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#34985
Complete Question Explanation
(See the complete passage discussion here: lsat/viewtopic.php?t=14161)

The correct answer choice is (C)

This is a relatively simple question asked in a rather convoluted way. Simply put, we need to explain
how the Pin Factory model was eventually propelled into the mainstream of economic thought, i.e.
why it can no longer be regarded as an “underground river.” Specific Reference questions frequently
rely on your understanding of the broader context in which the quoted reference appears, and benefit
immensely from a prephrase. Here, the answer can be found in the last sentence of the passage (lines
57-59).

Answer choice (A): The fact that economics has always been a discipline of scientific aspirations
only explains why the Invisible Hand dominated economic theory for almost two centuries, not why
the Pin Factory was ultimately accepted as well.

Answer choice (B): There is no reason to believe that David Warsh’s own analysis helped propel the
Pin Factory model into the mainstream.

Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer choice. The reason why the Pin Factory model was
finally accepted into the mainstream of economic thought is that economists were finally able to
describe it “with the rigor needed to make it respectable” (lines 57-59).

Answer choice (D): This claim is entirely out of context. The tendency of some industries toward
monopoly only explains why the Pin Factory and the Invisible Hand models are founded upon
conflicting suppositions.

Answer choice (E): There is no indication that the standards used to assess economic models have
been lowered.
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 AspenHerman
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#86282
Hi! I am so confused as to what the author meant by an "underground river". My only knowledge of one comes from Phantom of the Opera and I tried to use my knowledge of that motif to answer this question. What does an underground river mean? Why is that phrasing used to describe increasing returns in economic thought? Is it because it is always there, but no one can really see it explicitly, and yet is still impacting the world around you?

Is being able to understand these weird phrasings necessary in order to answer these questions (for when they appear in other exams), or are there ways around it?

Thanks!
Aspen
 Jeremy Press
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#86340
Hi Aspen,

It certainly helps to catch the implied meaning of the phrase "underground river" here, but luckily we can gather what we need about the phrase from the immediate context. Incidentally, I recommend that you try not to rely too heavily on a usage of a phrase that you know from a very disconnected context (musical theater) to help with understanding the same phrase in a very different context (like economic theory here).

Look at the sentence the phrase is used in: "Only since the late 1970s has this “underground river”—a term used to describe the role of increasing returns in economic thought—surfaced into the mainstream of economic thought." That sentence tells us the "underground river" eventually "surfaced" into the mainstream. What would it mean for an "underground river" to surface? It would mean that it becomes visible/obvious to anyone looking at it. Then I need to ask myself what the author thinks caused this "river" (this economic theory) to "surface" (to become visible/obvious). Look at the next sentence: "By then, economists had finally found ways to describe the Pin Factory with the rigor needed to make it respectable." That's what the author thinks the driving force was in "surfacing" the river. In other words, the theoretical rigor caused the Pin Factory model to "surface," and without that theoretical rigor, it would not have surfaced (would have remained "underground").

That's the best kind of contextual analysis you can do to get yourself to answer choice C here, and notice that I didn't begin that analysis from any assumptions about what "underground river" meant.

I hope this helps!
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 AspenHerman
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#86438
Jeremy Press wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:50 pm Hi Aspen,

It certainly helps to catch the implied meaning of the phrase "underground river" here, but luckily we can gather what we need about the phrase from the immediate context. Incidentally, I recommend that you try not to rely too heavily on a usage of a phrase that you know from a very disconnected context (musical theater) to help with understanding the same phrase in a very different context (like economic theory here).

Look at the sentence the phrase is used in: "Only since the late 1970s has this “underground river”—a term used to describe the role of increasing returns in economic thought—surfaced into the mainstream of economic thought." That sentence tells us the "underground river" eventually "surfaced" into the mainstream. What would it mean for an "underground river" to surface? It would mean that it becomes visible/obvious to anyone looking at it. Then I need to ask myself what the author thinks caused this "river" (this economic theory) to "surface" (to become visible/obvious). Look at the next sentence: "By then, economists had finally found ways to describe the Pin Factory with the rigor needed to make it respectable." That's what the author thinks the driving force was in "surfacing" the river. In other words, the theoretical rigor caused the Pin Factory model to "surface," and without that theoretical rigor, it would not have surfaced (would have remained "underground").

That's the best kind of contextual analysis you can do to get yourself to answer choice C here, and notice that I didn't begin that analysis from any assumptions about what "underground river" meant.

I hope this helps!
Thank you! It does. I'm struggling quite a bit with RC, so having it laid out this clearly helps my brain make connections within the text I wouldn't see otherwise.

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