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#11 - Biologist: Humans have five fingers because we

SherryZ
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Oct 2000 LSAT, Sec 4 LR, Q11:

After I got this question wrong, I re-read it and understood why D is right. But I am still confused by A, which a wrong answer. Could you tell me why A is wrong and D is better than A?

Thank you very much! ;)

---Sherry
Nikki Siclunov
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Hello Sherry,

It would be helpful to know more about how you approached each question you're asking about, rather than simply stating which answer choice(s) you found attractive. That way, we can address the flaws in your analysis. Finally, please double-check the correct answer choices for the questions posted: the correct answer choice for Q11, for instance, is not (D) but (C).

In Q11, the biologist observes that having six fingers would be just as useful as having five. So, she concludes, humans would be just as content with six fingers as we are with five. How do we strengthen this argument? By establishing a logical link between usefulness and contentedness: if humans are equally content with two things of equal usefulness, as answer choice (C) claims, then the conclusion would be much stronger. By contrast, answer choice (A) states that everyone is equally content with our present configuration of fingers. That does not mean that we would be just as content with the hypothetical alternative of having six fingers. So, answer choice (A) fails to support the conclusion. Answer choice (D) is entirely outside the scope of the argument, because it does not connect the new element in the conclusion (contentedness) with its central premise (usefulness).

Hope this helps!
Nikki Siclunov
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SherryZ
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Dear Nikki,

Thank you very much for your help :)

About Q11, I chose A because I thought "Present configuration of fingers" = "6 fingers". Because in the stimulus, the author gives an example says that if we had 6 fingers (which I thought it means "if NOW we had 6 fingers rather than 5) instead of 5, then we will still be content with them.

I think I got Q11 incorrectly because I did not catch the "Usefulness" :arrow: "Satisfaction" relationship.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Thank you again!

---Sherry
Nikki Siclunov
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Hi SherryZ,

Indeed, your interpretation of answer choice (A) was a bit off. By "present configuration of fingers," test-makers are surely referring to having five fingers, not six. The example of six fingers introduced in the stimulus was a hypothetical configuration, not an actual (present) one.

Glad I could help!
Nikki Siclunov
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kristinaroz93
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Is B incorrect for being a mistaken negation of c.

C: equal usefulness-->equally content
B: unequal usefulness-->unequal content

And if not mistaken negation, what is the best way to rule out B? =)
David Boyle
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kristinaroz93 wrote:Is B incorrect for being a mistaken negation of c.

C: equal usefulness-->equally content
B: unequal usefulness-->unequal content

And if not mistaken negation, what is the best way to rule out B? =)


Hello kristinaroz93,

It's close to a mistaken negation in some ways, though "never" is not the same as "not always".
B just doesn't fit, since we want to discuss equal, not unequal, usefulness.

Hope this helps,
David
ubrjames
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Hi!

I also chose answer choice (A) for this question, but it was because I categorized the question stem wrong for some reason. Perhaps I was reading too quickly, but I was looking for an assumption of the argument.

If this was an assumption question, would answer choice (A) be a correct assumption of the argument?

Thank you,

James
Clay Cooper
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Hi ubrjames,

Thanks for your question, and welcome to the forum! I think you will find it very helpful.

Your post is correct - this is not an assumption question, but a strengthen question.

However, answer choice A would not be correct, I think, even if this were an assumption question, because it is not the case that A must be true for our conclusion to be true.

Answer choice A states that we are all equally satisfied with five fingers; the conclusion states that we would be just as satisfied as we presently are even if we all had six fingers. I do not think the first statement must be true for the second to be true; in other words, I think that it is possible that some humans enjoy our present finger configuration more than others (that is, that A is false) and yet also possible that if we had six fingers instead, we would as a group enjoy that configuration equally as much.

In other words, when negated, answer choice A does not become an attack on the conclusion, and therefore it would not make a good answer choice on an Assumption question.

I hope that helps! And I hope to hear from you again.
bk1111
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Hello - I chose D. Although I understand that B is correct, now I do not see how D fits into the argument, if at all. Maybe I just don't understand what it is saying, because I can't seem to definitively eliminate it either.

I chose it thinking along the lines that if our current perceived usefulness of our configuration of 5 fingers it is an illusory result of prejudice (rather than a legitimate reason), we could easily be content with the 6 finger configuration too? Is this too far-fetched?
Francis O'Rourke
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Hi bk,

Answer choice (D) reworks what the biologist stated in the second sentence. In that sentence the biologist states that having five fingers is not more useful than having six and that we are prejudiced to think that having five fingers is the most useful amount. Answer choice (D) simply connects these ideas causally.

That does connect some dots between ideas brought up in the stimulus, but it does not do so in any productive way. After choosing answer choice (D) we still don't know why equal usefulness translates into equal contentedness. Having something useful does not necessarily mean that you will be content with it, so we need answer choice (C) to make that connection