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#24087
Complete Question Explanation

Flaw in the Reasoning—CE. The correct answer choice is (A)

In this stimulus, the consumer advocate draws a flawed causal conclusion based on a single premise:

The most commonly stolen car last year was the same as that of the previous year.
  • Conclusion: ..... The type of car one drives affects one’s chances of theft.
The author has clearly concluded that the car type increases its chances of being stolen.

But there is no way to assess this without knowing more information. For example, if the referenced model were the only car available in a certain country, then its popularity among thieves would tell us nothing.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. This is a slightly less drastic example than that from the discussion above. If the car was the most popular in that country (even if it weren’t the only car available), then, again, its recurring popularity among thieves would tell us little.

Answer choice (B): There is no need to address this fact, so this answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): The idea that the model might have had a high resale value strengthens the advocate’s argument, so this is certainly not a flaw.

Answer choice (D): The advocate does not make any presumptions about the thieves’ various considerations, but rather draws from limited information about the most commonly stolen cars from the last two years.

Answer choice (E): The advocate does not discuss the discussion of which car should be chosen—the advocate’s point is to draw a causal conclusion from a particular model’s apparent popularity among thieves.
 rahimlsat
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#61648
Hi,

I still do not understand why B is wrong. I understand the causal nature of the conclusion:

car model :arrow: increases chances stolen

How is B not correct? According to the bibles, the makers of the test assume that the stated cause is the only cause for the effect. The way I see it, B is providing an alternate cause: age.

Furthermore, I don't understand how A weakens the causal relationship. To me, how common the car model is still has to do with car model, so it's not really giving an alternate cause. So it merely seems to be further explaining the cause already given in the conclusion.

Can you please clarify? Thanks!
 Adam Tyson
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#61667
Good question, rahimlsat, thanks for asking! While historically most causal reasoning questions can be approached with the idea that the author thinks the stated cause is the only cause, there have been many questions where the author allows for additional causes. They do this by using words like "contributes to" and "is a factor in" and "is one of the causes." All of these indicate that the author believes that the stated cause may not be the only cause.

Here, the author does that by saying "greatly affects". That means it is a major causal factor, but not necessarily the only one. The author might readily concede that age, condition, options, color, etc. also play a part. He would probably concede that whether the car is unlocked with the keys hanging from the ignition also has some influence! That's why B isn't the problem - the author is allowing for other causes just in the way he used language in the stimulus.

So what's going on with answer A, and why does that matter? Imagine that the model in question is the most popular model of car. Let's say, in fact, that 98% of all cars on the road in that country today are that same model (it's a boring country and almost everyone drives the same car). If that's the case, then the model of car may not have any impact on the odds of it getting stolen, because even if all car thefts were totally random, it would make sense that most of the stolen cars would be that ridiculously common model. Those cars didn't get stolen because they were the model that thieves especially want - they got stolen just because the odds were overwhelming that they would be the ones getting stolen!

Put another way, if car thieves steal 1% of all cars, and those thefts are totally random, you would expect that 1% to be representative of the distribution of cars generally. The most common type of car would be the most common type stolen simply because of the statistical situation. There's your true alternate cause - not the model, but the odds.

Give that another look and see if it makes more sense to you now. Keep at it!
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 JocelynL
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#84566
I'm having a hard time understanding why answer choice A is correct even after reading the online explanations.
If A is correct because it brings up an alternate cause, then how is B incorrect as it also brings up age as an alternate cause.
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 KelseyWoods
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Hi Jocelyn!

Let's try thinking about this argument in a bit of a different way. This is a Flaw question. To identify a flaw, always start by identifying the conclusion and the premises and then asking yourself why the premises don't fully prove the conclusion.

The author observes that the model of car stolen most often last year was also the same model of car stolen most often in the year before. That's the premise and we are accepting that fact as true. The same model of car keeps being stolen most often.

From this, the author concludes that the model of car causes that model to be stolen more often. This is actually a fairly common argument construction where the author observes a fact and then concludes an explanation. The author has observed that this specific model of car is stolen most often and has concluded that this is because thieves are targeting that model of car. The flaw here is that this explanation is not the only possible explanation of why that specific model of car is being stolen more often.

Answer choice (B) gives an alternate cause for car theft in general, but remember that our author is trying to explain why this specific model of car is stolen more often, not why cars are stolen in general. So what if the age of the car also affects the chances of being stolen. The model of the car could still be another factor that increases the chances that the car will be stolen and could still be an explanation as to why that specific model of car is being stolen more often.

Answer choice (A) doesn't just give an alternate cause of general car theft. It gives us an alternate explanation of the data. It tells us that maybe the reason why this specific model of car is stolen more often is not because it is being specifically targeted by thieves, but just because it is the most common model of car available to be stolen. This shows why the data in the premise does not necessarily prove the author's explanation in the conclusion, by providing an alternative explanation for the data.

Hope this helps!

Best,
Kelsey
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 JocelynL
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#86299
KelseyWoods wrote: Mon Mar 01, 2021 4:28 pm Hi Jocelyn!

Let's try thinking about this argument in a bit of a different way. This is a Flaw question. To identify a flaw, always start by identifying the conclusion and the premises and then asking yourself why the premises don't fully prove the conclusion.

The author observes that the model of car stolen most often last year was also the same model of car stolen most often in the year before. That's the premise and we are accepting that fact as true. The same model of car keeps being stolen most often.

From this, the author concludes that the model of car causes that model to be stolen more often. This is actually a fairly common argument construction where the author observes a fact and then concludes an explanation. The author has observed that this specific model of car is stolen most often and has concluded that this is because thieves are targeting that model of car. The flaw here is that this explanation is not the only possible explanation of why that specific model of car is being stolen more often.

Answer choice (B) gives an alternate cause for car theft in general, but remember that our author is trying to explain why this specific model of car is stolen more often, not why cars are stolen in general. So what if the age of the car also affects the chances of being stolen. The model of the car could still be another factor that increases the chances that the car will be stolen and could still be an explanation as to why that specific model of car is being stolen more often.

Answer choice (A) doesn't just give an alternate cause of general car theft. It gives us an alternate explanation of the data. It tells us that maybe the reason why this specific model of car is stolen more often is not because it is being specifically targeted by thieves, but just because it is the most common model of car available to be stolen. This shows why the data in the premise does not necessarily prove the author's explanation in the conclusion, by providing an alternative explanation for the data.

Hope this helps!

Best,
Kelsey
Thank you Kelsey! This was extremely helpful!

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