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#17 - From the fact that people who studied music as

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Complete Question Explanation

Parallel Reasoning-CE. The correct answer choice is (A)

This argument follows a classic cause-and-effect paradigm: just because two occurrences are correlated (studying music and being proficient in math), that does not mean that one necessarily causes the other. It is equally plausible that both share a common cause (such as growing up in a family that encourages intellectual and artistic pursuits).

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. Just as in the stimulus, we are dealing with a correlation — this time between failing to pay attention and performing poorly in school. In both arguments we are warned against inferring a cause-and-effect relationship between the two, as it is always possible that a third factor (undiagnosed hearing problems in this case) can be the common cause for both.

Answer choice (B): There is no element of common cause that might be responsible for two occurrences that are correlated. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): While this answer choice is similar to the stimulus in that they both question the validity of a certain causal relationship (consuming vegetables does not necessarily prevent heart disease, just as studying music does not necessarily improve one's ability to do math), the author does not speculate as to what might be the common cause that explains the correlation. Because this element was crucial to the argument contained in the stimulus, this answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (D): This answer choice merely suggests that two required conditions for becoming a physician (studying biology and chemistry) should not be thought of as sufficient for one's success a physician.

Answer choice (E): This answer choice may seem tempting at first, since vigorous exercise does not necessarily make you healthy, just as studying music does not necessarily make you better at math. However, the parallel ends here. We have no reason to suspect, for instance, that the correlation between vigorous exercise and health can be explained by a common cause. Instead, we are simply told that vigorous exercise may not be all that necessary in the end, since it is possible that exercise that is even less vigorous also has beneficial effects. This would be like saying that studying music does not necessarily make you better at math, because merely listening to music may sometimes be enough. This answer choice is therefore incorrect.
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I see now why answer (A) is correct. However, when attacking the answer choices I quickly killed (A) using the conclusion test because the stimulus says "it cannot be concluded" and (A) says "it should not necessarily be thought that..." I reasoned that the level of certainty was different between the two.

After thinking about it, is "cannot be concluded" more a statement of "not necessarily true" / "could be false" rather than something like "cannot be true" / "must be false"?

Thank you.
Dave Killoran
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Yes, exactly. "It cannot be concluded" is like saying, "it's not certain." That is right in the "not necessarily" classification as far as truth.

Nice work!
Dave Killoran
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I chose (B) and afterward I felt (B) was wrong. However, I am a little bit confused by the wording of answer choice (B). Could you please break it down and analyze for me?

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Hi Cindy,

Answer Option (B) takes its explanation a step further than what is proposed in the stimulus. Here the "common cause" described above in the original explanation is that parents are guiding kids to mathematics and music. There is no such common cause and effect described in Answer Choice (B). In fact, the evaluation standards spoke of are not common and the answer suggests that they may be mutually exclusive. In other words, if a student does well by standards in Guatemala, that statndard may not equal the same standard that is applied here in the United States. So the two different standards are not the common cause like the parents are in the stimulus. Thanks for the great question!