Help me on this LR question

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Postby master_logician » Sun Jun 03, 2007 9:29 pm

In Powerscore's "2004 LSATs Deconstructed" book (the new one that they released), they said that this is a "very controversial LSAT problem" and they give like a two page explanation of why C is right and not D. It's too much for me to type, though.

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Postby Slash2049 » Sun Jun 03, 2007 9:31 pm

glad to hear it

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Postby lawduck » Sun Jun 03, 2007 9:50 pm

I understand now.

The problem with the question, Ma$e, is not its scientific nature. I know how appealing it is to pat yourself on the back for going to labs, but trust me that's not what had us confused. My friend, who also got this question wrong, is a Biology major. Your condescension is unwarranted.

The real problem with this question is the wording. This has to absolutely be the most poorly worded question I've come across on the LSAT. "Fish hormone levels recover rapidly when paper mills shut down temporarily even with dioxin present in the water, as it decomposes very slowly" would have greatly simplified matters.

We know dioxin is in the water, we know it sticks around (slow decomposition). The author says it doesn't hurt the fish. But the premises that the author gives do not support what he's saying.

The problem is the LSAT writers included the plant shut down information in order to enable the selection of choice C, but they placed it such that it ruined the lucidity of the argument. The author says the plant stops producing dioxin. Most of us assumed that this means the dioxin is gone; most of us assume the stream is moving, which means the fish in the immediate vicinity are no longer exposed. That the author would provide so clearly very instrument of his destruction seems counterintuitive and thus we gravitated away from C.

The author says the plant shuts down occasionally, giving the fish time to recover from the effects of dioxin. Thus the persistent reproductive problems must come from another source. That's what we thought he meant.

Consider: fish hormones are at 100% balance. At 50% balance reproductive problems come into play. Dioxin brings it down. But before it gets to 50% the plant shuts off and it gets back up to 100%. So if reproductive problems continue it must be from another source, as hormones are not constantly at 50%. D or E must be the answer.

But he didn't mean this. That's where we erred. He meant that the fish recover despite the persistence of dioxin, not that dioxin is not responsible because of periodic recovery. The inclusion of the occasional plant shut-downs suggests a different position than he is advocating. As I said, the word choice is poor. In real life, I find it unlikely that someone would include the bit on plant shut down without prephrasing it with "despite."

Because the argument's structure is completely asinine, regardless of the logical failing it suffers given the consideration choice C introduces, it tripped us up. We're used to poking at specific types of holes. We're not used to dealing with completely moronic arguments that are self-defeating. Nobody would structure their argument in the way the author did in real life. Even a simple inclusion of "despite" would help.

Oh well. I doubt we'll see much of this in the future. If Powerscore's write-up is any indication, the LSAT acknowledged the problem with this question.
Last edited by lawduck on Sun Jun 03, 2007 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby greygoose » Sun Jun 03, 2007 9:51 pm

weird i just checked my booklet, i picked C and never looked back..

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Postby Reinhardt » Sun Jun 03, 2007 9:56 pm

In retrospect, my problem with answers D, and (my choice) E is that they aren't strong enough.

D is a weak choice because it contains two words that make it weak, "Some" and "quickly". Maybe that group of "some" fish recovered slightly slower than the others, but nevertheless recovered.

E is weak because it said the relationship is "not thoroughly" understood. If it was not understood at all, it coulda been a contender. Even then, to match C's strength, it would need to be "there is no relationship between hormones and reproductive abnormalities."

C attacks the argument directly and makes it completely invalid.

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Postby Ma$e » Sun Jun 03, 2007 10:00 pm

Yeah, I just automatically went to C...but I can definately see what Lawduck is saying. The argument is arranged in an odd way. I know the problem is not scientific in nature, I just find that since I am so used to reading pieces like this that I am able to answer the questions faster than others. It is the same thing on the reading comprehension, I always do well on the sections that I have some framiliarity with, probably because I feel more comfortable with the language

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Postby in my eyes » Sun Jun 03, 2007 10:02 pm

You are trying to weaken the authors argument that...Dioxin is unlikely to be the cause. Therefore really what you are trying to do is strengthen the idea that it actually is the cause.

C is right but your reasoning isn't clear to me.. If you're trying to prove that Dioxin IS the cause, then why would you want to say that there are low water levels of it during a shutdown?

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Postby Reinhardt » Sun Jun 03, 2007 10:10 pm

Actually, that may be one of the mistakes. We aren't trying to prove that dioxin is the cause of the abnormalities.

We merely need to undermine the author's claim that dioxin was present while the fish recovered. If dioxin wasn't present, his argument is invalid.

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Postby Ma$e » Sun Jun 03, 2007 10:40 pm

Becuase the author states that when the plant is shutdown, they are able to reproduce...and hence either
a) dioxin is the cause and is not present
b) dioxin is not the cause of the abnormalities or whatever it was...

I don't know if that helps to explain it, but the wording is strange.
A is basically what I was trying to prove, and b) is what the author believes.
What is wrong with this question is apparent to me, it just is worded really poorly. His argument is intertwined with the evidence he is presenting, so it is tough to understand what his argument really is

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Postby Mosel » Mon Jun 04, 2007 8:00 pm

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet
Last edited by Mosel on Mon Mar 17, 2008 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Ma$e » Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:15 pm

Hmm, I don't think the stream carrying the dioxin away negates the breaking down of the chemical, at least it shouldn't. I am getting confused on this one myself, I think msoftceo was onto something in his last post. We don't actually have to prove that dioxin is the culprit, we just have to find the weakness in the argument

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