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Explanation answer (B), p. 194, Strengthens, not Weakens

sarahg
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Hi there,

Ok, so the answer explanation (B) on p. 194 for practice exam question #3 on p. 191 is understated in terms of explaining answer choice B in greater detail, and how it's possible this weakens, especially since the correct answer seems to unequivocally Strengthen the conclusion, and thus is totally counter intuitive, so it seems to me anyway.

My understanding of the stimulus is as follows:

Premise #1: people with specialized knowledge (PSK) are excluded from jury trials (JT) where the issue is relavent. In the wider context of the whole stimulus, this seems to be saying that if people with specialized knowledge are excluded, then jury trials will be fair.

Conclusion #1: Thus, trial by jury is not a fair (~FJT) means of settling disputes involving such issues, where "such issues" means if people with specialized knowledge are included (PSKI) in scientific trials. Thus, PSKI -----> ~FJT, and FJT ----> ~PSKI This seems to say that including jurors with specialized knowledge results in unfair jury trials and that fair jury trials result from excluding such individuals. And in order to waeken this conclusion, we must show that the necessary condition (~FJT) or (~PSKI) does not need to occur in order for the sufficient condition (PSKI) or ((FJT) to occur.

So, it seems to me that an appropriate prephrase to accomplish the task of finding this answer then is: find information shows that it's not necessary that an unfair trial occur when peope with specialized knowledge are included in them or the contrapositive. So, in other words, maybe one could have a fair trial when PSKI or that maybe there are other reasons the author left out or overlooked for unfair trials.

The answer explanation says in order to attack this, however, we need to find information that shows that the exclusion of PSK from scientific trials is a fair way of proceeding in these trials. But this appears to be a necessary assumption of the argument, not an attack on the necessary condition, and answer choice B seems to confirm the conclusion by way of Repeat.

B says, roughly, that the more someone knows about a particular scientific issue involved in the trial, the more likely he or she is to be prejudiced in favor of one of the litigants before the trial even begins. I see this as nothing more than a strengthening argument by Repeat.

Task at hand: Weaken. So I'm inclined to want to attack the conclusion by finding an answer choice that says it is not necessary for a jury trial to be unfair when jurors with specialized knowledge are included in them. Again, maybe a fair trial could result with such individuals or maybe there are other reasons for unfair trials that the author has overlooked. But this apparantly is not correct, and I do not quite see why; that is, without convincing myself of something unnatural and perhaps illegal lol.

Any information that helps clear this up would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Sarah
Steve Stein
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Hi Sarah,

Let's take another look at that argument so we can see where the author is coming from--breaking it down into its basic components will probably be helpful:

Premise: People with specialized knowledge are excluded from jury trials in which that knowledge might be relevant. (Note: The author has presented a fact--at this point there has been no reference to, or judgement regarding, the issue of fairness)

Conclusion: Thus, jury trials are not a fair means of solving disputes.

So, the author's argument: Since people with specialized knowledge are excluded, that makes jury trials unfair.

The question that follows requires that we weaken the author's argument. In other words, we must somehow refute the idea that jury trials are unfair based on their exclusion of people with relevant specialized knowledge. In other words, we must look for the answer choice that gives some reason to believe that such exclusions actually are fair.

Correct answer choice B accomplishes this: If, as choice B provides, more specialized knowledge means a greater likelihood of prejudice before the trial even begins, this gives a reasonable basis for specialized-knowledge exclusions. That reasonable basis would refute the author's conclusion that such exclusions are inherently unfair.

I hope that's helpful! Let me know whether this clears that one up--thanks!

~Steve
Steve Stein
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sarahg
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OMG, how insane am I! Haha. You're so right. I'm a little batty perhaps. I can see that as clear as day. I guess I was too busy imposing illicit assumptions on the argument instead of simply reading it, PO #4.

Thanks so much. And please forgive for the crazy posting lol.

Sarah
avengingangel
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Steve, thanks for the explanation -- And Sarah, thanks for posing the question! (Although I got the answer wrong for different reasons... :ras: )

I searched for this post though, to raise a different question regarding broader answer choice strategy:

I chose answer (C): Not knowing the exact definition of arbitrator, I thought maybe, in the legal profession, this might be the only/main alternative to a 'trial by jury.' I know what the general term, 'to arbitrate' means, but I thought maybe 'arbitrator' was a specific title for someone in the court system/process.. so, I just.. went with it... Anyway, I am looking for any general suggestions for choosing--or not choosing--answer choices when we DON'T know the definition of terms used in the answer choices ?? Thanks a bunch.
Nikki Siclunov
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Hi Angel,

Thanks for your question. As a non-native speaker, I sympathize with your plight: there may be a handful of unfamiliar words on the LSAT, but thankfully this is not a test of vocabulary. On the LSAT, you can almost always infer the general meaning (or "gist") of a statement contextually, even if you don't know the dictionary definition of each and every term in it.

