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#5 - From a magazine article: Self-confidence is a dangerous

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Complete Question Explanation

Method of ReasoningX. The correct answer choice is (D)

The language in the question stem, "the author attempts to persuade by doing all of the following EXCEPT," indicates that this is a Method of Reasoning question where four of the answers describe something the author does and one answer does not. Therefore, no particular part of the argument is more important than the others. Our task is to try to match up the language of each answer choice to the situation in the stimulus. In the case of an EXCEPT question, the correct answer will not match up and the four wrong answers will.

Answer choice (A): This is not the correct answer because it describes something the author does in attempting to persuade. When we try to match up parts, we can see that extreme cases (Hitler and Stalin cited in an article about a common psychological problem) are used to evoke an emotional response (with an exclamation point, no less) in the argument. This answer choice is a loser.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice should be quickly discarded because it provides a very minor threshold, which is easily met. Does the author use terms that indicate a value judgment? To answer this question affirmatively, we just need to make sure that one or more words, including the word "vice," are described in terms that are not merely factual. If we read the stimulus actively, we can see that a position is being advocated and that the following words would never appear in an objective presentation of fact: dangerous, virtue, vice, degenerates, evident, humane, and arrogant.

Answer choice (C): This is not the correct answer because the author does illustrate the danger of arrogance by providing the examples of Hitler and Stalin. The elements of this answer choice match up with the stimulus, so we can toss this aside as a loser.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. If we try to match up the elements of this answer with the stimulus, we will be unable to do so. Does the author appeal to any authority, such as an historian, a political figure, or a psychologist? No. Therefore, we should be able to confidently select this answer.

Answer choice (E): Again, all we need to do is match up parts. Does the author imply that Hitler's arrogance rose from self-confidence? Yes. We need look no further than the phrase "arrogant self-confidence," but additionally the entire article is about self-confidence mutating into arrogance. The parts match up, so this cannot be the correct answer.
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I'm stuck on question 5 from section two of the test. It is a Must Be True X question, and it appears to me that the wrong answer is actually correct, and vis-a-versa. I've got C as my answer but it lists D as correct. Doesn't the magazine article appeal to authority with the phrase "arrogance is evident to all who care to look"? Also, how does the argument actually illustrate the danger of arrogance? I take illustrate in this circumstance to mean 'demonstrate', but there seems to be very little to offer here. The author of the article appears to be saying "arrogance is a danger, because look at these guys", which just seems too superficial to qualify as illustrating the danger--what I mean to say is one would have to accept the magazine article writer's argument up-front to agree that these people display the characteristic of arrogance for the reasons given--and if that's the case, then illustrating the point would belabour the obvious, convincing no one. Also it can't really illustrate a point because there is no point--there is no argument at all, that I can tell. There is a conclusion, but the rest is too disconnected to qualify, I think.
On the other hand, the author does appear to appeal to his own authority by stating that "the danger of arrogance is obvious to all those who care to look". In this case wouldn't the author be defining his role as the arbiter, deciding those who care and those who don't i.e. the authority?

Thanks in advance!
Nikki Siclunov
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Regarding Question 5, this is a Method-X question, which requires you to take the argument for face value. Your job is not to question the argument, but to prove which four of the five answer choices correctly describe an argumentative strategy employed by the author.

The author certainly illustrates the danger of arrogance by pointing to Hitler and Stalin. Whether you are convinced by this argument is irrelevant. Hitler and Stalin, in the author's view, do illustrate the danger of arrogance and provide sufficient support to eliminate (C).

On the LSAT, an appeal to authority is an appeal to an agent other than the author. Otherwise, every argument could be described as an "appeal to authority," since any author who assumes that his/her premises are sufficient to prove the conclusion would, axiomatically, be appealing to her own authority in reaching that conclusion. Just remember that "appeal to authority" is a very specific type of logical flaw, in which the author appeals to the authority of experts/critics etc. to justify her own position. Since there is no evidence of such an appeal in Question 5, answer choice (D) is correct.
Nikki Siclunov
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Regarding answer choice C, does illustrate always mean "providing an example"?

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Hi Niki,

Yes, typically illustrating a point would involve providing an example.

Thanks for your question!

Athena Dalton
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"All who care to look" is not an authority? I guess not for the testmakers.

It would seem to me that if we assume C is wrong, that the author does "illustrat[e] the danger of arrogance," we are assuming the Hitler/Stalin example does in fact successfully support the prior statement. What lends us to believe is true? Or is illustrate allways used in the LSAT as a synonym for "give an example"?
Robert Carroll
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No, that phrase does not denote an authority. Think about how it works - it's not saying that some experts have looked and found arrogance to be dangerous. It's saying that anyone could look and find it dangerous - so it's appealing to the (hypothetical) recognition of the person reading this argument, not to the authority of some expert.

This is a Method of Reasoning question. The question at issue is not whether the author successfully supported a statement a certain way, but whether the author tried to do that. Questions of success or failure are more relevant for Flaw questions. So the author gave two examples trying to illustrate a danger of arrogance. That's all that matters. Whether they were good examples is not relevant - the author presented them as examples to illustrate a point.

Robert Carroll