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#1 - The painted spider spins webs that are much stickier

eyeofthetiger
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Hi Team,

I've narrowed my Contenders to (A) and (D). The question is a Weaken, so I'm debating which answer weakens the conclusion.

Re (A) - If "not all" (aka "some" aka "any number") insects are flying insects, and only flying insects get trapped in the sticky web, then doesn't this answer potentially weaken the argument? For example, the vast majority of insects could be non-flying, and therefore wouldn't get trapped (because the premise is that you need to fly into the sticky web to get trapped), and therefore the painted spider wouldn't be a more successful predator than competitors. Isn't this logical? Also, are the competitors other spiders, or other animals in the habitat? I am not satisfied with the vagueness of this premise.

Re (D) - I don't believe that this weakens the argument. Assuming that a more reflective/visible web will deter insects is a rather a leap in judgment, and doesn't necessarily follow common sense. For instance, it's pretty common knowledge that some bugs fly into candlelight, which is arguably visible. Am I being too picky, or are the test-makers being a bit unfair here in their assumption of common-sense knowledge/reasoning? Taken my way, if the sticker web reflects more light, I'd assume that that wouldn't necessarily be a deterrent for bugs to fly into it, and therefore, that this answer wouldn't have any effect on the argument that a painted spider is more or less a successful predator than a competitor.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks as always.
Lucas Moreau
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Hello, tiger,

You narrowed it down to the correct answer choice and one other - great job! :-D That's the stage you want to be at, where you can consistently narrow it down to two, at least in the early parts of each LR section. Don't get discouraged if you repeatedly narrow it down and pick the wrong one - you're nearly where you need to be, just one more step. (And if you don't, congratulations!)

Answer choice (A) doesn't really weaken the argument. With all Weaken questions, you're not trying to weaken the conclusion itself, you're trying to weaken the link between premises and conclusion. You're trying to show that, even if all stated premises are true, this additional information would mean that the conclusion could not be validly arrived at from the premises.

So for answer choice (A), it's not necessary that all insects be flyers in order for the painted spider to be a successful predator. The respective proportions of flyers to non-flyers isn't really that relevant to how the painted spider competes with other predatory spiders in the area. No matter how many non-flyers there are, the painted spider and the other predators in the area are only fighting over the flyers - it doesn't matter if there are almost none or way too many, all the spiders are taking slices out of the same pie of flying insects. (Ew, insect pie. :ras: )

Answer choice (D) weakens the link between the premise that the painted spider's webs are stickier and the conclusion that the painted spider is a more successful predator. Even if the other premise is true, that stickier webs are more efficient at trapping insects, that efficiency is wasted if insects can see the webs and therefore more easily avoid them.

Your point about insects flying into flames is astute, but slightly off base. Insects will sometimes fly into sources of light, but rarely will insects fly into objects that are merely reflecting light. (Except mirrors, sometimes. :ras: ) Anyway...since this is the very first question in the section, and sections are roughly curved by difficulty, I wouldn't suggest spending too much time thinking about relatively small holes in the argument like that.

Answer choice (D) may not be a perfect answer, but it is the best answer. Better than answer choice (A).

Hope that helps,
Lucas
eyeofthetiger
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Lucas, thanks for your very helpful response. I've been off the wagon for a bit, but am back and appreciate it.
adlindsey
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I choose A on the review. Because if not all insects live in said spiders' habitat, then that weakens the conclusion; hence it isn't a more successful predator. I don't see how D is right, unless I make an unwarranted assumption that the insect will avoid the web, because it's more visible. Again, it seems like people are just finding ways to justify these looney answers from looney miserable maggots!
Dave Killoran
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adlindsey wrote:I choose A on the review. Because if not all insects live in said spiders' habitat, then that weakens the conclusion; hence it isn't a more successful predator. I don't see how D is right, unless I make an unwarranted assumption that the insect will avoid the web, because it's more visible. Again, it seems like people are just finding ways to justify these looney answers from looney miserable maggots!


Hi A,

Haha! But, as we've discussed before, we want to view this from the right angle. Instead of saying "I don't see how D is right," instead try to think, "Why do they think D is right?" that's a small but hugely significant change in perspective, and it makes all the difference in how you approach the LSAT.

Also, we aren't trying to justify their answer, we're trying to explain what they are thinking in telling us that (D) is correct. Lucas talks in detail about (A) and (D) above, so perhaps take a look at that discussion again.

Thanks!
Dave Killoran
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hassan66
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I was also between A and D. I actually chose D the first time but then chose A on the review for the same reasons the previous user explained- we would have to assume that having visible webs is a negative trait whereas it could be used as a tool to allure spiders.

The first powerscore staff member said that all insects are vying for the same population of flyers so it doesn't matter if there is 1 or 100, the painted spider is still better at catching them. Bust just because the spiders are in the same habitat, how do we know that they are all vying for the same flying insects? Other spiders could be vying for the non flying spiders and if there are no flying spiders then the other spider may have an advantage.

