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 kcho10
  • Posts: 69
  • Joined: Nov 02, 2015
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#20544
Hi,

I had some trouble spotting the flaw for this question. Is the flaw in the stimulus that the pesticides produced by the U.S. that are then imported to the U.S. do not necessarily GREATLY increase the health risk? To me, it seems that it would still increase the health risk at least a little even if other countries were also sending those pesticides because it would still increase the amount of pesticides.
For example, couldn't it be argued that eating junk food is bad for you, but if you eat more, the risks are even greater?

If this is not the correct reasoning, could someone please walk me through how to correctly approach this problem? Thank you
 Steve Stein
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#20573
Hi Kcho,

That's a good question—first, it's important to note that this is not a Flaw question, but rather a Weaken question.
  • Premise: The US makes and exports certain pesticides that are banned for use in America.
  • Premise: These are some of the same kinds of pesticides that are used on products imported to the US.
  • Conclusion: This greatly increases the risk to US consumers.
Since the question that follows is a Weaken question, the right answer will weaken the author's argument.

If, as correct answer choice (C) provides, there are other countries that also make and export banned pesticides, then it's not clear that the American practice "greatly increases the health risk to US consumers." When those pesticides do come into the US, they might be coming from elsewhere, and it is not clear that any of those pesticides originated in the US.

Tricky question! I hope that's helpful! Please let me know whether this is clear--thanks!

~Steve
 NeverMissing
  • Posts: 35
  • Joined: Feb 21, 2017
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#39187
I'm having trouble understanding how exactly the correct answer choice weakens the argument. Even if other countries in addition to the US export the banned pesticides to countries where the US imports agricultural products, wouldn't the US's act of exporting these pesticides still contribute to an increase in health risk?

Answer choice C says that other countries export the chemicals as well, but wouldn't the US's percentage of pesticide exports still increase the sum total of all pesticides in countries where the US imports their agricultural products, thus increasing the overall health risk?

The argument appears to be this:

Premise: The US sends some amount (x) of banned pesticides to countries where they import agricultural products.
Conclusion: This practice greatly increases the health risks to US consumers.

Answer choice C provides us with this premise that other countries in addition to the US export the banned pesticides. This premise is the equivalent to saying this:

Premise: Other countries export some amount (y) of banned pesticides in addition to the US's amount (x) of the banned pesticides.

The x+y shows that the US is still increasing the sum total amount of pesticides the other countries have that could then be used on agricultural products the US imports. It doesn't matter how large or small the US's individual contribution of banned pesticides are in comparison with the other countries who also export them. With an increased amount of banned pesticides, you would have an increased risk.

How does this weaken that conclusion?
 ltowns1
  • Posts: 17
  • Joined: May 16, 2017
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#39224
NeverMissing wrote:I'm having trouble understanding how exactly the correct answer choice weakens the argument. Even if other countries in addition to the US export the banned pesticides to countries where the US imports agricultural products, wouldn't the US's act of exporting these pesticides still contribute to an increase in health risk?

Answer choice C says that other countries export the chemicals as well, but wouldn't the US's percentage of pesticide exports still increase the sum total of all pesticides in countries where the US imports their agricultural products, thus increasing the overall health risk?

The argument appears to be this:

Premise: The US sends some amount (x) of banned pesticides to countries where they import agricultural products.
Conclusion: This practice greatly increases the health risks to US consumers.

Answer choice C provides us with this premise that other countries in addition to the US export the banned pesticides. This premise is the equivalent to saying this:

Premise: Other countries export some amount (y) of banned pesticides in addition to the US's amount (x) of the banned pesticides.

The x+y shows that the US is still increasing the sum total amount of pesticides the other countries have that could then be used on agricultural products the US imports. It doesn't matter how large or small the US's individual contribution of banned pesticides are in comparison with the other countries who also export them. With an increased amount of banned pesticides, you would have an increased risk.

How does this weaken that conclusion?
So this is an excellent example of when it's important to remember our task. What is the task at hand? We have to weaken the argument, even if it's by the smallest of margins. To your question about whether the creation and exporting of these chemicals would make it more likely that the US consumers would have an INCREASED health RISK, Yes it would. However, is that what the conclusion says? Nope! It says that it would GREATLY INCREASE the health risk of US consumers. Thus, by establishing the fact that other countries send this substance back into Other countries (including maybe the United States), you're allowing for the possibility that it's the other countries who could be at fault for whatever substantial increase in harm these substances cause to the health of US consumers. This is a really hard question. I initially thought that the argument was assuming that these substances were ingested by at least a fair amount of people.
 Francis O'Rourke
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#39284
Hi Nevermissing,

ltowns1 makes a good case for why the U.S. would not necessarily increase the pesticide use significantly. However, It's actually not clear that the U.S. offering more supply of these pesticides increases the use of these pesticides at all.

