to the top

#18 - In the past decade, a decreasing percentage of money

jbrown1104
LSAT Apprentice
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:22 am
Points: 21

Hello PS!

I am still struggling to see how answer choice (E) justifies the conclusion. While I was able to isolate the conclusion within the stimulus and the supporting premise, I still do not understand how (E) "the total amount of money spent on treating disease X slowly declined during the past decade" abides by the Justify Formula.

Perhaps it was my rephrase that threw me off. Mine was "over the past decade there was an increase in spending on nonstandard treatment".

Thanks!
Jonathan Evans
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 681
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:12 pm
Points: 570
Location: DFW, Texas

Hi, JBrown,

Thanks for the question!

Yes, your prephrase might have been part of the issue here. Let's do a quick diagram of this problem for our discussion:

  1. Decreasing percentage of Disease X treatment money spent on Standard Treatments.
  2. Increasing percentage of Disease X treatment money spent on Non-Standard Treatments.
  3. Standard Treatments are Effective.
  4. Non-Standard Treatments are not Effective.

We may assume that treatments are either Standard or Non-Standard.

Unknowns include:

  • Total amount of money spent on Disease X treatments.
  • Amount spent on Standard Treatments.
  • Amount spent on Non-Standard Treatments.

The conclusion is:

    Less money is spent on Effective treatments.

This conclusion deals with one of our unknowns: "Amount spent on Standard Treatments."

We do not know the actual amount spent on Standard Treatments. However, we do know the percentage spent on these Standard Treatments has been decreasing.

Let's consider your prephrase:

"over the past decade there was an increase in spending on nonstandard treatment"


Even if we were to know that the amount spent on nonstandard treatments increased, we would still not know that the actual amount spent on Standard, Effective treatments decreased. It could be possible that both amounts increased, just with Non-Standard increasing more quickly, or with the amount spent on Standard Treatments remaining the same. Let me illustrate:

    Starting amounts: $50 for ST. $50 for NST.
    New amounts: $50 for ST. $100 for NST.

Even though the NST amount has gone up, the ST amount has not gone down. However, the percentage spent on ST has declined from 50% to 33%, which agrees with the premises.

To justify the conclusion that the actual amount on ST went down, we need some additional information that we can add to the premises that guarantees that the conclusion is valid (this is the Justify Equation™).

Answer choice (E) does this. Let's illustrate:

    Starting amounts: $50 for ST. $50 for NST.
    New TOTAL amount: $80.

If the new total amount went down from $100 to $80 and if the percentage spent on ST has also declined, then it is a mathematical certainty that the amount spent on ST has gone down. It must be less than $50.

Does this make sense? Great question.
jbrown1104
LSAT Apprentice
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:22 am
Points: 21

Thank you Johnathan I think I get it now.

So, even though the conclusion states that less money is spent on standard treatments, we cannot assume that MORE money is spent on nonstandard treatments. AND because within the stimulus there is no start amount for either treatment that the author gives us, the ONLY assumption that can be made is that money spent for the treatment of disease X as a WHOLE has been reduced, because the author does not provide us with any information to assume that one form of treatments increased while another decreased.

Is this correct?

Thank you!
Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 2489
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:01 pm
Points: 2,304

It's not that we have to assume that less money is being spent, JB, but that IF we assume that to be true, THEN the conclusion of the argument must be true. A Justify the Conclusion answer isn't necessary for the argument to be valid, but it is sufficient to prove the conclusion is true.

Other than that, you're spot on! Nice job!
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LSATadam