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#9 - Tea made from camellia leaves is a popular beverage.

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Hi, could you help me answer a specific LR question?

On Test 53 Section 3 # 9, regarding the Tea made from camellia leaves question, I was also torn between answers D and E because I can't see why both do not weaken the argument. For D, if most people who drink the tea do not develop kidney damage, wouldn't that weaken the causal argument in the stimulus as well?

Thank you!
Steve Stein
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Hey Jan,

First, it's great that you were able to narrow down the answer choices to those two. The problem with answer choice D is the even if the majority of tea drinkers dont get kidney disease, that could still leave a 49% minority who do contract the disease--this would be a huge portion of the population.

As for correct answer choice E, why is that one a winner? The author claims that since tea drinkers contract kidney disease more often, tea must increase the risk. But what if we also found out that all of those tea drinkers live down by the nuclear plant (or drink a radioactive beverage)? That would seriously weaken the author's argument that the tea is to blame.

Let me know if this clears that one up--thanks!

Steve Stein
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Hello Steve,

So I initially approached this question as a Cause and effect relationship.

Conclusion: Regular consumption of camellia tea can result in a heightened risk of kidney damage.

So since this is a weaken question we would look for an answer choice that disrupts this cause and effect relationship. I picked D, but D is wrong because the A.C. doesn't explain why. In other words its too ambiguous. I can see how E makes sense as per your explanation. But I noticed that D is Most people and E is Many people. So Many and Most are not the same thing? What is the distinction b/w these two. I think this is why I initially picked D.

Clay Cooper
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Hi Sarah,

This is an important question - we must know exactly how to distinguish between quantity words like many and most if we want to do well on the test.

Many is fairly vague; all it really means for certain is more than one or two. It could mean six, or it could mean six million. For instance, if I said many of my coworkers stayed up late watching hockey, what does that mean? If I work in a small office, it could mean four people; if I work in a large automotive plant, it could mean a thousand people.

Most, however, is more concrete: it means more than half. If most of my coworkers stayed up late watching hockey, and my office has ten people, that means at least six stayed up late. If I have three thousand coworkers, then at least 1,501 stayed up late watching hockey - and that's all we can say for certain. It could be that they all stayed up late, but I can't prove that. All I know for sure is that more than half of them did.

Does that clarify it?
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I'm seeing a similar problem between D and E on this question. Most people, in D, vs Many people, in E. Don't they both pose the same problem? Many people could mean 4 out of 100, couldn't it? Is that enough to weaken the conclusion?

Luke Haqq
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Hi Sarah!

Happy to try to help with this one as well. First let's consider (D):

(D) Most people who regularly drink camellia tea do not develop kidney damage.

In continuing with the 1-100 range as an example, this means at least 51. If that many did not develop kidney damage, this doesn't weaken the conclusion, because the conclusion is about increase kidney damage risk. It's consistent with the conclusion that most camellia drinkers do not develop kidney damage--for they could still be at an increased risk for that damage.

(E) Many people who regularly consume camellia tea also regularly consume other beverages suspected of causing kidney damage.

You're right that "many" might refer from 4 to 100. However, even if all that was discovered was 4 people had consumed kidney-damage-causing beverages while also consuming camellia, this would still be a discovery finding that there's a potential alternate cause. In other words, it would be a discovery that it might not be camellia that causes kidney damage but instead an alternative cause. It leaves it an open question how many of the 4-100 consumed this alternative-cause beverage, but if (E) were true, it would raise the possibility that there might be other alternative causes as well. Maybe other camellia drinkers are engaged in different kidney-damaging behaviors. Both of these would be showing alternative causes--in other words, they would be weakening the argument that camellia causes an increased risk of kidney damage.
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I see answer choice D weakening the argument by saying cause, no effect, whereas answer choice E weakens the argument via an alternative cause. I know both of those techniques are ones listed as causal weakeners. Is it safe to assume that if you ever have two options, such as in this case, the alternative cause always weakens better?
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Hi Jessica,

Great question!

I wouldn't characterize (D) as a "cause, but no effect" answer, because the effect we're interested in (kidney disease) might still be present even if most tea-drinkers don't develop it. Consider this example:

In the general population, only 1 in 100 people will develop kidney disease. However, among regular drinkers of camellia tea, 10 out of 100 will develop the disease. In such a case, it's true that most tea-drinkers will not develop the disease, but it's still the case that they face a greater risk of developing it.

So if we know that tea drinkers will face a risk of developing kidney disease that is ten times greater than the risk in the general population, this fact would strengthen the author's argument that drinking this tea is risky.

I hope that helps clear things up. Good luck studying!