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#1 - Many newborn babies have a yellowish tinge to their

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Complete Question Explanation

Strengthen. The correct answer choice is (D)

The stimulus contains two opposing viewpoints regarding the merits of treating newborns to reduce high levels of bilirubin that occurs naturally in their blood. As with any science-related argument, knowledge of the subject matter is neither expected nor helpful in answering the question. Instead, attack the stimulus by quickly isolating the premises and the conclusions of the two arguments:

Argument (1):

Premise: Bilirubin might cause tetanus if it enters the brain of newborns

Conclusion: Must treat to reduce levels of bilirubin

Argument (2):

Premise: The brain's own natural defenses normally prevent bilirubin from entering

Conclusion: No need to treat newborns

Neither position is particularly strong, and the author is not partial to either one of them. Therefore, you must pay close attention to the question stem: your job is to strengthen the position of the doctors who refuse to treat the newborns, not the ones who advocate treatment. Most decoy answers will support the latter, which is tempting because of its direct relation to one of the two conclusions in the stimulus.

Now let's focus on the argument in favor of non-treatment. Is it bulletproof? If you see a weakness, look for an answer that eliminates it. Clearly, the second group of doctors concluded that the cost of reducing bilirubin outweighs the benefits of doing so, but we have no idea why. While the brain's own natural defenses might normally prevent bilirubin from entering the brain, for instance, there is no guarantee that they always do. Furthermore, if treatment has absolutely no known side effects and the elevated levels of bilirubin are not by themselves beneficial to the health of the newborn, the argument in favor of non-treatment becomes even weaker. To strengthen it, you need to close those gaps: look for answers suggesting that treatment actually does have negative side effects, or that elevated levels of bilirubin are beneficial to the health of the newborn. Answer choice (D) suggests the latter.

Answer choice (A): This answer choice is a powerful decoy as it strengthens the opposing argument: if there are no known side effects, it makes sense to treat.

Answer choice (B): If the risk of bilirubin entering the brain is elevated due to diseases that occur in newborns, it makes sense to treat. This answer choice strengthens the opposing argument.

Answer choice (C): If bilirubin occurs in fluids other than blood, the risk of bilirubin entering the brain could conceivably be higher than expected, although it is difficult to imagine how fluids involved in digestion would pose a threat. Regardless, this answer choice provides no support for denying treatment.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. If bilirubin is beneficial to the health of the newborn babies, it makes sense to allow its levels to remain high. Keep in mind that this answer choice does not prove that the second group of doctors are correct: it merely lends some support to their conclusion. It is still possible that the risk associated with tetanus infection in some cases might outweigh the benefits of allowing bilirubin levels to remain high.

Answer choice (E): As with answer choices (A), (B), and (C), this answer choice lends moderate support for the position of the doctors recommending treatment: a general agreement about what levels of bilirubin are excessively high could facilitate making the decision whether to treat or not.
lanereuden
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Actually e —in my book, is right because if we assume that they have a consensus about the level that is too much, then it is fine to not treat the patients because you already have in the back of your mind what is too much. In that sense, the same way that you argue that e supports the first group of doctors (facilitating whether to treat or not) could also be said to support the second group of doctor. I mean, you say it only supports the positive side of coin (treatment) whereas, in my book, it could equally predict the negative side of the coin (no treatment)
lanereuden
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lanereuden wrote:Actually e —in my book, is right because if we assume that they have a consensus about the level that is too much, then it is fine to not treat the patients because you already have in the back of your mind what is too much. In that sense, the same way that you argue that e supports the first group of doctors (facilitating whether to treat or not) could also be said to support the second group of doctor. I mean, you say it only supports the positive side of coin (treatment) whereas, in my book, it could equally predict the negative side of the coin (no treatment)

Also, I think in reasoning like this, I am subconsciously looking to strengthen the PREMISE (rather than the conclusion) : the brain’s natural defenses normally prevent brellium from entering.

Is this bad policy—-that is, to seek out info that supports premise rather than conclusion? I guess, the question in other words is: am I too focused in my process?
LSATLondon
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Hi there,
I'm just a little confused as to why D is the right answer. Perhaps using the process of elimination I'd eventually arrive there. The doctors did advocate for allowing levels of bilirubin to remain high, however, not because they considered it to be beneficial/safe, rather they just believed that the brain's natural defences could prevent it from entering. Doesn't this imply that they also believed that it's not good if it enters the brain? Therefore siding with the first group?

I just don't see how D even fills in any type of missing link..I feel like it's going against what the doctors say
Brook Miscoski
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LSATLondon,

The key is that you're supposed to support the second group of doctors. So you need to find an additional reason why they would allow bilirubin levels to remain high. We already know that that group of doctors believes there's not much risk to the brain.

(D) isn't going against what the doctors say, it just explains why those doctors are willing to tolerate the low risk to the brain. There's not just a risk; there is also a benefit--the bilirubin is almost always protecting the infant instead of invading its brain.
lanereuden
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Brook Miscoski wrote:LSATLondon,

The key is that you're supposed to support the second group of doctors. So you need to find an additional reason why they would allow bilirubin levels to remain high. We already know that that group of doctors believes there's not much risk to the brain.

(D) isn't going against what the doctors say, it just explains why those doctors are willing to tolerate the low risk to the brain. There's not just a risk; there is also a benefit--the bilirubin is almost always protecting the infant instead of invading its brain.


Hi Brook,
Any thoughts as to the two responses that I posted above?