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Complete Question Explanation

Method of Reasoning—Argument Part. The correct answer choice is (C)

The argument is structured as follows:

     Premise: A rise of just two degrees prevents the vertical mixing of seawater from
     different strata.

     Premise: This restricts the availability of upwelling nutrients to phytoplankton.

     Premise: Zooplankton, which feed upon phytoplankton, feed the rest of the food chain.
     Conclusion: Seemingly inconsequential changes in sea temperature due to global warming
     eventually result in declines in fish and seabird populations.

The conclusion in the first line is echoed again in the final sentence. The argument part referenced
in the question stem is a premise (note the use of the premise indicator “since” in the last line), and
your answer must indicate that the role played by the argument part is that of a premise.

Answer choice (A): The portion referenced in the question stem is not a hypothesis, but rather a
statement of fact.

Answer choice (B): The statement referenced in the question stem is not an example of the way the
mixing of seawater affects feeding habits, but rather another premise that is then combined with the
vertical mixing premise to help support the conclusion.

Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer. The phrase “it helps show” describes a premise, and
in this case the premise is used to support a statement about the effect of temperature changes on fish
and seabirds.

Answer choice (D): The argument does not take a position that global warming should be curtailed.
Instead, the argument shows how small changes in sea temperature lead to population declines, and
no opinion of those effects is stated.

Answer choice (E): This is an Exaggerated Answer. The argument specifically indicates that fish and
seabirds populations will decline. This answer choices states that all organisms are threatened.
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Hi! Two short questions: 1) Given the wording of answer C), can we consider common knowledge the fact that zooplankton is a sea animal; 2) Do the LSAT authors understand by indirect cause any cause that needs to trigger a chain in order to produce an effect? Thanks in advance!
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Thanks for your questions!

It may not be not common knowledge that zooplankton is a type of sea animal. However, when the LSAT introduces scientific terms like this that are not common knowledge, there will be sufficient context for test-takers to infer what's being discussed. Here, we have a stimulus that discusses "declines in fish and seabird populations" and the impact on species that live in seawater (phytoplankton and zooplankton). Since all the animals mentioned in the passage live in or around the sea, and the two plankton species are specifically identified as living in seawater, we can safely conclude that all the animals in this question are types of sea animals.

It's also safe to interpret "indirect cause" in the usual way -- that a cause may set in motion a chain of events which produces far-flung effects. Here, there are several degrees of separation from the cause (global warming) to the effect (limiting the food supply for sea animals), so we can safely categorize this as an indirect cause / effect situation.

Good luck studying!
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I chose (C) through process of elimination - can you let me know if my reasoning the other answer choices were correct?

(A) "hypothesis" - The author didn't make one.

(B) HOLD AS CONTENDER - partially correct answer choice because the role played in the argument is an example but the author doesn't talk about how vertical mixing seawater affects feedings habits but that the rise of temperature prevents the vertical mixing which in turn prevents restricts nutrients to P.

(C) HOLD AS CONTENDER - Better answer than (B)

(D) "must be curtailed" - author doesn't talk about what should be done about global warming just that declines in fish and seabird populations will occur

(E) "threat to all organisms" - an exaggeration of what the author states is stimulus, we only know what they think will happen to fish and seabird populations
 Zach Foreman
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I think your reasoning is very good. I'll just add that if there is a hypothesis made, it would be the first sentence and not the part about zooplankton. And the real example of changes in feeding habits would be "This restricts the availability of upwelling nutrients to phytoplankton." The fact that zooplankton feed on phytoplankton is not an example in this passage.
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I may have overthought this question, but I am still not fully convinced with C. My two contenders were B and C, but I ended up going with B.
Below is my logic:

(B) I did recognize that the conclusion was the first sentence, but where I went wrong I guess is when I assumed the "this restrict the availability of.." was referring to the vertical mixing.
This was my thought process:

rise in sea temperature :arrow: vertical mixing :arrow: this restricts the availability of upwelling :arrow: decline in fish and seabird populations

I would have preferred the answer choice to say: it is intended to provide an example of the ways in which a rise in sea temperatures affects feeding habitats, but I thought vertical mixing is still sufficient.

(C) I initially wanted to choose C, but ended up going with B when I focused on the "larger sea animals" part in this answer choice. The stimulus does not clarify whether small or large animals are more affected than the other. All it stated was "... global warming eventually result in declines in fish and seabird populations". The size was never mentioned, so I assumed this was new information that would result in C being an incorrect answer.
 Adam Tyson
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"Larger" is a relative term, and refers to comparing the size of fish and seabirds to phytoplankton and zooplankton, s_takesonLSAT. Those animals don't need to be "large", they just need to be larger than zooplankton, and the authors of the test are counting on us knowing that's true, even if we don't know exactly what zooplankton is. Since zooplankton feed the rest of the food chain, anything that affects them directly would have an indirect effect on the animals higher up the chain. That's what answer C is all about.

I had B as a contender, but chose C over it for two reasons. First, the effect on zooplankton is not an example of how mixing affects feeding habits - the zooplankton still eat phytoplankton, and their habits have not changed. What it affects is the availability of their food - if phytoplankton can't get their nutrients, their numbers will shrink, which will cause zooplankton to go hungry. Second, I didn't see it as an example at all - it was not used as a single case to illustrate a larger concept, which is what an example is supposed to do. It was THE case in question, rather than an example. I could have accepted the answer if that was the only problem and there wasn't a better choice, but it is still a problem in my view.

Beware of treating relative terms, like "larger," as if they are absolute terms, like "large." That's a fairly common trap on this test!
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This forum raises some interesting questions about the difference between an example and a premise. Any elaboration on the matter would be appreciated, but I have some specific questions too. One of the proctors notes, "I didn't see it as an example at all - it was not used as a single case to illustrate a larger concept, which is what an example is supposed to do." So, what a premise seeks to do is support the conclusion, it's sort of like aimed at supporting the conclusion in a more direct way than an example? Where as an example, as the proctor says, doesn't support as much as it illustrates the point at hand, clarifies it? Even though I get that, the example understood as such sort of does support the point it's explaining. The difference is subtle. Am I missing anything else?

Thank you,
 Robert Carroll
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I'm going to agree entirely with what Adam said - something can't be an example if it's exactly what's being talked about. The function of an example is to serve as one case among many you could use to make your point. If I argue that Joe Montana is a good quarterback, and you ask me for proof, I could say "Well, look at how he played against the Bengals." Another game should have been able to serve to prove that Montana was good - the particular game against the Bengals is just an example. Examples can be evidence, but they're always evidence that can, in theory, be replaced by something else equally specific. If removing that particular kind of evidence would leave no way to prove the point, then the evidence isn't an example at all. So, in this stimulus, talking about something other than zooplankton's feeding upon phytoplankton would entirely change the topic of the argument. There's nothing else the argument could talk about instead and still make the same point. Thus, the statement about the respective types of plankton is not an example of something more general, but the exact case in point.

Robert Carroll

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