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I don't fully understand the correct answer to this question. It has something to do with suggesting another correlation or possible cause, but I don't understand the relationships.

1. There is Yakusawa's conclusion

2. There is the critics contention that age is actually the determining factor. So this is the conclusion we are weakening.

Answer: But what is the answer doing? ruling out another possible cause? Comparing apples to oranges? Suggesting a different correlation. I can visualize the difference between what the Critic is assuming and then how the answer choice says "no this is how it really is."

 Alex Bodaken
PowerScore Staff
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Thanks for the question. This turns out to be a weaken question, in which the correct answer will weaken the critic's conclusion that Yakusawa's conclusion is mistaken. We could rephrase this to say that the correct answer will strengthen the possibility that Yakusawa's conclusion is correct (because we are weakening a criticism of it).

That being said, let's examine the answer choices:

(A) Yasukawa compared the survival chances of two different species of blackbirds, a larger and a smaller species, rather than of different sizes of birds within one species. - This is the credited answer choice. If this is true, then it weaken's the critics argument Yasukawa's research is flawed because of different sizes of the same proves that Yasukawa was comparing two different species, essentially making that criticism irrelevant.

(B) Yasukawa examined blackbirds in their natural habitat rather than in captivity.
- This answer choice is irrelevant.

(C) Yasukawa did not compare the survival chances of blackbirds with those of other kinds of birds. - If this were true, it would actually strengthen the critic's argument, which makes this an opposite answer.

(D) Yasukawa noted that the larger blackbirds had more success in fights than did the smaller blackbirds. - This answer choice is irrelevant.

(E) Yasukawa noted that the larger blackbirds tended to have more firmly established social hierarchies than did the smaller blackbirds. - This answer is irrelevant.

Hope that helps!
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I am having a bit of trouble seeing why A is the correct answer. I don't see where the critic assumes that Yasukawa is discussing only one species.

So even if Yasukawa was studying two different species of blackbird, couldn't the critics assessment still be valid? Since his statement refers to "blackbirds" in general, not committing him to be asserting a claim about one particular species of blackbird.
 Adam Tyson
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The issue here, Amitjohn, is that the criticism in the stimulus is based on the assumption that the smaller blackbirds are smaller simply because they are younger, and that in time they will grow to be as large as the larger ones in the study. If that assumption is correct, the criticism makes sense - smaller birds don't live longer because they are smaller, but because they are younger.

Answer A challenges that assumption, weakening the force of the criticism by introducing the idea that the smaller birds were not just younger versions of the same species of bird. They were, in fact, a smaller type of bird, and so size, rather than age, could indeed be the cause of the difference. Answer A, if true, supports Yasukawa's conclusion and weakens the criticism of that conclusion.

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