LR Hard 2

11. Recent research in neuropsychology suggests that laughter is less a response to humor than a kind of involuntary social signal. In one study, a social scientist observed instances of laughter in diverse settings, and found that 80 to 90 percent occurred after straight lines such as “talk to you later” and “I know”.

The argument above depends on which of the following unstated assumptions?

(A) Involuntary social signals can be studied with observational methods.

(B) The diverse settings in the study included diverse populations as well.

(C) Statements can be removed from context without any loss of meaning.

(D) People laugh after straight lines because they believe they are expected to.

(E) Humor and laughter are one and the same.

This question asks you to find the unstated assumption in the argument. The argument is structured like so: the conclusion (a general rule) is stated first, followed by evidence supporting the conclusion (an instance of this rule). The conclusion states the general rule that laughter is most often an involuntary social signal, not a response to humor; the support for the conclusion, a recent study claiming that 80 to 90 percent of laughter occurs after “straight lines”, is presented as a concrete instance of the general rule. This is the vital point of the argument: if the study is not an instance of the general rule, then the evidence doesn’t support the conclusion, and the argument is invalid. Choice A is an assumption upon which the study depends, but not the conclusion; the argument would then be more sound, but not more valid. Choice B strengthens the credibility of the study. Choice C must be true for the argument to be valid: if it is false, and statements must be studied in context, then the fact that 80 to 90 percent of laughter occurs after “straight lines” doesn’t necessarily imply that those lines aren’t used humorously in context. Choice D is an unfounded inference. Choice E states the opposite of what’s stated in the conclusion. Choice C is the only statement that must be true for the argument to work, and is therefore the best choice.

12. Felicia: Internships are a waste of time and energy. In the time you spend working for free, you could be temping or taking classes or pursuing employment that not only fulfills your interests, but also compensates you for your hard work.

Nitesh: The purpose of internships isn’t compensation, it’s preparation for a future career. With an internship, you can secure connections within your field of choice and also gain experience that looks great on a resume.

Nitesh objects to Felicia’s argument by

(A) correcting a common perception

(B) pointing out an error of logic

(C) refuting a previously agreed-upon conclusion

(D) objecting to an unstated premise

(E) suggesting an alternative definition

This question asks you to identify the reasoning in Nitesh’s response to Felicia’s argument, which proposes that internships are not in fact a waste of time, as Felicia has suggested. Felicia’s argument begins with her conclusion (“Internships are a waste of time and energy”) and is followed by support for her conclusion. Nitesh’s argument responds to Felicia’s unstated premise that the purpose of all work is compensation by suggesting that internships are a form of preparation, not employment per se. Choice D correctly identifies Nitesh’s method of objection. Choice A is inaccurate; while he may be correcting a common perception, that’s not the point of his objection in context. Choice B is correct in a sense because Nitesh is objecting to Felicia’s failure to secure her premises, but he does not say that she failed to do this; he simply states his objection. Choice C is inaccurate in that we don’t know the content of their previous discussion. Choice E is incorrect because they are not debating a definition. Choice D accurately states Nitesh’s method of objection, and is the best answer.

13. Subprime, adjustable-rate mortgages, issued to consumers with poor credit histories, accounted for less than 15 percent of all conventional loans in the city last year. However, they were the source of half of all foreclosures.

Which of the following can be inferred from the passage above?

(A) Poor credit history is predictive of poor loan management.

(B) 85 percent of loans last year were issued to consumers with good credit history.

(C) Consumers with good credit history are more likely to avoid foreclosure.

(D) In the last year, there were significantly more foreclosures than issuances for consumers holding subprime, adjustable-rate mortgages.

(E) Half of all foreclosures in the last year were on homeowners with poor credit history.

This question asks you to infer information from the passage. Choice E is the only statement that can be logically derived from the passage: since subprime, adjustable-rate mortgages are issued to consumers with poor credit history, and since subprime, adjustable-rate mortgages were the source of half of all foreclosures in the past year, then it must be true that half of all foreclosures in the past year were on the holders of subprime, adjustable-rate mortgages or consumers with poor credit history. Choices A and C draw on unsupported assumptions. Choice B is unsupported by the passage: the passage talks about conventional loans, not all loans. Choice D makes a mathematical error: because the numbers given in the passage are percentages, there’s no way to determine the actual number of foreclosures and issuances. Choice E must be true, and is the best answer.

