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#21 - Several people came down with an illness caused by a

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Complete Question Explanation

Resolve the Paradox-CE. The correct answer choice is (E)

The author of this stimulus provides several facts regarding an outbreak of an illness caused by seafood bacteria, each case of which was traced back to the same restaurant at the same time. The paradox is this:

    Most of that restaurant’s seafood diners did not come into contact with the bacteria.

    Yet officials remained confident that the source of the bacteria was the restaurant.

The question stem requires us to find the answer choice which is consistent with both of the above premises; it will be the choice which somehow allows the officials to think that the bacteria came from the restaurant, in spite of so many of the restaurant diners’ having been spared exposure.

Answer choice (A): Immunity would not explain the apparent discrepancy between the confidence that the restaurant in question was the source of the bacteria, and the fact that many of the restaurant’s diners were not simply spared from the illness, they did not come into contact with the bacteria.

Answer choice (B): The officials referenced in the stimulus were confident that the restaurant’s contaminated seafood was the source—not a waiter—so this answer choice does nothing to resolve the discrepancy and is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): An allergy to the sauce is irrelevant to the stimulus, given the fact that officials were confident that the source was contaminated seafood, not sauce. This choice does not help to explain the paradox from the stimulus, so it is incorrect.

Answer choice (D): This choice might make it more likely that the restaurant was the source of contamination, but does not explain how the restaurant could be the source without the majority of its diners having been exposed to the bacteria.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. If a particular seafood dish at the restaurant was the source of the bacteria, then it would make that most seafood diners (those who did not have the contaminated dish in particular) would not have come into contact with the bacteria at all. Because this choice resolves the paradox from the stimulus, it is the correct answer choice.
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I am having a difficult time understanding precisely why E is the answer to the question. It seems to introduce and rely on irrelevant details and not reconcile any conflict between premises. Thoughts?
Jon Denning
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Hey hdavidson,

Thanks for the question, and welcome to the Forum!

Let me see if I can help explain answer choice E here. First, we need to identify the paradox itself: most people who ate seafood at the restaurant in question on a given date didn't get sick, yet health officials are still confident that seafood from that restaurant on that date is what made people ill. So how can it be the case that most seafood diners were fine (didn't encounter the bacteria), while contaminated seafood was still the cause of the sick people?

What's in question here then is clearly the idea that "seafood" is a broad category. That is, saying that contaminated seafood caused the illness is very non-specific, and allows for a lot of diners to have seafood and still avoid the bug, provided the contamination is limited to only a small subset of seafood. Consider: the grouper is poison, but all other seafood is fine. That means that anyone who orders lobster, or shrimp, or scallops, or halibut, or cod, or...well, you hopefully get it, is going to be fine. Most people in that case could order "seafood" and avoid the bacteria, while "seafood" could still be the cause behind all the grouper eaters being sick.

And that's exactly what E says. Everyone who got sick, and only those who got sick, ordered the particular type of seafood dish that was contaminated. So the illness is from seafood at the restaurant, and yet most people who ordered seafood were fine: they dined on different seafood, and that resolves the paradox.

I hope that helps!

Jon Denning
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Hi, so I understand why (E) is an answer but, I am still uncomfortable with how (A) is incorrect. If most ppl are immune to the effect of the bacteria then I feel like it explains why most ppl did not get sick from the bacteria...

oh wait.... hold on ... is it b.c stiml. says not come in contact w/ the bacteria instead of getting sick? ppl who are immune to the bacteria possibly come in contact with the bacteria without getting sick from it.
Brook Miscoski
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wapet, to understand why Answer Choice A is incorrect, you need to consider whether Answer Choice A addresses the paradox. The second sentence of the stimulus states that "most people who ate seafood at the restaurant on that date had not come in contact with the bacteria in question." Because most people had not even come into contact with the bacteria, their immunity does not address the paradox.

That is a good enough reason to get rid of Answer Choice A. Some people will observe that the "most" who did not come into contact with the bacteria are not necessarily the "most" who were immune. Those people, annoyingly enough, are correct. However, Answer Choice A is still wrong, because if it does address the paradox, it makes it worse. If the people who did come into contact with the bacteria from the seafood were in that immune group, why are health officials still convinced that contaminated seafood is the explanation? Health officials should be less convinced, not more convinced, by Answer Choice A, so that answer is wrong because it makes the paradox worse.