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

The correct answer choice is (B)

Based on the discussion of passage Differences above, we can create a general prephrase to answer
this Author Disagreement question: The main difference between the two authors is that while the
first regards fingerprint identification as a reliable form of evidence, the author of passage B views
it as imperfect and error-prone. Make sure to apply the Agree/Disagree test to any contenders: the
correct answer choice must contain a statement with which one of the two authors would agree,
while the other would disagree.

Answer choice (A): Uniformity in the training of fingerprint examiners is an issue that is not
referenced by either author, so this cannot be the correct answer to an Author Disagreement question.
Additionally, there is no reason to infer that there would be any disagreement on the question of
whether uniformity in examiners’ training is a desirable goal.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. The judge in passage A accepts the
testimony at the defendant’s trial showing that fingerprint identification has an exceedingly low error
rate (lines 33-35), and sees no reason to reject it as a form of evidence (lines 21-23). By contrast,
the author of passage B implies that the rate of erroneous identification can be as high as 34 percent
(lines 63-65). Clearly, the two authors disagree about the likelihood that an examiner will incorrectly
declare a match.

Answer choice (C): Since the author of passage B questions the reliability of fingerprint
identification, she would most likely disagree with the bold claim that this practice be accorded the
status of scientific law. The judge in passage A, however, is unlikely to agree with it. Although the
first author views fingerprint identification as reliable, she also acknowledges that this practice has
not attained the status of scientific law (lines 16-17), conceding the need for further testing and more
consistent standards (lines 19-21). Because this answer choice does not pass the Agree/Disagree
Test, it is incorrect.

Answer choice (D): Only the author of passage B debates the relative merits of the point-counting
and holistic methods of fingerprint identification. We cannot assess the attitude of the first author
regarding either of these methods.

Answer choice (E): While the author of passage A would agree with this statement (lines 24-26), the
second author makes no reference to the degrees of correlation required by different agencies.
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Hi, for this question, I think I understand why the other answer choices besides B are incorrect, but using the Agree/Disagree method from logical reasoning, I was hesitant to choose B because Passage B does not give an explicit opinion about the likelihood that a fingerprint examiner will incorrectly declare a match in a criminal case. Specifically, Passage A mentions that fingerprint identification has a "exceedingly low error rate" but Passage B says that the error rate has received little systematic study. So in this case, it could be exceedingly low but we are not sure.

Here are my reasons for eliminating the other answers:
A) I think the author of Passage B indirectly advocates for uniformity (in the first paragraph), but it is unclear whether the author of Passage A would.
C) Both passages agree that it is not a scientific law.
D) Passage A does not mention the holistic method.
E) Both passages acknowledge that different agencies vary in the degree of correlation they require.

So I'm wondering: Is B simply the answer because it is the best out of all the answer choices, or am I missing something? Thanks!
 Francis O'Rourke
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Hi Bli,

It looks to me that you did a good job identifying what was wrong with the other 4 choices. However, Choice (B) is a tricky one if you are looking for a specific number or percentage from the author of Passage B. In the end though we don't need one.

The author of Passage A believes that it is correct to state that "fingerprint identification has an exceedingly low error rate." (line 35) So if we ask this author how likely it would be that an examiner will falsely match two prints, we would expect her to say something akin to "exceedingly low."

Now how would the author of Passage B respond? According to Lines 56-57 "No fingerprint examiner can answer such questions decisively." So If one person tells you the odds are very low and another person tells you that we have no idea how low or high the odds are, that sounds an awful lot to me like they are disagreeing.
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I think the explanations for why B is correct given in this thread are really good. One question I have, however, is what the term "scientific law" means. I've only ever heard of scientific law as it's used in science (e.g. Newton's law of gravity). How should I, in that position, approach this term as used in this passage? My approach was to guess that it meant some sort of scientific opinion or methodology that is accepted in courts to a degree that is somehow greater than, for example, the general acceptance the judge cites for fingerprinting. That still left a lot of confusion around the term.
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 Ryan Twomey
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Hey PowerscoreQasker,

I would say scientific law was closer to your first definition, something like Newtons Law of Gravity. I took scientific law in this case to mean something definitively proven without any doubt or like 99.99% proven. Something that can be applied consistantly and with complete certainty.

The author of passage A definitely had a positive attitude on the subject of using fingerprints in court and used the fact that it was not a scientific law as a concession, but not a strong concession.

I hope all this helps and I wish you good luck in your studies.


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