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#23 - Alex: Shrimp farming results in damage to the

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Complete Question Explanation

Point at Issue. The correct answer choice is (B)

Alex argues that shrimp farming damage the environment because investors seek to make quick
profit before abandoning the farms. Jolene concedes that some farms are unsustainable, but disagrees
with Alex’s conclusion. According to Jolene, farms require a large initial investment in time and
money, which is why most owners try to keep them productive for a long time.

Jolene’s response is concerned solely with economics of shrimp farming. While she disagrees
with Alex’s conclusion that shrimp farming results in environmental damage, Jolene makes no
overt comment regarding how much damage, if any, is caused by shrimp farming. Because the two
speakers are having a disagreement over an issue that is factual in nature, ethical answers, such as
answer choice (E), will be incorrect. The correct answer to this Point at Issue question will contain
a factual statement that passes the Agree/Disagree Test, i.e. it must produce responses where one
speaker would say, “Yes, I agree with this statement” and the other speaker would say, “No, I
disagree with it.” Unless both responses are produced, the answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (A): This answer choice may seem attractive, because Jolene claims that most owners
try to keep their farms for a long time whereas Alex implies that they do not. However, neither
speaker would disagree that owners eventually abandon their farms. The issue is how quickly they do
so, not whether they do it.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice, because Alex would agree with the
statement and Jolene would disagree with it. According to Alex, investors make quick profits and
then abandon the farms. Jolene would disagree, arguing that the profit is neither quick nor easy.
Answer choice (B) passes the Agree/Disagree Test, and is therefore the correct answer choice.

Answer choice (C): This answer choice is incorrect, because it does not pass the Agree/Disagree
Test. Alex would clearly disagree with this statement, claiming that shrimp farming often damages
the environment. Jolene’s response, on the other hand, is less than clear. Recall that her argument
only addresses the economics of shrimp farming, not its environmental impact. While Jolene
disagrees with Alex’s position in general, she concedes that some shrimp farms are unsustainable.
Consequently, she would not necessarily agree that shrimp farming “hardly ever” damages the

Answer choice (D): Jolene would probably agree that the abandonment of a single shrimp farm is
unlikely to damage the environment. However, Alex only argues that shrimp farming as a whole
damages the environment; it is unclear if he would also agree that the abandonment of a single
shrimp farm is bound to do the same.

Answer choice (E): The normative dimension of this answer choice makes it relatively easy to
eliminate, because the point at issue between Alex and Jolene is factual, not ethical. Additionally,
there is no reason to suspect that either speaker would disagree with the claim that some shrimp
farmers are environmentally irresponsible, especially given Jolene’s concession that some shrimp
farms have proved unsustainable.
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I understand why B is the correct answer. With this answer choice, Alex would agree and Jolene would disagree. I chose answer C. Alex says that "shrimp farming results in damage to the environment". Jolene says that she disagrees with shrimp farming resulting in damage for the environment ("I disagree"). Why is C incorrect?
Steve Stein
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Hi Smile,

Although Jolene begins her response with the statement, "I disagree," that disagreement refers to Alex's claim that shrimp investors tend to make their money and then abandon their farms. Because shrimp farms take significant efforts to create, Jolene asserts, most such owners would not simply abanondon their farms. It is not clear, however, whether Jolene would go so far as to claim that such farms "hardly ever" damage the environment.

Good question! I hope that's helpful--please let me know whether this is clear--thanks!

Steve Stein
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That makes sense. Thank you!
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Hi, for this question I eliminated B because Alex would say yes, but I thought that Jolene could both agree and disagree because her argument focuses on properly built shrimp farms and does not address whether the abandoned shrimp farms yielded profits or not. I chose A as my answer because Jolene states that most owners try to make sure that their farms are productive for many years, so I assumed that she believes most owners of shrimp farms would not abandon their farms, but Alex would believe otherwise because investors are able to make quick profits even if they abandon the farms. Could someone help me out here? Thanks!
Francis O'Rourke
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Choice (A) uses the key word "eventually", which means that Jolene's argument that shrimp farmer's won't quickly abandon their property gives us no idea about what they will do several years or decades down the road.

