LSAT 14 – Section 4 – Question 10

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT14 S4 Q10
Flaw or descriptive weakening +Flaw
+Harder 148.703 +SubsectionMedium

This is a Flaw/Descriptive Weakening question, more specifically, we need to figure out why the therapist’s response to the interviewer is flawed.

Let’s look at what the Interviewer is saying. In his first sentence, he is talking about the therapist’s claims, saying that biofeedback, diet changes, and better sleep habits succeed in curing insomnia. This is a causal claim. In the next sentence, he elaborates on another claim: with rigorous adherence to the proper treatment, any case of insomnia will be cured. Another causal claim. There is a tone clue here: “You go so far as to claim that…” That makes me think this author doesn’t buy the therapist’s claims. I’m thinking these are both premises, since they represent other people’s ideas.

In the next sentence, we see a “yet;” there is a shift. We were talking about the therapist’s claims, now we’re going to be talking about something that’s probably at odds with the earlier claims. Reading on, that’s exactly the case: our author says that some insomniac patients do not respond to treatment.

So far, all of these sentences look like premises. No sentence is providing support to another sentence. The interviewer is outlining the therapist’s claims and then stating a fact. Well, how can we figure out what the argument is saying without the conclusion??

The conclusion here is implicit. We have enough tonal clues and claims to assume what the author probably thinks. His implicit conclusion is: the therapist’s claim (with rigorous adherence to the proper treatment, any case of insomnia is curable) isn’t realistic. Why? Take a look at that last sentence: “…some patients suffering from insomnia do not respond to treatment.”

The therapist’s counter to this is a single, conditional line: when patient don’t respond to treatment, this just means that they are not rigorous in adhering to their treatment. There is no conclusion here; however, we can assume the implicit conclusion is denying the interviewer’s conclusion. Basically, the therapist’s conclusion would be “my claim still holds."

Why is this argument flawed? It’s circular reasoning: he’s repeating a claim the interviewer attributed to him: with rigorous adherence to proper treatment, insomnia is curable. He’s ignoring the evidence that the interviewer puts forth to discredit him and sneakily assuming a causal relationship that isn’t valid.

Two things:

First: when the interviewer says: “Patients suffering from insomnia do not respond to treatment,” he could have been talking about patients who did adhere to the proper treatment rigorously.

Knowing this allows us to understand the possibility of the next point:

Second: the therapist says that if the patients do not respond, it must be because they didn’t adhere rigorously to the treatment. He’s assuming causation when, as we mentioned above, it could be that patients did adhere to the treatment rigorously and there is another reason the treatment was not effective.

There are a couple of flaws here: first, the illicit causal relationship, and second, the circular reasoning. Let’s go into the answer choices, making sure we hit our two-step test: is this answer choice descriptively accurate? Is this the flaw?

Correct Answer Choice (A) Not only is this descriptively accurate, but it represents the issue of assuming causation and circular reasoning. The argument is ignoring evidence that could show that patients were following the treatment rigorously, and asserts his claims as if the disconfirming evidence would not affect the validity of his claims.

Answer Choice (B) This is not descriptively accurate – treatment is used with consistent meaning throughout the stimulus.

Answer Choice (C) This is descriptively accurate, but it is not a flaw. While there could be different causes for different cases of insomnia, this does not mean that the treatment for each needs to be different. This answer choice does not address the issue of why the argument is flawed.

Answer Choice (D) This is descriptively accurate. But it’s not a flaw. The issue at hand has to do with a repetition of beliefs that ignores evidence and implies causation illicitly. Statistical evidence is not a flaw because statistics are not relevant to the kind of flawed support the therapist’s argument contains.

Answer Choice (E) This is descriptively accurate, but it’s not the flaw. Remember, the therapist is only talking about patients who receive and don’t respond to treatment. Everything else is irrelevant to the argument.

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