Scientist: While studying centuries-old Antarctic ice deposits, I found that several years of relatively severe atmo...

Jacob on October 7, 2017

Help

Can you explain the correct answer and the flaw that occurred

1 Reply

Mehran on October 9, 2017

Hi @JayDee8732. This is an Errors in Reasoning question.

Let's first examine the stimulus. The scientist makes an argument, as follows:
Premise: While studying centuries-old Antarctic ice deposits, I found that several years of relatively severe atmospheric pollution in the 1500s coincided with a period of relatively high global temperatures.
Conclusion: So it is clear in this case that atmospheric pollution did cause global temperatures to rise.

OK, this is a flawed argument. Just because two things are correlated (high atmospheric pollution and relatively high global temperatures) does not mean that one thing (pollution) caused the other (a rise in temperature).

Think about it this way. What if I told you that I left my house this morning to go to class, and shortly thereafter there was a major fire in a factory across town, and on that basis I concluded that by leaving my house this morning to go to class I must have caused the factory fire? That's silly, right? That's just a more extreme version of this flawed reasoning.

Answer choice (E) correctly identifies this flaw. The argument infers, merely from a claim that two phenomena (pollution and rising temperatures) are associated (correlated), that one phenomenon (pollution) causes the other (rising temperatures).

Hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any additional questions.