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Question
QuickView
Choices
Curve Question
Difficulty
Psg/Game/S
Difficulty
Explanation
PT1 S3 Q05
+LR
Weaken +Weak
A
18%
153
B
4%
149
C
67%
161
D
6%
154
E
6%
153
129
146
163
+Medium 148.102 +SubsectionMedium
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This is a weakening question, indicated in the question stem by: Which one of the following, if accepted by Clay Moltz, would require him to reconsider his conclusion. Bit of a weird question stem, but we should recognize that if introducing something forces him to reconsider his conclusion, then it is weakening his argument.

Our stimulus begins with a bunch of context about a mathematical model which tries to predict the chances of extraterrestrial life existing. To be honest, the model seems to kind of suck. It relies on some pretty large assumptions about how life could exist and whether other star systems resemble ours. It is important for us to remember that we are here to weaken Clay Moltz’ reasoning, not the model’s. It seems Moltz also thinks this model sucks, but his reasoning is itself pretty poor. He infers that because we have not detected any planets outside the solar system, there must not be any life out there. It is again important to recognize that Moltz specifically restricts his conclusion to life as we know it. If some really weird stuff exists out there, that doesn’t contradict his conclusion unless it is life similar to that of Earth. Moltz argument is a classic case of confusing an absence of evidence for evidence of an absence. We can’t infer that just because we haven’t detected any planets, that we know whether there are any out there. Let’s see how the correct answer undermines this argument:

Answer Choice (A) Remember that Moltz only concludes about life as we know it; this answer choice would not force him to reconsider this conclusion.

Answer Choice (B) This could be true and Moltz’ argument would be fine; in fact, he seems to deny that there are planets out there, and therefore this answer is what we would expect to be true if his conclusion is.

Correct Answer Choice (C) This gives an alternative explanation for our not having detected any planets that is much more appealing than Moltz’s ‘there are none to detect’ hypothesis. Of course, we wouldn’t have detected any if we can’t detect any!

Answer Choice (D) This answer might be appealing if you forgot what it is we are supposed to weaken. Our target is Moltz, not the model and its large assumptions.

Answer Choice (E) Alright, but that wouldn’t explain why we haven’t detected any planets. Moltz could accept this without it posing any challenge to his support or conclusion.