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Complete Question Explanation

Method of Reasoning—AP. The correct answer choice is (D)

This stimulus begins with the conclusion. The statement is rather lengthy, and is designed to be a bit confusing, so make sure to reduce the author's statements into your own words. Restated for brevity, the conclusion is that Fraenger's claim Bosch was a member of the Brethren of the Free Spirit is unlikely to be right. The author finds it unlikely because there is no evidence to support that view and there is evidence to the contrary, i.e., that he was a member of a mainstream church.

Note that the argument feels flawed, in that some evidence against Fraenger's assertion is taken to mean that the assertion is "unlikely to be correct." This is less emphatic than the classic flaw where "some evidence against a position is taken to mean that position is false," but it is in that same vein. However, instead of a Flaw question, we are instead presented with a Method of Reasoning—Argument Part question. Specifically, we are tasked with identifying the role played in the stimulus by the final statement that “there is no evidence that Bosch was a member of the Brethren.” Your prephrase should reflect that this statement is a premise offered in support of the conclusion that it is unlikely that Bosch was a member of that group.

Answer choice (A): While this answer choice correctly identifies the statement as a premise (and thus appears initially attractive), the answer choice is incorrect because it then overstates the strength of the argument’s conclusion. The given premise doesn't "guarantee the falsity" of the assertion, and in any LR argument it would be virtually impossible to "guarantee the falsity" of any claim since that's difficult to do and doubly so in such limited space.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice is incorrect because that final claim isn't used to support the idea that Bosch was a member of a mainstream church, but rather that he wasn't a member of the Brethren of the Free Spirit. That distinction, which can initially be hard to see, is critical to eliminating this answer choice!

Answer choice (C): The stimulus author did not make any statements attacking Fraenger’s credibility. If you interpreted the counterevidence presented as attacking credibility in an indirect sense, that's not how argumentation on this test works. Simply presenting counterevidence keeps things in the debate arena (which is considered reasonable). To question credibility would be to attack someone's standing to make the argument or have their evidence considered in the first place, such as "Fraenger was known to be Bosch's personal enemy, and had spread misinformation about him in the past, so many of his statements need to be first examined for factual truth," or some similar type of attack.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. In stating that there was no evidence showing Bosch was a member of the Brethren, the author does cast doubt on Fraenger’s hypothesis, and so the first part of this answer passes the Fact Test. The second part also passes because by saying there was no evidence, the question of sufficiency of evidence is addressed (namely that if you have no evidence, then you have insufficient evidence).

Answer choice (E): The claim in question isn't directed at that portion of the discussion, and thus this answer choice is incorrect. It was Fraenger's hypothesis that offered a path to understanding Bosch's subject matter, but this final claim instead addresses whether Bosch was a member of the Brethren.
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I was not sure between C and D.
Is C wrong because of the word "credibility" too strong?
But the evidence Fraenger gave do have some problems so I think credibility is Ok.
I eliminated D because I was not sure about the word "questioning"'s not questioning, but apparently it says there is problem (contradicting evidence exist) I thought "questioning" is kind of weak...
Why is C wrong and D correct?
 Adam Tyson
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Good questions!

C is incorrect here not because "credibility" is too strong, but because Fraenger's credibility simply isn't at issue here. The problem is not whether we find Fraenger to be a believable person, but whether he has enough evidence to back up his claim. The author argues that there is not enough evidence, and concludes that Fraenger's conclusion is therefore unlikely.

Questioning may sound slightly unusual in this context, but it is what he is doing here. He doesn't conclude that Fraenger is wrong, but only that he is probably wrong. Fraenger apparently has some evidence, in the form of Bosch's subject matter, but the author here is suggesting that evidence is not enough, absent other direct evidence. If you state that someone doesn't have enough evidence, then that is questioning the sufficiency of the evidence (rather than claiming outright that it is insufficient). Note how "enough" and "sufficient" are actually synonymous in conditional reasoning, so if you say you don't have enough evidence, it's the same as saying you have insufficient evidence.

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The author says, that Fraenger’s hypothesis explains much of Bosch’s unusual subject matter, which I think refers to his claim of belonging to a non-mainstream religious group.

The author believes that’s unlikely to be true.

The stimulus goes on to say there is some evidence that supports Bosch belonging to a mainstream religious group, yet no evidence to support Bosch belonging to the Brethren.

In regards to answer choice B:

Is making a claim about something the same as a statement of a fact that there is some evidence to support a position?

To answer choice D:

I think that the author’s choice of language in the stimulus, “explains much” of Bosch’s unusual subject matter implies not sufficiently, and the statement of no evidence, calls into question, Fraenger’s hypothesis that offers explanation of Bosch’s unusual subject matter.
 Robert Carroll
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Answer choice (B) is incorrect because the author is not presenting the final statement as evidence for the statement right before it. These facts are presented as separate pieces of evidence, neither apparently supporting the other. A claim about something isn't the same as a statement of fact that there is some evidence unless there is wording that indicates that's the purpose.

The author did present some evidence in favor of Fraenger, and then ultimately brings up so much counterevidence that the author thinks Fraenger is unlikely to be correct. So, if there is some evidence in favor of Fraenger, but the author still thinks he/she is unlikely to be correct. So the author thinks the evidence for F is outweighed by that against F - thus, the evidence for F is not sufficient to prove him/her right.

Robert Carroll
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Hey Robert,

That helps solidify the idea of when the test makers use, what I think is, more or less, value based judgement weighing the available evidence to determine what is more likely, in this case, they think it is more likely that F's claim is unlikely to be correct. On a separate note, I think we both agree the method of reasoning used by the author in the statement, "no evidence that Bosch was a member of the Brethren," shows that the evidence for F's claim is insufficient.

I appreciate your time!
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I want to make sure I have this down: The stimulus isn't concluding that HB wasn't a member of that nonmainstream religious group but only that it's unlikely that he is. And he isn't concluding that HB was a member of a mainstream religious group, but only that there is evidence to suggest that he was. So either way, the author of this stimulus isn't taking a definite stance as to whether HB was a member of a nonmainstream or mainstream religious group?

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