QUESTION TYPE: Point at Issue
ARGUMENTS: Taylor says that the university researchers’ claim is doubtful because it is mathematically precise. Taylor says that science could never be that precise.
Sandra says that some disciplines can have very precise results.
ANALYSIS: Sandra only makes one claim: she says results can be precise. So that must be the point of disagreement: whether or not a claim is wrong merely because it’s precise.
Note that Sandra is only disagreeing with part of Taylor’s claim. Sandra has expressed no opinion on whether the communication research is correct or whether such precision is possible in that field. She’s making a point about scientific precision in general.
- Sandra expressed no opinion on the claim about nonverbal communication.
- Sandra expressed no opinion on whether 61 percent of communication is nonverbal.
- This is very tempting. But Sandra didn’t say communication could be a precise field. She said that a scientific claim in general isn’t suspect merely because it’s precise. But she might agree that communication in particular cannot be a precise field.
Sandra was disagreeing with Taylor’s minor point (“precise is suspect”) rather than Taylor’s major conclusion (“The communication researchers are probably wrong”).
- CORRECT. Taylor disagrees with this, in his final sentence. Sandra agrees with this (“[precision] is commonplace in others”)
- Neither Taylor nor Sandra said how often they think inherently suspect claims are false.
“Inherently suspect” doesn’t mean “wrong”. It just means we should be skeptical of the claim and demand further proof.
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