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Complete Question Explanation

Flaw in the Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (B).

The stimulus gives evidence that the Kodiak bear's foot and hip bones indicate that it is completely natural for it to stand upright. From this information about it being "completely natural," the conclusion is that walking upright is, for these bears, instinctive rather than learned behavior. This is all about nature vs. nurture, a commonly tested scenario, and frequently the source of flawed reasoning, especially flaws of causal reasoning. The author fails to consider that walking upright could be a learned behavior, or a combination of learned and instinctive behavior, even if their bones suggest that it is natural for them to behave this way. That is the flaw - failing to consider other possible explanations. With that in mind, we sort losers and contenders.

Answer choice (A): As with many wrong answers to Flaw questions, this answer describes a flaw, but not the one that happened in the stimulus. This is a classic over-generalization description, a favorite wrong answer of the test makers, probably because to an unprepared student every argument looks like an over-generalization from insufficient evidence. This answer type only fits specific cases, however, where the evidence is about a few instances and the conclusion is about all such instances. Because the evidence was not about a few specific Kodiak bears, but about the species in general, this is not the flaw.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. This is the alternate explanation answer choice that we were looking for, and is the correct answer. Not strictly instinctive behavior, but potentially learned, at least in part.

Answer choice (C): Vague/shifting/uncertain use of a term or phrase is another classic answer choice that is usually a wrong answer. Never pick an answer like this one unless you can clearly identify what the two different meanings of the word or phrase in question are. "Behavior" is used in the stimulus consistently to mean what the bears do, so this meaning does not shift, and this answer does not describe the flaw in this case.

Answer choice (D): The author did not make so broad an assumption as this answer claims, because the argument is strictly about the upright walking behavior of Kodiak bears and was not necessarily based on any assumptions about all other behaviors. Answer D is describing a False Dilemma, which usually presents itself on the LSAT in the form of "it cannot be X, so it must be Y." While our author DOES seem to believe that this behavior can only be one of two distinct things (either instinctive or learned), rather than a combination, the flaw is more about the unwarranted leap from "walking upright is natural" to "waling upright is instinctive."

Answer choice (E): There is no Appeal to Authority present in the stimulus, because the author never claimed anything along the lines of "Scientists say it is true, so it must be true." The essence of a flawed Appeal to Authority/Experts is that the author relies entirely on the expert's apparent authority rather than weighing the evidence themselves. Just because someone smart, or someone in charge, says something is true does not prove that it is true!
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Hi PowerScore,

Quick question: what would you use for the prephrase here?

I know in some flaw questions you can't go too far outside the stimulus (As I JUST posted on another question with examples). But on this one, you need to assume that the behaviors were not learned, playing on another definition of natural behavior in this stimulus. but how is this a flaw? Obviously, it weakens the argument, but are we to presume that they do not walk that way in their habitats? This seems like going too far off stimulus.

Maybe I'm over-thinking this one?
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 Dave Killoran
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Hi Deck,

I think you've missed the point where the argument switched terms here, as well as the force of the conclusion. The premise notes that "walking upright is completely natural behavior," but then goes on to assume that "natural" is the same as "instinctive," and on that basis very strongly concludes that its "not a learned behavior." But is a conclusion of that strength warranted? I'd say not; just because something is "natural" doesn't automatically mean that it's instinctive. For example, I throw a baseball quite naturally, but that's certainly partially the result of learned behaviors. The same could be occurring for the Kodiak, and that's the error pointed out in (B).


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