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#23- Mayor Smith, one of our few government officials with a

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LRTT CH 10 #35

Hello! Don't understand why the correct answer is E and not D. The stimulus incorrectly is giving mayor the advantage of always being right unjustifiably
Adam Tyson
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It's not that the author thinks the Mayor must always be right, akanshalsat, but that on this issue the Mayor has been consistently opposed and has now switched positions, and the author finds that change to be convincing. What would this author say about the Mayor taking an issue on a position on which she has historically taken no position? We have no idea! What would the author say about the Mayor having been right previously, when she opposed nuclear power? We don't know that, either! Our author isn't showing blind deference to the Mayor, as described in answer D, but is basing his analysis on a comparison between the Mayor's past position to the current one.

The problem is that we don't know anything about why the Mayor switched sides. Maybe she got a payoff? Maybe she has lost her mind? Maybe she is being blackmailed? Basing our analysis on "but she always used to say the opposite" is no way to logically make an argument, not without further evidence. That's the problem here - not that she is always right, but that we don't know why she changed her position. That's answer E.
Adam M. Tyson
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I am confused by this one. I went with B after considering C a contender because I figured this is a source flaw. Can you explain how this question doesn't contain one? I felt as though the entire argument was flawed because the narrator is giving credence to a mere politician's opinion.

Why do we need to know the backstory to the mayor's change in position, as in E. So far, I hadn't seen the correct flaw answer state that the stimulus wasn't sufficiently explanatory. Is this common? Finally, what is the name of this flaw/fallacy?
Robert Carroll
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You have to look at how the mayor is cited in the argument. Is the argument saying "She's the mayor, so you know she's right"? No, it's not doing that. So it's not appealing to her as mayor. Is it saying "She's the mayor, so you know she understands the science"? Again, no. Instead, it's saying something equivalent to "She opposed it consistently before, and now supports it, so you know she's right this time." Indeed, the fact that she's the mayor is not used in the argument! I think that may be throwing you off a bit. The stimulus could have used anyone who had a history of opposition and changed their mind and it would not have affected the flawed method of reasoning used.

Now look at answer choice (B). This answer choice is claiming the flaw involves the political office and scientific knowledge of the mayor. As I pointed out, the author does not rely on those at all. The author relies on an argument something like "If someone with a consistent belief changes that belief, their reason for the change must be good, so you can trust the changed opinion." Of course that's a terrible argument, but it's not an appeal to authority.

This would be a flaw of relevance. That she changed her mind tells me nothing. As Adam pointed out, I'd wonder why she changed her mind - she got better informed? She was bribed? These are vastly different reasons for her mind's changing and may lead to vastly different evaluations of the meaning of her current support. Her change of mind is not relevant to whether she's right now.

Robert Carroll