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 Dave Killoran
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Complete Question Explanation

Strengthen, CE. The correct answer choice is (E).

The stimulus begins with the conclusion, and then provides support for that view in the following sentences.

A team has analyzed information about elderly residents in Singapore. Those who eat curries have higher scores on cognition tests, and that relationship was strongest for those of Indian descent. This information supports a causal conclusion that turmeric slows cognitive decline.

It is important to note how the argument shifts terms from curry to turmeric. Turmeric is a basic ingredient in curry so the relationship makes sense, but you should look for an answer that helps support that the turmeric is more likely the cause (as opposed to some other part of curry).

Answer choice (A): The opinions of the researchers prior to starting the study are irrelevant since we are dealing with what was actually found during the study. Just because they hypothesized they might find the connection doesn't support the truth of the actual connection.

Answer choice (B): Careful here, this could actually hurt the argument. You are attempting to strengthen the relationship in the stimulus, namely that turmeric causes a slower cognitive decline. This answer (if you allow highly educated to roughly parallel higher cognition) seems to suggest that the relationship is somewhat reversed, and those that are more cognitively functional tend to eat more curry.

Answer choice (C): The stimulus addresses "elderly residents of Singapore," but this answer addresses "most Singapore residents," and thus this answer does not allow us to make a further determination on the relationship in the stimulus.

Answer choice (D): Because the entire study was about Singaporeans, the fact that they all share a a tendency to eat more curry in general doesn't affect the study. Inside that data there were still notable differences that support the idea that curry has a positive effect.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. The last sentence of the stimulus notes that the connection was strongest for those of Indian ethnicity, and this answer plays off that fact by linking those curries to a higher turmeric count. The idea is that those with the highest cognitive functions are also eating the most turmeric, which strengthens the conclusion.

Is this answer perfect? No. The stimulus mentions those of Indian ethnicity, but that doesn't automatically mean those individuals ate Indian curries. We would prefer that the answer say, "The curries eaten by those of Indian ethnicity generally..." but it's clear that the test makers were linking the two here, and in general this would support the relationship regardless of the link not being perfectly specified.
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I did not choose answer choice E because I thought it would be racist to assume that people of Indian ethnicity prefer Indian curry. Maybe this does not sound racist at first, but, in my mind during the exam, I equated this assumption to assuming that a Mexican individual eats many tacos.
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Hi cnyberg!

Definitely, as Dave noted above, answer choice (E) is not a perfect answer for the exact reason you stated--just because a person is of a certain ethnicity does not mean that they necessarily eat the same foods associated with that ethnicity. Definitely seems like a case of stereotyping and casual racism on the part of the LSAT!

Thankfully, this issue does not come up very often on the test. But one thing to remember is that the LSAT is not trying to test you to see if you are secretly racist. If you see racism on the test, it is a failing of the test makers and not a trap to find out if you harbor any racist ideas. Hopefully, you will not encounter any other answer choices on the test that seem like they are stereotyping people based on their race/ethnicity/gender/other identities. But, if you do, still try to consider it in the context of the LSAT question you have. You're always trying to find the best answer. If it's making the link you think it needs to make for the argument, then go with it even if you think making that link in the real world would be some sort of stereotyping. And then, after your test, you can consider filing a complaint with LSAC!


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