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#22 - From 1996 to 2004, the average family income in a cert

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Question #22: Weaken—Except, CE. The correct answer choice is (A).

Since the key to weakening an LSAT argument is to focus on the conclusion, it is essential to break down the argument, which is structured as follows:

Premise—From 1996 to 2004, the average family income decreased by 10%.

Conclusion—The ruling party during that time mismanaged the economy.


The opponents’ argument is causal, making it vulnerable to attack:

..... Cause ..... ..... Effect

..... Ruling party :arrow: Average family income decreased

To weaken this argument, you can show that an alternative cause led to the observed effect. Or, you can show that the data is potentially misleading. Because there are dozens of alternative causes that can potentially weaken the opponents' position, test makers are asking a Weaken-EXCEPT question: four of the five “rejoinders” (or replies) would directly counter the opponents’ explanation of the decrease in average family income. Whichever answer choice does NOT counter their explanation will be correct.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. The fact that family income rose in 1996 is consistent with the observation that it decreased from 1996 until 2004. This answer choice has no bearing on the conclusion of the argument, making it the correct answer choice to this Weaken-EXCEPT question.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice suggests that average family income may have decreased for noneconomic reasons. If so, this would be an alternative cause for the observed effect, weakening the opponents’ argument.

Answer choice (C): Like answer choice (B), this one suggests an alternative cause for the observed effect—international events beyond the control of the country’s government had an adverse effect on family incomes. This weakens the opponents’ argument, and is therefore incorrect.

Answer choice (D): If the average age of household wage earners fell during that time, and younger people tend to earn less, it would be reasonable to expect that the average family income would decrease. Assuming that the ruling party cannot be blamed for the shifting demographics, this answer choice weakens the opponents’ accusations and is therefore incorrect.

Answer choice (E): If policies enacted before the ruling party came to power resulted in the biggest decreases in family income, then the ruling party is not (entirely) to blame for the decreased income. As with answer choices (B) and (C), we have an alternative explanation for the decreased income, weakening the opponents’ position.
mpoulson
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Hello,

Can you let me know if I am on the right track for answer A? From my perspective, if the rise in family income happened in 1996 it could still decrease over the next ten years and wouldn't effect the opponents conclusion. Thank you.

Respectfully,

Micah
David Boyle
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mpoulson wrote:Hello,

Can you let me know if I am on the right track for answer A? From my perspective, if the rise in family income happened in 1996 it could still decrease over the next ten years and wouldn't effect the opponents conclusion. Thank you.

Respectfully,

Micah



Hello,

That seems right, that the average income could still decline up to 2004, even if there were one good year for family income, 1996.

David
HowardQ
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Hi,

I'm a little confused by the wording "From 1996 to 2004" Does that mean someday in 1996 to someday in 2004? Also, the political party ruled during this time could mean either the entire time interval or a portion of the interval. In this case, these assumptions could affect the validity of A and E. Is there a general rule when these wording appear?

Thanks,
Adam Tyson
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I would interpret that as meaning beginning in 1996 and ending in 2004, and probably including most of 1996 and perhaps some, but not much, of 2004, HowardQ. If it was from late 1996 until early 2004 they probably would have said "between" those years rather than "from" one year to the other. If it included all of 2004 they would probably have said "through 2004" rather than "to 2004." If I say I work from 9 to 5, I mean I start at 9 and end at 5. It's imprecise, but that should not affect your analysis much, if at all. The issue is not what happened at any one moment in that time span, but the trend across that entire span. Whatever happened at the beginning of 1996 or the end of 2004 is of less importance than the overall trend and what caused it.

I would also interpret the language about the ruling party meaning they ruled the entire time. Otherwise, the claim would make no sense. That would be like saying "the political party that ruled the United States from 1980 through 2000" when in fact two different parties swapped rule during that time. Perhaps focus on the difference between "the" party and "a" party - "the" means there was just one, while "a" indicates there was more than one.
Adam M. Tyson
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