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#8 - Conscientiousness is high on most firms’ list of traits

est15
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Hi, I was a bit troubled that A was the answer for this question because in a very similar question from a previous PrepTest I did, the argument used numbers to its advantage.

This previous question I'm talking about is October 2000, Section 1, #17. C supposedly strengthens the argument because if there are 8 accountants while only 2 actuaries, statistically speaking it's more likely that the embezzler is an accountant.

But then for June 2002, Section 2, #8, A is the correct answer because more people looking for jobs doesn't mean more people are finding them. But then couldn't the same be said about #17 from October 2000? That just because there are more accountants, it doesn't mean that the embezzler is more likely to be an accountant?

I'm confused about which stance the testmakers want me to take - does the higher number help support the argument or does it do nothing to the argument? What exactly is the difference between these two questions that causes their reasoning to be different?
David Boyle
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est15 wrote:Hi, I was a bit troubled that A was the answer for this question because in a very similar question from a previous PrepTest I did, the argument used numbers to its advantage.bout is October 2000, Section 1, #17. C supposedly strengthens the argument because if there are 8 accountants while only 2 actuaries, statistically speaking it's more likely that the embezzler is an accountant.

But then for June 2002, Section 2, #8, A is the correct answer because more people looking for jobs doesn't mean more people are finding them. But then couldn't the same be said about #17 from October 2000? That just because there are more accountants, it doesn't mean that the embezzler is more likely to be an accountant?

I'm confused about which stance the testmakers want me to take - does the higher number help support the argument or does it do nothing to the argument? What exactly is the difference between these two questions that causes their reasoning to be different?


Hello est15,

Answer A seems to mean that with all the shirkers around, it's likely harder for them, the shirkers, to get jobs. (Which may worsen the paradox, as opposed to resolving it.) All the other answers seem to support that the conscientious won't get the jobs, as opposed to shirkers not getting jobs.

Hope this helps,
David
est15
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I'm still unsure why these two questions from two different PrepTests seem to suggest conflicting reasoning.

For June 2002, Section 2, #8, I agree that A is right because more shirkers looking for jobs doesn't mean that more shirkers will actually find jobs, so the conscientious employees shouldn't be any less likely to find jobs than the employees who shirk.

But if that above reasoning is correct, then I don't understand why for October 2000, Section 1, #17 answer choice C weakens the argument. Using similar reasoning as above, isn't it incorrect to say that a higher proportion of accountants makes it less likely that the embezzler is one of the actuaries? What if the actuaries had special access to financial records that the accountants didn't - then even though there are fewer actuaries they are still likely to be the culprits.

Can someone explain why the second question uses a large number to support the increased likelihood of something while the first question says that the large number doesn't affect the likelihood? Is there something fundamentally different between these two questions? Thanks!
David Boyle
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est15 wrote:I'm still unsure why these two questions from two different PrepTests seem to suggest conflicting reasoning.

For June 2002, Section 2, #8, I agree that A is right because more shirkers looking for jobs doesn't mean that more shirkers will actually find jobs, so the conscientious employees shouldn't be any less likely to find jobs than the employees who shirk.

But if that above reasoning is correct, then I don't understand why for October 2000, Section 1, #17 answer choice C weakens the argument. Using similar reasoning as above, isn't it incorrect to say that a higher proportion of accountants makes it less likely that the embezzler is one of the actuaries? What if the actuaries had special access to financial records that the accountants didn't - then even though there are fewer actuaries they are still likely to be the culprits.

Can someone explain why the second question uses a large number to support the increased likelihood of something while the first question says that the large number doesn't affect the likelihood? Is there something fundamentally different between these two questions? Thanks!


Hello,

For the 2002 one, jobs are sort of a zero-sum game, i.e., there are only so many jobs to go around. So, more shirkers means that they all have less of a chance to find a job.

For the 2000 one, it's maybe also a "zero-sum game" in that there's only one culprit. However, the more accountants there are, then, everything being equal (unless, say, your "special access to financial records" scenario above somehow comes to pass), the more percentage likelihood that one of the accountants is guilty.

So, in the 2002 one, it's true that if, say, there are 2 conscientious employees and 2 million shirkers, there may be a larger chance that *some* shirkers find a job, since there're so many. (With 2 million of them, then, say, some might be the boss's son, some may have an OIympic gold medal, etc., which outweighs their shirking and could get them hired.) However, each *particular* shirker will have a terribly low chance of getting a job--because there are 2 million of them, even though in the aggregate, the 2 million shirkers might snag jobs from the outnumbered conscientious employees. (Just as in the aggregate, 8 accountants are more likely to be crooks than the 2 actuaries--even if the percentage chance for any one accountant being a crook goes down, since there are a whopping 8 accountants.)

David
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So to clarify, the answer referred to in the question in the October 2000 test was acceptable because the numbers (8 accountants and 2 actuaries) were comparable, whereas for the June 2002 test the answer only indicates that there were more people who shirked their workplace, which does not indicate that this is comparable to that of those who are conscientious because they are confusing absolute/relative comparisons?