Incomplete Answers

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RC Perfection Free Preview: Chapter 16 Part III

Let’s look at another type of correct answer choices that are easily eliminated or discarded during answer choice ranking. We have seen these answer choices before, in Chapter 8, and they feature predominantly in Main Point Questions.  For a lot of more recent MP questions, the correct answer choice may have skipped over a significant portion of the passage. But as long as the overall central thesis of the passage is expressed in that answer choice, and there are no better alternatives, an incomplete Main Point answer choice is acceptable. However, if there are MP answer choices that offer more holistic coverage of the argument and its components, those should be picked first.

PT25 S1 Q22 (PT25 Passage 4)

Scientists typically advocate the analytic method of studying complex systems: systems are divided into component parts that are investigated separately. But nineteenth-century critics of this method claimed that when a system’s parts are isolated its complexity tends to be lost. To address the perceived weaknesses of the analytic method these critics put forward a concept called organicism, which posited that the whole determines the nature of its parts and that the parts of a whole are interdependent.

Organicism depended upon the theory of internal relations, which states that relations between entities are possible only within some whole that embraces them, and that entities are altered by the relationships into which they enter. If an entity stands in a relationship with another entity, it has some property as a consequence. Without this relationship, and hence without the property, the entity would be different— and so would be another entity. Thus, the property is one of the entity’s defining characteristics. Each of an entity’s relationships likewise determines a defining characteristic of the entity.

One problem with the theory of internal relations is that not all properties of an entity are defining characteristics: numerous properties are accompanying characteristics—even if they are always present, their presence does not influence the entity’s identity. Thus, even if it is admitted that every relationship into which an entity enters determines some characteristic of the entity, it is not necessarily true that such characteristics will define the entity; it is possible for the entity to enter into a relationship yet remain essentially unchanged.

The ultimate difficulty with the theory of internal relations is that it renders the acquisition of knowledge impossible. To truly know an entity, we must know all of its relationships; but because the entity is related to everything in each whole of which it is a part, these wholes must be known completely before the entity can be known. This seems to be a prerequisite impossible to satisfy.

Organicists’ criticism of the analytic method arose from their failure to fully comprehend the method. In rejecting the analytic method, organicists overlooked the fact that before the proponents of the method analyzed the component parts of a system, they first determined both the laws applicable to the whole system and the initial conditions of the system; proponents of the method thus did not study parts of a system in full isolation from the system as a whole. Since organicists failed to recognize this, they never advanced any argument to show that laws and initial conditions of complex systems cannot be discovered. Hence, organicists offered no valid reason for rejecting the analytic method or for adopting organicism as a replacement for it.

Which one of the following most completely and accurately summarizes the argument of the passage?

A. By calling into question the possibility that complex systems can be studied in their entirety, organicists offered an alternative to the analytic method favored by nineteenth century scientists

B. Organicists did not offer a useful method of studying complex systems because they did not acknowledge that there are relationships into which an entity may enter that do not alter the entity’s identity

C. Organicism is flawed because it relies on a theory that both ignores the fact that not all characteristics of entities are defining and ultimately makes the acquisition of knowledge impossible

D. Organicism does not offer a valid challenge to the analytic method both because it relies on faulty theory and because it is based on a misrepresentation of the analytic method

E. In criticizing the analytic method, organicists neglected to disprove that scientists who employ the method are able to discover the laws and initial conditions of the systems they study

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We have encountered this passage before, recall our takeaways from this passage during an earlier read:

  • Paragraph 1: Scientists break systems into components in order to study them, but organicists believe that you can’t understand parts without understanding the whole.
  • Paragraph 2: Organicists believe in the theory of internal relations, which states that you can’t take the parts out of a whole when trying to understand a problem. (Parts are defined by their relationship to the whole, and parts change when they interact as a part of a whole.)
  • Paragraph 3: But a problem with this theory is that even though parts can change, these changes may be inconsequential.
  • Paragraph 4: This theory also creates a slippery slope that makes acquiring knowledge impossible.
  • Paragraph 5: The scientific method doesn’t really study parts in full isolation, the organicists overlook this, and they were wrong.

