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Evaluate the Argument-#%. The correct answer choice is (B)
The conclusion of the argument is the first sentence: “George Orwell’s book 1984 has exercised much influence on a great number of this newspaper’s readers.” The basis for this conclusion is that 1984 was the second most named book in a survey about influential books. The argument contains a serious error: just because 1984 came in second in the survey does not mean that “a great number” of readers selected it as influential. To illustrate this proposition, consider the following example:
- Number of people surveyed = 1000
Number of people naming the Bible as the most influential book = 999
Number of people naming 1984 as the most influential book = 1
Answer choice (A): The survey in the argument asks readers to name the one book with the most influence in their lives; the number of books read does not affect this answer. To apply the Variance Test, try opposite answers of “1” and a large number, say “10,000.” These numbers will not alter the evaluation of the argument, and thus this answer is incorrect.
Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice, but it can be difficult since the wording is a bit unusual. The question is intended to reveal how many people selected 1984 relative to the other choices, and this addresses the issue raised in the analysis of the stimulus. Consider how the variance test works for this answer choice:
First try the response, “999.” In this case, only one person selected 1984 as the most influential book, and the argument is greatly weakened.
Next try the response, “501.” In this instance, 499 people selected 1984 as the most influential book and the conclusion is strengthened (the other 501 people would have selected the Bible). Note that you cannot try a number less than 501 because that would mean that the Bible was not named most often.
Because the varied responses produce different evaluations of the argument, this answer is correct.
Answer choice (C): This answer is not relevant to the columnist’s argument. Apply the Variance Test to disprove this answer by using opposite answers of “0” and a very large number, such as “1 million.”
Answer choice (D): Because the argument is about Orwell’s 1984, other Orwell books chosen by the readers have no impact on the argument. Apply the Variance Test, using opposite answers of “0” and a small number such as “10” (Orwell wrote dozens of essays, but not dozens of books).
Answer choice (E): The survey in the argument addresses influence, not the actual reading of the book. A person might be influenced by a book like the Bible through church teachings, etc. without actually having read the book. To apply the Variance Test, try opposite answers of “0” and “1000.”