PT69.S4.Q20 - unusually large and intense forest fires

Sarah889Sarah889 Alum Member
edited May 2017 in Logical Reasoning 877 karma

Hi All,

This question gave me some issues during my timed take and BR. I'm hoping to talk through it and get someone else's perspective.

We are given a set of facts and we are asked which one of the ACs can be properly inferred.

1) We have a phenomenon-- Unusually large and intense forest fires in the tropics in 1997.
2) The tropics were susceptible to fire at this time because of a widespread drought caused by an unusually strong El Nino.
3) Many scientists believe that the strength of El Nino was enhanced by the global warming, which was caused by air pollution.

So, if the scientists are correct, we have this chain of events here:
Air pollution caused global warming, which enhanced the strength of El Nino which caused the widespread drought, which made the tropics especially susceptible to fires.

I don't have an issue with eliminating A, B and C.

D gave me a bit of an issue though. Is D incorrect because it specifies "size and intensity" rather than mere occurrence? For example, if D said "At least some scientists believe that air pollution was responsible for the susceptibility of the tropics to fires in 1997," would that be correct? Or is there something else I am missing here?

I also considered the possibility that D could be wrong because D prescribes a believe to a group of people (some scientists) that might not have been something they were even aware about. For example, the stimulus states a belief of many scientists that have to do with El Nino, global warming and air pollution, NOT the fires. The fire in the tropics is a separate occurrence that the scientists may or may not be aware of. So, due to the mere lack of knowledge, the scientists could believe that air pollution was responsible for the strength of El Nino, but because we do not know the extent of the scientists' awareness of the fires, we cannot infer that they would have any beliefs about the fires. Belief presupposes knowledge of the subject of that belief, right? So it could be the case that, if the scientists were aware of the fires that they would infer a causal relationship, but we are not told that they are aware.

I can't tell if this is me taking this question wayyyy too far and overthinking it, but I would love to know what anyone else's grounds are for eliminating D.

Thanks in advance!


  • BenjaminSFBenjaminSF Alum Member Inactive ‚≠ź
    edited May 2017 457 karma

    Hey @bswise2 !

    I worked through this problem in BR for the exact same reason. I think it is safe to conclude that we cannot attribute knowledge to the scientists in D. While 'many' scientists have knowledge of the impact of pollution, that word means it could be just one guy sitting in his lab. It could be that this one scientist didn't get the memo that this had other impacts, like affecting the size and intensity of the fires. There is a lot of room for D to be false, and I see that 'many' word as the red flag. It seems like the author wants us to assume that the majority of scientists are aware of the impact of pollution so that we can attribute knowledge to them.

    E, however, follows a very logical chain and does not have room for error. Given the information we are provided, we can safely infer this relationship to be true.

    Hope this helps! If you'd like a more in-depth analysis, I'd be happy to talk through it in discord. I synthesize better out loud than typing.

  • Sarah889Sarah889 Alum Member
    877 karma

    @BenjaminSF Thank you for your response! This question threw me for a loop, so I appreciate you clearing things up for me.

Sign In or Register to comment.