***

Overall, the relationship between each paragraph and the passage of a whole is pretty clear. Paragraph 1 provides background information, paragraph 2 explains the theory underlining the organicists’ argument (opposing viewpoint). Paragraphs 3-5 provides critiques of the organicists’ position, with the passage’s Main Point is the last sentence of the passage.

If this passage were a massive LR argument, then paragraph 1 would be background information, paragraph 2 the opposing viewpoint, paragraphs 3-4 the argument’s premises, and paragraph 5 containing an additional premise and the main conclusion.

The purpose of this passage is rather straight forward as well: to provide a critique/attack the organicists’ position.

***

Let’s now look at the question:

Which one of the following most completely and accurately summarizes the argument of the passage?

Something important to note here: even though the question stem make it seem like its asking for a “summary” of the argument of the passage, this is still essentially a Main Point Question. I had to learn the hard way that the correct answer is not a detailed summary of what happens in every paragraph.

A. By calling into question the possibility that complex systems can be studied in their entirety, organicists offered an alternative to the analytic method favored by nineteenth century scientists

We know that this is contrary to the idea expressed by the passage. The passage is criticizing the organicists’ alternative. This answer can be eliminated in the first round.

B. Organicists did not offer a useful method of studying complex systems because they did not acknowledge that there are relationships into which an entity may enter that do not alter the entity’s identity

This answer choice talks about the first problem with organicists, but not the second. But like we said, an incomplete MP answer choice is okay if there are none better, so let’s keep it for now.

C. Organicism is flawed because it relies on a theory that both ignores the fact that not all characteristics of entities are defining and ultimately makes the acquisition of knowledge impossible

This answer covers both the point made in Answer Choice B, as well as the sub-point of the fourth paragraph. This is better than B, so let’s eliminate B and keep C.

D. Organicism does not offer a valid challenge to the analytic method both because it relies on faulty theory and because it is based on a misrepresentation of the analytic method

This answer is very similar to C, the direction of the answer choice is fine, and it describes two of the sub-points mentioned in the passage. Let’s keep this one for now as well.

E. In criticizing the analytic method, organicists neglected to disprove that scientists who employ the method are able to discover the laws and initial conditions of the systems they study

This one is confusing, what does it mean to “neglect to disprove?” Does it mean that they should have disproven something, but didn’t? What should they have disproven?

Organicists should have disproven that analytic method scientists are able to discover the laws and initial conditions of the systems they study.

In other words, organicists should have shown that analytic scientists cannot discover the laws and initial conditions.

But this is contrary to the information from the last paragraph, where we are told that the analytic scientists are in fact able to discover the laws and initial conditions of the systems they study.

Furthermore, the idea should be that “the organicists are wrong because they ignore the fact that analytic scientists are able to discover the laws and initial conditions.”

This answer also only covers a part of the last paragraph.

***

So we saw that Answers B is a partial answer, whereas answer choices C and D were more complete. So let’s look at C and D to see which is a better option.

Remember, the Main Point of the passage was that “the organicist criticism of the analytic method is flawed.” The support for this is three-fold:

One, the Theory of IR (upon which organicism depends) overlooks that not all properties will define or change an entity.

Two, the Theory of IR makes the acquisition of knowledge impossible, and

Three, the organicists misunderstand the analytic method.

***

Answer C covers #1 and #2 criticisms.

Answer D covers #3 for sure, but does it cover #1 and #2? Remember, both #1 and #2 are attacking the underlying theory of organicism, the theory of internal relations. Answer D offers a very generalized description of this: “it relies on faulty theory.”

Even though it’s not as specific as we would have liked, both the first and second points made in criticism of organicism are in fact pointing out the faults behind the theory of internal relations.

So answer choice D has in fact covered all three criticisms.

The correct answer is D.

