The function of "if" in answer choices

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WaltGrace83
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The function of "if" in answer choices

Postby WaltGrace83 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:48 pm

While drilling Principle Questions, I came to this really quirky problem...PT 29, S4, Q17.

Certain factors increase/undermine a witness's confidence (though doesn't affect accuracy)

Police officers shouldn't have witnesses be able to hear one another in identifying suspects

Answer choices (C) and (E) specifically (though B does this too with the word "unless") give us a principle that relies on "if," a conditional.

(C) If X happens, it is more likely that Y happens.
(E) Accuracy is doubtful if X happens

(B) If ~X then accuracy cannot be trusted.

When thinking about these conditionals and thinking about the question, there is no way to prove anything about whether or not X does or doesn't happen. From this conclusion, couldn't I eliminate (C), (E), and (B) just because of that?

This seems like a big breakthrough if my thinking is correct.

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FlyingNorth
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Re: The function of "if" in answer choices

Postby FlyingNorth » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:53 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:While drilling Principle Questions, I came to this really quirky problem...PT 29, S4, Q17.

Certain factors increase/undermine a witness's confidence (though doesn't affect accuracy)

Police officers shouldn't have witnesses be able to hear one another in identifying suspects

Answer choices (C) and (E) specifically (though B does this too with the word "unless") give us a principle that relies on "if," a conditional.

(C) If X happens, it is more likely that Y happens.
(E) Accuracy is doubtful if X happens

(B) If ~X then accuracy cannot be trusted.

When thinking about these conditionals and thinking about the question, there is no way to prove anything about whether or not X does or doesn't happen. From this conclusion, couldn't I eliminate (C), (E), and (B) just because of that?

This seems like a big breakthrough if my thinking is correct.


I believe that you assume "if each answer choice is true, which one would reflect the principle?"

BPlaura
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Re: The function of "if" in answer choices

Postby BPlaura » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:02 pm

For this question, you're essentially just looking for a principle that matches the situation in the stimulus.

For all of the "if" statements you've identified, the sufficient condition is not mentioned in the stimulus (we don't know whether X happened), so you can eliminate those answer choices for that reason. For instance, we have no idea whether several suspects identified the same eyewitness, so we can't say that that is an underlying principle.

"If" also plays an important role in the answer choices for other types of questions, even aside from ones where the stimulus has a bunch of conditional statements. There are situations when you should be hoping to see "if" in an answer choice. For instance, many sufficient assumption questions follow an "if X, then Y" format.

It's also not uncommon to see "most strongly supported" questions where there are two incompatible possibilities, X and Y. (Look at PT40 S3 Q11 for an example.) The correct answer will say "If X is not the case, then Y."

So yes, "if" absolutely plays an important role in answer choices!

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WaltGrace83
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Re: The function of "if" in answer choices

Postby WaltGrace83 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:15 pm

BPlaura wrote:For this question, you're essentially just looking for a principle that matches the situation in the stimulus.

For all of the "if" statements you've identified, the sufficient condition is not mentioned in the stimulus (we don't know whether X happened), so you can eliminate those answer choices for that reason. For instance, we have no idea whether several suspects identified the same eyewitness, so we can't say that that is an underlying principle.

"If" also plays an important role in the answer choices for other types of questions, even aside from ones where the stimulus has a bunch of conditional statements. There are situations when you should be hoping to see "if" in an answer choice. For instance, many sufficient assumption questions follow an "if X, then Y" format.

It's also not uncommon to see "most strongly supported" questions where there are two incompatible possibilities, X and Y. (Look at PT40 S3 Q11 for an example.) The correct answer will say "If X is not the case, then Y."

So yes, "if" absolutely plays an important role in answer choices!


So, from what I have gathered, when an answer choice gives a sufficient condition that is not stated in the argument, it cannot be a correct answer.

I looked at that example yet it only leads me to another, probably less serious, question. It talks about how psychologists believe X, or that this practice hurts self-esteem. The correct answer choice talks about how if X happened, then we can conclude Y. Now we don't really know if X actually is the case or not - we don't know if what the psychologists are saying is true yet, because this is a most strongly supported question, would the psychologist's belief that X happened be enough to support that X actually did happen?

I am assuming so as the nature of an inference question is very different from the nature of pretty much any other question on the LSAT.

BPlaura
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Re: The function of "if" in answer choices

Postby BPlaura » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:32 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:So, from what I have gathered, when an answer choice gives a sufficient condition that is not stated in the argument, it cannot be a correct answer.


In general, I'd say this is correct. Off the top of my head I can't think of a time when such an answer choice would be the correct answer, but I might be forgetting something.

WaltGrace83 wrote:Now we don't really know if X actually is the case or not - we don't know if what the psychologists are saying is true yet, because this is a most strongly supported question, would the psychologist's belief that X happened be enough to support that X actually did happen?


If I'm understanding your question correctly, it's a little more complicated than that. We know that the psychologists believe two things: 1) that this practice leads to loss of self-esteem, and 2) that if you damage a kid's self-esteem, that kid will have less confidence as an adult. Based on what follows in the argument, we can figure out that at least one, if not both, of those beliefs is inaccurate.

Note that the correct answer doesn't actually say that either of them is the case - it just says that IF the psychologists are right about belief #2, then they're definitely not right about belief #1. So we're never actually assuming that either belief is correct - we're just saying that *if* one of them is correct, the other isn't.




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