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 Dave Killoran
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Complete Question Explanation

Resolve the Paradox. The correct answer choice is (C).

The stimulus presents a paradox regarding toning shoes. Research shows that using toning shoes doesn't affect the major muscles any more than ordinary shoes, but those people who switch to toning shoes end up with stronger major muscles.

So, toning shoes are no better than ordinary shoes for strengthening muscles, but people who switch to them end up stronger. How? Well, one answer would be if the people wearing them used them a lot more. That would allow the stimulus information to be true and provide a cause for the difference.

Answer choice (A): This answer tries to draw your attention to different muscles than those discussed in the stimulus, where the focus was on "major leg muscles." Nice try, LSAC.

Answer choice (B): Even if this is the case, how does this explain the strengthening of the muscles when people switch to toning shoes? It doesn't, and is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer choice. If this is true, when people switch to toning shoes, they being walking more, which would explain the difference seen in the stimulus while still allowing all of the information to be true.

Answer choice (D): This is nice to hear if I'm thinking about switching, but it's not a central issue in the stimulus nor does it help explain what is occurring. It's a classic distractor issue to get you thinking about an idea relevant to using or purchasing the shoes, but not the actual issue in the stimulus.

Answer choice (E): If I work in the marketing department at Toning Shoes Corp, I'm loving this answer but marketability isn't the issue here. However, this answer can be attractive so let's look at the pieces:

  • "Shoes that strengthen major leg muscles..." — Well, we know toning shoes don't strengthen the major muscle groups any more than regular shoes for the same exercise, but we could say they do ultimately strengthen those muscles in some way. But since we already know how that matches regular shoes, does this explain the difference in the stimulus? No.

    "...are more marketable than regular shoes." — Marketability also doesn't explain the difference in the stimulus so no matter how we interpret this portion it's irrelevant.
So, no matter how liberally you interpret this answer as being applicable to toning shoes, there's no explanation here of why people who switch experience a strengthening of those muscles and thus this answer is incorrect.
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In looking at the stimulus and the question, I did some prephrasing so as to predict what the proper answer might look like. So before I read any of the answer choices, I thought to myself that people who buy toning shoes are more fitness conscious and exercise more, and experience strengthening in their major leg muscles. Hence the paradox is solved.

This turned out not to be one of the answer choices, but it gave me an idea of what to look for in the answer (C)
 James Finch
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Hi Cargo Stud,

That's excellent work! The key to this question is to understand that even though the shoes themselves aren't causing the strengthening of the leg muscles, there must be something else that would explain both buying the shoes and walking more (which would strengthen the leg muscles). Fitness consciousness is a good guess, although you always want to be as broad as logically possible with your Prephrase so as to not get married to a specific idea that doesn't appear in the answer choices, even if it would have the same effect as the correct answer choice.

Let's go through the answer choices:

(A)--Seems to contradict information in the stimulus, but ultimately is simply irrelevant as it talks about different muscles than the ones mentioned in the stimulus.

(B)--Also irrelevant, as it does nothing to explain how the muscles would be strengthened.

(C)--Explains both why people would choose the shoes and how that would lead to increased leg muscle strength. Correct.

(D)--Irrelevant, as the stimulus isn't talking about injuries.

(E)--Seems tempting at first glance, but incorrect.

Hope this helps!
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I'm kind of confused, in the stimulus it said "Research shows that the major leg muscles of people walking in toning shoes receive no more exercise than those of people walking in ordinary walking shoes." I ruled out C because the stimulus already said that people didn't get more exercise. I chose B after ruling out everything else but wasn't completely happy with it.
 James Finch
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Hi Khalia,

This question requires a solid understanding of how causal relationships work. Here we have an effect--strengthening of the major leg muscles--that correlates with a switch to toning shoes, but is explicitly said to not be caused by them directly. So we have an effect but no cause, with the most obvious direct cause already eliminated. And this is essentially what you'd want to Prephrase for this question: something that would lead to strengthening of the major leg muscles and link this to the shoes somehow. (C) does this by creating a A :arrow: B :arrow: C causal chain, where the switch to toning shoes is a cause for greater comfort and thus more walking, which in turn leads to a strengthening of the major leg muscles. The shoes don't have a direct effect on the leg muscles, but rather an indirect one because wearing them facilitates and leads to more walking, which is the direct cause for the stronger muscles.

Hope this clears things up!
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Hi all,

This question particularly confused me and despite reading through the responses above I still don't feel quite convinced that I would have chosen the correct answer in the moment.

The question explicitly says that "the major leg muscles of people walking in toning shoes receive no more exercise than those of people walking in ordinary walking shoes." While I saw the appeal of C and would have absolutely chosen it had that sentence not been included (or simply phrased in a different way) I do feel that the fact that it explicitly states the leg muscles of those who wear these shoes receive no more exercise than those of people in ordinary shoes.

That caused me to choose what I thought was an okay answer (B) because I thought it could be possible that the leg muscles of those who wear toning shoes had an immediate increase in strength but then after quickly adapting to the shoes they wouldn't be any more exercised? I knew in the moment that it was reaching, but C just seemed so explicitly wrong to me both as I took the test and in blind review.

I'd really appreciate any clarification or perspectives that anyone could share!
 Rachael Wilkenfeld
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Hi Leah,

The wording here indicates that the muscles of people walking in toning shoes don't receive no more exercise than those in regular walking shoes. So the muscles aren't responding to the shoes in particular. We'd expect that to continue to be true outside of the research environment. However, people won't necessarily walk the same amount, and that's what answer choice (C) is getting at. The muscles don't receive more exercise step by step, but there could be more total walking in the shoes. For answer choice (B), while it would explain why the muscles don't receive more exercise, it would explain how the muscles end up stronger with the toned shoes.

Hope that helps!
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Hi PS Staff,

After reviewing the above responses, I want to be clear about the cause and effect relationship having ruled out C because of similar reasons mentioned above.

Essentially, the argument is about the major leg muscles receiving the same amount of work, indicated by the stimulus saying that the amount of exercise (the leg muscles received) was the same. My thought was perhaps it could be the change in shoe shape somehow more positively affected the muscle development with the same amount of walking.

Regular Shoes --> X amt of walking --> major leg muscles worked Y amt
Toned Shoes ---> X amt of walking + (perhaps additional exercise) --> major leg muscles worked Z amt

Or even still, an alternative cause could be additional exercise (or something else entirely) could be why the major leg muscles are strengthened, in this case, an increased amount of walking? Just trying to wrap my brain around the reasoning and why C is correct. Appreciate the clarification.
 Robert Carroll
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I see nothing wrong with what you're saying. A different cause could have happened, resulting in people who used toning shoes strengthening their muscles more via some other process (like additional exercise). In fact, isn't that what answer choice (C) is talking about? People using toning shoes walked more. So while toning shoes don't work major muscles more, people using them walked more, getting more exercise as a result.

Robert Carroll
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I didn't think A was a bad answer choice. If you start using your smaller muscles (which is what toning shoes help accomplish), it has a positive effect on your major muscles by encouraging proper use/better alignment leading to stronger/correct activation of all muscles (including major ones). Put another way, say you aren't using your foot muscles properly when you run (common problem for runners), which leads to overuse of the knee/hip, you don't target your major muscles correctly. Then you start engaging the small muscles with the toning shoes and you start using your major muscles in a better way, making those muscles stronger.

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