QUESTION TEXT: Columnist: Research shows significant…
QUESTION TYPE: Weaken
CONCLUSION: The evidence helps show that advertising does in fact influence smoking.
REASONING: Countries with smoking advertising restrictions have had great reductions in first time smoking.
ANALYSIS: This feels like a good argument, because we already tend to think tobacco advertising is bad. But actually, the author has just shown a correlation between smoking advertising restrictions and reductions in first time smoking.
Whenever there’s a correlation, there are four possibilities:
- Restrictions reduce first time smoking.
- Reduced first time smoking causes restrictions.
- Some third factor causes both reduced first time smoking and advertising restrictions.
- The correlation is random.
You can weaken the correlation by showing that one of the other four possibilities exists.
- This answer talks about an absolute term “unlikely”, whereas the stimulus was talking about a relative change “less likely”. You can be unlikely to quit, but still more likely to do so than before.
- This is an irrelevant fact about the nature of the advertising restrictions. We care about the effect of the restrictions, not the legal fine print.
- CORRECT. This is number three from the list above. If this is true, then it’s possible a third factor (negative attitudes towards smoking) are the cause of both the advertising restrictions and the reduction in first time smoking.
- The stimulus was only talking about the number of first time smokers. It doesn’t matter what happens after people start.
This answer also says nothing about whether advertising changes attitudes.
- This is an irrelevant fact about advertising. For this to matter, we’d need to know what percentage of people are relatively unaffected by tobacco advertising. And other advertising doesn’t matter.
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