I was split between answer choices A and E in this question. Can you please tell me why E is the best answer choice for this? In hindsight I can choose answer choice E through process of elimination, but am still not completely sure why it is the correct answer choice.
For answer choice A, I was originally confused on how detailed the answer needed to be to the posed question "what laboratory experiments were conducted by M&R in their research on CFCs?". For example, would it be fine to briefly explain (as the passage did) on how they observed the two freon gases slowly diffuse upward into the stratosphere and break down into constituent elements, including chlorine? I now see that this answer choice is most likely wrong because it mentions the word "laboratory experiments" and not "observations," but when I was going through the question under time pressure it wasn't as clear to me as it is now. Also, what if M&R had observed the break down of the two freon gases in a controlled lab environment, which accurately duplicated real life atmosphere conditions?
For answer choice E, I was originally doubtful largely because of the word "most" in the answer choice. Indeed, the passage states how "devastating" the effects of chlorine can be, but it never talks about any other of constituent elements. Most importantly, the passage does not mention (or imply from my reading of it) that chlorine is the 'most' damaging to ozone. What if there were a long list of constituent elements common to CFCs and the author was explaining how chlorine (one of the many harmful elements) can be devastating? The question stem implies that the answer choice can be proven through a Fact Test, but I wasn't able to prove any of the answer choices when taking the test.
I feel like the overall difficulty level for this question should be quite low in comparison to other questions in this particular RC section, but this was one of the two questions I got wrong in the section and I want to make sure I understand why the correct answer is correct.
Thanks in advance for your response. Besides the review I'm doing from taking preptests, this forum is an awesome tool that is helping me an immense amount!
#23 - Must Be True
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Great question. You are definitely picking up on the right phrasing to disqualify Answer Option (A). Labaratory experiments are not specifically discussed. Rather sentences like this one imply that they were outside the lab: "Studying two freon gases—types of CFCs—they observed that, when released into the lower atmosphere (troposphere), these gases slowly diffuse upward into the stratosphere." Also, M&R may have observed the break down of the two freon gases in a controlled lab environment but we don't know that from the passage, so we cannot make that inference because it's just a guess.
Now turning to Answer (E), the word "most" seems to be the qualifier that turned you away from this answer. Certainly, the "devastating" description given helps support this answer, as you noted. But there's also additional support in the passage in the paragraph describing how "each chlorine atom could destroy as many as 100,000 ozone molecules before becoming inactive" and the way that CFC's can continue for many years (perhaps decades) to detroy the ozone, even after their initial release. Although the passage does not actuall use the word "most," those effects of the CFCs observed by M&R and described in the passage are also attributed to the subsequent action taken by the US government to ban CFCs. That action for the specified reasons given in the passage also support the interpretation that the chlorine (and other constituent elements) were the most damaging to the ozone.
Thanks for the great question and I hope this helped!
Thanks for your reply.
Although I'm still not 100% convinced with answer choice E, I guess I have to accept that this is the LSAT and questions that are superior to others are often the correct answer, no matter whether they can be proven 100%. Alas, what if there was a constituent element of CFC that had worse effects than those of chlorine that M&R observed, but were not specifically discussed in the passage? This is a possibility that opens up due to the author being silent as to whether chlorine was indeed the 'worst' of the constituent elements that could be derived from CFCs.
The acceptance of how certain answer choices could be correct regardless of the certainty factor actually helped me a lot in terms of timing as I would previously waste time in trying to prove the answer choice correct.
Again, thanks for your response. It was helpful nonetheless!
It's more of a negative implication, JuneK, in that the passage would probably have mentioned any constituent element that was worse than chlorine, if there was such an element. Otherwise why would they bother spending so much attention on chlorine and none on the other thing? Sure, it's possible, but it's unlikely, and E is a fine example of a "best" answer that may not be entirely perfect. Certainly after reading this passage, most people would be likely to say "chlorine" in response to E, while most of us would (or at least should) say "I don't know" in response to all the others.
You're right to focus on the superior, rather than the perfect. Good work!
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
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