January 16, 2016 at 10:04 am #1343rpsaltaParticipant
I hope I’m not posting too much (!).. but I was wondering if anyone could look at my thinking process for a Weaken q and see if I’m on the right track. I originally got this question wrong, and got it wrong again on review. I looked up the explanation online, and understand a bit more what I got wrong, but want to make sure my understanding is solid.
So I first ID the conclusion: people from the past probably read more than we do today.
Then the support: those people had fewer diversions to amuse them.
Then the flaw— and to be honest, I’m still a bit fuzzy on. If I redid this question and completely forgot what the correct answer is, I probably still wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the exact flaw. But what I do know is that the author has a gap in his reasoning– assuming that because people had fewer diversions (no iPhones, Facebook, mindless Internet surfing, etc.), then they must have read more. From the support, we can’t assume that. Maybe books were expensive to buy back then, or maybe people did other things with their time (which relates to the correct answer choice). So the best thing I can do is eliminate answer choices that aren’t relevant to the argument at all, or that don’t touch upon this gap in reasoning and weaken it.
A. The literary quality of books isn’t relevant to this argument. This answer choice doesn’t relate to the argument between fewer diversions + therefore more people read. Even if they were low quality, we don’t know that that actually affected if people did or did not read them.
B. Seems like it actually addresses the argument, so I keep it for later.
C. This answer choice also doesn’t relate to the argument– the whole relationship between fewer diversions and reading more in the past. And even if more books are sold today– so what? Books sold doesn’t exactly equate to how much people read.
D. Again, this answer choice doesn’t seem relevant to the argument. Books costing less doesn’t really relate to how much people read, and “other goods” sounds irrelevant.
E. During review, I thought this answer choice could weaken– but then I realized that it doesn’t weaken the argument. Knowing that horse racing was popular back then is somewhat related to the premise that there were “few diversions”– but this doesn’t relate to the entire argument. Just because there was horse racing doesn’t mean that people read less– we only know that horse racing was popular. That’s it.
Going back to B, I see that this answer choice does weaken the bond between the support and conclusion. People had less leisure time than we do today, which weakens the argument that fewer diversions means people read more in the past.
Thoughts? Any other points about the other incorrect answer choices, or the stimulus, that I missed or thought wrong?
January 16, 2016 at 11:52 am #1344LSAT DanParticipant
This question reminds me a bit of a couple of questions that have shown up in the past about automobile accidents. The questions that I have in mind revolve around the idea that the chance that you’ll be injured in an auto accident involves two factors – the likelihood of the accident occurring, and the likelihood that you’ll be injured IF an accident does occur. So for instance, if you drive a Hummer, and let’s say that Hummers have a high probability of being in accidents, you still might have a low probability of being injured in a car accident.
Similarly, the amount of time one spends reading can be thought of as a function of two factors – 1) How much leisure time do you have? 2) How many different options do you have for spending that leisure time?
The passage focuses exclusively on question 2, and question 2 weighs in favor of the passage’s conclusion, but it ignores question 1. The right answer addresses question 1 in such as way as to counteract the passage’s information – not by contradicting a premise, which is a no-no, but by adding other relevant information that undercuts it.
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