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## #24 - Sociologist: Research shows, contrary to popular

180nce
• Posts: 12
• Joined: May 18, 2015
#19020
I don't have the preptest or section # for this question, but found it in my logical reasoning workbook and didn't get it right.

The question is as follows:
• We removed the text due to LSAC copyright considerations, but here is the question identification information for easy reference:

Question: June 1998, LR2, #24
Topic: Happiness and pets
The flaw I identified is that the author went from stating a correlative relationship in the premise, to stating a causal relationship in the conclusion (a pet causes unhappiness to some degree that would not occur without the pet)

I chose (A) because the premise says that "most people who have pets are less happy than most people who do not" so I took that to mean that some people are happier than people who do not have pets, which is answer choice (A). This choice weakens the conclusion because the conclusion says that "any person who wants to be as happy as possible would do well to consider not having a pet"

Doesn't the "some" in answer choice (A) weaken a statement that applies to the happiness of "any person." Since at least one person with a pet is happier than most people who don't have pets, doesn't this weaken the conclusion?

For choice (D), I'm having a hard time seeing why it's correct. The conclusion refers to being as happy as possible, and choice (D) focuses on people who feel happier because they have pets; but couldn't these same people feel even happier than they feel now (with the pet)? So how would choice (D) weaken the argument?

I'm lost, can anyone lend some guidance.

Herzog.Laura
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 7
• Joined: Jun 30, 2015
#19024
180,

You're on the right track seeing that the author is creating a causal relationship from a correlation.

Answer choice (A) doesn't weaken the argument because it is attempting to compare one person's happiness to the average happiness of people without pets. It could be that those few people would be EVEN happier than they are now if they did not have pets.

Answer choice (D) is correct because if most people who have pets feel happier because they have a pet, then those people would have to feel less happy than they currently do without their pet. Having a pet causes happiness. The trick here is understanding that to draw this conclusion they can only compare one person's happiness with a pet to that same person's happiness without a pet.

For example: perhaps it turns out that people who are unhappy are more likely to get a pet. The pet improves their level of happiness, but still not enough to make them as happy as the people who didn't feel the need to get a pet in the first place. That would weaken the argument that people who want to be happier shouldn't have pets.

Hope that helps!
-Laura
LSATer
• Posts: 47
• Joined: Nov 13, 2016
#33298
Hi, I am really struggling to understand this one. I selected A as my answer and even after reading the response, I don't completely understand why A is wrong and why D is correct.

Is D correct because it's basically saying "most people who have pets were not as happy as possible when they didn't have pets?"

Thank you,
LSATer
Luke Haqq
• PowerScore Staff
• Posts: 274
• Joined: Apr 26, 2012
#33300
Hi LSATer!

I think the way you reworded (D)—"most people who have pets were not as happy as possible when they didn't have pets"—is generally correct. If that's correct, another way of saying it is that (D) is saying pets cause people to be happier. If most people were not as happy as possible until they got a pet, which made them happier, this would suggest the pet caused happiness.

More to the point, though, answer (D) specifically states: "(D) Most people who have pets feel happier because they have pets." (my emphasis)

The emphasis is on "because"; answer choice (D) is explicitly saying most people feel happier because they have a pet. It is establishing a causal relationship. That's the correct answer because, if it were true, it would weaken the sociologist's argument to the contrary, that pets cause less happiness.

Hope that helps!
LSATer
• Posts: 47
• Joined: Nov 13, 2016
#33303
Thank you so much! Adding "because" makes a big difference!

LSATer
ericj_williams
• Posts: 73
• Joined: Jan 19, 2020
#85613
How is E wrong?

If you admit to feeling unhappy sometimes, then how you you be as happy as possible?

I mean happy as possible would literally mean the max amount of happy the max amount of time.

If you are unhappy even once, you are not as happy as possible.
ericj_williams
• Posts: 73
• Joined: Jan 19, 2020
#85615
ericj_williams wrote: Tue Mar 16, 2021 9:06 pm How is E wrong?

If you admit to feeling unhappy sometimes, then how you you be as happy as possible?

I mean happy as possible would literally mean the max amount of happy the max amount of time.

If you are unhappy even once, you are not as happy as possible.

I'm stuck on this idea of using a relative concept to weaken an absolute.

Happy as possible would basically be the max, a superlative. If you're as happy as possible, you couldn't be happier.
How is it we are able to use a relative term to weaken a superlative?

It doesn't seem to weaken it.

So more then 50% who have pets are happiER. But we are talking about to be the happiEST, don't have a pet.

It's like we are comparing having pets to being happiER, to not having pets and being the happiEST.

That seems to make no sense. Relative with pets, to weaken superlative without pets? Where is the connection?
Jeremy Press
• PowerScore Staff
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• Joined: Jun 12, 2017
#85982
Hi Eric,

The problem you're having here is wrapped up in your understanding of "absolute" in this particular context. Is it true that being "as happy as possible" implies a particular point on the scale of happiness? Yes. It's talking about the extreme end of the scale of happiness. But scales are inherently comparative.

When we talk about the "relativity flaw" in reasoning, using a comparison to prove an absolute or vice-versa, the "absolute" we're talking about is not a "point on the (inherently comparative) scale." The absolute is a quantity (or state of being, etc.) that exists independent of comparison to anything else. The language you're struggling with is not language that implies a quantity that exists independent of comparison. After all, the phrase is "as happy as possible," i.e. as happy as I can be, compared with any other possible state of happiness. That point on the scale only exists by comparing it to every other possible state of being. In this context, an "absolute" would be, simply, a claim that I am "happy," period.

Because answer choice D suggests there are people whose happiness would be diminished by not having a pet, it weakens the (overly broad) conclusion that says "any person" who wants to be as happy as possible (as happy as that person could be) should not have a pet. This doesn't contradict the premise, because the research the sociologist describes allows for exceptions (we're only talking about "most" people).

I hope this helps!

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