LSAT 91 – Section 2 – Question 11

You need a full course to see this video. Enroll now and get started in less than a minute.

Target time: 1:16

This is question data from the 7Sage LSAT Scorer. You can score your LSATs, track your results, and analyze your performance with pretty charts and vital statistics - all with a Free Account ← sign up in less than 10 seconds

Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT91 S2 Q11
Strengthen +Streng
+Easiest 145.724 +SubsectionMedium

This is a Strengthen question.

The argument begins with a phenomenon that a certain ancient society burned large areas of land. Naturally, we wonder why they did this. The author presents other people's hypothesis: they burned large areas of land to prepare the ground for planting, which means that the ancient society was beginning the transition to agriculture.

To test this hypothesis, we can check its predictions. One prediction would be evidence of agriculture. If it's true that they burned the ground in preparation for planting, then we should expect to find evidence of agriculture. But we have little evidence of cultivation after the fires. This strongly implies that the other people's hypothesis of transition to agriculture is wrong. And so the author concludes it is likely that the society was still a hunter-gatherer society.

Now, one quick assumption you might've noticed is whether ancient societies fall into the binary buckets of either agricultural or hunter-gatherer. That is something to keep in mind, but as it turns out, those two buckets do largely capture all societies. The answer choices don't try to undercut that assumption.

But don't forget that we still have this phenomenon presented in the beginning argument. The author hasn't given an explanation of why the ancient society burned large areas of land. She has only, rather effectively, disposed of a bad explanation.

This is where Correct Answer Choice (D) improves the reasoning of the argument. It says hunter-gatherer societies are known to have used fire to move animal populations from one area to another. This presents a plausible explanation of the phenomenon unexplained in the original argument. If this is true, then that phenomenon itself becomes support for the author's conclusion that the society was still a hunter-gatherer society.

Answer Choice (A) says many ancient cultures had agriculture before they began using fire to clear large tracts of land. This means that fire clearing of land is not necessary for the transition to agriculture. That's good to know if you were curious about early human civilization. But this has nothing to do with the argument. The fact is the particular ancient society we’re talking about did clear large areas of land with fire. We’re trying to figure out what that means about the status of their civilizational development.

Answer Choice (B) says hunter-gatherer societies use fire for cooking and for heat during cold weather. This doesn't affect the argument at all. The argument told us that this particular society used fire to burn large areas of land and then we try to argue that this particular society was still a hunter-gatherer society. Information about hunter-gatherer societies using fire to do other things doesn't help the claim.

Answer Choice (C) says many plants and trees have inedible seeds that are contained in hard shells and are released only when subjected to the heat of a great fire. This is probably the most attractive wrong answer choice because it also looks like it's trying to provide an explanation for the phenomenon described above. It's trying to suggest that the reason why the ancient society burned large areas of land was to extract the seeds from the hard shells. There are at least two problems with (C), however. The first problem is that the seeds are inedible. That means you can't eat them. So what are you trying to do by extracting them? One plausible explanation is that you're trying to plant them. But that's not good for this argument, because that suggests that the culture might have been agrarian. The other problem is that this explanation doesn't fit very well with the phenomenon. Even if it's true that the seeds are released only when subjected to the heat of a great fire, it's not clear that the way to extract a seed is to burn down an entire tract of land. Why not collect all the shells and just burn them? Wouldn’t that be easier than setting a whole forest on fire? Notice (D) doesn't suffer from this problem. The hypothesis fits the facts. If you're trying to move entire populations of animals, then burning large areas of land makes sense. The solution is at the right scale for the problem.

Answer Choice (E) says few early societies were aware that burning organic material can help create nutrients for soil. This suggests the preclusion of a potential explanation. Before reading (E), one potential explanation for why the ancient society burned large areas of land was to fertilize the soil. After reading (E), it seems less likely that that's what our ancient society was attempting to do. What is the significance of this? I suppose it's less likely now that our ancient society was agrarian. But this was already established in the argument.

Take PrepTest

Review Results

Leave a Reply