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Complete Question Explanation
(See the complete passage discussion here: lsat/viewtopic.php?t=14300)

The correct answer choice is (B)

Although a precise prephrased answer to this Passage Relationship question would be difficult to
produce, the discussions of the passage similarities and differences should be sufficient to locate the
correct answer choice.

Answer choice (A): This answer choice is incorrect, because it is passage A (not passage B) which
seems more optimistic towards the reliability of fingerprint identification.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. Although “general in focus” may not be
the first adjective that comes to mind when describing passage B, we can easily prove that passage
B is more general in focus than passage A. The author of passage B makes broad allegations about
the practice of fingerprint identification as lacking in uniform standards, precision and reliability.
Meanwhile, the first author is a judge delivering a ruling on a specific case involving the use of
fingerprint evidence. Passage B questions the general reliability of fingerprint evidence; passage A
argues that such evidence is appropriately used in a specific situation.

Answer choice (C): The author of passage B shows no hesitation in criticizing the practice of
fingerprint identification. This answer choice refers more appropriately to the alleged claims of the
fingerprint examiners, who the author criticizes for not answering important questions about the
value of fingerprint evidence (lines 56-58).

Answer choice (D): Like incorrect answer choice (A) above, only passage A is respectful of any
opposing claims (e.g. the defendant’s appeal). No opposing views are discussed in passage B.

Answer choice (E): There is no evidence that the author of passage B relies on unsubstantiated
claims. As with answer choice (C) above, this description refers more appropriately to the fingerprint
examiners discussed in passage B, who are accused of relying on unsubstantiated assumptions about
the reliability of fingerprint identification.
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Sorry if this is a dumb question. I understand why B is correct however I’m struggling to understand why C is wrong. I chose C because passage B seemed “tentative” when they said “no fingerprint examiner can answer.....answers are critical to evaluating the value of fingerprint evidence.” I interpreted this as oh, we don’t even know the value of fingerprint analysis because we have to answer some fundamental questions first. I guess my question maybe is what would “tentative in its claims” look like?

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Hi kenlars5!

There are no dumb questions! So let's talk a little bit about the certainty of language on the LSAT because it plays out in a lot of different ways on this test so it's an important concept!

Here, the author of passage B is really not very tentative in their claims at all. Look at the first couple of lines: "Fingerprint examiners lack objective standards for evaluating whether two prints "match." There is simply no consensus about what constitutes a sufficient basis for identification." The author doesn't say anything like "the science behind fingerprint identification is somewhat disputed" or "it's unclear whether fingerprints can be used for identification." The author says definitively that there are no accepted standards for using fingerprints for identification.

The lines you referenced are: "No fingerprint examiner can answer such questions decisively, yet the answers are critical to evaluating the value of fingerprint evidence." Again, this is not a tentative claim. The author is saying that being able to answer such questions is necessary for evaluating the value of fingerprint evidence but no examiner can answer these questions. The author is arguing that fingerprint evidence isn't of value if these basic questions cannot be answered.

Tentative claims generally use language that indicates something is possible rather than certain. So words like "possible," "might," "could," "maybe," etc. Author B is much more certain in their language. They say things like "No fingerprint examiner can answer" rather than things like "These questions might be difficult for fingerprint examiners to answer" and "the answers are critical to evaluating the value of fingerprint evidence" instead of "the answers would probably be helpful for evaluating the value of fingerprint evidence."

Hope this helps!

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Ahh, thanks so much Kelsey. That helps a lot!

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