QUESTION TEXT: Activist: Medical conditions such as cancer and…
QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning
CONCLUSION: The only way to greatly reduce cancers and birth defects is to stop industrial pollution in the water.
REASONING: Pollution in the water is one cause of cancer/birth defects.
ANALYSIS: I’ve written a very short summary, aiming at pointing out the flaw: the argument presents one cause, and then pretends it’s the only cause or the major cause. The rest of the long, fancy words in this stimulus are just put there to distract you.
I call this error “overfocussing”. The author wants to confuse you and prevent you from thinking about other possibilities. Yes, water pollution is linked to birth defects, but it’s possible that water pollution is responsible for only 1% of cancer and birth defects.
Note that the author did show causation. “linked to”, in the context of the argument, should be read as “cause”, even though technically in some other contexts those words could mean a correlation.
- CORRECT. If this is true, then there are other ways to greatly reduce cancers and birth defects.
- It’s good to care about nonhuman species. But that’s not the point of the argument. The conclusion is only about human diseases.
- This is totally different. And so obscure that I can’t easily think of an example. It’s basically saying “the argument is assuming that many causes can produce certain effects, when it’s possible that only one cause can produce those effects”. This answer is actually the opposite of the flaw.
- The author did consider this. They said industries are unlikely to decrease pollution.
- The author already showed that the pollutants do cause cancer and birth defects. So finding other benefits wouldn’t change the fact that pollutants cause cancer/birth defects.
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