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#5 - The radiation absorbed by someone during an ordinary

Pragmatism
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Please review my rationale and what can I do to: 1. get to the correct answer. 2. If my rephrasing of the stimulus is correct, what type of reasoning would deviate one from the wrong answer choice, such as the one I picked. Thanks.

As for the question stem, it is a Flawed Method of Reasoning, so the stimulus states:

P1: That the radiation absorbed by someone during an ordinary commercial flight is no more dangerous than when an individual receives during an X-ray.

P2: Dental X-ray does negligible harm.

Conclusion: Taking premise 2, the use that to support the fact that commercial airlines poses the same trait.

The issues with this reasoning is possibly three-fold:

First, the very obvious one, just because both commercial airlines and dental X-ray share omitting radiation during an ordinary process that is quite similar in its danger to someone, doesn't mean that they are the same in every other way. e.g. do negligible harm.

Second, the word negligible harm to someone isn't clarified in terms of frequency of enduring the radiation. Suppose a businessperson flies 3X a week, but gets his/her dental exam every six-months. Under both events the businessperson endures negligible harm, but there could be a compounding effect, that might constitute that "someone" to undergo negligible harm under dental X-ray and a more severe harm under ordinary commercial airline flight.

Finally, this one might seem unwarranted, but could technically be scrutinized, and that is the use of the word "someone" and "ordinary." While "someone" is constituted as anyone, which isn't the same as say the word "average," and "ordinary," which could be constituted as what is deemed normative, and in that case would make the "someone's" action refer to it as the average, but if we took the word "ordinary" and applied it to "someone" meaning anyone, then what is deemed as "ordinary" is more so based on subjective interpretation of that "someone's" habits then say the average.

Nevertheless, I looked at this and thought to myself, it would touch on the first issue, but needless to say it didn't. I chose "B," because while nothing conformed to what I saw as an issue with this stimulus, at least this answer choice tangentially touches on the second issue by saying, it overlooks the fact that dental X-ray could avoid health risks that commercial flight doesn't. Obviously, it is wrong, because that isn't the correct answer. Answer choice D touches on my frequency issue I bought up, but how do I go about reconciling such dilemmas? And, what was your rationale in picking answer choice D over B?

Thanks
Jennifer Janowsky
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Pragmatism,

Thanks for the description of how you reached your answer! You obviously consider everything when making your decision, and that's a great thing for a detail-heavy test like the LSAT. From looking at your reasoning, however, I think that this attention to detail that you spent in prephrasing flaws has somewhat distracted you from the initial argument slightly.

The issue with answer choice (B) in particular is that it argues the reason behind dental xrays make them excusable, whereas there is no such health reason to excuse airplane radiation. However, the conclusion was only considering whether or not airplane radiation posed a health threat--the justification for this radiation is irrelevant.

I think how deep you delve into looking for potential flaws is great--but don't do it at the cost of missing the easier things right in front of you.

Thanks for the good question, I hope this helps!
Pragmatism
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Joined: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:42 am
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Jennifer,

Thank you so much for that clarification and advice. I guess, the reason why I tend to scrutinize this test in granularity is due to the belief, as a psychometrician, what can I do to trick an average test taker. Thus, leading me to look at all possible options, and at times, turn a stick figure sketch of a stimulus, i.e. easy, into a Mona Lisa.

With respects to approaching LR, what advice, if any, would warrant a fine-tooth comb analysis as mentioned in my explanations verses a more black and white one in your explanation, assuming the fact time is of the essence?
James Finch
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Hi Pragmatism,

The LSAT is designed to be a balancing act between speed and accuracy. As students get better and more practiced at the question types and how to get to the correct answers, they generally complete sections more quickly as well. Think of this combination of speed and accuracy as overall efficiency.

In LR sections, a critical element to maximizing your efficiency is to attack each stimulus by dissecting the logic contained within, and discarding any irrelevant bits of information. As you read stimuli, test whether the argument is valid, or if it's flawed. If it's flawed, what is it missing? If there is no conclusion, what can you infer from combining the premises? What possibilities are included, and which are excluded by the reasoning? Always engage with and challenge the stimulus, even before reading the question. If it is a flaw question, and you didn't see a flaw on the first pass, go back and look for that flaw before getting into the answer choices.

That said, scrutinize the logic, not every single word in the stimulus. The LSAT relies upon common definitions and even some common assumptions. Here, the frequency of radiation exposure is the key assumption: flight crews would be exposed almost daily, whereas a dental exam occurs, at most, every six months. And what is negligible every six months could be dangerous if were a daily occurrence.

Hope this helps!
Pragmatism
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Thank you so much