Manhattan LR guide for "Point of Disagreement"

michaelt
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Manhattan LR guide for "Point of Disagreement"

Postby michaelt » Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:27 pm

Sometimes questions asking to identify point of disagreement are misleading. They imply that the disagreement is about something UNDER DISCUSSION, however, this might not be the case. E.g. take a look at

PT37-S2-Q23:
- the first person says "A (antique ivory) and B (new ivory) are independent, thus an increase in A would not affect B"
- the second person says "No, increase in A would increase B, so if you want to decrease B, you do need to decrease A".

Surprisingly, the correct answers is: "these two persons disagree whether a decrease in A would decrease B". While it could be correct that this is what they would disagree about, but this is not what they were discussing, and this is not what they were disagreeing about. Only the second person discussed (by merely proposing) the possibility of a decrease. The first person made no mention of a decrease in A at all (only an increase in A).

Now, Manhattan LR guide specifically advises "DO NOT INFER!", they advise to rely only on what was said specifically. It appears this advise is completely wrong here - I have to make an inference: "if A and B are independent, therefore not only an increase, but a decrease, too, in A would not affect B".

What do you guys think?

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Manhattan LR guide for "Point of Disagreement"

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:30 am

Interesting question michaelt!

I think what's tripping you up here is that you are only focusing on Roxanne's comment after the 'however'. But if you take the part before that, "new ivory and old ivory markets are entirely independent", it's easier to see. That phrase directly and explicitly disagrees with the notion expressed in (B) - that a decrease in one market would cause a decrease in the other. If they are entirely independent, that's not going to happen, ever! Just because Roxanne didn't use the word 'decrease' doesn't mean she hasn't specifically and explicitly disagreed with the idea.

For instance, if my brother insists that the dog likes fried pickles, and I insist that the dog hates everything fried, then we specifically disagree about whether the dog likes fried pickles. Just because I didn't mention pickles doesn't change that.

So, actually, (B) is totally what they disagree about - Roxanne explicitly disagrees with it and Salvador explicitly agrees with it. It might not be what they appear to be disagreeing about, and it might not even be what they each think they are disagreeing about, but it is the one thing we know for absolute certain that they have incompatible opinions on.

Does that make sense?

All that being said, the warning in the LR book might have been more accurately worded "DON'T OVER-INFER". If there is a must-be-true style inference, something that absolutely, positively MUST be true of one speaker, then that's a-okay to include in that speaker's 'list of stuff they can disagree about'. But that's a very high bar - if met, we can think of those things as being as good as stated explicitly.

The warning is meant to keep students from making the all too common bad inferences: 'well, Joe believes X, so it seems reasonable that he would as a result believe Y', or 'Joe is discussing subcategory blah, so he probably feels the same way about the larger category bleh'. Don't go there, that path will only lead to tears.

michaelt
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Re: Manhattan LR guide for "Point of Disagreement"

Postby michaelt » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:37 pm

Christine - thanks for the answer.

While Roxanne mentioned about markets being entirely independent, this point has no weight in her argument. Her point was about moving people from one market to another: those who buy new ivory should buy antique ivory. The point about markets being independent actually makes the argument somewhat self-contradictory: Roxanne suggests an increase in antique market by moving people from one market to another would actually cause a decrease in the new ivory market (thus, the goal of protecting elephants would be achieved). In other words, markets are not actually independent as Roxanne claims.

The point of markets being independent was introduced by the LSAT makers to deliberately make the question as confusing as possible. We have to disregard what Roxanne actually talked about, and focus on one phrase that is not connected to anything, and then make an inference from this single phrase.

BPlaura
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Re: Manhattan LR guide for "Point of Disagreement"

Postby BPlaura » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:43 pm

michaelt wrote:We have to disregard what Roxanne actually talked about, and focus on one phrase that is not connected to anything, and then make an inference from this single phrase.


This is a difficult question because, as you've mentioned, the most obvious point of disagreement is not included as an answer choice. However, the prompt/question stem for this question says "A point on which Roxanne’s and Salvador’s views differ is whether." So it doesn't have to be the main point or even a major point of their arguments - it just has to be something about which they explicitly disagree.

michaelt
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Re: Manhattan LR guide for "Point of Disagreement"

Postby michaelt » Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:50 pm

... it just has to be something about which they explicitly disagree.


The question is difficult because the correct answer is about a point that (1) has no bearing on Roxanne argument and to a certain extent even undermines it, and (2) requires to make an inference, so she disagrees implicitly, and not explicitly.

A: Today is Saturday, and since the pool is open this weekend, therefore we can go there today.
B: The pool was supposed to be open on Saturday only, but due to an unfinished repair project it will remain closed for one more month. Therefore, you cannot go there today.

A point on which A's and B's views differ is whether

- the obvious answer: the pool is open today.
- the LSAT answer: the pool was supposed to be open on Saturday only.

To arrive to the LSAT answer, I must disregard the entire arguments, and make an inference from the irrelevant point: the pool is open this weekend, so this means on Sunday, too, and this means not only on Saturday.

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Manhattan LR guide for "Point of Disagreement"

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:16 pm

michaelt wrote:
... it just has to be something about which they explicitly disagree.


The question is difficult because the correct answer is about a point that (1) has no bearing on Roxanne argument and to a certain extent even undermines it, and (2) requires to make an inference, so she disagrees implicitly, and not explicitly.

A: Today is Saturday, and since the pool is open this weekend, therefore we can go there today.
B: The pool was supposed to be open on Saturday only, but due to an unfinished repair project it will remain closed for one more month. Therefore, you cannot go there today.

A point on which A's and B's views differ is whether

- the obvious answer: the pool is open today.
- the LSAT answer: the pool was supposed to be open on Saturday only.

To arrive to the LSAT answer, I must disregard the entire arguments, and make an inference from the irrelevant point: the pool is open this weekend, so this means on Sunday, too, and this means not only on Saturday.



Yes, to answer point-of-disagreement questions correctly, you typically have to ignore the main point of the argument. That's actually kind of the whole purpose of the question type. It's not difficult to figure out the big picture 'what' that they are discussing, so it's not a very interesting question to ask people. It's much more interesting to see if people are able to avoid being distracted by all the fluff and focus on what they know for sure.

That's why you have to take each answer choice and ask yourself "do I know what Person A thinks about this, for certain?" and "do I know what Person B thinks about this, for certain?". It's *easy* to get blinded by their main points - that's the trap.

And I wouldn't really call this disagreement an inference, but that's a semantics issue. I would say that "the pool is open all weekend" explicitly disagrees with "the pool is only open Saturday". The way you're using explicit and implicit, nothing could ever be considered "explicit" unless it used the exact same phrasing, which is a little intense.

Here's what I think an actual inference disagreement would look like:

    Joe: All chocobos are monsters. All monsters are evil.
    Jack. I have a pet chocobo who isn't evil!
We have to combine Joe's two statements to get the inferred concept "all chocobos are evil". It's fully supported, it's a valid inference, and it would be the (implicit) point of disagreement.

But that distinction is not terrifically important. What is important, though, is understanding that someone can absolutely be 'the point of disagreement' between two parties and not be *either person's* main point. The whole 'main point' business is not really relevant to the task at hand, which is finding what item you know for sure the two people disagree on!




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