LSAT 8 – Section 1 – Question 18

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT8 S1 Q18
Method of reasoning or descriptive +Method
+Hardest 148.775 +SubsectionMedium
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We can identify this question as Method of Reasoning because of the question stem: “Smith responds to Jones by…”

When dealing with a Method of Reasoning question, we know we are looking for an answer choice that correctly describes the structure of our entire argument. Our correct answer is going to fit the argument exactly. Our wrong answer choices likely explain argument structures we are familiar with, but that simply don’t apply to the specific question we are looking at. Knowing what the right and wrong answers are going to do, we can jump into the stimulus.

Immediately we should make note of the two speakers at play. This means we could possibly be dealing with two different conclusions with different levels of support. Jones begins by telling us about a discovery of prehistoric tools dated to 13,000 years ago. Jones concludes scientists are wrong in their assertion the tools came from people migrating from Siberia.

The reasoning given is that the site of the tools is located far south. Meaning if a group of people migrated from Siberia and took the long trip south there would be evidence of tools along that path. Jones concludes the position of the scientists is wrong because there have been no discoveries of such tools.

Here, Jones makes an assumption. We cannot draw a reasonable conclusion on the basis that no evidence has yet been found. Just because scientists do not currently have evidence for their claim does that mean it is objectively false. The claim could be true depending on what evidence is yet undiscovered.

Smith’s reply hits on this assumption exactly. Our second speaker concludes that because the tools discovered came from peat bogs, the tools were unusually preserved in comparison to tools that would have been dropped along the route from Siberia to the location of the tools.

Knowing that our correct answer will highlight how Smith points out the first speaker’s assumption about the lack of currently existing answers, we can proceed into answer choice elimination.

Answer Choice (A) This answer is not descriptively accurate. If our stimulus were citing “several sources” we would be able to identify exactly where some part of Jones’s information is coming from.

Answer Choice (B) This is not a descriptively correct answer choice. Accusing Jones of “distorting” the scientists’ position insinuates that Jones was incorrectly interpreting the position of that group. But rather than accuse Jones of a misinterpretation, Smith identifies how a lack of evidence can be explained by the rate of decomposition for these prehistoric tools.

Answer Choice (C) Smith is not arguing that evidence has been found suggesting the use of tools along this Siberian route. Because of this, answer choice C is not descriptively accurate.

Answer Choice (D) If Smith’s discussion led to the denial of Jones’s conclusion, we could anticipate Smith would argue the discovered tools did in fact come from that group of Siberian ancestors. Because of this lack of dental we can eliminate answer choice D.

Correct Answer Choice (E) This is exactly what we are looking for! This is the only answer choice that correctly identifies how Smith attacks an assumption Jones makes about the existence of evidence. Jones assumes that an absence of evidence means evidence of absence. However, Smith responds by pointing out the absence of that evidence can be readily explained.

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