An increase in supply of a product does not necessarily increase the demand for or use of it. Consider the following scenario: your local pharmacy has recently decided to stop selling alcohol. If there is no other store in your town that sells alcohol, then it is likely that your pharmacy's decision to stop selling alcohol would decrease the amount of alcohol sold and consumed. However, if your pharmacy is flanked by 'Joe's Liquor' on one side and by MegaMart on the other, both of which already sell alcohol, I would not be confident in saying that the pharmacy's decision is going to change the amount of beer, wine, or liquor sold in the town.

Similarly, the practice at issue in this stimulus could merely shift the supply, but not change the total amount. Regardless, it is very unlikely that one more supplier in pesticide market would significantly increase the amount of pesticides used worldwide.
 silent7706
  • Posts: 42
  • Joined: Mar 26, 2019
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#65404
Hi,

A quick question, is part 1"In addition to jeopardizing the health of people in these other country" a component of the conclusion? I see how (C) weakens part 2"...this practice greatly increases the health risk to U.S. consumers", but does not do much to weaken the part 1. So I guess as long as an answer weakens part of the conclusion, part 2 in this case, the answer will do.

Thanks in advance.
 Brook Miscoski
PowerScore Staff
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#65434
silent7706,

No, that clause is not a component of the conclusion. The conclusion is that manufacturing and selling the pesticides abroad greatly increases risk to US consumers.

Still, if you did count that clause as a component of the conclusion, the correct response weakens that clause as well as the main conclusion of the argument. If ample supplies of the pesticides are being manufactured elsewhere, the US manufacture probably does not "greatly" increase risk anywhere.
 anthonychernandez
  • Posts: 13
  • Joined: May 06, 2019
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#65940
I want to make sure my reasoning is correct on why C is the right answer here.

In the premise we're told basically of a 'Banned List' of pesticides in the US. And despite being banned for nearly 30 years, the US still manufactures and exports these pesticides to other countries. The columnist's conclusion is that this practice "greatly increases" the health risk to Americans because imported food is often grown with these 'Banned List' of pesticides.

C says that America is "not the only country" that manufactures/exports this 'Banned List' of pesticides. "Not the only" could mean 1 other country or 100 other countries. Either way, the American practice is a little less responsible, and the increased health risk is a little less tied to the American practice.

I had a hard time with this answer choice (I had initially chosen E). Let's say, on the low end, the only other country that manufactures and exports this Banned List of pesticides was South Africa, and they only trade with their neighboring countries. For C to weaken, do we not have to assume that countries that these other manufacturing countries export to produce food that makes it's way back to the United States? That seemed like too much inferential work to do for a correct answer.

(I chose E initially because I thought it created a scenario where the banned list of pesticides was arbitrary, and not tied to health concerns. Perhaps if the list of banned pesticides country-by-country was based on trade wars and political retaliation, and NOT health concerns, the argument would be weakened. I see how that is wrong, but it felt better while I was doing the test than C).
 Jeremy Press
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#66686
Hi Anthony,

Really great question that illustrates both the necessity of close reading in the stimulus and the correct approach to the answer choices in Weaken questions.

First, you're absolutely right that when answer choice C uses the phrase "not the only," that means we can only safely assume there is at least one other country other than the U.S. that manufactures and exports the pesticides.

Second, you're absolutely right that we should not be importing unnecessary factual assumptions into answer choices. So, with answer choice C here, we should not be importing the assumption that the countries referred to in the answer are exporting the pesticides to countries whose food will then be consumed by consumers in the United States.

Still, you're right that we need that fact. And, the stimulus gives us what we need to get that fact into the question. Notice the last premise, which says, "these pesticides are often used on agricultural products imported into the United States." That gives you the hook you're looking for. If the pesticides are often used on agricultural products imported into the United States, that means they're often used on such products and are therefore often imported into the U.S. whether the pesticides are manufactured in the U.S. or elsewhere. Thus, the fact of even just one other country's producing such pesticides will (I agree, softly!) weaken the idea that U.S. manufacture/export of these pesticides greatly increases health risk to U.S. consumers.

I hope this helps!

Jeremy

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