How much are we supposed to infer of what the author is saying in LR?

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dontsaywhatyoumean

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How much are we supposed to infer of what the author is saying in LR?

Postby dontsaywhatyoumean » Thu Sep 22, 2016 5:27 pm

I seem to infer too much into what the author states.

So for example, one question states (spoiler, pt 72 lr question) :

[+] Spoiler
"Neuroscientists subjected volunteers with amusia - difficulty telling different melodies apart and remembering simple tunes - to shifts in pitch comparable to those that occur when someone plays one piano key and then another. The volunteers were unable to discern a difference between the tones. But the volunteers were able to track timed sequences of musical tones and perceive slight changes in timing."

An incorrect answer choice states: "People who are unable to tell pitches apart in isolation are able to do so in the context of a melody by relying upon timing."

I thought that possibly this is the correct answer because perhaps the experiment they ran had different pitches being played followed immediately by other pitches, therefore any change in timing would only be noticed by a change in pitch (it wasn't as if a pitch was stopped, and then the absence of the pitch would signal the end of the pitch).

I thought I was maybe supposed to assume this because it seemed like that was how the first experiment was perhaps run. Maybe I assumed too much on both counts.

But my question is more, can you EVER read into LR like this?

Clearly pitch is never mentioned as something that these people are able to tell apart even with timing, so this answer choice mentions something that is never mentioned to have happened (and is therefore wrong), but I thought that perhaps I was supposed to infer the possibility of my hypothetical experiment.

Now I recognized that I was assuming a lot, and there were at least two possible experiments, and therefore I chose a stronger answer choice that turned out to be correct, but I'm more concerned about my general misunderstanding of what is to be inferred.

Basically are you never supposed to infer anything that isn't explicitly mentioned? I feel like there are maybe questions where you do infer things (like assumptions that arguments rely (I am not referring to assumption questions)), which would somewhat validate this practice, but I am unsure.
Last edited by dontsaywhatyoumean on Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Deardevil

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Re: How much are we supposed to infer of what the author is saying in LR?

Postby Deardevil » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:08 pm

You might wanna edit your post since not everyone has taken PT 72.

dontsaywhatyoumean wrote:Basically are you never supposed to infer anything that isn't explicitly mentioned? I feel like there are maybe questions where you do infer things (like assumptions that arguments rely (I am not referring to assumption questions)), which would somewhat validate this practice, but I am unsure.


Not exactly. Inferences are basically assumptions, and I'd reckon you were on the right track in "assuming a lot" to get to TCR.
Like a main point question, the answer will not be given to you word-for-word on a silver platter; you're essentially "creating" the conclusion.
And like an assumption question, the answer is unpredictable; it won't necessarily be something that is mentioned in the stimulus,
BUT it can be reasonably inferred/assumed, making it correct.

For example (the following is from one of the earlier PTs),

[+] Spoiler
Numismatist: In medieval Spain, most gold coins were minted from gold mined in West Africa, in the area that is now Senegal.
The gold mined in this region was the purest known. Its gold content of 92% allowed coins to be minted without refining the gold,
and indeed, coins minted from this source of gold can be recognized because they have that gold content.
The mints could refine gold and produced other kinds of coins that had much purer gold content,
but the Senegalese gold was never refined.

Which one of the following inferences about gold coins minted in medieval Spain
is most strongly supported by the information the numismatist gives?

(A) Coins minted from Senegalese gold all contained the same weight, as well as the same proportion of gold.
(B) The source of some refined gold from which coins were minted was unrefined gold with a gold content of less than 92%.
(C) Two coins could have the same monetary value, even though they differed from each other in the percentage of gold they contained.
(D) No gold coins were minted that had a gold content of less than 92%.
(E) The only unrefined gold from which coins could be minted was Senegalese gold.

Breakdown

(A) says Senegalese gold coins are the same weight, and that is where I stopped; where in the stimulus does it mention weight?
(C) says coins can have the same monetary value, but again, what evidence suggests that?
(D) is out because we cannot conclude that minted coins had to have at least a 92% content of gold; plus, it's a little strong.
(E) is equally extreme because there could be other unrefined gold that wasn't Senegalese; we just don't know for sure.

(B) gets the job done;
we know that Senegalese gold was unrefined and the purest of its kind,
so some gold that are refined must have a gold content less than 92%.

I don't think it's explicitly stated that gold WAS refined, only that it can be,
but this AC is definitely provable based on the data, as opposed to the rest.

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bearedman8

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Re: How much are we supposed to infer of what the author is saying in LR?

Postby bearedman8 » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:03 pm

dontsaywhatyoumean wrote:I seem to infer too much into what the author states.

So for example, one question states (spoiler, pt 72 lr question) :

[+] Spoiler
"Neuroscientists subjected volunteers with amusia - difficulty telling different melodies apart and remembering simple tunes - to shifts in pitch comparable to those that occur when someone plays one piano key and then another. The volunteers were unable to discern a difference between the tones. But the volunteers were able to track timed sequences of musical tones and perceive slight changes in timing."

An incorrect answer choice states: "People who are unable to tell pitches apart in isolation are able to do so in the context of a melody by relying upon timing."

I thought that possibly this is the correct answer because perhaps the experiment they ran had different pitches being played followed immediately by other pitches, therefore any change in timing would only be noticed by a change in pitch (it wasn't as if a pitch was stopped, and then the absence of the pitch would signal the end of the pitch).

I thought I was maybe supposed to assume this because it seemed like that was how the first experiment was perhaps run. Maybe I assumed too much on both counts.

But my question is more, can you EVER read into LR like this?

