QUESTION TYPE: Strengthen
CONCLUSION: Evidence indicates that a certain property development hasn’t hurt wildlife.
REASONING: Wildlife numbers have increased, and the park can support them.
ANALYSIS: This argument sound pretty good, so you have to ask yourself: “How could this evidence not lead to this conclusion?” Imagining an actual wildlife reserve. What would you look for in a successful reserve? You’d probably want to see lots of animals, and many different types of species.
The stimulus only mentions the number of animals increased. What if the development has killed off some species? Maybe the park is now only full of animals that thrive near humans, such as raccoons, squirrels and pigeons. Eww. You can strengthen the argument by eliminating this possibility.
It’s perfectly ok to use outside knowledge this way. We’re just using it to form guesses. The wrong way to use outside knowledge is to assume something has to be true. But thinking something might be true lets you answer many questions quickly.
- CORRECT. This shows that species diversity hasn’t declined. If all the animals were raccoons, then the argument would not be persuasive. This answer eliminates that possibility.
- It’s not clear how this affects the argument. If the previous survey was also taken in summer, then this has no effect. If the previous survey was taken in another season, then the argument is slightly weaker since the recent survey was biased. (Though the survey measured species numbers. The impact of diversity isn’t clear.)
- The stimulus says the park currently is capable of supporting the wildlife it contains, so it doesn’t matter that it couldn’t have done so a decade ago.
- This weakens the argument. Maybe the old techniques found 10% of animals, and now we found 90%. The “increase” is just a mirage. There could even be fewer animals.
- The conclusion is only about how animal life is doing. Plants are nice, but they don’t matter here.
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Graeme teaches how to break down arguments, quickly