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#11 - Every week, the programming office at an FM radio

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Complete Question Explanation

Flaw in the reasoning. The correct answer choice is (B)

This is a fairly straightforward question. The director concludes that there must be some other listeners that liked the movie review section. He infers this conclusion from the fact that some listeners do not like the movie review section. In short, he is somehow inferring a positive conclusion from negative information. This position is further undermined by the fact that the director knew that other programs received positive letters, which raises the question, "if people really liked the movie review section, why did they not write positive letters about it, as they did for the other programs?"

Answer choice (A) If anything, this answer choice would validate the director's conclusion. If people are more likely to write critical letters than positive ones, then this might suggest that there are more likely to be some satisfied (although non-responsive) movie review readers.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. This accurately describes the flaw discussed in the discussion above—that the director drew an improper inference from available information.

Answer choice (C) This is directly contradicted by the stimulus' description that "faced with this information" about the 50 positive letters praising the other programs, versus the ten negative letters for the movie review program, the director made his conclusion.

Answer choice (D) For one thing, the relation between the movie review program and the news program is irrelevant. On another level, the director did take the relation into account when he made his decision in the face of information regarding the disparity between the quantity and the type of letters he received regarding the different programs.

Answer choice (E) This is definitely true—he did not wait. But there is no indication that he should have waited until he received 50 unfavorable letters about the movie review program—that 50 is the magic number that should be reached before a decision is made.
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What flaw would this "improper inference" be characterized as ?? I'm looking at my Course book right now, and the only one I can imagine it fitting "into" is .. 'General Lack of Relevant Evidence for the Conclusion' ??

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Additionally, what are the incorrect answer choice flaws characterized as ?? I'm trying to familiarize myself with the different reasoning types contained within incorrect answer choices (as the book recommends to do), but it's difficult when all the online explanations just state a sentence of why that answer choice is wrong, rather than also identifying what kind of flaw the answer choice is...
Adam Tyson
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Howdy, angel - happy to try to help here. First, though, I will tell you that not every flaw you will encounter on the LSAT will fit neatly into one of our standard categories. They are meant to help you sort out flaws from one another, but it is not an all-inclusive list. Sometimes the best answer is "it's just wrong" (although we try to at least say that it is sort of like this, or kind of that). Often I find answers that could conceivably be put into several different flaw categories - maybe it's a lack of relevant evidence, but also an over-generalization, but maybe it's also an exceptional case.

Another way to look at flaws is to identify the faulty assumptions. Every flaw comes down to a bad assumption on the part of the author. So, what bad assumption was made here? That the presence of complaints indicates the presence of those who have positive feelings.

In this case, I like your answer - there is no relevant evidence for the conclusion.

As to the other answer choices, I'll do my best here to categorize them, but remember that categorizing them is less important than understanding them on a more holistic level. Labels help, but labeling is not the goal. With that said, here I go:

A) Some kind of numbers and percentages flaw
C) Also a numbers and percentages flaw
D) Not a flaw at all - this answer describes something that is not required for this argument
E) Another numbers flaw, but maybe not a flaw at all, because we don't know that there is anything magic about 50 letters

Not that helpful, now that I have done it. Focus less on labels and more on substance, with the labels as a helping hand only, and you'll be better off on these questions.

Good luck!
Adam M. Tyson
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Jon Denning
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I had a student email me with a follow up question on this problem, and since I feel like my reply might help further clarify any confusion other readers may have I'm going to post that question and my response below.

Student question:

"For question #3, the correct answer is B. The answer choice states the flaw as "He could not properly infer from the fact that some listeners did not like the movie review segment that some others did." Because of the presence of the word "not", I thought that this answer choice was wrong. I thought that the correct answer would have said the following: "He inferred from the fact that some listeners did not like the movie review segment that some others did." Can you please explain the wording of answer choice B and what makes it the correct answer?"

My answer:

"The issue with the argument in this stimulus is that all we’re told is that 10 unfavorable letters came in about the movie review segment, and from those 10 negative letters the programming director somehow concluded that some people must have therefore liked it...but is that a reasonable conclusion to draw if the only feedback you have is negative? Doesn’t seem to be. And that’s exactly what B says (although admittedly in typically convoluted LSAT language): just because some listeners didn’t like the segment, which is all we know, it would be wrong (not proper) to conclude (infer) that others DID like it, which is precisely what the director has come to believe.

So the way the error is phrased in B is as a critique, where the director “could NOT infer” what he/she believes on the evidence presented. This would be the same as saying something like “the problem is that the author can’t logically conclude X when all we know is Y.” That’s all B is doing."

I hope that helps!
Jon Denning
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