reasonable to believe that pet snakes regularly live longer than that if we accept the above, so why can't we infer that when one of those snakes (which would otherwise have been expected to live longer, per the warning) hits six months with the disease it will die from it, if not sooner?

Honest question - are we not allowed to make an inference based on an arguments that rely, in part, on an assumption?




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