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#17 - Studies show that the most creative engineers get

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Complete Question Explanation

Assumption. The correct answer choice is (D)

The experts say that we should provide engineers with simulated notepads on the computer so they can virtually "doodle", thus promoting their creativity. This argument assumes that the engineers are not keeping note pads next to their computers. It also assumes that simulated doodling is just as good as real physical doodling.

Note that the question stem is looking for a necessary assumption. We can use the Assumption Negation technique to test the answer choices.

Answer choice (A): The relative share of time spent on doodling does not really make any difference to the value of doodling, or specifically the value of computer doodling. This answer choice is irrelevant.

Answer choice (B): Try the Assumption Negation technique: What if simulated notepads would be used by engineers for other purposes? That does not destroy the validity of the experts' recommendation. So this is not a necessary assumption, and thus is not the correct answer choice.

Answer choice (C): What if some engineers keep paper and pencils near their desk? This slightly weakens the experts' recommendation, but does not completely destroy it. If some engineers are not keeping paper and pencil for doodling, then giving them virtual computer doodling would be beneficial. So this assumption is not necessary; the answer choice is not correct.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice.
Again, using the Assumption Negation technique: What if physical doodling is essential to achieve the creative benefits? In that case, then the experts' recommendation does not have the intended goal. The assumption is necessary, and this is the correct answer choice.

Answer choice (E): What if most of the ideas from doodling are not later used in practical applications? Still, even if a few ideas from doodling are valuable, then doodling could still be a good idea. In any case, this would be a critique of doodling in general, not of the experts' proposal for virtual doodling. This assumption is not necessary, so the answer choice is not the best.
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I understand why D is correct, and why A, B and E are incorrect. However, I still do not understand what makes C incorrect.

Wouldn't the negated statement be "Engineers who work with computers keep paper and pencils near their computers in order to doodle and jot down ideas"

To me, this seems to destroy the argument because it says that engineers who use computers, also have a pencil and paper for their ideas, thereby making a simulated notepad on the computer completely unnecessary.

What's wrong with my logic here?
Adam Tyson
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Part of the problem, S2KMo, is that your negation is a little too strong. To negate "no engineers" we don't want a statement about all engineers, but about some engineers. The logical opposite of "none" is "some."

So, if some engineers keep paper and pencil at hand, what does that do to the argument? Nothing, really, because the author has already told us that doodling is becoming less common. It doesn't have to be entirely eliminated in order to have the negative impact that the author foresees, because as long as doodling is on the decline, there still could be a problem with fewer creative ideas.

More importantly, perhaps, is that answer C fails to address the conclusion of the experts, which is that simulated notepads would help. We need an assumption that relates to those simulated notepads, like "they work" or "they are good enough" or "engineers will use them." Otherwise, they can't help, right? Focus on what the experts are arguing, since it is their assumption we must identify.
Adam M. Tyson
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