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#6- A study was designed to establish what effect, if any

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sherrilynm
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I'm not sure why A is incorrect. I understand why B would be correct, but why is A wrong? I picked A because the study claims that since there are no differences between the two sites, no damage has been done.

However, doesn't A hurt this argument? I took it to mean that the researchers are looking in the wrong place. Sure, the two sites might not show damage, but what if the evidence of damage is actually in the decrease of commercial fish catches, NOT in changes to the two sites?
Adam Tyson
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You've hit on exactly what is wrong with answer A, sherrilyn - it's the "what if" portion of your post! What if it does impact commercial fishing? Okay, that's bad. What if it doesn't? Okay, that's not bad. Which is it? We don't know! Answer A tells us one way that we might be able to determine that the sea bottom has been adversely impacted, but it doesn't tell us anything about the actual results.

An additional problem with answer A is that it fails to connect us to the oil rigs. Let's say we do some research and we find that commercial catches are down. Does that mean the oil rigs are to blame? Did we look downstream from the oil rigs? Do we know where the fish we caught had been feeding? Oil rigs might be the cause, but so might sunspot activity or weapons testing by the Navy or any number of other things.

Answer B is very definitely telling us that we looked in the wrong place. Not just that we might have, but that we did, and that is a much bigger weakness.

I hope that clears it up!
Adam M. Tyson
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sherrilynm
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That makes a lot of sense, thanks Adam!
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I'm struggling to understand why B is correct.
The stimulus says that the tested control sites are "several miles" from the rigs. And B says that oil from the rigs is often carried "considerable distances before it settles on the ocean floor." It doesn't seem like B contradicts the stimulus in any way.
Adam Tyson
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That depends on whether "several miles" is a "considerable distance", lsat_novice! It's relative, perhaps, but a "considerable distance" could be much, much further away than just several miles. If that's the case, then the discharges could be having an impact somewhere far away, even while the control sites show no signs of any impact.

While this answer leaves some wiggle room in that interpretation, don't forget that the instructions tell us to pick the best answer, rather than a perfect answer or even a good one! There's no other answer choice here that does anything to undermine the argument, while this one should at least make you wonder whether perhaps the conclusion might be incorrect. That's enough to weaken the argument! Not destroy, but weaken.

Was there another answer that you felt did more damage to the argument? If so, let's talk about that and see if we can shed more light on it for you.
Adam M. Tyson
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