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#26 - Smoking in bed has long been the main cause of home

Yaa
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Hello,

The stimulus in question is about the smoking in bed and home fires. I can't seem to understand why A is incorrect and B is correct. Am I missing something from the stimulus ? Please help.

Thanks.
Steve Stein
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Good question--this can be a tricky one. Since this is a resolve--except question, all answer choices but one will help to explain the puzzling fact from the stimulus. The correct answer choice will not provide such a resolution. Here the author tells us that despite a big drop in smoking, which has long been the main cause of home fires, there has not been a corresponding drop in the number of deaths caused by home fires.

Answer choice (A) tells us that when people smoke in bed it doesn't generally lead to much damage. This would help to explain why, even with a significant decline in smoking, we should not expect a significant decline in number of deaths (because such accidents have always tended to have minor consequences, decreasing the number of such accidents should not have a major effect on number of deaths that result).

Answer choice (B), on the other hand, only provides that such deaths usually occur after everyone has gone to sleep. This does not help to explain why a decrease in smoking has failed to bring about a decrease in deaths caused by home fires. Since this is the only answer choice that does NOT help to resolve the paradox, it must be the right answer.

Again, that's a tough one, in part because we're looking for the answer choice that doesn't offer a resolution.
Steve Stein
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Yaa
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OK. I understand why A is incorrect. The way how I am thinking about B is: people smoke in bed, fall asleep, home fire break out, and then they die. Because they die, that would show why people killed in home fires have not decline.

Am I looking at this answer wrong?
Steve Stein
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The paradox here is this: The number of smokers has decreased, and yet the number of deaths caused by home fires has not decreased. Any resolution will help to explain why we haven't seen the expected result. The four incorrect answer choices in this case all provide some resolution:

Answer choice A responds: Smokers damage was not very serious to begin with, so a decrease in bed-smokers wouldn't lead to less deaths (if, on the other hand, bed-smokers had initially been causing a lot of deaths, we would expect a corresponding decrease in that number).

Answer choice C responds: The smokers who quit weren't the bed-smokers: the hard-core smokers stuck with their habit, enabling them to maintain the number of associated deaths.

Answer choice D responds: The kitchen fires have recently been causing more deaths, so the smokers' decrease hasn't had much effect.

Answer choice E responds: Even if there are fewer smokers, tighter quarters have enabled them to cause just has many deaths.

Answer choice B, on the other hand, only provides that bed-smoking deaths often occur after bedtime. As you said, this explains why people die in such fires. In that case, though, we would still reasonably expect for the decreased number of smokers to lead to fewer deaths. So the paradox remains.

Since answer choice B is the only one that doesn't help us understand why the number of home-fire-deaths has not declined as smoking has declined, B is the winner!

Let me know if this makes sense--thanks!
Steve Stein
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Yaa
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Yes! I got it. Thank you very much.
onlywinter
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The first sentence of the stimulus says smoking is the primary cause of home fires, NOT deaths from home fires. The second sentence of the stimulus first brings up deaths due to home fires. If, as answer A states, fires due to smoking lead to few deaths, a decrease in smoking will not significantly decrease the number of deaths attributable to smoking-related home fires.

For B, it's not as though people weren't falling asleep beforehand.

If the stimulus said something along the lines of "Over the past two decades there has been an increase in people falling asleep while smoking due to an increase in sleep aids," I think this statement would resolve the paradox to an extent. It would show a change in the past two decades that leads to an equivalent number of deaths. The answer choice, as is, does not do this.

There's another reason why B does not resolve the paradox. It simply explains why people die in bed. Its scope is too limited and irrelevant to the paradox itself.
Brook Miscoski
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Onlywinter,

Thanks for your comment. There are many ways to explain why (B) doesn't help resolve the paradox. My feeling about (B) is that if anything it makes the paradox worse. If people tend to be asleep when they set their beds on fire by smoking, they seem more vulnerable, so it would seem natural to think that reducing smoking in general would reduce fire deaths. We could probably find a number of ways to show why (B) doesn't help, and that's a good exercise.

Yes, if you changed (B) to explain why falling asleep while smoking hasn't declined along with the general decline in smoking, that would help explain, just like (C).