LSAT 14 – Section 4 – Question 05

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT14 S4 Q05
Most strongly supported +MSS
+Medium 148.739 +SubsectionMedium

This is a most strongly supported question, since the question stem says: Which one of the following conclusions is most strongly supported by the results of the experiments?

As you should have noticed in the question stem, this stimulus involves experiments. We should therefore be on the lookout for a phenomenon. The first sentence begins with the conditional indicator only, and from it we learn that some strains of tobacco are resistant to tobacco mosaic virus; important to note that resistant here doesn’t mean they resist infection, but rather they resist developing symptoms and becoming diseased. This resistance is our phenomenon. The first of the experiments gives us a correlation. Tobacco plants infected with the mosaic virus who resisted its effects had increased levels of salicylic acid, while non-resistant plants had no increase in their levels. Resistance to the virus correlates with more salicylic acid. The second experiment greatly strengthens the correlation by artificially raising the salicylic levels of half of 50 non-resistant plant, with every high salicylic level plant resisting the disease and every normal plan succumbing to it.

If we were to summarize this stimulus, it is essentially: phenomenon, correlation, even stronger correlation. What we never receive in this stimulus is a conclusion, or more specifically in this case, a hypothesis. If we pre-phrase, we would expect a conclusion to this information to infer causation from correlation, and conclude that the increased salicylic acid at least partly causes the mosaic resistance. We should be on the lookout for an answer that introduces this hypothesis, while eliminating any answers that have little to no support in the stimulus. Let’s take a look at our options:

Answer Choice (A) None of the experiments involved salicylic acid removing symptoms, but only preventing them. Our correlation is between salicylic acid and resistance, not healing.

Correct Answer Choice (B) This answer does exactly what we should have predicted in our pre-phrasing; it introduces the expected hypothesis that salicylic acid at least partly explains why some plants are able to resist the mosaic virus.

Answer Choice (C) This information is not only not supported, but likely false based on the stimulus. The salicylic acid is described as naturally occurring in the plants, and the difference between the resistant and non-resistant plants is whether there was an increase in salicylic acid.

Answer Choice (D) Remember we are told about an increase in the salicylic levels following infection; if the plant is uninfected the stimulus suggests that its salicylic acid levels will be normal, and maybe even indistinguishable from those of non-resistant plants.

Answer Choice (E) This answer might be appealing since it does emphasize the correlation between an increase in salicylic acid and resistance to the virus. The problem is that the experiments involved artificially injecting plants to raise their salicylic levels, and we have no information about whether it is possible increase the plant’s production of the acid.

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