14. A chemical leak at a local factory contaminated the water at a nearby fishing area. To compensate for the damage they caused to the river, the factory has announced their intention to donate a large sum of money to local environmental conservation efforts.

The factory’s inadequate method of compensation was most likely caused by which of the following errors of reasoning?

(A) Mistaking cause for effect

(B) Equating a part with the whole

(C) Miscalculating a value

(D) Misapplying a principle

(E) Ignoring a premise

This question asks you to identify an error in reasoning. The error lies in the method of compensation decided upon by the factory; in donating to the general cause of conservation in the area instead of giving the money directly to the fishing area, they failed to correct the damage they caused to that specific area of land. Choice B describes this best, as the money will be spent on all of the land in the area instead of the part contaminated by the chemical leak. Choice B is the best answer.

15. With the exception of Professor Kirschner, all faculty in the History department are either tenured or under thirty-five.

From which of the following can the statement above most correctly be inferred?

(A) Professor Kirschner is the only professor in the History department who is not tenured.

(B) If a professor in the History department is under thirty-five or tenured, then he or she is not Professor Kirchner.

(C) Professor Kirchner is the only professor in the History department who is over thirty-five and lacks tenure.

(D) If a professor is in the History department, then he or she is either tenured or under thirty-five, or is Professor Kirschner.

(E) Professor Kirschner cannot be a member of the History department.

This question asks you to find the statement from which the sentence about Professor Kirschner can be inferred. The sentence tells us that among the faculty in the history department, everyone except Professor Kirscher is either tenured or under thirty-five. This means that, with the exception of Professor Kirchner, a professor in the history department is either tenured or under thirty-five. Choice A will not lead us to that conclusion; it says that Professor Kirchner is the only professor who is not tenured, but we know that the professors who are under thirty-five are not tenured. Choice B is incorrect because it leaves open the possibility that professors can be both under thirty-five and tenured. Choice C is an inference that can be drawn from the statement; however, the statement about Professor Kirchner cannot be inferred from it. Choice D contains the same information found in the statement about Professor Kirschner, just rearranged. There are three types of professors: those who are tenured, those who are under thirty-five, and those who are neither (only Professor Kirchner!). This information is present in both the statement and choice D; choice D is therefore a logical source of the inferred statement. Choice E is nonsense. Choice D contains the only sentence from which the statement can be inferred, and is therefore the best answer.

16. The deviation of atomic numbers from mass numbers is given as a number that directly corresponds to the severity of the reactions of an element’s isotopes to nuclear fission and fusion. Nuclear fission produces energy in elements heavier than iron, and absorbs energy in elements lighter than iron.

If nuclear fusion has an effect on isotopes that is equal to the negative value of fission’s effect on the isotope, then it must be true that

(A) elements lighter than iron never produce energy

(B) nuclear fission and fusion do not affect iron’s isotopes

(C) the deviation of an element’s atomic number from its mass number is a constant

(D) the deviation of iron’s atomic number from its mass number is zero

(E) elements heavier than iron do not respond to nuclear fusion

This question asks you to find the statement that must be true based on the information in the passage. According to the passage, the deviation of atomic numbers from mass numbers corresponds to the severity of the reaction of an element’s isotopes to nuclear fission and fusion, which affect isotopes in an equal but opposite manner. Choice C, which states that the deviation of an element’s atomic number from its mass number is a constant, is a logical inference because the severity (or absolute value) of an element’s reaction to fission and fusion is identical. Choices A and E are unsupported by the passage. Choice B is an unfounded inference; though fission and fusion affects elements lighter and heavier than iron in different ways, it doesn’t necessarily follow that iron isn’t affected at all by fission or fusion. Similarly, choice D assumes that iron is not affected by fission or fusion, and also that the derivation number is identical to the severity of its reactions to fission and fusion, whereas the passage merely tells us that it corresponds to the severity of the isotope’s reactions. Choice C is the only answer that must be true, and is therefore the correct answer.

