#25 - A study of 86 patients, all of whom suffered from

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Complete Question Explanation

Weaken—#%. The correct answer choice is (C)

The vulnerability in this argument is that the conclusion—support groups do not help patients treated for disease T live longer, since 41/43 from both groups were dead after 10 years—still allows for the possibility that the support group patients did in fact live longer. Just because the same number from both groups were dead after 10 years does not mean the patients from both groups all died at the same time. For instance, what if the 41 dead support group patients all lived 9 years after the treatment, while the 41 dead patients who did not attend support groups only lived for 1 year after the treatment? 41 from each group would still be dead in 10 years, but the support group patients would have lived considerably longer nonetheless.

Answer choice (A): While the argument could be made that this answer choice weakens the argument slightly, the 41/43 from both groups who died is much more persuasive evidence than the comparison of the 2 survivors from each group. Answer choice (C) is a much stronger answer in terms of the doubt it casts on the argument’s conclusion (in fact, it completely destroys the conclusion in the stimulus).

Answer choice (B): This argument is only about support groups related to the treatment of disease T.

Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer choice. By stating that the support group members lived an average of 2 years longer than patients who did not attend support groups, this answer severely weakens the conclusion in the stimulus.

Answer choice (D): This argument is based on numbers and data, so the faith (or lack thereof) of support group members is not applicable to the conclusion. To weaken you must find an answer that challenges the data given.

Answer choice (E): Again, the argument is about whether support group members live longer, not about how well the two groups coped with the disease.
niketown3000
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Hello,

9-5, # 8: Both A & C are weaken? I thought there was only one AC that always did the task (not a question of which did it better)? why is A worse? is there any pattern for handling ACs that both do task, but you are trying to choose the better one? How often are more than one correct technically?
Dave Killoran
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Hey Nike,

Answer choice (A) is an attractive answer choice, but I wouldn't agree that it weakens the argument. Let's look at the two answer choices and see how that works.

With answer choice (C), it's clear how the answer weakens the argument: even though equal numbers died, the support group members lived on average two years longer.

Answer choice (A) looks rather similar to (C), so I understand your thought that it too weakens the argument. But, unlike (C), answer choice (A) addresses a small subset of patients--the four who lived longer than 10 years. While this small subset could suggest that support groups help, it doesn't have to, in part because 2 people in each group is such a small sample. For example, what about the other 39 support group patients who didn't live longer than 10 years? What if they lived a shorter amount of time than their non-support comparison group. That would suggest that perhaps support groups don't help, and may in fact hurt (thus strengthening the argument, not weakening it). Thus, we can't really draw a conclusion about whether (A) weakens the argument.

Note that in comparing (A) and (C), answer choice (C) makes a statement about the group as a whole, whereas answer choice only addresses a small portion of the group. That difference is key to helping determine that (C) is correct.

In answer to your broader question about two answers weakening the argument, Law Services really tries to avoid that from happening, but, they inoculate themselves by usually including the word "most" before the "weakens." In the case where you think that two answers do weaken the argument, you would then choose the one that weakened it more.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
Dave Killoran
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