LSAT 13 – Section 4 – Question 09

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT13 S4 Q09
Flaw or descriptive weakening +Flaw
+Harder 145.532 +SubsectionMedium

Here we have a flaw question, which we know from the question stem: “The reasoning that Oscar uses in supporting his prediction is vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that it…” Right away we know our correct answer has to do two things: be descriptively accurate, and describe the flaw of the stimulus. We also know what the wrong answers will do - describe reasoning flaws we’ve seen before, but don’t like up with our stimulus. Once we have a clear understanding of the questrion’s objective, we can proceed into structural analysis of the stimulus.

This question presents us with two speakers. Right away, we should recognize that there are two conclusions and two reasons behind them. Our first speaker begins by telling us that due to emerging technology, speed of information processing will become the single most important factor in determining wealth. By this, Oscar means that countries will no longer be generally rich in the northern hemisphere and generally poor in the southern hemisphere. The first speaker uses this evidence to assert their overall conclusion that a country’s economic state will soon reflect the speed at which they process information.

The assumption in Oscar’s argument is tricky to find. At first glance, the argument does not seem terribly egregious. It makes sense that if tech speed = wealth, then the fastest countries would be the wealthiest and the slowest countries would be the least wealthy. But remember when looking at a flaw question that our conclusion must be forced to occur on the basis of our premises. Oscar is drawing a pretty strong conclusion here. By saying that a country’s wealth will be determined by speed of information processing, the speaker is also assuming that there is not some other factor that is going to be more important in the future. That feels almost like an obvious piece of information. Clearly, if Oscar thinks information processing speed is #1, he does not think some other factor is #1. But this is exactly how the assumption plays out into our correct flaw answer choice.

You may have noticed our question stem does not actually require us to analyze Sylvia’s argument. But, Sylvia does provide good insight into at least one way to describe what is wrong with Oscar’s position. Sylvia tells us that poor countries lack the means to acquire this technology to begin with. As a result, the technology will only worsen the existing wealth disparity between north and south. This is where we can see some disagreement between Oscar and Sylvia. While Oscar believes speed of information processing is going to be the ultimate determining factor, Sylvia identifies the beginning wealth of the country to begin with will actually impact eventual economic performance. The second speaker’s argument can help us confirm what we suspect to be the problem with the argument. Oscar concludes one factor will reign supreme. Sylvia confirms the assumption of our first speaker by saying there is a possibility some other factor will actually play the most important role.

Knowing our correct answer will point out Oscar’s assumption of wealth distribution through the globe, we can proceed into answer elimination.

Answer Choice (A) This answer choice is descriptively accurate, but it is not the issue in Oscar’s argument. The first speaker tells us because speed is the most important factor, the conclusion follows. Whether or not there is another teeny tiny nearly insignificant factor that weighs .05% on wealth generation in a country is not the issue asserted by Oscar’s reasoning.

Answer Choice (B) This answer choice is again descriptively accurate but not what we are looking for as the flaw of Oscar’s position. The failure to establish this wealth division as the most important problem does not address Oscar’s assumption about the dissolution of that northern and southern hemisphere divide.

Correct Answer Choice (C) This answer choice is exactly what we are looking for. This descriptively correct answer choice is the only one that points out the same possibility as Sylvia; maybe processing speed is not the guaranteed determinant of wealth. Instead, other factors such as beginning economic performance would change predicted wealth levels. This is the only answer choice that hits on the reasoning of Oscar’s argument. Although Sylvia isn’t the one telling us about a “combination” of other factors, this answer choice does point out the importance of some other considerations.

Answer Choice (D) This answer choice is descriptively accurate, but not the ultimate issue of our argument. While it is true that Oscar does not provide us with an exact reason as to why technology will provide only beneficial effects, that is not the concern of our discussion. Rather than debating whether this technology will be purely beneficial, Oscar explores the consequences of one aspect.

Answer Choice (E) This answer choice is again descriptively accurate but not the ultimate issue in our discussion. Whether or not there is a distinction between the rich people in wealthy countries versus slightly less rich people in wealthy countries does not hone in on Oscar’s assumption about the factors impacting wealth and the adaptation of technology.

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