17. Policies in the United States encourage high debt by offering a tax deduction for mortgage interest and discourage saving by taxing capital gains. However, U.S. policy doesn’t entirely encourage borrowing over saving because it has ______.

Which of the following best completes the idea above?

(A) deductions for workers to reduce their annual tax burden

(B) cut taxes on lower income workers

(C) tax-free retirement saving programs

(D) deductions for automobile and business expenses

(E) an earned income tax credit

The question is looking for a choice that demonstrates that U.S. policy is not entirely inimical to saving. So look for an answer choice that shows a policy that encourages saving and not borrowing. Choice (C) does this by eliminating taxes on retirement savings. (A), (B), (D) and (E) would increase income but not necessarily saving.

 

Advanced Question Types: Style of Reasoning Questions (uncommon)

Style of Reasoning questions ask you to describe how the argument was made, not necessarily what it says. You will compare the reasoning in two arguments or choose the answer choice that uses the most similar deductive process.

Here are some examples of the ways in which the stems to such questions are worded:

  • How does the author make his point?
  • A’s response has which of the following relationships to B’s argument?

How to approach Style of Reasoning Questions

1. Read the argument and find the conclusion.

2. State the reasoning in your own words. Describe how the author gets from the premises to the conclusion.

3. Use POE. The best answer will describe the reasoning used in the argument. Eliminate answer choices that don’t match the reasoning used in the argument.

Examples

1. There is a piece of folk wisdom expressed in the saying, “If it is not broken, don’t fix it”. A factory manager who accepted that saying would be least likely to:

(A) Agree to union demands, in the interest of safety, for better lighting in the stairwells and storage areas.

(B) Respond to the difficulty of retaining skilled electronic technicians by establishing an on-site day-care center for small children.

(C) Order the immediate replacement of windows broken in a strike.

(D) Replace the quality control supervisor after receiving several complaints about defective units in recent shipments from the factory.

(E) Institute a program of preventive maintenance for major pieces of production machinery.

Explanation: The point of the proverb, “If it is not broken, don’t fix it” is that tampering with something which is not an urgent problem is unnecessary. All of the alternatives involve the manager’s making some change or taking some action. But the first four represent the manager’s action as being a response to a particular existing problem. They are not against the spirit of the proverb. But preventive maintenance seems to be just what the proverb advises against. (E) is the best answer.

2. Despite recent rumors of a new and improved building, employees should not expect renovations. Without the support of the building’s supervisor, the committee’s plan usually fails. Two years ago, a plan to renovate the meeting rooms went under after the supervisor changed his mind and withdrew his support.

The bolded extracts play which of the following roles in the argument above?

(A) The first extract offers advice and the second extract states a conclusion.

(B) The first extract states the conclusion and the second extract supports that conclusion with an analogy.

(C) The first extract states a conclusion and the second extract provides evidence that weakens the conclusion.

(D) The first extract states a position and the second extract contains unrelated information.

(E) The first extract states a premise on which the conclusion is based and the second extract states the conclusion.

Explanation: This question asks you to identify the parts of an argument. The argument’s structure is as follows: The expected outcome of a situation is presented; followed by a general rule for predicting the outcome of situations like these; followed by a specific instance of the general rule. The conclusion is in the beginning, while the argument in support of the conclusion follows after it.

Looking at the answer choices, we see that only two answer choices, (B and C), put the conclusion first.

Choice (A)’s description of the first extract as an offer of advice could be correct, but as the second extract is not the conclusion. Choice (A) is incorrect.

Choice (D) inaccurately describes the first extract’s function as stating a position.

Choice (E) describes the first extract’s function as a premise, which is incorrect.

Choices (B) and (C) are identical in their description of the first extract as a conclusion, but differ in their descriptions of the second extract. Choice (B) describes the second extract as an analogy supporting the conclusion. Is this accurate? Yes. The use of another, similar situation to illustrate the outcome of this situation constitutes an analogy, and it supports the conclusion. Choice (C) suggests that the second phrase weakens the conclusion, which it does not. Choice (B) is the best answer.

Next LSAT: January 26

Next LSAT: January 26