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Complete Question Explanation

Assumption. The correct answer choice is (A)

While the stimulus here covers two questions, each of the questions focuses on a specific portion of the stimulus. This question stem deals only with the statements made by the environmentalist. The main conclusion here is that the national government must regulate industry safety standards. Two premises are used to get to this conclusion. The first sentence informs us that there is a need for stricter safety standards. That statement is combined with the fact that the industry refuses to take action as support for the conclusion. In prephrasing this question, you might notice that there is a jump straight from the fact that industry will not take action to the idea that the government must do take action. So, since this is an assumption question, we have to figure out what is missing. Do we know that there is nobody else that can take action?

Answer Choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. This answer choice addresses the hole in the argument, which is not taking into consideration outside forces that might be able to take action. Using the Assumption Negation technique, the negated version of this answer would tell us that there are other effective sources of increased stringency in safety standards, thus attacking the conclusion that government must do it since the industry will not.

Answer Choice (B): While this answer choice may strengthen the idea that oil companies should be forced to put double hulls on their tankers, it is definitely not necessary for the conclusion to be true.

Answer Choice (C): While the environmentalist may agree with this statement if it would make the tankers safer, it is not necessary for the conclusion to be true.

Answer Choice (D): This answer choice is completely irrelevant to the environmentalist's argument and does not affect the stimulus in any way.

Answer Choice (E): Once again, the environmentalist would probably agree with this statement and does it likely strengthens the environmentalist's overall argument. However, the environmentalist's argument still holds up logically without this information, so this is therefore not an assumption on which the argument depends.
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I'm just wondering why (E) is not right. (A) looks right at first sight as well. I don't know why sometimes I just got two potential choices here and I chose the wrong one. Do you know what kind of mistaken mindset I'm having?
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If you use the Assumption Negation technique to negate answer choice (E), it would say that environmental concerns don't outweigh financial considerations or maybe even that financial considerations outweigh environmental concerns. Even if financial considerations are more important than environmental concerns, however, that would not directly attack the argument that the government should regulate industry safety standards. Government regulation does not have to be just about environmental concerns.

Also, the government has their own financial considerations. Think of the BP oil spill and how many millions of dollars it cost to clean it up and all the money that the local businesses and economies lost because they couldn't fish and tourists don't want to visit oily beaches. The government would have financial reasons for wanting to regulate the oil industry. Answer choice (E) is not specific about whose financial considerations are being outweighed, etc.

Answer choice (A), on the other hand, is necessary for the conclusion that the government must regulate industry safety standards. If we negate answer choice (A) to say that self-regulation and government policing are not the only options (for instance, maybe a consumer watchdog group or other private agency could set safety standards) then that would attack the conclusion that the government has to regulate the industry.

It's fairly common for students to feel like they get stuck on two answer choices and end up choosing the wrong one! One important thing to remember is that you probably don't realize all the times you got it down to two answer choices and ended up choosing the RIGHT answer :) But as far as choosing the right answer on these Assumption questions, remember to focus on the conclusion and use the Assumption Negation technique. The Assumption Negation technique can be a powerful way to choose between two answer choices. But when you use it, make sure you are paying careful attention to what the conclusion is. Be careful of answer choices that might be assumptions for conclusions that are similar to the one in the stimulus but not quite the same.

And, of course, always look for the BEST answer. Prephrasing can be very helpful with this. For some of these Assumption questions, for example, there's a logical gap in the argument that you can spot when you read through the stimulus. If you have already identified that gap, it makes it much easier to find the correct answer choice that fills in that gap and it makes it less likely that you will be lured away by any attractive incorrect answer choices.

Hope that helps!

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Nice! Thanks very much!
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Would another reasonable explanation for why answer choice D is incorrect be that the answer choice mentions negotiation with industry leaders and independent experts when the stimulus did not mention independent experts or negotiating with them?

Trying to understand further why D is wrong, and also trying to figure out how to attack assumption questions, since it seems like I keep confusing them with strengthen questions and end up choosing something that strengthens it!

Thanks! :)

EDIT: Also, I'm having trouble prephrasing assumption questions, what would a prephrase for this question look like?
 Francis O'Rourke
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I would agree with your reasoning for answer choice (D). Not only does the stimulus not mention independent experts, but the Environmentalist also does not seem to care about industry leaders.

Since we are looking for something that the Environmentalist must assume, we have to restrict ourselves to the initial speaker. Both ideas of 'industry leaders' and 'experts' are alluded to in the Industry Representative's response, which is likely why you were tricked into thinking that those ideas were relevant to the Environmentalist's argument.

A good prephrase on this will eliminate any ideas brought up in the Industry Rep's response alone. One way to prephrase assumption questions that I've found helpful is to prephrase the negation of the correct answer choice. Since the logical negation of the correct answer choice will weaken the conclusion, we can prephrase assumption questions very similarly to weaken questions.

For example, I might prephrase this question as "something that tells me that the national government does not have to regulate industry safety." Answer choice (A)'s logical negation will tell us exactly that: if there are any other sources of safety standards, then the national government does have to do it.
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I was between A & E for this question and was originally leaning towards A but ultimately picked E because A specifically refers to the regulation of "oil tankers" instead of "the oil industry" as a whole as mentioned in the stimulus. I took them to mean different things based on the discussion of the importance of exact wording in the answer choices to other questions I have seen. Does the wording used in assumption answer choices not need to be as precise as some of the other questions like MBT?
Thanks in advance!
 Rachael Wilkenfeld
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Hi Kells,

It's not about precision here, it's about the relationship between the stimulus and the answer choices. In must be true questions, you are using the information in the stimulus to show which answer choice is proven. Because of that, you don't want to go beyond the scope of what was in the stimulus. In assumption questions, we are looking for information in the answer choices that would be necessary for the conclusion. It still has to be connected. But you aren't looking to prove anything, and there are often a number of different assumptions in a single argument.

Let's think about a simple argument.

"I know a lot of people who watched the premier of Cruel Summer. It follows that it will be a very popular show."

There are tons of assumptions there. 1) The people I know are representative of people in general. 2) Watching the premier has an impact on overall popularity of a show. 3) The people that watched the premier might watch other episodes. And on and on.

Here we have an argument that says the government needs to require safety standards for the oil industry because the oil companies aren't regulating themselves. But that's a bit of a false dilemma. Are the only options for regulation government standards or industry standards? Could consumer push back and advocacy lead to stricter standards? We need an assumption that says the only way we can regulate is one of the two ways in the stimulus. And that's what answer choice (A) does for us. We know from the stimulus that the industry won't regulate, so it must be the only other option, the government.

It doesn't matter that the answer choice only gives us one the government could regulate in the oil industry (the tankers). You aren't looking for an answer choice that gives you EVERYTHING an argument needs to work. You are looking for an answer choice that gives you one thing you know MUST be required in order for the argument to work.

Hope that helps!

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