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In spite of the discussion above, I still don't see why C is not better than B. At least C is talking about what has been observed in Rocky Mountain area, while B is about other mountainous regions (could be in Africa, could be in Australia or could be in the Moon... ), which, to be honest, is an instant "ruling out" factor for me to mark B as a failure. Moreover, B is basically repeat what the stimulus is talking about in terms of the melting snow packs and spring flooding and less storable water. Therefore, simply put, B is merely saying that in some other places, same thing happened, but so what???

I jumped from 90s' Preptests to these 2010s preptests. Personally, I think there are more freestyle questions like this appear in the 2010s' tests. The old ones are more standardized.
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Hi SamHaungWLS,

With respect to (B), since we're dealing with a cause --> effect argument, a piece of evidence that the cause (mild winters) led to the same effect (spring flooding + less storable water) in mountainous regions around the world makes it more likely that the same cause (mild winter in the Rocky Mountains) will lead to the effect suggested in the argument (flooding in the Rocky Mountains + less storable water in the Rockies).

An important feature of (B) is that it compares a mild winter in a particular region to a really cold winter in the same region -- so all of the geographic features, wind patterns, etc stay the same EXCEPT FOR the temperature. That's really strong evidence of the cause --> effect relationship.

(C) doesn't do nearly as much for the climatologist's argument. The climatologist argues in the prompt that a cause (mild winter) will lead to two effects (more flooding + less storable water). (C) provides as evidence parts of the Rockies that have mild winters as compared to parts of the Rockies that have cold winters -- we're talking about a huge mountain range that stretches from Canada to New Mexico. There are a lot of variables in each particular area of the Rockies that could impact whether a certain region has high-or low-snowpack, strong flooding vs weak flooding, etc.

In sum, the best reason that (B) is better than (C) is that (B) compares like conditions to like conditions -- in (B), the only variable that changes is the temperature. In (C), there are potentially many variables that change beyond just the temperature/snowpack that we're interested in.

Hope this helps!

Athena Dalton
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Hi PS,

I didn't even begin to realize that there was essentially a missing link between the "Rain" and "Mountain snowpack melting more rapidly and earlier in the season, thus leading to greater spring flooding and less storable water to meet summer demands".

I now realize this is because I failed to seek out the conclusion and mark in on the stimulus. I did get this question wrong (sigh), and now that I'm reviewing when I read the stimulus once again (and again without identifying the conclusion) this is the chain I came up with:

GW :arrow: ITR :arrow: MR (more rain than snow) :arrow: SPMR+E :arrow: GSP + LSW

So when I wrote this out, in my head I'm thinking OK, author already made this causal link, he totally knows what is happening here and I went on to select "D" once again during my BR process. As it turns evidently turns out, D is mad incorrect.

I did re-did it following instructions on this thread and realized the correct diagramming so to say is actually:

P: GW :arrow: ITR :arrow: MR
C: SPMR+E :arrow: GSP + LSW

So really what I'm trying to ask I guess or what I am confused about is, has the author really not made that link? In which case, for similar questions, where we are faced with strengthen QS, are we to connect the dots for the author? Is dividing the P + C in this case leading us to that answer choice? Also, is this what many would call a "cookie cutter" type of stimulus? Hope you guys can help! Thanks :)
 Eric Ockert
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Hey there!

Thanks for the question. It think the issue comes down to distinguishing which statements are to be treated as given facts (premises) and which statements are in doubt. Your premise chain is correct. The author is stating as given facts that global warming is causing an increase in temperatures which is causing more rain instead of snow. So, we just accept these as true in our analysis.

But the author goes on to claim that this will affect the snowpack which will then increase flooding and decrease storable water. We cannot take this for granted. This is what the author believes must be true given the facts above. But those facts don't actually prove this claim. Our job, given that this is a Strengthen question, is to just find a fact that, if true, makes the author's causal claim more likely.

Considering there is a couple of noticeable logical gaps here, it is fairly likely that the correct answer will look to link across these gaps. I wouldn't call this a "cookie cutter" pattern (for one, the lengthy causal chain is a bit unique) but it certainly is common to see Strengthen answers play this Supporter, or linkage role. But bear in mind, the correct answer did not have to link up this gap. There are many ways to Strengthen an argument. It's just that, given the pattern in the stimulus, this is a likely direction for the test makers to go.

Hope that helps!
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BethRibet wrote:Hi Arindom,

Thanks for the question.

Yes, you're on the right track. To strengthen this argument, we need information that supports a relationship between the cause (melting snowpacks), and the effects (greater flooding, less storable water). Since C & D don't engage the cause, they are not good answers.

Hope this helps!

I do see your point about directly addressing the causal nature of the conclusion and contend that its a stronger means of support, but I am not understanding how a correlation can't support causality. When you say they aren't good answer choices, I am assuming you mean, and by nature of C and D being incorrect answers, that they do nothing to strengthen the conclusion. In my view, there is an inherent positive correlation within causality. When we are saying A :arrow: B (causal), are we not also saying More A (cause) leads to More B (effect) which yields a positive correlation? If not in general, could this line of thought not at least be applied to snowpacks? I'd like to understand how, if at all, correlation and causality can interrelate in terms of one supporting/weakening another for questions I may come across in the future if you wouldn't mind explaining both in abstract and application.

