LSAT 23 – Section 3 – Question 06

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT23 S3 Q06
Most strongly supported +MSS
+Medium 150.588 +SubsectionHarder

Kevin’s explanation

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The statements above, if true, most strongly support which one of the following hypotheses?

This is a Most Strongly Supported question.

A purse containing 32 ancient gold coins that had been minted in Morocco was discovered in the ruins of an ancient Jordanian city some 4,000 kilometers to the east of Morocco.

It looks like we’re getting a potential phenomenon that needs to be explained. These gold coins were made in Morocco and found far away in an ancient Jordanian city. How did something so valuable, presumably, travel so far from their origin in ancient times?

In its time the Jordanian city was an important trading center along the trade route linking China and Europe, and it was also a popular stopover for pilgrims on the route between Morocco and Mecca.

This sentence suggests two hypotheses for how the coins got to the ancient Jordanian city. One option is they were used for trade – perhaps a merchant sold something in Morocco, got the coins in exchange, and then traveled along the trade route, passing or stopping in the city. The second option is that pilgrims who traveled between Morocco and Mecca may have brought the coins along their pilgrimage route.

The purse of a trader in the city would probably have contained a more diverse set of coins.

This fact casts doubt on the hypothesis that the coins were carried to the city by a merchant or trader. If they had been, the coins probably would have been more diverse. So the fact they are not as diverse as we would expect means they probably were not brought by a merchant or trader.

That leaves us with the pilgrimage hypothesis. When a stimulus in a Most Strongly Supported question raises potential hypotheses, but gives evidence suggesting that some of those hypotheses are not likely, there’s a strong chance the correct answer will relate to the hypotheses that are still left in contention. So we can anticipate that the answer likely relates to the pilgrimage hypothesis.

Answer Choice (A) Moroccan coins were more valuable in the ancient city than were Jordanian coins.

Nothing in the stimulus suggests anything about the value of Moroccan or Jordanian coins. The hypothesis that the Moroccan coins were carried to the ancient city because they were more valuable is weak. There are more obvious reasons why those coins were transported there. The stimulus suggests two and rejects one.

Answer Choice (B) Most gold coins available during the time when the ancient city thrived were minted in Morocco.

The stimulus doesn’t give us any reason to think this is true. All we have are 32 gold coins made in Morocco and found in the city. This doesn’t suggest anything about the origin of most gold coins in the world at the time – there could have been millions of gold coins in existence. Most could have been made in China, Russia, France, or anywhere else in the world. There’s no reason to think most were made in Morocco. Even if we take a more charitable interpretation of (B) to mean most gold coins available in only the ancient city, we still cannot infer this. Again, all we have are 32 gold coins. We won’t commit the hasty generalization flaw.

Correct Answer Choice (C) The purse with the gold coins had been brought to the ancient city by a pilgrim on the route between Morocco and Mecca.

This hypothesis is supported by the stimulus. The stimulus suggests two options for how the coins got to the city – by trader or by pilgrim. The last sentence told us a fact that cast doubt on the trader theory. So the pilgrim theory is more likely.

If you feel unsatisfied about (C), is it because you’re holding (C) up to too high of a standard? I do not think that the hypothesis in (C) must be true. In other words, I don’t think that this is guaranteed to be the explanation of the presence of the coins. But that’s not the standard we’re applying MSS questions. MSS sets a much lower standard of proof which (C) easily meets.

Answer Choice (D) Gold coins were the only medium of exchange used in the ancient city.

What about silver coins? Copper coins? Red or green rupees? Pokédollars? We have no reason to think gold coins were the only medium of exchange. They probably were one form of exchange, but the stimulus doesn’t give us evidence that they were exclusive.

Answer Choice (E) Pilgrims and traders in the ancient city were unlikely to have interacted with one another.

The stimulus doesn’t give us any evidence of how pilgrims and traders interacted. Perhaps they spoke to each other when they passed by on the streets. Maybe they stayed at an inn or met each other at local bars and shared tales of their journeys. We have nothing in the stimulus to tell us whether interaction was likely or unlikely.

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