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Flaw in the Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (D)
This stimulus begins with the “some people say” rhetorical device. Here, the author begins by mentioning a recent magazine article that argued it would be a waste of money for most companies that do not already own videoconferencing equipment to purchase such equipment.
Not surprisingly, the author disagrees with the magazine article, concluding that it is clearly not true that those companies would be wasting their money to purchase videoconferencing equipment. To support this conclusion, the author points to a recent survey of businesses that have purchased videoconferencing equipment. The survey respondents said that buying the equipment was not a waste of money.
Surveys being used as evidence are always suspect on the LSAT. Here, the suspicion is well-founded. The survey sample, businesses that have purchased videoconferencing equipment, makes the survey results improper evidence for the author’s conclusion. It is improper evidence because the magazine article limited its conclusion to those businesses which have not purchased videoconferencing equipment. These groups are necessarily different in a way that is relevant to the argument—those companies that purchased the equipment apparently considered the purchase to be wise given their circumstances, while those companies that have not purchased the equipment have not reached that conclusion.
The question stem tells us that this is a Flaw in the Reasoning question. The correct answer choice will describe the author’s flawed use of the survey described above.
Answer choice (A): The evidence was not that many businesses have purchased the equipment, but rather the response of most of those surveyed regarding their purchases. Further, the evidence was not just that the respondents had purchased the equipment, but also that they felt the equipment was well worth its cost.
Answer choice (B): Although the first sentence of the stimulus contained the word “if,” the argument was not conditional. The conclusion was based on the survey evidence, rather than an inference from conditional reasoning.
Answer choice (C): The author did not argue that the magazine did not provide evidence for its conclusion. Rather, the argument was that the survey evidence contradicted the article’s conclusion.
Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. As described above, the survey respondents were companies that had deemed the purchase of videoconferencing equipment to be a good investment. This characteristic makes the respondents different from the the subjects of the magazine article, i.e., those companies that have not yet purchased videoconferencing equipment, in a way that is important to the conclusion. For this reason, the conclusion is flawed because it relies on an unrepresentative sample.
Answer choice (E): The conclusion did not turn on the difference between “cost” and “value.” As stated above, the author’s position was that the survey results proved the magazine article’s conclusion was wrong.