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Let’s take a look at the answer choices: 

 

A. Draws a conclusion about the population in general based only on a sample of that population

 

What the test makers are describing here is a sampling bias fallacy. The previous question where the author concludes anyone fishing for trout based on how the best fishermen felt about the best selling bait would be such a flaw. Here, even though a survey and sampling are involved, we simply do not have enough information to know whether such a flaw is committed. On the real test, I would keep this answer and move on. 

 

B. Confuses a sufficient condition with a required condition

 

This is the flaw we are looking for, the conditional logic flaw. 

 

C. Is based on an ambiguity of one of its terms

 

The flaw this answer is talking about is called Equivocation, where one word has two meanings and the meaning of the word shifts through the argument. 

 

D. Draws a conclusion about a specific belief based on responses to queries about two different specific beliefs

 

This answer is tricky because it’s half wrong half right. The author drew a conclusion about two specific beliefs (more people believe Indicted → Resign than Convicted → Resign) based upon two specific beliefs, one of which is the same (Indicted → Resign), and one of which is different. (Resign → Convicted)

 

E.. Contains premises that cannot all be true

 

This is the Self Contradiction flaw, it does not appear here. 

PT51 S2 Q8 (PT 51 Passage 2)

A vigorous debate in astronomy centers on an epoch in planetary history that was first identified by analysis of rock samples obtained in lunar missions. Scientists discovered that the major craters on the Moon were created by a vigorous bombardment of debris approximately four billion years ago—the so-called late heavy bombardment (LHB). Projectiles from this bombardment that affected the Moon should also have struck Earth, a likelihood with profound consequences for the history of Earth since, until the LHB ended, life could not have survived here.

Various theoretical approaches have been developed to account for both the evidence gleaned from samples of Moon rock collected during lunar explorations and the size and distribution of craters on the Moon. Since the sizes of LHB craters suggest they were formed by large bodies, some astronomers believe that the LHB was linked to the disintegration of an asteroid or comet orbiting the Sun. In this view, a large body broke apart and peppered the inner solar system with debris. Other scientists disagree and believe that the label “LHB” is in itself a misnomer. These researchers claim that a cataclysm is not necessary to explain the LHB evidence. They claim that the Moon’s evidence merely provides a view of the period concluding billions of years of a continuous, declining heavy bombardment throughout the inner solar system. According to them, the impacts from the latter part of the bombardment were so intense that they obliterated evidence of earlier impacts. A third group contends that the Moon’s evidence supports the view that the LHB was a sharply defined cataclysmic cratering period, but these scientists believe that because of its relatively brief duration, this cataclysm did not extend throughout the inner solar system. They hold that the LHB involved only the disintegration of a body within the Earth- Moon system, because the debris from such an event would have been swept up relatively quickly.

New support for the hypothesis that a late bombardment extended throughout the inner solar system has been found in evidence from the textural features and chemical makeup of a meteorite that has been found on Earth. It seems to be a rare example of a Mars rock that made its way to Earth after being knocked from the surface of Mars. The rock has recently been experimentally dated at about four billion years old, which means that, if the rock is indeed from Mars, it was knocked from the planet at about the same time that the Moon was experiencing the LHB. This tiny piece of evidence suggests that at least two planetary systems in the inner solar system experienced bombardment at the same time. However, to determine the pervasiveness of the LHB, scientists will need to locate many more such rocks and perhaps obtain surface samples from other planets in the inner solar system.

Which one of the following most accurately expresses the main point of the passage?

A. The LHB is an intense meteorite bombardment that occurred about four billion years ago and is responsible for the cratering on the Moon and perhaps on other members of the inner solar system as well.

B. Astronomers now believe that they may never collect enough evidence to determine the true nature of the LHB.

C. If scientists continue to collect new clues at their current rate, the various LHB hypotheses can soon be evaluated and a clear picture will emerge.

D. The Moon’s evidence shows that the LHB was linked to a small body that disintegrated while in solar orbit and sprayed the inner solar system with debris.

E. New evidence has been found that favors the view that the LHB was widespread, but before competing theories of the LHB can be excluded, more evidence needs to be gathered.

