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#12 - Some of the most prosperous nations in the world have

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Complete Question Explanation

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

The stimulus conditionally concludes that if the average age of prosperous nations' populations continue to rise, then their national savings rates will decrease. This is supported by the fact that older people have fewer reasons to save than younger people.

Answer choice (A) The argument need not specify the reasons that younger people have for saving money. Nor must it identify which of those reasons is the strongest. The fact that the stimulus does neither of these does not make the argument flawed.

Answer choice (B) It goes completely off-topic about having a negative savings rate, which the stimulus never mentions.

Answer choice (C) While it is true that the stimulus does not try to prove that the average age of the observed population is rising, the conclusion is a conditional one. That is, the stimulus merely concludes that if the average age is rising, the savings rate will fall. As such, the stimulus does not need to prove that the average age is in fact rising.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. The stimulus supports its conclusion with a single fact—that older people tend to have fewer reasons to save than younger people. However, even if one has fewer reasons to save, those reasons may be more salient than the reasons one has during youth. For example, an older person may save in order to provide a better future for kids.

Answer choice (E) The distinction between after-tax and before-tax income is not relevant to the argument in the stimulus, so this answer choice is incorrect.
avengingangel
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I answered this question correctly, but, what type of flaw in reasoning is (D)?? Evidence error ? I'm having difficulty identifying what types of errors any of these answer choices are. The LSAT uses tricky language (bc, I know you didn't know that yet)
David Boyle
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avengingangel wrote:I answered this question correctly, but, what type of flaw in reasoning is (D)?? Evidence error ? I'm having difficulty identifying what types of errors any of these answer choices are. The LSAT uses tricky language (bc, I know you didn't know that yet)



Hello avengingangel,

That's a good question. Not every flaw is easily categorizable. However, the flaw here may have features of "general lack of relevant evidence for the conclusion", "equivocation" (if people think "fewer reasons" really means "weaker reasons"), and numbers/percentages (fewer reasons doesn't mean that there is lesser strength to the reasons).
Of course, of more importance than categorizing the question, is answering the question correctly. And answering the question correctly should give you some comfort even if you can't categorize the question exactly! :-D

Hope this helps,
David
egarcia193
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Hi
I got this one wrong none of the answer choices even looked close to being correct for me, I choose A but that's because I eliminated every other answer choice and just had to pick one. I don't See how D is right at all and I didn't any conditionality in the stimulus or how it played into the argument, furthermore, I don't see why A is wrong compared to D they both talk about young people vs older people but the stimulus never even talks about younger peoples reasons so I don't see why one's better than the other or why it is even correct in the first place I keep finding these questions frustrating as they i am not understanding them or seeing flaws and keep getting the easier questions wrong and could just really use some advice on these questions.
Adam Tyson
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There's a big, giant "if" in the stimulus, egarcia, indicating the presence of conditional reasoning. See the official explanation at the beginning of this thread for a breakdown of that conditional claim.

The key to this argument is that the author bases that conditional claim on the idea that older people have fewer reasons to save than younger people. That is absolutely talking about reasons for savings! Just because it doesn't list them doesn't mean they aren't talking about them.

So, a younger person has 10 reasons to save while an older person has 2, perhaps. Our author thinks that means that older people won't save as much. But does the number of reasons have anything to do with the strength of those reasons? The level of motivation for the person to save? How much they will save? Not a thing. Young people might save for new shoes, vacations, a new video game, etc., while an old person saves to pay for lifesaving medical treatments and to cover their housing costs once they are retired and have little income. Maybe. The author doesn't say any of that, but he certainly fails to consider that.

Looked at another way, our author is making a flaw of numbers and percentages, sort of. He confuses the number of reasons with the power of those reasons, which might be seen as a percentage idea (what percentage of your income will you save, perhaps,or how likely you are to save for those things - likelihood is a percentage idea).

If you do not have a prephrase going in, questions like this will be much harder, so take the time to ask yourself what's wrong. Try treating it like a weaken question - how would you attack the argument? That should tell you about something the author failed to consider, and that's the flaw. Practice prephrasing by refusing to look at any answer choices until you have one firmly in mind, no matter how long it takes. Obviously not in a practice test, or on the real one - on those, if you are stuck with no prephrase, just guess and move on. Use this as a drill on untimed homework problems.

Give that a go and let's see if it helps out. Good luck!
Adam M. Tyson
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martingreyell
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Adam Tyson wrote:The key to this argument is that the author bases that conditional claim on the idea that older people have fewer reasons to save than younger people. That is absolutely talking about reasons for savings! Just because it doesn't list them doesn't mean they aren't talking about them.


I too chose answer choice A instead of D. Perhaps I am thinking too closely in terms of "method of reasoning" strategies, but I decided to put this answer through the Fact Test, and found that the statement "since older people have fewer reasons to save than younger people" does not equate to "takes into account the comparative number of reasons." So in stating that the person in question only takes into account the comparative number of reasons, for this answer choice to be correct would it not require a comparison of those reasons to be given within the stimulus? My other thought was that the answer choice could essentially be alluding to the idea that it is possible to take into account the comparative reasons without actually knowing what those reasons are. Is the latter interpretation more accurate?

Lastly, regarding your comment cited above ("Just because it doesn't list them doesn't mean they aren't talking about them), to what extent should we be thinking about extraneous information like that in 'flaw' question types?

Sorry for the novel, I just found this question difficult and I've been trying to wrap my head around it!
AthenaDalton
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Hi Martin,

The issue with answer choice (A) is that we don't need to know what the specific reasons are young people have for saving for the argument to be accurate. The speaker states in the stimulus that since young people have a greater number of reasons to save than older people, young people will save more. Knowing the reasons young people have for saving (vacations, weddings, expanding families) as well as knowing which of these is the highest priority for a young person won't give us any useful information about whether young people or elderly people save more. To make a useful comparison, we would need this same information for the group of elderly savers. Answer choice (A) would only provide additional information about young people's savings habits, and not elderly people's habits, which isn't enough for us to make a useful comparison between the two groups.

As far as your question about "reading between the lines" goes -- for a flaw in the reasoning question, you will have to do a fair amount of reading between the lines. To attack an opponent's argument, you often need to look for the holes in the argument, or the weak points the speaker failed to address. This necessarily involves making some creative leaps in reasoning.

Here, the author states that "older people have fewer reasons to save than do younger people," and concludes that older people save less as a result. So even though the author doesn't list out the reasons elderly people have to save (medical expenses, retirement), he's referencing the fact that the elderly, as a group, have certain reasons to save. It's not too much of a jump to speculate about what those reasons might be.

I hope this helps clarify things. Good luck studying!

Athena Dalton