LSAT 90 – Section 4 – Question 05

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT90 S4 Q05
Parallel method of reasoning +Para
+Easier 148.293 +SubsectionMedium

This is a Parallel Method of Reasoning question.

The stimulus says the railway authority inspector who recently thoroughly checked the tracks testified that they were in good condition. The next claim says, “Thus, since” which means we’re about to get a premise followed by a conclusion. Since the inspector has no bias in the matter (premise), we should thus be suspicious of the newspaper reporter's claims that the tracks are in poor condition (conclusion).

Two people disagree about the condition of the railroad tracks. The argument is that we should believe the inspector, not the reporter. Why? Because the inspector has no bias and said the tracks were in good condition after having thoroughly checked them. The reasoning here is an appeal to authority. Let's now look at the answers and try to match the reasoning above.

Answer Choice (A) says my pottery instructor says that making pottery will not cause repetitive-motion injuries if it is done properly. So far, there seems to be a parallel between the pottery instructor and the inspector. Now we have to find somebody who disagrees and then conclude that we should believe the pottery instructor. But then (A) instead says, “I will probably not get such injuries, for whenever I do pottery, I use the proper techniques that my instructor taught me.” While this argument is fine, it is not analogous to the argument in the stimulus.

Answer Choice (B) says Gardner, a noted paleontologist who has no vested interest in the case, assures us that the alleged dinosaur bones are not old enough to be dinosaurs. Gardner, a relevant expert, is analogous to the inspector. Gardner also has no vested interest in the case, so he has no bias.

(B) goes on to say that we should be skeptical of Penwick's claims to have found dinosaur bones, for Gardner inspected the bones carefully. Gardner’s careful inspection is analogous to the inspector’s thorough check, and Penwick is analogous to the newspaper reporter. And the conclusion is that we should be skeptical of Penwick, which is similar to how we should be suspicious of the reporter. (B) matches the stimulus extremely well. The reasoning here is also one of an appeal to authority.

Answer Choice (C) says the engineer hired by the company that maintains the bridge has examined the bridge and declared it safe. The engineer is a relevant expert who has examined the bridge and declared it safe. While we should be wary of subject matter similarity since LSAT writers like to use that as a trap, so far, (C) is analogous to the stimulus.

But (C) then says that the engineer is the only one to have checked the bridge. This idea is not present in the stimulus. In addition, the disagreement component is missing in (C) too. There is no analogue to the newspaper reporter.

Answer Choice (D) says the reporter who recently interviewed the prime minister said that the prime minister appeared to be in poor health. The paper has opposition leanings, so that is a bias. (D) is already diverging from the stimulus.

If we were to keep the subject matter of (D) but apply the reasoning in the stimulus, we would have to say that the reporter did a careful, thorough check (ideally, we’d change the reporter to a doctor to create the appeal to authority). And since the reporter is from an unbiased newspaper, we should be suspicious of, for example, the prime minister's press secretary, who claims that the prime minister is in good health. The edits above would make (D) better, but (D) does not resemble the stimulus in its current form.

Answer Choice (E) says the snowblower salesperson claims that there will be above-average snowfall this winter, but because the salesperson is biased, we can discount the claim. Since the salesperson is biased, (E) is already ruled out.

If we were to keep the subject matter of (E) but apply the reasoning in the stimulus as we did for (D), we would have to say that the snowblower salesperson recently and thoroughly inspected my snowblower and said that it was in good condition. The salesperson is not biased. Therefore, I should be suspicious of my neighbor's claim that my snowblower is in poor condition. You wouldn’t have the snowblower salesperson offer his opinion on the weather since that’s not within his domain of expertise.

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