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#17 - How the pigment known as Han purple was synthesized

Cking14
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Hi,

I chose answer choice (B) for this question. Can someone please explain how on earth (A) strengthens the argument? If it was discovered by accident, it made more sense to me that if the white glass was used for everyday items, then, the discovery by accident would be strengthened since it was only used for a small amount of items. This is what (B) is saying. (A) is just talking about geography. How does that help the argument?

Thanks!
Chris
Robert Carroll
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Chris,

Answer choice (B) does not make it more plausible that the discovery was by accident. That each product was only used for certain items does nothing to strengthen the accidental discovery. Whatever way the process was originally discovered, those who discovered it would of course use the product in whatever way they thought best.

Answer choice (A) shows that both products were produced in a small area, thus strengthening the possibility that one was discovered during the production of another because there is less chance of independent discovery of each process separately.

Robert Carroll
mokkyukkyu
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Hi,
I'm not sure why D is wrong...
Or maybe this can be assumption, but not strengthener?
I thought its necessary to know the ingredients were available, otherwise the phenomenon in the question will not occur.
Why is D wrong?
Adam Tyson
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Does it help us if the ingredients are easily obtainable? Nope - they could be very hard to find, and only in limited areas at great expense, and our argument would still be at least as good as if they were easily acquired. Ease is not an issue here, and in fact may weaken the argument by introducing the possibility that anyone, anywhere could have stumbled across the pigment without trying to make the glass.

There is certainly an assumption here that the ingredients were obtainable - otherwise, if they were not, then neither the glass not the pigment could ever have existed. Ease, though, has nothing to do with it. What we want is to strengthen the claim that the pigment was discovered accidentally while making the glass, and ease of obtaining the ingredients has no impact on that claim.

Answer A helps, as discussed above, by narrowing the scope of where the two things (pigment and glass) were found. If the pigment was found all over the country, but the glass was only found in one place, that would hurt, so by tying the two to each other geographically we somewhat strengthen the idea that the two at least were created in the same place. Not much of a strengthen, but better than any of the other answers, and so that's what we go with.
Adam M. Tyson
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bli2016
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Wondering why C would be wrong? I thought this would also limit the possibilities that they were discovered separately.
Adam Tyson
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Tell us more about that, bli2016. Why do you think that having only a few people "in the know" strengthens the claim that the pigment was discovered by accident while making glass? What's the connection between "very few people" and "accident"?

More importantly, what makes C better than A? We are tasked with selecting the best answer, not the right answer or a good answer, so your analysis needs to take into account not only the merits of any given answer choice, but its merits relative to the other answer choices. A helps by putting the two things (pigment and glass) in the same neighborhood as each other, and while that's not hugely helpful, it does help somewhat. If you like C, then, you have to be able to explain why it is more helpful than A.

Give that some thought, and let us know what you come up with. We'll be standing by to help!
Adam M. Tyson
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LSAT2018
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Adam Tyson wrote:Does it help us if the ingredients are easily obtainable? Nope - they could be very hard to find, and only in limited areas at great expense, and our argument would still be at least as good as if they were easily acquired. Ease is not an issue here, and in fact may weaken the argument by introducing the possibility that anyone, anywhere could have stumbled across the pigment without trying to make the glass.

There is certainly an assumption here that the ingredients were obtainable - otherwise, if they were not, then neither the glass not the pigment could ever have existed. Ease, though, has nothing to do with it. What we want is to strengthen the claim that the pigment was discovered accidentally while making the glass, and ease of obtaining the ingredients has no impact on that claim.

Answer A helps, as discussed above, by narrowing the scope of where the two things (pigment and glass) were found. If the pigment was found all over the country, but the glass was only found in one place, that would hurt, so by tying the two to each other geographically we somewhat strengthen the idea that the two at least were created in the same place. Not much of a strengthen, but better than any of the other answers, and so that's what we go with.