Evidence for Jolene's opinion on Choice (B) comes in the final sentence "Most owners try to make sure that their farms are productive for many years" tells us that Jolene would disagree that shrimp farming often yields a quick profit; why would most owners try to plan their farms for the long run if they can get a quick, easy profit?
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I was between B and C and chose C. I think I chose C because B uses the word "often". To me "often" is similar to "many" which to me are both basically are equivalent to "some". Even though Jolene indicates that most shrimp farming doesn't yield a quick profit, why isn't there a chance that some do? She even admits that some are unsustainable and are quickly abandoned. She doesn't seem to indicate that those farms aren't profitable.
Jonathan Evans
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Hi, Alexis,

Thank you for sharing your reasoning. This is a challenging question in that there are several different points raised in the stimulus, and we have to track multiple ideas to determine which one the two people would definitely disagree about. Let's run through these ideas:

  • Shrimp farms damage the environment: Alex, yes. Jolene, insufficient evidence.
  • Shrimp farms make quick profits: Alex, yes. Jolene, no.
  • Shrimp farmers quickly abandon their farms: Alex, yes. Jolene, mostly no.

Your question was mostly about (B), which concerns the second bullet point above. How do we know that Alex and Jolene disagree about how often shrimp farming yields a quick, easy profit? Alex makes a broad statement that implies that these quick profits happen frequently. Jolene concurs that some shrimp farmers abandon their farms quickly, but in her final statement she avers that "most owners try to make sure their farms are productive for many years."

Connect this statement to the preceding statement. These built-to-last farms, the majority of shrimp farms, take a long time to construct and are costly to operate. Thus, we may infer correctly that the majority of shrimp farming is costly and long-term. Therefore we have solid evidence that Jolene would not agree with the idea that shrimp farming often turns a quick profit. From the evidence in the text, we may conclude that Jolene would think these quick profits would only occur in a minority of the cases (if at all!) in the farms that are quickly abandoned.

We may understand "often" to mean "frequently." Does this mean "most of the time"? Not necessarily, but it does mean a substantial number of cases. We have solid evidence that Jolene would think that such quick profits occur infrequently (if at all), as discussed above.

Since Alex is a lock to agree with the statement in (B) and we can reason correctly that Jolene would disagree with it, (B) is the credited response.

One final note: we are looking for the answer that has the most support in the text. We have strong support for answer choice (B).

For answer choice (C), we have far less evidence. We know that Alex would agree with the statement in (C), but we have far less evidence about how harmful to the environment Jolene thinks shrimp farming is. We may assume that since she reiterates that shrimp farms are usually built to last that she would likely think that shrimp farming is less harmful to the environment than Alex suggests. However, our evidence to back up this claim is more tenuous than the evidence we have to support answer choice (B). Further, answer choice (C) uses the term "hardly ever." Even if we conclude that Jolene likely thinks shrimp farming harms the environment less frequently, we would be making an unwarranted assumption to conclude Jolene thinks shrimp farming "hardly ever" damages the environment.

I hope this helps!
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Hi, I eliminated A because it said owners. Alex says that the investors would abandon the farms but can we assume that the investors Alex mentionsnand the owners Jolene references are the same? I wouldn’t necessarily say that investors and owners are the same.

I also understand the eventually argument but I was wondering if this was also a valid reason to eliminate the answer?

Thank you!
Brook Miscoski
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Hassann, it is always good to catch on to differences in wording. In this case, I don't see a strong reason to differentiate between investors and owners, which are quite often interchangeable terms when talking about a business. The best reason to eliminate (A) is because Jolene has expressed no opinion about the eventual fate of a shrimp farm.