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Dec 2001 LSAT, Sec 3, Q 26:

I don't understand why D is wrong, is it because it actually WEAKENS the argument by saying that the experiments could not be measured precisely??

Thank you so much!

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Hi Sherry,

Thanks for writing in. Yes, your analysis is on target. Answer choice D, if true would weaken, rather than strengthening the argument for a fifth universal force, because it indicates that the experiments which helped to detect that fifth force were not reliable.

Hopefully this helps, but let us know if not!

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I do understand what makes B a correct answer for this question but cannot wrap my head around why D doesn't work. If the experiments were done in settings where factors couldn't be measured with any precision and the possible fifth universal force would explain something about it, then wouldn't that strengthen the argument? Though the experiments themselves were not precise, the fifth force can explain something about it better than the other theory predicted. While I do see how this can also weaken but I felt it could also work the other way around. For example, even if one's work for the math question was wrong, I might see what was done wrong and explain it better than the other person did. Therefore, my explanations still hold and I can be right...?
 Adam Tyson
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Answer D gives us an alternate cause for the problematic measurements in those experiments in which the existing theory did not accurately predict gravitational forces. If the measurements were unreliable, we don't need some mysterious new force to explain them. We can explain them just by saying that they may have been inaccurate!

Consider this, too, bonnie_a: you said that this answer could also weaken the argument. That means that the impact of the answer depends on how we interpret it, right? But if that's the case, then the answer does not, by itself, help the argument. It can only help if we bring in some outside assumptions that are not part of that answer choice, and that is a classic case of a wrong answer! The correct answer must strengthen the argument without our help!

If we want an answer that does the most to strengthen the argument, we don't want any ambiguity, and we need an answer that does that work all by itself, without any need for us to add our assumptions or make any special interpretations. D, on its face, hurts the argument by giving an alternate explanation for the measurements, and by showing that the experiments intended to support the new theory were not reliable. It's both an alternate cause AND a data problem, two common ways to attack a causal relationship.

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