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Complete Question Explanation

Parallel Reasoning—SN. The correct answer choice is (C)

This question highlights the importance of distinguishing fact from opinion and probability from certainty. Few other questions on this test exemplify these key elements in language so well.

The author predicts that a sales proposal will probably be rejected. Why? Because it will not be rewritten, and—according to Juarez, whose opinion is quite reliable on such matters—if the proposal is not rewritten, it will be rejected. The first sentence features conditional reasoning, which can be diagrammed as follows:
  • Premise (1): ..... (Opinion) ..... Rewrite proposal ..... :arrow: ..... Proposal rejected
The second sentence indicates that Juarez’s opinion is very reliable on such matters, suggesting that a factual inference is likely to be justified:
  • Premise (2): ..... (Fact) ..... Juarez’s opinion is very reliable.
The first clause of the third sentence indicates that the sufficient condition in Juarez’s opinion will occur, i.e. that the proposal will not be rewritten:
  • Premise (3): ..... (Fact) ..... Rewrite proposal
On the basis of this information, the author concludes that it is likely that the proposal will be rejected:
  • Conclusion: ..... (Fact) ..... Proposal rejected (probably)
The conclusion predicts a factual outcome based on someone’s opinion, but the opinion is said to be very reliable. The argument is based on conditional reasoning. Finally, there is a peculiarity in the language that you can use to your advantage: whereas Juarez’s opinion is worded as an absolute statement (if… then), the word “probably” is used to qualify the conclusion. The word “probably” makes the conditional relationship in the first sentence less than absolute, which makes sense: after all, we are relying on someone’s opinion to predict a future outcome as a matter of fact.

Because your job is to parallel the argument, you must parallel the conclusion as well as the premises, making sure to “match” the certainty level of all subcomponents in the argument. The correct answer choice should contain an argument that:
  • (1) infers fact from opinion;

    (2) provides evidence that the opinion is very reliable;

    (3) presents the opinion as a conditional statement, and

    (4) engages in probabilistic reasoning in reaching the conclusion.
This knowledge allows you to quickly eliminate every answer choice except for answer choice (C).

Answer choice (A): This answer choice is incorrect, because the conditional relationship supporting the conclusion is presented as a fact (“if the company’s data are accurate, the medication must be safe”), while the opinion indicates that the sufficient condition of that relationship has been met (“the data are accurate”). This is the reverse of how the premises are structured in the stimulus. This answer choice fails the Premise Test, and is therefore incorrect.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice can be immediately eliminated because its conclusion does not feature the same probabilistic language as in the stimulus. A savvy test taker who notices this difference may choose not to even diagram it, and automatically eliminate it from consideration.

Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer choice. The argument infers fact from opinion, provides evidence that the opinion is very reliable, presents the opinion as a conditional statement, and also engages in probabilistic reasoning in reaching the conclusion. The argument, when reworded, is structured as follows:
  • Premise (1): ..... (Opinion) ..... Data is accurate ..... :arrow: ..... Medication is safe

    Premise (2): ..... (Fact) ..... The journal is rarely wrong (i.e. it is reliable)

    Premise (3): ..... (Fact) ..... Data is accurate

    Conclusion: ..... (Fact) ..... Medication is probably safe
You should not be concerned with the fact that the sufficient condition in the stimulus was a negative one, whereas that condition in answer choice (C) is positive. Remember—the topic in Parallel Reasoning questions does not matter, as your only job is to identify an argument that has a similar pattern of reasoning. Neither the topic, nor the order of presenting the components of the argument, affects the logical structure of that argument.

Answer choice (D): This answer choice is incorrect, because we have no factual evidence suggesting that the sufficient condition of the conditional relationship has been met. Both the conditional relationship and the evidence in question are presented as opinion, not fact.

Answer choice (E): This answer choice can immediately be eliminated, because the conclusion is not supported by a premise containing conditional reasoning.
  • Posts: 18
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I am not following the reasoning in the argument (usually I am able to):
J thinks the proposal will be rejected
because of X
Since x happens, it will probably be rejected

What makes C right?
 Claire Horan
PowerScore Staff
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Both the stimulus and answer choice (C) refer to an expert who is usually right about "such matters." In both scenarios, the expert posits a certain conditional: __B____, if __A______. The sufficient condition, A, is then stated to be present. The arguments end by concluding B.

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