I am still having trouble eliminating Answer (D). If it were easily obtainable, wouldn't the chances be higher?
T.B.Justin
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My pre-phrase: Something that increases the likelihood that Hans purple was synthesized on accident during the process of producing white glass (Heated up too fast or cooled too fast, or a combination).

I get to the answer choices and I am disappointed!


This is my reason for why (C) is incorrect, if anyone wants to check me, I'd appreciate it :)

If the technique (likely discovered on accident during glass production) used for producing Hans purple was known to very few (limited amount) of people during the Qin and Hans dynasties, then that doesn't have an impact on the likelihood of Hans purple being discovered on accident or not, if anything its referring to the ones that were entrusted with applying the technique for producing Hans purple.
CPA2lawschool
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LSAT2018 wrote:
Adam Tyson wrote:Does it help us if the ingredients are easily obtainable? Nope - they could be very hard to find, and only in limited areas at great expense, and our argument would still be at least as good as if they were easily acquired. Ease is not an issue here, and in fact may weaken the argument by introducing the possibility that anyone, anywhere could have stumbled across the pigment without trying to make the glass.

There is certainly an assumption here that the ingredients were obtainable - otherwise, if they were not, then neither the glass not the pigment could ever have existed. Ease, though, has nothing to do with it. What we want is to strengthen the claim that the pigment was discovered accidentally while making the glass, and ease of obtaining the ingredients has no impact on that claim.

Answer A helps, as discussed above, by narrowing the scope of where the two things (pigment and glass) were found. If the pigment was found all over the country, but the glass was only found in one place, that would hurt, so by tying the two to each other geographically we somewhat strengthen the idea that the two at least were created in the same place. Not much of a strengthen, but better than any of the other answers, and so that's what we go with.



I am still having trouble eliminating Answer (D). If it were easily obtainable, wouldn't the chances be higher?


I have a hard time disagreeing with this assessment. The argument, noting similarities in ingredients and production processes, derives a conclusion about how the purple glass was discovered: a lucky accident.

At first glance, it appears the author assumes there were enough ingredients available to support the manufacturing of "accidents". If the ingredients were scarce (or not easily obtainable), this should decrease the likelihood the discovery was accidental rather than intentional because, presumably, manufacturers would have been more diligent with their use of "rare/scarce" materials. This AC, by eliminating the possibility that these materials were scarce, appears to increase the likelihood that the discovery was accidental rather than intentional.

Is this AC ultimately incorrect (does not strengthen) because the author implicitly covers the issue of scarcity with the inclusion of "..a common type of white glass..?"

Thanks!
James Finch
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Hi,

It looks like you're focusing on the wrong part of the stimulus; the key here is understanding the causal relationship posited, which is that production of the white glass caused the accidental discovery of Han purple, because they both used the same ingredients. To make that more likely, we have to tie the two processes together, either by eliminating an alternate cause (which would be hard to Prephrase in this case), or by showing either both the cause and effect together, or no cause, no effect. The other issue is that this is one of the rare stimuli in which reverse causation could potentially be in effect (making Han purple led to discovery of how to make the white glass), so taking that possibility away would be my initial Prephrase.

(A) works to strengthen the causal relationship by showing not only the cause and effect together (which we already knew from the stimulus) but also by showing that that was where most of the production happened, and thus that most other areas of China had no cause (the glass production) and no effect (discovery of Han purple). It is relatively weak evidence, but still strengthens the conclusion (and we can't really expect millennia-old archaeology to help too much).

Contrast that to (D), which makes it more likely that someone would make a chance discovery, as the ingredients were easily obtainable. But we already know a discovery was made; the point we're trying to help is that glass production was the specific, sole actual cause of the discovery of Han purple. The fact that more people would have an opportunity to make glass doesn't make it any more likely that the glass-making was the actual cause for the discovery of Han purple, as it doesn't make it likelier that one thing led to the other; reverse causation could still be in effect, and just as likely.

Hope this clears things up!