Complete Question Explanation
Flaw in the Reasoning—#%. The correct answer choice is (D)
Your task in this Flaw in the Reasoning question is to select the answer that most accurately
describes the flaw in the journalist’s argument.
Premise: newspapers generally report on only those scientific studies whose findings
Premise: newspaper stories about small observational studies, which are somewhat
unreliable, are more frequent than newspaper stories about large randomized
trials, which generate stronger scientific evidence
Conclusion: thus, a small observational study must be more likely to have dramatic
findings than a large randomized trial
This argument implied that since small observational studies are somewhat unreliable, then if a
newspaper is reporting on the study it must be because of its dramatic findings rather than because
of its scientific reliability. However, the stimulus gave you no information regarding how many
small studies versus large randomized trials there are to report. It may be the case that the large
randomized trials are performed less frequently than small observational studies, in which case the
difference in reporting could be based merely on that difference in availability, rather than on some
difference in the dramatic quality of the findings.
The correct answer in this Method of Reasoning question will describe this logical flaw in the
journalist’s argument. The incorrect answers will describe some method of reasoning that did not
occur in the stimulus, or will describe reasoning that appeared in the stimulus but was not logically
Answer choice (A): This choice is incorrect because the lesser reliability of the small observational
studies was a premise of the argument, presented as a fact without support, rather than an inference
based on the source argument against the reporters.
Answer choice (B): The argument did not fail to consider this possibility. As to the small studies, it
stated that a small observational study is “somewhat less reliable,” leaving open the possibility its
findings are strong, though less reliable than a large randomized trial. Also, the argument states that
both the small studies and large trials are reported, permitting the inference that at least one of the
large randomized studies has dramatic findings.
Answer choice (C): This choice is a great example of an Method of Reasoning answer choice that
is so abstract it’s hard to even understand what the choice means, let alone consider whether it is
correct. When faced with a choice like this, be sure to anchor the vague language of the choice to
something specific in the stimulus, so that you can put the choice in context. Here, the claim about
the scientific studies whose findings sound dramatic was that they are the only type of scientific
study generally reported. The claims made about small observational studies were that they are
somewhat less reliable than large randomized trials, and that they are reported more frequently than
large randomized trials. The argument does not confuse these claims, as alleged in this choice.
Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. The journalist infers that since small
observational studies are somewhat less reliable than large randomized trials, then the only reason
the small studies are reported more frequently is because their findings are more dramatic. However,
this conclusion ignores the possibility that the higher frequency of reporting on small studies is
in keeping with the proportion of all studies they represent. If small studies are performed more
frequently than large trials, that could explain the higher frequency with which small studies are
Answer choice (E): This answer is incorrect because it is inconsistent with a premise of the
argument, and is not material to the conclusion, which focused on why small observational studies
are reported more frequently.
#20 - Journalist: Newspapers generally report on only
I read it several times, and I was lost at what I was reading.
Usually I can point out what error the stimulii is trying to make, but Q20 is not clear.
More importantly, I don't know how answer D points out the error.
I chose answer B because it touches the conclusion of the stimuli. However, I cannot defend the answer I picked as I am not certain what the stimuli delivers.
Can anyone save me from reading Q20 over and over again?
Here, the stimulus presents two separate claims:
1. Newspapers generally report on only those scientific studies whose findings sound dramatic
2. newspaper stories about small observational studies are more frequent than newspaper stories about large randomized trials
The conclusion then assumes that these two pieces of information must be related, and says that small observational studies must be more likely to sound dramatic. But isn't it possible that there is another explanation/cause for small observational studies being published more often, other than that they are more often dramatic than large randomized trials?
Answer choice D provides us with another explanation; there are many, many more small observational studies than large randomized trials, so even if they were equally likely to have dramatic results, there would still be more reporting of the small studies.
Does that make sense?
Yes, it does make sense!
What about answer choice B?
B is irrelevant here. We aren't concerned with whether the scientific evidence is strong. We're looking for something that explains why there could be more small, observational studies (which we KNOW are less strong evidence) reported even though they don't necessarily have much more dramatic findings.
Does that help?
Got it. Thanks, Emily!
I'm still not sure about B...
I thought the issue here is the author thinks A or B although A and B can be happen and the author overlooks the possiblity.
Isn't this what happened in the stimulus?
I'm not sure I'm following you on this one, 15. Can you elaborate on what you mean by "A or B"? Meanwhile, I would point you back to Emily's response, which explains the causal nature of this stimulus. The author believes that the reason (the cause) for publishing more small observational studies must be that they are more dramatic, and answer D supplies the alternate cause that there are simply more of them.
The stimulus tells us in no uncertain terms that small, observational studies are somewhat unreliable. That's a premise, not a conclusion, so we must accept it as true for the sake of our analysis. It isn't about whether those small studies provide strong evidence, because they generally don't.
Answer B tells us that some dramatic findings may be based on strong evidence, but it makes no differentiation between small observational studies and large randomized trials, so it does nothing to help explain why there are so many more newspaper reports about the small one than the large ones.
Take another look and see what you think about that. Keep pounding, you're doing good work!
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LSATadam
Oops..sorry this question is actually about Q18.
I'll repost there.
Basically I was wondering...
In the conclusion it says "either...difficult to domesticate(X) or...not worth domesticating(Y)"
and the correct answer says "not easier today to domesticate" but this only addresses X.
Can't it be true that most of those that are not domesticated are just not worth domesticating? (Y)
So the conclusion says X or Y is true. And necessary assumption connects the dot between X and premise. But if only Y is actually true then there is no need to assume answer choice B right?
Or is this mind set not appropriate to attack assumption question but weakening question?