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I chose D instead of E because I didn't see enough evidence for "confidence" (evidence meaning strong enough language) and thought that the last paragraph better indicated the author being "unsure." The author seems tepid in this paragraph, saying, "If other such systems do exist... may abound.... in which case."

As I'm writing this, I'm maybe seeing the case for confident instead because the author seems to bolster the deliberateness of the physicists' choice.

But I've had a problem in a couple of tone questions now for not choosing a "stronger" choice because I haven't seen bold enough language.... meaning I go with the more mild, lesser intense choice.

Would greatly appreciate any tips and help in this area!
 Luke Haqq
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Hi biskam,

To the point about the tone in this passage in particular, to me the author's "confidence that the existence of numerous unstable systems would call into question one of the foundations of science" is made apparent in the last sentence of the passage:
If other such systems do exist, metaphorical examples of riddled basins of attraction may abound in the failed attempts of scientists to replicate previous experimental results--in which case, scientists would be forced to question one of the basic principles that guide their work.
In general, I'd recommend making some sort of notation on the passage whenever you detect the author's tone coming across. This might be the function of an entire paragraph, or it might come across from a single word (like "clearly...") in a sentence. I'd make some sort of "+/-" denotation so that you can quickly reference what the author's overall tone is. If you're unsure about the answers, hopefully that'll at least get you to sorting it into contenders and losers.

In terms of going for answers that are more reserved/less strong, I think you're generally best-advised to stick with the less strong answers. As you rightly note, there usually needs to be some "bold" language to warrant a strong answer choice. Sometimes, though--as here--it seems possible for an author to talk about, say, a scientific discovery, or mathematical theory and endorse it but in a limited sense. Again, the quoted language shows this limited sense: "If other such systems ego exist...scientists would be forced to question one of the basic principles that guide their work.

In sum, if you have to guess on a tone question, you're right to err on the side of caution---because strong language will hopefully be obvious, and because it's less likely that you'll come across a passage with strong tone on the LSAT (though such passages definitely do exist).

Hope those thoughts help!
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I chose answer c. Why isn't " There are presumably other such systems because the equation the physicists used to construct the computer model was literally the first one they attempted, and the likelihood that they chose the only equation that would lead to an unstable system is small" enough to say the author is convinced of the existence of numerous unstable systems? "Persuaded of the possibility" seems to me to not go far enough. The author is not just persuaded that it's possible, they seem persuaded that it's true.
 Paul Marsh
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Hi Casey! You've framed the issue nicely - the difference between (C) and (E) comes down to how effusive the author is about the existence of numerous unstable systems. (E) gives us "persuaded by the possibility that they exist", which is sort of like saying, "I'm now leaning towards thinking that they exist"; (C) gives us "convinced of the existence" which is more like saying, "I'm 100% certain that they exist". The language in that last paragraph seems closer to the former - take a look at the key phrases in the paragraph that indicate the level of the author's certainty: "presumably", "the likelihood that", "if other such systems do exist". I agree with you that our author definitely seems to be leaning towards believing that numerous systems exist, but those phrases I've highlighted make it clear that they don't appear to be willing to bet the farm on it (which is the kind of certainty I would want if I was going to go with "convinced"). Remember that for Must be True questions we generally want to be wary of strongly worded answer choices.

Hope that helps!
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"If other such systems do exist, metaphorical examples of riddled basins of attraction may abound in the failed attempts of scientists to replicate previous experimental results–in which case, scientists would be forced to question one of the basic principles that guide their work."

I read the "may" preface in the last paragraph as an indicator of uncertainty; and therefore, that the author is not "convinced." Could you please explain why the use of "may" should not be interpreted in that way?

Thank you!
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I recommend reading "may" in this paragraph together with "if." It's part of the hypothetical: if other systems do exist, metaphorical examples may abound. "May" here doesn't indicate uncertainty.

In the last paragraph, the author gives the implication of Sommerer and Ott's model. These physicists developed a system that is presumably not one of a kind. If other such systems exist, scientists "would be forced to question one of the basic principles that guide their work" (lines 56-57). The author sees the work of Sommerer and Ott as highly plausible and, if true, groundbreaking.

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That's very helpful! Thank you!
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I'm not sure that I see the author's attitude as persuaded. To me, I only see a neutral descriptive attitude. There wasn't anything strongly worded that stood out. What would I look for in texts like this?
 Robert Carroll
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If the author's attitude is entirely neutral, as you say, what would that do for us? We certainly wouldn't pick answer choice (A), (B), or (C) if that were the case, as those are very clearly not neutral, and could be true only if the author had a much stronger view. So the idea that the author has an entirely neutral viewpoint requires us to pick answer choice (D) or (E).

Between these two answers, only the second halves of them are different, so we have to concentrate there. Maybe the author is entirely neutral about Sommerer and Ott's research, but is the author neutral on the following proposition?

If Sommerer and Ott are right, one of the fundamental assumptions of science would be shaken.
The last sentence of the passage indicates that the author is definitely not neutral about that hypothetical statement. Sommerer and Ott may or may not be on to something, but if unstable systems are widespread, the foundations of science are definitely in question.

Robert Carroll

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