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We have seen this passage before, the author presents three theories/hypotheses on the LHB, and offers tentative evidence that seems to support the first theory.

A. The LHB is an intense meteorite bombardment that occurred about four billion years ago and is responsible for the cratering on the Moon and perhaps on other members of the inner solar system as well.

Ok, this sounds like background information to me. The core of the passage is talking about the three theories and how theory #1 seems to have some evidence. This answer is too narrow in focus.

 B. Astronomers now believe that they may never collect enough evidence to determine the true nature of the LHB.

 This is contrary to the passage, the passage tells us that there is some support for theory #1, but to be sure, we need additional evidence.

 C. If scientists continue to collect new clues at their current rate, the various LHB hypotheses can soon be evaluated and a clear picture will emerge.

 This is a corruption of the last sentence of the passage. The passage says that in order to determine the pervasiveness of LHB, scientists will need more evidence. This answer is saying that if scientists collect new evidence, they will be able to determine the pervasiveness of LHB. Take a look at the following analogy:

To find out who the culprit is, we must conduct additional investigation. (Find culprit à Additional Investigation)

If we conduct additional investigation, we will find out who the culprit is. (Additional Investigation à Find culprit) 

D. The Moon’s evidence shows that the LHB was linked to a small body that disintegrated while in solar orbit and sprayed the inner solar system with debris.

 This is both too strong and too partial. It’s talking about the third hypothesis only, and the word “show” is too strong. In the passage, we are told that this is only a view of what could have happened.

 E. New evidence has been found that favors the view that the LHB was widespread, but before competing theories of the LHB can be excluded, more evidence needs to be gathered.

This answer choice perfectly encapsulates what the last paragraph is telling us. I was initially weary of selecting it, however.

The majority of the passage is devoted to comparing the three different hypotheses on the LHB. The correct answer, I thought, would at least have to cover that. But then again, as we have witnessed many times on Main Point Questions, the correct answer will only cover the most important points in a passage, or the ideas that the author is trying to get across. For this passage, there were three points I would have liked to see in the correct answer, and in order of significance, they are:

  1. New evidence seems to support theory #1. (This is most clearly an idea that the author is trying to convey)
  2. But we need additional evidence. (Also clearly the author’s opinion)
  3. There were three theories regarding the LHB. (Even though they take up a large portion of the passage, it can be argued that this is background information, or laying the groundwork for the author’s opinion in the last paragraph)

This answer only covers #1 and #2. Is there an answer that covers all three points? Unfortunately there isn’t. So we have no choice but to select E.

Recall in the last passage (PT25 Passage 4) that even though there were several answers that all covered the most central issues of the passage, we picked the most complete answer choice available. If no complete answer was available, we pick the best of the bunch. This is a habit that we shall re-emphasize in the next two chapters.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Let’s take a look at the answer choices: 

 

A. Draws a conclusion about the population in general based only on a sample of that population

 

What the test makers are describing here is a sampling bias fallacy. The previous question where the author concludes anyone fishing for trout based on how the best fishermen felt about the best selling bait would be such a flaw. Here, even though a survey and sampling are involved, we simply do not have enough information to know whether such a flaw is committed. On the real test, I would keep this answer and move on. 

 

B. Confuses a sufficient condition with a required condition

 

This is the flaw we are looking for, the conditional logic flaw. 

 

C. Is based on an ambiguity of one of its terms

 

The flaw this answer is talking about is called Equivocation, where one word has two meanings and the meaning of the word shifts through the argument. 

 

D. Draws a conclusion about a specific belief based on responses to queries about two different specific beliefs

 

This answer is tricky because it’s half wrong half right. The author drew a conclusion about two specific beliefs (more people believe Indicted → Resign than Convicted → Resign) based upon two specific beliefs, one of which is the same (Indicted → Resign), and one of which is different. (Resign → Convicted)

 

E.. Contains premises that cannot all be true

 

This is the Self Contradiction flaw, it does not appear here.