A) says "not all" which doesn't necessarily mean some, it means anything but all which could include no flying spiders. But the way I rationalized A as being incorrect was by saying that it doesn't really matter if there are no flying spiders because all spiders use their webs to trap spiders (as indicated in the third sentence) and stickier webs seem to have an advantage so this might not really weaken the argument? But i'm not sure, I feel like I could make a case for both A and D and find equally flawed reasons in both as well.

D. Stickier webs reflect more light which makes them more visible. What made sense to me was the prior comment acceded that while being able to see a web may have alluring properties and be an advantage to most types of insects, if something is flying, they are usually going to avoid something when they see it which means that most flying insects will tend to avoid the stickier webs.

So I guess D weakens the argument even slightly whereas A doesn't do as much? I still feel a bit iffy on this and feel a bit puzzled that it's the first question of the problem set and it still feels a bit complicated.
Jonathan Evans
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Hi, Hassan,

Thank you for sharing your reasoning!

Let's bullet-point out this argument so that we're clear about each premise and the conclusion:

  • Painted spider webs are stickier than those of other spiders in the same habitat.
  • Stickier webs are better at catching insects that run into them.
  • Spiders prey on insects caught in their webs.
  • Conclusion: The painted spider is a better predator than the other spiders in the same habitat.

Do we have evidence for our conclusion? Yes! Stickier webs are better at catching insects that collide with them, so the painted spider does have a good thing going for it that the other spiders don't have. We have evidence the painted spider might be a better predator than the other spiders in the same habitat.

However, now we must ask ourselves, "How is it possible that even though the painted spiders have stickier webs, they might now be better predators than the other spiders?"

For our prephrase, we would likely look for information that suggests that this sticky web is not such a great thing after all.

We know the sticky web is good for catching insects that run into it, but there is a gap in the reasoning: The insects must run into the web to be caught!

Let's take a look at (A) and (D).

    (A) What if there were insects in the habitat are not flying?

    It stands to reason that these non-flying insects are not likely to run into webs, whether they are sticky or not. However, there are three issues with this answer choice:

    1. The stimulus does not concern itself with non-flying insects. We are only interested in how good the spiders are at catching "insects that fly into [their webs]." Thus, these non-flying insects don't make a difference in our reasoning either way.
    2. The non-flying insects are neither the prey discussed for the painted spider nor the other spiders. The non-flying insects provide no point of differentiation between the comparison the author is attempting to make in the conclusion. These non-flying insects are off the menu for all the spiders.
    3. "Not all" implies that are insects in the painted spider's habitat that are not flying; however, the fact that there are both flying and non-flying insects present in the habitat does not change our reasoning. As discussed in (1) and (2) above, these non-flying insects are outside the scope of our discussion.

    (D) What if the sticky webs are more visible to insects than the less sticky webs? You are correct that for all we know the insects might be more attracted to visible objects. This is certainly a possibility. However, what (D) does for us is it provides a point of differentiation between the webs of painted spiders and those of non-painted spiders. We now know that there is another difference between the webs besides how sticky they are. It is also possible that this visibility makes it easier for flying insects to avoid the web of the painted spiders.

    Because we have another factor in play (the visibility) that we have not accounted for in the stimulus, we have a new, relevant consideration that the conclusion does not consider. Since the stimulus does not address this visibility issue, we are less confident in our conclusion.

Thus, while we might suggest that it's possible that the visibility doesn't matter or could be a mark in the painted spider's favor, we would have to admit that with no other information it is possible that the extra visibility makes the painted spiders' webs worse.

Therefore, (D) does at least weaken the conclusion in that it brings up another point that needs to be addressed. We are looking for the best answer possible. Since we have established that answer choice (A) is irrelevant, and since (B) strengthens the argument, (C) does nothing, and (E) does nothing, (D) is the best answer here.

I hope this helps!
hassan66
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This does help, thank you! (I thought I would get a notification when there was a response hence the delayed reply). Something I overlooked in the stimulus was that the painted spider is a more successful predator "than its competitors" which suggests that they are all vying for the same type of insects if they are competing against each other. Therefore, as you point out, it doesn't matter if there are 0 or 99, flyers, the author thinks that the painted spider is a better predator than the other spiders also interested in the flyers.

I have to remember that with weaken questions, even an ounce of doubt is enough to weaken the argument. Having more visible webs could be a bad thing or they could be positive but the fact that the question lingers is enough for it to weaken the argument.
mrcheese
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Was I wrong for assuming there would be other competitors than spiders in the area? I figured if there were possibly a majority of non-flying insects, then there would be a more successful competitor than this spider. Webs be danged.
Claire Horan
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Mr. Cheese,

Often on the LSAT a word or phrase can be linked back to an earlier reference. Carefully and active reading will help you make those connections, so beware of interpreting sentences in isolation. Here, we are told in the first sentence that painted spiders have stickier webs than other "spiders that share the same habitat." In the third sentence, we are told how spiders, in general, prey on insects. Following the flow of the stimulus would lead to interpreting "its competitors" to mean types of spiders in the same habitat whose webs are less sticky.

One way you can track these references is to draw arrows while reading, when you realize the stimulus is referencing something mentioned earlier. This technique can be helpful on both logical reasoning and reading comprehension sections.

I hope this helps!