Clearly pitch is never mentioned as something that these people are able to tell apart even with timing, so this answer choice mentions something that is never mentioned to have happened (and is therefore wrong), but I thought that perhaps I was supposed to infer the possibility of my hypothetical experiment.

Now I recognized that I was assuming a lot, and there were at least two possible experiments, and therefore I chose a stronger answer choice that turned out to be correct, but I'm more concerned about my general misunderstanding of what is to be inferred.

Basically are you never supposed to infer anything that isn't explicitly mentioned? I feel like there are maybe questions where you do infer things (like assumptions that arguments rely (I am not referring to assumption questions)), which would somewhat validate this practice, but I am unsure.


You're only allowed to assume things that a reasonable person would assume upon reading the stimulus (and understanding it). For example, you can assume that the scientists conducted the experiment properly, or that the volunteers for the experiment actually had the disorder. If your assumption/inference requires a leap in logic to be supportable, then you need to consider the stimulus and ask yourself whether or not that leap is either supportable or reasonable. For MSS questions, take the premises at face value and then ask yourself what is most likely true based on them.

[+] Spoiler
In the case of your example question, it basically comes down to the following: an experiment shows that volunteers with amusia were unable to discern differences in tone but were able to discern differences in timing. You don't need to assume anything in order to arrive at the correct answer, which basically just says that amusia is more a problem about tone than it is a problem about timing.

Furthermore, the incorrect answer "People who are unable to tell pitches apart in isolation are able to do so in the context of a melody by relying upon timing" can be disqualified purely on the basis that it talks about people in general, rather than people with amusia. The assumption that you held in order to support this answer choice is further unsupportable by the stimulus.


On any question where you feel like you're making a pretty big assumption/inference to get to the correct answer, take a step back and try to eliminate incorrect answer choices rather than find the correct answer choice. If two or more answers seem equally compelling, ask yourself what assumptions you are making in order for each answer to work and then eliminate on the basis of what assumptions are least bigger/less supportable. Also check the language and the modifiers that are used. Did we shift from talking about many to most? Is the population in this answer choice a different one than the one in the stimulus? On difficult inference questions, a single word is often the only reason why an answer choice is incorrect.

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dontsaywhatyoumean

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Re: How much are we supposed to infer of what the author is saying in LR?

Postby dontsaywhatyoumean » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:14 pm

[+] Spoiler
Furthermore, the incorrect answer "People who are unable to tell pitches apart in isolation are able to do so in the context of a melody by relying upon timing" can be disqualified purely on the basis that it talks about people in general, rather than people with amusia. The assumption that you held in order to support this answer choice is further unsupportable by the stimulus.


On any question where you feel like you're making a pretty big assumption/inference to get to the correct answer, take a step back and try to eliminate incorrect answer choices rather than find the correct answer choice. if two or more answers seem equally compelling, ask yourself what assumptions you are making in order for each answer to work and then eliminate on the basis of what assumptions are least bigger/less supportable. Also check the language and the modifiers that are used. Did we shift from talking about many to most? Is the population in this answer choice a different one than the one in the stimulus? On difficult inference questions, a single word is often the only reason why an answer choice is incorrect.

Thank you, this was very helpful, especially the bold.

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Blueprint Mithun

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Re: How much are we supposed to infer of what the author is saying in LR?

Postby Blueprint Mithun » Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:19 pm

dontsaywhatyoumean wrote:I seem to infer too much into what the author states.

So for example, one question states (spoiler, pt 72 lr question) :

[+] Spoiler
"Neuroscientists subjected volunteers with amusia - difficulty telling different melodies apart and remembering simple tunes - to shifts in pitch comparable to those that occur when someone plays one piano key and then another. The volunteers were unable to discern a difference between the tones. But the volunteers were able to track timed sequences of musical tones and perceive slight changes in timing."

An incorrect answer choice states: "People who are unable to tell pitches apart in isolation are able to do so in the context of a melody by relying upon timing."

I thought that possibly this is the correct answer because perhaps the experiment they ran had different pitches being played followed immediately by other pitches, therefore any change in timing would only be noticed by a change in pitch (it wasn't as if a pitch was stopped, and then the absence of the pitch would signal the end of the pitch).

I thought I was maybe supposed to assume this because it seemed like that was how the first experiment was perhaps run. Maybe I assumed too much on both counts.

But my question is more, can you EVER read into LR like this?

Clearly pitch is never mentioned as something that these people are able to tell apart even with timing, so this answer choice mentions something that is never mentioned to have happened (and is therefore wrong), but I thought that perhaps I was supposed to infer the possibility of my hypothetical experiment.

Now I recognized that I was assuming a lot, and there were at least two possible experiments, and therefore I chose a stronger answer choice that turned out to be correct, but I'm more concerned about my general misunderstanding of what is to be inferred.

Basically are you never supposed to infer anything that isn't explicitly mentioned? I feel like there are maybe questions where you do infer things (like assumptions that arguments rely (I am not referring to assumption questions)), which would somewhat validate this practice, but I am unsure.


This is an interesting question. I think the assumptions you're referring to are necessary assumptions - things that HAVE to be true in order for an argument to be valid, but that aren't explicitly mentioned. You could name a necessary assumption for literally any argument - however, the tricky part is determining whether that assumption is truly necessary. This difficulty is compounded when you're dealing with tricky arguments and have limited time to deal with them before you need to move on to the next question.

In general, I'd recommend erring on the side of caution, and only assuming things that are explicitly verifiable (unless you're dealing with a Most Strongly Supported question, where you can choose a conclusion that isn't necessarily foolproof). Like a previous poster said, one of the best things you can do is compare the risk factor of the best answer choices - try to determine which one requires less of a logical leap, and go with that.



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