QUESTION TEXT: Police chief: During my tenure as chief, crime in…
QUESTION TYPE: Weaken
CONCLUSION: The police chief says her strategy caused the 20% drop in crime.
REASONING: A 20% drop in crime occurred while the chief was using her strategy.
ANALYSIS: The chief has made an extremely weak argument. They’ve only shown a correlation: Their strategy happened at the same time the drop in crime happened.
But we don’t know what would have happened without the strategy. Maybe crime would have fallen by the same amount or even further.
Note that the final bit of the argument is useless fluff. The information about real-time crime data and focussing police resources is merely context that explains what the chief’s strategy was. The argument would be exactly as strong if the chief had said “my strategy of making police wear funny hats.”
- The total amount of crime doesn’t matter. Only the direction matters. If a chief takes over a dangerous city, it’s reasonable to expect the crime rate to remain high even if the chief succeeding in lowering the crime rate.
- So? It’s normal for crime rates to change a lot over a long period of time. We only care about the change in crime since the chief took over.
(Ok, if the chief took over in an unusually high year, that would be relevant. But crime rates decades ago are too far back to matter to the chief’s record.)
- So? A decline is still a decline. And the fact that crime didn’t rise again shows that the chief’s results had staying power!
- CORRECT. This destroys the chief’s argument. The chief’s strategy doesn’t look so great now that we know that the rest of the country experienced an even greater decline. (Presumably with no special strategy.)
- It doesn’t matter about different areas of the city. The chief’s argument only refers to the city as a whole.
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