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LRTT CH 10 #35

Hello! Don't understand why the correct answer is E and not D. The stimulus incorrectly is giving mayor the advantage of always being right unjustifiably
 Adam Tyson
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It's not that the author thinks the Mayor must always be right, akanshalsat, but that on this issue the Mayor has been consistently opposed and has now switched positions, and the author finds that change to be convincing. What would this author say about the Mayor taking an issue on a position on which she has historically taken no position? We have no idea! What would the author say about the Mayor having been right previously, when she opposed nuclear power? We don't know that, either! Our author isn't showing blind deference to the Mayor, as described in answer D, but is basing his analysis on a comparison between the Mayor's past position to the current one.

The problem is that we don't know anything about why the Mayor switched sides. Maybe she got a payoff? Maybe she has lost her mind? Maybe she is being blackmailed? Basing our analysis on "but she always used to say the opposite" is no way to logically make an argument, not without further evidence. That's the problem here - not that she is always right, but that we don't know why she changed her position. That's answer E.
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I am confused by this one. I went with B after considering C a contender because I figured this is a source flaw. Can you explain how this question doesn't contain one? I felt as though the entire argument was flawed because the narrator is giving credence to a mere politician's opinion.

Why do we need to know the backstory to the mayor's change in position, as in E. So far, I hadn't seen the correct flaw answer state that the stimulus wasn't sufficiently explanatory. Is this common? Finally, what is the name of this flaw/fallacy?
 Robert Carroll
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You have to look at how the mayor is cited in the argument. Is the argument saying "She's the mayor, so you know she's right"? No, it's not doing that. So it's not appealing to her as mayor. Is it saying "She's the mayor, so you know she understands the science"? Again, no. Instead, it's saying something equivalent to "She opposed it consistently before, and now supports it, so you know she's right this time." Indeed, the fact that she's the mayor is not used in the argument! I think that may be throwing you off a bit. The stimulus could have used anyone who had a history of opposition and changed their mind and it would not have affected the flawed method of reasoning used.

Now look at answer choice (B). This answer choice is claiming the flaw involves the political office and scientific knowledge of the mayor. As I pointed out, the author does not rely on those at all. The author relies on an argument something like "If someone with a consistent belief changes that belief, their reason for the change must be good, so you can trust the changed opinion." Of course that's a terrible argument, but it's not an appeal to authority.

This would be a flaw of relevance. That she changed her mind tells me nothing. As Adam pointed out, I'd wonder why she changed her mind - she got better informed? She was bribed? These are vastly different reasons for her mind's changing and may lead to vastly different evaluations of the meaning of her current support. Her change of mind is not relevant to whether she's right now.

Robert Carroll
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I understand why E is correct. But I originally chose C and don’t see why it can’t also be correct. By saying that just because the mayor consistently opposed something it doesn’t mean her opposition was based on being informed, isnt it kind of saying the same thing E is saying but with different wording?
 Paul Marsh
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Hi Makar! Nice job figuring out why Answer Choice (E) is correct.

Let's look at Answer Choice (C), which says that the Flaw in the argument is that "It fails to establish that a consistent and outspoken opposition is necessarily an informed opposition."

In the eyes of the LSAT, a flawed argument is one whose conclusion is improperly drawn from the premises. It is our job on Flaw questions to pinpoint exactly how the conclusion is improperly drawn from the premises. We accept that the premises are true and ask: "Do the premises lead us definitely to the conclusion? Or is there something wrong about how the conclusion is derived from the premises (which we've accepted as true)?" An argument on the LSAT is not flawed just because its premises seem shaky or not super well supported. Again, we are focusing on the error in how the conclusion is drawn from the premises.

For example, let's say that we have the following argument: "The 2016 Cubs are widely considered the greatest baseball team of all time. The best player on the 2016 Cubs was Kris Bryant. Therefore Kris Bryant should be considered the greatest baseball player of all time." Now let's imagine the LSAT asked us to identify the Flaw in that argument. We would first identify that the first two sentences of that argument are the premises, and the last sentence is the conclusion. We would not take issue with how the first two sentences were established, because for the sake of the argument we have accepted them. So an answer choice that says something like "Fails to provide support for why the 2016 Cubs are considered the greatest team ever", or "Fails to consider that other players on the 2016 Cubs may have been better than Kris Bryant", would be a wrong answer! The premises have already told us that those two things are true, so it is not a Flaw in the argument that they aren't provided with a ton of support. Instead, we want to focus on how the conclusion doesn't 100% logically follow from the premises. Just because Kris Bryant was the best player on the greatest team of all time doesn't necessarily make him the greatest player in history. We might look for an answer that says something like, "The argument mistakenly assumes that just because a team has a certain characteristic, the best player on that team will share that same characteristic", because that explains how the conclusion was improperly drawn.

Now, back to the question at hand. Our conclusion here is that "there is good reason to believe that [the power plant] will be safe and therefore should be built". The premises tell us that the Mayor has a history of outspoken, informed, and consistent opposition to nuclear plant building; and that the Mayor is now in favor of building the Littletown nuclear plant. We want to look for error in how the conclusion is drawn from the premises. Do the premises, if we accept them as true, necessarily lead us to the conclusion? No! Politicians betray their positions all the time, and it's not always because betraying them is the safe and smart thing to do. Maybe the Mayor got a juicy campaign donation from the contractor on the Littletown plant. We have no idea why she changed her mind. That's the error in the argument; there is nothing in the premises that she changed her mind because the plant was safe/a good idea. Thus the conclusion does not totally follow from the premises. So we would Pre-Phrase an answer here that says something like, "The argument is Flawed because it makes a conclusion regarding the reasons for the Mayor's shift in opinion despite having no basis for that conclusion." (E) comes the closest to hitting on that error. It is not a flaw in the argument that the argument hasn't provided much support for why exactly the Mayor's position is informed (which is what Answer Choice (C) says); the premises directly tell us that the Mayor's position was informed and so for the sake of the argument we accept that premise as true.

This explanation got a bit longer than I intended, but the important take-away here is that for Flaw questions, we are always looking for an error in how the conclusion is drawn out of the premises. Hope that helps!

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