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#23163
Complete Question Explanation

Flaw in the Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (D)

In this stimulus argument, the author is using the beliefs of two time periods as premises to establish the truth of her conclusion. The argument is that since people today and people in the past have all believed that yawning is most powerfully triggered by other people yawning, that opinion must be fact. The problem is, regardless of how many time periods are represented, opinions cannot be used to establish something as fact.

Answer Choice (A) The conclusion here is not merely a restatement of the premises. Instead, it is assertion that since all of these people through different eras have believed something, it must be true.

Answer Choice (B) While the issue of why people yawn likely is outside most historians' area of expertise, it is not the historians making the claim about yawning. Instead, the historians are stating what people in the past have believed regarding yawning. In no way are they expressing their own personal beliefs.

Answer Choice (C) The argument is making its claims based on opinion, not upon a limited number of atypical cases.

Answer Choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. What exactly causes yawns is a factual issue that would probably be best established through scientific studies. The fact that people throughout the years have believed something does not automatically make that belief true.

Answer Choice (E) The stimulus argument does not take for granted that yawns have no cause other than seeing somebody else yawn. The argument is stating that seeing somebody else yawn is the most irresistible cause of yawning, not the only cause.
 lizzieb
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#18529
This questions is about the cause of yawning. The correct answer choice is D. I chose E and in reviewing the answer choices again it seems to me that both D and E are correct. Why is D a better choice than E? Thanks!
 Andrew Ash
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#18535
Hi Lizzie,

Good to hear from you again:) I like this stimulus because the problem with the argument is really clear (although as you pointed out, the wording of the answer choices gets tricky). This author goes from the premise "people have always thought seeing other people yawn is the strongest trigger for yawning" to "seeing other people yawn is the strongest trigger for yawning." It's an appeal to popular opinion (discussed on page 7-31).

This is like saying "most people at my office think it's going to rain tomorrow, so I know that it will rain tomorrow." If I want a weather prediction, I'm not going to ask my coworkers, I'm going to ask a meteorologist!

Answer choice (D) describes an appeal to popular opinion, and it's the correct answer. What's wrong with answer choice (E), then? The problem is that the stimulus concludes that seeing other people yawn is "the most irresistible cause" of yawning, which implies that there might be other causes. So the stimulus actually doesn't take for granted that yawns have "no other cause," it just thinks that the one it cites is the most powerful one.

Again, the key to these Flaw questions is to spot the problem in the argument before you move on to the answer choices. For the most part, they fall into the twelve or so types of errors we saw in the lesson, and as you do more Flaw questions, you'll get better at spotting them. Once you've come up with a strong prephrase, picking the right answer choice will be a piece of cake, and these tricky answer choices will stop tormenting you.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions about what I've written.

Thanks,
Andrew
 shah
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#30178
Hi. I am having trouble understanding why B cannot be the answer. The way I perceive the stimulus is that the historians are talking about how this whole concept of yawning is triggered today as well as in the past. The author then concludes that seeing someone yawn must be the most irresistible cause. This to me is not relevant to how it is caused rather it seems very strongly as an emotion being described. CONFUSED!!
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 Dave Killoran
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#30182
Hi Shah,

Thanks for the question! If you look at how you describe the stimulus, I think you have revealed in part why (B) is incorrect. So, let's use your words to better understand the problem with (B). I'm going to add italics to what you said:

  • "The way I perceive the stimulus is that the historians are talking about how this whole concept of yawning is triggered today as well as in the past. The author then concludes..."
So, one of the things we have here is that historians are making a statement, and then the author goes and makes a statement that is not only different, but far more sweeping. In other words, the author uses the historians statement as a basis but turns it into something very different in the process. Now, does that mean that the historians were unqualified to say what they said (which is the essence of (B) when it states "support of a claim that lies outside their [historians] area of expertise")? No, the historians study popular culture and and are qualified to comment on whether things occurred or not. Here, all they say is that people have always seemingly believed that yawning is most powerfully triggered by seeing someone else yawn. Historians of popular culture would be qualified to say whether people believed that through the years, in my opinion. So, when we reduce answer choice (B) down to its core, what we have is a half-right, half-wrong answer:

  • (B) It cites the evidence of historians of popular culture in direct support of a claim [this first part does indeed occur] that lies outside their area of expertise [this portion does not occur].
As a very rough analogy, it's kind of like if you that usually when you don't feel well it's because you ate some bad food, and then I came along and said because Shah said this, it must be the case that eating bad food always causes people to feel unwell. In this example, I use your statement to make a much broader claim, but does that mean that you weren't qualified to make a comment about yourself? No, it doesn't. It's not a perfect analogy, but hopefully it gets the point across :-D

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
 niki
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#38668
Assuming the final sentence in the stimulus had been "Thus, seeing someone else yawn must be the only cause of yawning", would E be correct?
 Francis O'Rourke
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#38727
Hi Niki,

Your hypothetical revision would support both answer choices (E) and (D) .
 niki
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#38752
thanks!
 Nicholas Noyes
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#74307
Andrew Ash wrote:Hi Lizzie,

Good to hear from you again:) I like this stimulus because the problem with the argument is really clear (although as you pointed out, the wording of the answer choices gets tricky). This author goes from the premise "people have always thought seeing other people yawn is the strongest trigger for yawning" to "seeing other people yawn is the strongest trigger for yawning." It's an appeal to popular opinion (discussed on page 7-31).

This is like saying "most people at my office think it's going to rain tomorrow, so I know that it will rain tomorrow." If I want a weather prediction, I'm not going to ask my coworkers, I'm going to ask a meteorologist!

Answer choice (D) describes an appeal to popular opinion, and it's the correct answer. What's wrong with answer choice (E), then? The problem is that the stimulus concludes that seeing other people yawn is "the most irresistible cause" of yawning, which implies that there might be other causes. So the stimulus actually doesn't take for granted that yawns have "no other cause," it just thinks that the one it cites is the most powerful one.

Again, the key to these Flaw questions is to spot the problem in the argument before you move on to the answer choices. For the most part, they fall into the twelve or so types of errors we saw in the lesson, and as you do more Flaw questions, you'll get better at spotting them. Once you've come up with a strong prephrase, picking the right answer choice will be a piece of cake, and these tricky answer choices will stop tormenting you.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions about what I've written.

Thanks,
Andrew
Hi,

So here you said D is "an appeal to a popular opinion" but I am having trouble because the answer choice says "solely to opinion in a matter that is largely factual." What part of the opinion is "largely factual" I am just confused with the wording here in the answer choice.

Thanks,
Nicholas
 Adam Tyson
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#74343
It isn't the opinion that is largely factual, Nicholas, but the question of what causes people to yawn that is a question of fact. This argument is basically saying "here's what most people believe is true, so therefore it is in fact true." That is a case of the author is using opinions (what people believe) to determine a fact (what is the actual cause). The "matter that is largely factual" is the actual, true cause of yawning. What people believe it is doesn't matter, because we should be looking at facts and not at opinions!

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