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#24 - Advertisement: Our oat bran cereal is the only one

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Complete Question Explanation

Parallel Flaw. The correct answer choice is (B)

The author of this stimulus employs a very recognizable sort of flaw: circular reasoning. The argument basically goes like this:

Our cereal's health claims must be accurate—those who eat it are wouldn't eat it unless they were accurate," That's like saying "smart people like me, because they wouldn't like me unless they were smart. The premise and conclusion are logically equivalent; of course this circular reasoning proves nothing. The correct answer to this parallel flaw question will use analogous circular reasoning.

Answer choice (A): This answer choice may look tempting at first, but it goes off track in the last sentence, by introducing a new condition—consistent politeness. This would be right if the last sentence instead said, "The proof that these people really are polite is the very fact that they greet their coworkers at the door." This would make it a circular argument, but as written this answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice, as it reflects circular reasoning analogous to that of the stimulus. This argument basically goes like this: this game is challenging, because only smart people play the game, and they wouldn't play it unless it were challenging. And, the fact that they play the game is what makes them smart. This is another self-defining sample. Just like "smart people like me, and the very fact that people like me is what makes them smart." The argument goes around and around, proving nothing, so this example of circular reasoning is our winner.

Answer choice (C): There is no circular reasoning manifest in this answer choice; in fact, this argument seems valid, so there is no way that it can provide the parallel flaw that we seek.

Answer choice (D): Like answer choice (C) above, this choice presents valid reasoning, so it cannot provide the flawed parallel that we seek.

Answer choice (E): Like incorrect answer choices (C) and (D) above, this one presents valid argumentation—those people clearly have vision problems—so this is not the flawed parallel reasoning present in the right answer choice.
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LSAT questions aren't normally filled with mirth, but I laughed when reading the answer choices for this question. Maybe it's because circular reasoning is already absurd, but adding "they also mistook a vase of flowers in the painting for a peacock" is just plain funny.

It's good to laugh after studying for several hours, right?
James Finch
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Absolutely! Many LSATs have subtle jokes or references woven into questions or even the setup to a game, and every one I find is always a good reminder that everyone involved in the process-the student, the test maker, and the admissions officer judging you based on your score-are all human.

Good catch!
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Just to confirm, is A valid reasoning too? Since the new variable of "consistent politeness" validates the fact that people who greet their co-workers are themselves polite? Or is it still invalid by conflating the action being polite with the people who do the action being polite?

Thank you!
Brook Miscoski
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The description above only points out that (A) isn't circular reasoning, not that it is valid reasoning--and you should only be asking yourself whether it is circular.

The reasoning is weird, but probably sound. Altogether, it establishes that people believed to be polite are in fact polite on a consistent basis and that one of the things they do, greeting co-workers, is thus polite.