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Complete Question Explanation

Parallel Flaw. The correct answer choice is (D)

The flaw in the reasoning here is that a causal relationship is assumed when there is not sufficient information to support it. The stimulus author mistakenly assumes that the only explanation for the decline in classroom computer sales is that the role of computers in the classroom is insignificant. There may be numerous other explanations. For instance, school systems may have bought the bulk of the computer systems they needed in previous years. Therefore, there is no more room for additional systems and that is why sales have declined, not because the systems are not being utilized. Since this is a parallel reasoning question, we want to find the answer choice that similarly uses flawed causal reasoning.

Answer Choice (A): This answer choice does contain possibly flawed causal reasoning, and may be maintained as a contender while working through the answer choices. Once you get to the correct answer choice, however, it should be clear that this is not the best answer choice.

Answer Choice (B): This answer choice does not contain any type of causal reasoning, and it therefore cannot be the correct answer.

Answer Choice (C): This answer choice is trying to sway you by using the same topic —computer sales — that is used in the stimulus. Once again, though, there is no causal reasoning in the stimulus, the stimulus is looking to what will happen going forward, not for a causal relationship of why something has already happened.

Answer Choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. You have the exact same situation where lots of people bought a product initially, and then once the market reached a saturation point, sales declined. Just as with the computer reasoning, this does not in any way lead to a conclusion that the microwaves are not being utilized.

Answer Choice (E): Again, this answer choice does not contain any type of causal reasoning, and it therefore cannot be the correct answer.
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I got this question right, however I think my method of attack was incorrect. I read the stimulus as more of a time shift error, in that "look at the decline in sales in the PAST to predict the future" This is how I matched to the correct answer D... am I far off the mark?
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 Dave Killoran
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Hi Maria,

I think you were right to consider the "past year" information as helping determine whether a fad had passed. In that sense, the time was important. But I don't think I would call this a classic time-shift error. there was also the element of "reduced sales indicate a decline in interest," which is a causal structure that isn't well-considered (as discussed above).

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I was hoping I could get some clarification on this question.

I do not see a causal relationship in the stimulus and from the language, there doesn't seem to be any proof of a causal relationship.

The decline in sales indicates that the prediction did not come to fruition, not that the decline in sales caused the prediction to be wrong.
 Rachael Wilkenfeld
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This is a really subtle causal relationship. However, you can attack this one even without thinking about in an explicitly causal way. You can think of the flaw as follows: It suggests only one possible result for something that could easily have an alternate result. The result we have is a decline in computer sales. They suggest the cause was a lack of a role in schools. But couldn't there be another reason that there was a decline in computer sales. How long of a time were they looking over? How often do people need to replace a computer?

Ideally, you'd look for a similar situation in the answer choice---a result is explained as being caused by a single possibility, when in reality there are many possibilities (or alternate causes, if you think about it causally). That's what we see in answer choice D. The answer explains the flattening microwave sales by a lack of consumer interest. This parallels the situation in the stimulus, and we can think of the same sorts of objections. Maybe microwaves don't need to be replaced frequently either.

Hope that helps!
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Based on the experts' opinions - David's, Rachael's, and the administrator's - I understand that the causal relationship in the stimulus is established based on a presuppositional absence of the cause. Specifically, the stimulus argues that the absence of the fad explains the dramatic decline in sales of computers; but this presupposes that there were higher sales of computers, and that these higher sales were caused/driven by the fad. Now that the fad is passed, the sales are down!

The whole argument contends that an absence of the cause, the fad, led to an absence of the effect more sales of computers, which, in turn, makes it "seem clear" the conclusion "that the significant role initially predicted for personal computers in the classroom has not become fact."

I ask because the conclusion itself is not causal, correct?

There is not causal relationship between the support and the conclusion because of the indicator word "seems" in the conclusion. The causality is established within the support between the fad and the decline on computer sales.

From here, I can rely on any of the explanations provided by the experts listed above, for example, the decline in sales might not have been caused by the fading of the fad, but that computers last more than a year and perhaps most people have acquired them prior to last year, hence the decline in the past year; in which case the argument is undermined as its support is not the only explanation as to why there was a decline in the sales of computers in the past year!

Did I get correctly?

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