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Complete Question Explanation
(See the complete passage discussion here: lsat/viewtopic.php?t=13649)

The correct answer choice is (E)

This Global Reference question is not easy to prephrase, but the right answer choice will be the one that passes the Fact Test, and describes something done by both authors in arguing for their positions.

Answer choice (A): Only the second author mentions biological origins, so this choice should be ruled out of contention.

Answer choice (B): Neither author endorses a claim just because it is widely believed, so this cannot be the right answer choice.

Answer choice (C): The second author considers a claim for the sake of argument (the claim that a biological component may explain the drive to have more than our neighbors), but the first author does not.

Answer choice (D): This might have been a tempting answer choice, because the results of the study discussed are puzzling, but the authors are really just trying to answer the question of why relative prosperity seems more important than absolute wealth level.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. The first author presents the results of the Solnick and Hemenway study in support of the rivalry explanation, and the second author claims to be supported by the data as well, in the assertion that happiness comes from a feeling of success, and of having created value.
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I mistakenly chose C.
To me, C is a little attractive because I didn't understand what is its meaning.
I read the book you published. The book says passage B accepts a claim for the sake of argument but passage A fails to do so. I have seen the similar choices in LSAT for several times. Could you give me an example to illustrate this choice?
Thanks a lot.
 Claire Horan
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I'm glad you asked this question because "accepting a claim for the sake of argument" is something that lawyers do routinely, so understanding this concept will come in handy for you in law school.

When people accept a claim for the sake of argument, they say things like:
"Taking _________ as a given,"
"Assuming this is true,"
"Let's assume that you are right. Even so, ..."
"Even if __________ is true,"

Here's an example conversation.

A: You studied the most of all of us, so you will get a good score.
B: Even if I did study the most of anyone, that doesn't mean I understand the material the best.

Speaker B accepted A's claim that B had studied the most, but only for the sake of argument. It is clear that B does not necessarily agree with A's claim.
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I'm a little lost with this one... Neither D nor E felt great to me, but I ended up going with D.

For E), passage B very explicitly "asserts" that their argument is supported by data: "Rather, the data show that earning more makes people happier..."
Passage A definitely gives a lot of data and mentions studies, but I would think "asserting that their positions are supported by data" is a separate act in itself... e.g., I could give you a chicken nugget, but to assert that I gave you a chicken nugget would be a separate action; something can be done without asserting it.
Am I missing a specific line where this happens? or can we take the places where author A says "for example" to indicate that they're making an assertion?

For D), I realized that the author of passage B never really delved into the paradoxical aspect of it, but regardless of that, I feel like the Solnick/Hemenway study still presents an "apparent paradox," namely the contradiction between 1) our intuitive notion that people want more money and 2) the results showing that people seem to value relative wealth over absolute wealth. Even if passage B doesn't comment on that contradiction, I would think that wouldn't keep it from being an apparent paradox. Author A uses the study primarily to show that rivalry is a factor, but they still seem to think it's exemplary of the paradox mentioned at the beginning. Passage A tries to resolve the overall paradox by bringing up habituation and rivalry, and Passage A tries to resolve the more narrow paradox persented in the Solnick/Hemenway study by discussing our desire to feel successful.

I'm trying to resist the urge to "fight" the test here, so I'm just wondering if anyone can spot where my thinking was off... I feel like this question could've been one of the easiest questions in this whole section (obviously both passages reference studies/data to support their argument) had I not gotten hung up on the "assert" part. Any general words of wisdom to help me avoid making a mistake like this again?
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owen95 wrote: Thu Jan 21, 2021 3:46 pm

.... habituation and rivalry, and Passage A tries to resolve the more narrow paradox persented in the Solnick/Hemenway study by discussing our desire to feel successful.
I meant Passage B ^ there, sorry for the mix-up.
 Jeremy Press
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Hi Owen,

Just don't be overly rigid about that language in answer choice E! Here are a couple places that contain assertions that Passage A's position is supported by data:
  • In paragraph 2, the author uses the phrases "for example," and "[w]e can also look at." Argumentatively, what do those phrases mean? They mean that what I'm about to say supports the claim I just made. In other words, they're assertions that the data subsequently referenced support my argument. So just by virtue of the fact that the author uses these "premise" style indicators, we can get comfortable with the author "asserting" their position is supported by the data.
  • In paragraph 4, the author says, "Now consider the phenomenon of rivalry ... in a study conducted by Solnick and Hemenway..." Even though that's not saying explicitly "my conclusion is supported by the data," it's still the author asserting support from a study. That's enough to pick answer choice E.
Keep it simple with answer choice D. There's no paradox (not even an apparent one) in Passage B. Don't over-read what's on the page in Passage B. Your intuition might be that absolute wealth is important to people. But nothing in Passage B says that, or even suggests or implies that. Instead, the whole passage is concerned with explaining why people like relative superiority (why they like to demonstrate their superiority over others). Since there's nothing textual in Passage B that ever implicates absolute levels of wealth, there's no apparent paradox.

Let me know if that clears it up!

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