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#13 - Health officials claim that because the foods

LSAT Apprentice
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:53 pm
Points: 16

I just want to make sure, this is an Assumption question, right? I thought that B was the correct answer due to the word "likelihood." Likelihood doesn't imply reality/certainty. I thought that an increased or decreased likelihood doesn't necessarily guarantee a particular outcome. I thought that E was the correct answer, because its negation of "not accurate" seemed a lot stronger.

Is E the wrong answer due to the word "popular"? As in, popularity isn't the same thing as dietary habits? For example, pizza can be popular, but this doesn't mean that pizza consumption will become a dietary habit?

Can you please explain to me why B is right and E is wrong?
Robert Carroll
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
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Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:18 am
Points: 436


This is indeed an Assumption question. Two features of the question indicate this - it says the argument "depends" on a "presupposition". "Presupposition" is synonymous with "assumption", and the word "depends" indicates that the assumption is a necessary condition for the argument.

Your objection to answer choice (B) is actually one of its best features as an Assumption answer choice. Assumptions can't go beyond what's necessary for the argument, and often the assumption itself will do very little - it's not a Justify question, so the answer does not need to prove the conclusion. Instead, the answer should be something the argument needs, although it might not be ALL the argument needs to work. So the reduced degree of certainty inherent in the word "likelihood" is good for an Assumption question - it's less certain, so there's less risk it's positing a degree of certainty beyond what's required for the argument in the stimulus. In fact, it's only positing an increase in likelihood, which might just be a change from 1% to 2%.

In this argument, you'd certainly want viewers to be influenced by what they see on TV. Ideally, they'd be influenced a lot, but certainly you want there to be an influence that leads to at least a somewhat increased likelihood. Answer choice (B) posits that increase. An objection that answer choice (B) doesn't prove the conclusion is inapposite - this isn't a Justify question.

Answer choice (E) is stronger than it needs to be. The argument requires only that bad food on TV have some negative effect on people's diets. It's not necessary that one can predict people's precise food choices from TV. Imagine people on TV drink a certain kind of soda. Do I have to be able to predict that people will buy that soda to know that TV is making people drink unhealthy beverages? Certainly not - it may be that people buy a different soda, or something else, so that the depicted soda consumption is influencing people's dietary habits without its happening in a clearly predictable way.

Using the Assumption Negation technique, you can also see that answer choice (E) is wrong. Say the predictions aren't accurate - does that mean TV isn't negatively influencing people's diet? No, so the negation of this answer doesn't weaken the argument.

Robert Carroll