Things get tricky when you don't know the meaning of a key term, as was the case here. I would never select an answer choice whose meaning I don't understand, unless 1) I am able to understand the meaning of all other answer choices, and 2) I am certain that I don't like any of them. It is highly unlikely that you'll come across a question where you don't understand the meaning of more than one answer choice, so hopefully this is a strategy you can easily put into practice.

Hope this helps! Let me know :-)

Thanks,
Nikki Siclunov
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Adam Tyson
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Hey Angel, good question. It's important to note a couple of things about the LSAT related to jargon, whether it be from the legal profession, medicine, technology, or any other field. First, the LSAT is NOT a test of knowledge - you are not being tested on how much you know about these things, but only about your ability to reason logically. The authors KNOW that you probably have not already gone to law school - if you had, why would you be taking this test? - so of course they are not testing your understanding of legal terms or art, jargon, rules, procedures, etc. In other words, if you don't know the meaning of a particular word, or aren't sure how it specifically applies in the case at hand, then you probably don't need to know what it means and you shouldn't worry about it. You could just as easily substitute "trained hippo" in place of "arbitrator" and still analyze this answer as a loser or contender just as easily.

Second, to the extent that you might need to know a meaning, the authors will give you enough context to deduce what you need. In this question, they tell us all we need to know - whatever an arbitrator is, it tends to favor settlements involving compromise. That is all we need to know about an arbitrator (or trained hippo) for this question!

So, when you don't know, either use context to figure out the essentials that you do need to know and don't worry about anything else, or else just ignore it because it is not relevant to your analysis.

Here's what I mean:

Premise: A Flangle is the best tool for webbing portals
Conclusion: This gadget in my hornsnoggle is therefore not the best tool for such portal-webbing

Now, what did I assume? The missing link here is that this gadget is not a Flangle. Does it matter that I don't know what a Flangle is, or a hornsnoggle, or what this portal webbing job is all about? Not a bit - I can still reason logically from the statements provided. That's the LSAT!

Cogitate on that, and best of luck on your continued studies!
Adam M. Tyson
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avengingangel
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That was awesome and super helpful. Thanks to both of you!
Mi Kal
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Hi,

I was wondering if someone could explain this to me. I'm just not getting it.

It discusses how a person having "specialized knowledge" in an area can "exclude" that person from a jury if that knowledge is related to the trial which would make the trial unfair.

Now, since this is a Weaken question, I don't understand how B can weaken the argument. Are we supposed to weaken the fact that a trial is unfair or that it is unfair to the jury member who would be excluded? I think we are supposed to weaken the fact that the trial system is unfair. It seems as if B strengthens the argument of not allowing a jury member with "specialized knowledge" on the jury because, as it states, "the juror will be prejudiced in favor of one of the litigating parties." Wouldn't that strengthen the fact that the jury trial is unfair? By choosing A which shows that allowing people with "specialized knowledge" on the jury will actually be helpful, because they will understand the case, this weakens the argument against not being able to serve on a jury if you have "specialized knowledge." Conversely, A strengthens its own argument against the Stimulus because the answer itself shows that there are benefits to someone with "specialized knowledge" on a jury which in turn helps to weaken the argument in the Stimulus.

I hope you understand what I am eluding to because I don't even know if I still understand what I mean. :)

Thanks.

Michael
Eric Ockert
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Hi Michael

The argument is essentially:

Premise: People with expertise on technical issues are excluded from juries where that expertise is relevant.

Conclusion: Jury trials with these exclusions are unfair.

So you are weakening the claim that the jury trials are unfair, but specifically, that the exclusion of these individuals makes it unfair. In other words, you want an answer that suggests maybe it is fair to exclude these people.

Answer (B) basically says that the more expertise a juror has on these technical issues the more prejudiced that juror will be. This is a bad thing. While that would strengthen the conclusion if the conclusion said that allowing these individuals to serve were unfair, that isn't what the conclusion says. The conclusion says that excluding these individuals makes the jury trial unfair. Well, if bringing these prejudiced people in on juries is a bad thing, then excluding them is probably a good thing, something that makes things fairer.

The point is, answer (B) gives you a fact that suggests trial by jury IS fair. That's exactly what we are looking for. Answer (A), on the other hand, gives you a reason to actually put people with expertise on juries. That would strengthen the conclusion that excluding them is unfair.

Hope that helps!
Eric Ockert
PowerScore LSAT/GMAT/SAT Instructor