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#24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported annual

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Please post your questions below! Thank you!
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I chose E...I didn't like it, but I didn't like anything else either.

I think reading through them the first time, I thought C fell outside of the scope of the argument. But I guess that per se doesn't matter...since it is a strengthen question, we can, and often do, bring in outside info to strengthen the argument.

But what is actually the thinking behind C? Is it that if it is only small tornadoes accounting for the doubling in reports, that better detection mechanisms would presumably allow us to detect smaller and smaller tornadoes?

Please offer your sagely guidance.

Young Cord
James Finch
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Hi Young Cord,

In order to answer your question, let's break down the argument being made in the stimulus. We are presented with a paradox that the meteorologist attempts to resolve by using causal reasoning, in order to prove an effect.

Paradox: Twice the number tornadoes are being reported today than in the 50's, but same number of tornadoes are actually occurring.

Cause: Better technology.

Effect/Resolution to Paradox: Greater % of tornadoes being reported.

And we are asked to strengthen that causal link. Answer choice (C) does this by stating that the same number of medium and large tornadoes are being reported today as in the 50's, which leaves small tornadoes to make up the difference. Logically, the larger tornadoes would have been the ones most likely to have been reported in the 50's, and the smaller tornadoes would be the ones that only modern technology would notice. Now this doesn't 100% prove the conclusion (it could simply be that there are more small tornadoes and the same number of larger ones today) but it does help make it more likely to be true, which is all that is required of a correct Strengthen question answer choice.

Hope this clears things up!
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Ok scool thanks!
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I am wondering if someone can explain why answer choice A is incorrect? I followed a similar pattern of logic to the one James described for choice C. I inferred that if the amount of physical damage caused by the average tornado has remained constant, then the chances of the tornado being reported were also likely constant (i.e. tornadoes not more likely to occur in highly populated areas/less severe tornadoes/etc.). This would leave only better technology/better meteorologists as the explanation for why the actual number of tornadoes has increased, rather than the number reported. Is this too specious of an inference?

Adam Tyson
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I see where you are going with that analysis, gillwei, but I think you are relying too much on helping that answer with additional information not provided in the stimulus. What is the connection between the amount of damage and the percentage of tornadoes being reported? None is made here, and no assumptions should be made in order to justify this answer choice. So what if an "average tornado" (whatever that is: average size? average duration? are we talking about the total amount of damage divided by all the known tornadoes?) causes the same amount of damage as it used to? How does this help the argument that better technology is the cause of the increase instead of there just being more of them?

Also, think about how averages work. If we look at the physical damage cause by the average tornado, we could still have a lot more tornadoes out there, and a corresponding increase in the amount of damage they cause, and still come to the same average amount of damage per tornado. This answer doesn't tell us that it's better tech, rather than more tornadoes, that accounts for the increase in reporting.

Answer choice C needs no additional assumptions or help. If it is true that the number of large and medium tornadoes has remained constant, that strengthens the claim that the total hasn't changed. It implies that the increase is solely in the reporting of small tornadoes, and that would make sense if the number of them hasn't actually changed but our ability to find them has improved. It doesn't PROVE the conclusion, because there actually could be a massive increase in small tornadoes, but it at least should make us feel a little better about the conclusion, and that is all we need in a strengthen answer.

I hope that helps! Don't let this one blow you away!
Adam M. Tyson
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