Thanks in advance!

 James Finch
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Hi Nick,

Correlation does not inherently imply causation because it leaves open 3 possibilities other than the stated causal relationship: coincidence, reverse causation, or an alternate cause (3rd-party) that is the actual cause of the other two phenomena.

In this case, both answer choices (C) and (D) are ripe for alternate causes. The stimulus is trying to link global warming as a cause to less storable water to meet summer demands. In both (C) and (D), it is entirely possible that those other areas have less overall precipitation, which then leads to less storable water, irrespective of spring flooding or global warming.

Hope this helps!
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James Finch wrote:Hi Nick,

Correlation does not inherently imply causation because it leaves open 3 possibilities other than the stated causal relationship: coincidence, reverse causation, or an alternate cause (3rd-party) that is the actual cause of the other two phenomena.

In this case, both answer choices (C) and (D) are ripe for alternate causes. The stimulus is trying to link global warming as a cause to less storable water to meet summer demands. In both (C) and (D), it is entirely possible that those other areas have less overall precipitation, which then leads to less storable water, irrespective of spring flooding or global warming.

Hope this helps!

I am having a little trouble eliminating answer choice C. Even though I know answer choice B is a better answer because it is causal, answer choice C still appears to slightly strengthen the argument. Given that strengthen questions only have to slightly strengthen the argument, is it possible to definitively eliminate C? It seems that a correlation, although not causal, would strengthen a causal argument by showing that both elements are present at the same time. I feel like this could be the case even if the possibility of an alternate cause is present.

Thank you in advance!
 Paul Marsh
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Hi lmasta!

Nice job seeing working out why (B) is a good answer. Just to re-iterate what you said, (B) creates a clear causal relationship between the melting of snowpacks and the resulting flooding/lack of storable water. The argument in our stimulus had a "gap" in that the future prediction in the conclusion about flooding and the lack of storable water kind of came out of nowhere. So we're looking for an answer that would plug that "gap" by showing evidence of a causal relationship, which (B) does nicely.

Now on to your question, which is basically - "Is (C) just a worse answer than (B), or is it a flat out bad answer?". Another way to phrase this question would be, "Does mere correlation in the past provide some weak support for causation in the future, or does it provide no support at all?" I could see the argument for either side of this, but I would lean towards the latter. When we say that "correlation does not imply future causation" in the eyes of the LSAT, we don't mean "correlation only sorta weakly implies future causation" - we mean "correlation in no way at all implies future causation". So I would say that the mere presence of cause and effect in (C) does nothing to strengthen the gap in our argument, and it can be eliminated outright.

But again - I could also see an argument that the presence of cause and effect in (C) does provide some very weak support for future causation. It's tricky because there are Logical Reasoning Strengthen stimuli where a cause and effect relationship is drawn between occurrences in the past, and the correct answer choice does little more than provide another past example of the cause and effect being present. (For example, check out October 1997, Section 3, Question 13). However, I believe the future prediction of the conclusion in our stimulus here requires a Strengthener which explicitly creates the causal relationship lacking in the stimulus, and therefore (C) is wrong. In either case, (B) is the significantly stronger answer.

That may not have been the most straightforward answer, but I hope it helps somewhat!
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I understand main issue of the question: the missing link in the causal chain. However, I didn't choose B because I don't see how using an example from another mountainous region strengthens the argument for the Rockies in any way. This mountainous region could be anywhere else - while there was a causal link in that mountainous region, we can't say that would raise the probability of there being a causal link in the Rockies.

B is saying something like "increased temperatures in that other mountainous region has led to meting of snowpacks which has led to increased flooding and less storable water" - exactly the causal link we are missing. But, I don't see how this causation in another mountainous region increases the likelihood that the same would be true in the Rockies.

Thanks so much!
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 Ryan Twomey
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Hey Chris12,

So using comparisons to similar situations can strengthen an argument.

If a conclusion to my argument was that teaching my children piano helped their grades in school, you could strengthen that argument by saying that teaching piano to other kids helped strengthen their grades in school even though those kids go to different schools and have different brains and different skills.

This question is very hard between B and C. So the reason C is wrong, as discussed above, is because we are concerned about a winter area that has a mild winter in comparison to previous winters, not as much an area that routinely experiences mild winters, so B is actually a more comparable situation because it is a mountainous region experiencing a mild winter instead of just an area that routinely experiences mild winters even though it is in a different location. You just have to make the judgement call about which situation is more comparable to our stimulus above. Is it the same region but entirely different conditions or a different region with similar conditions. In this case similar conditions but different region ends up being the more powerful way to strengthen our argument and that is why B is the correct answer.

I hope this helps.


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