Although many political candidates object to being made the target of advertising designed to cast them in an adverse...

Oscar on July 15, 2018

Flaw type?

What kind of specific flaw is in the passage that is also in the correct answer choice?

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Mehran on July 15, 2018

Hi @OQ, thanks for your post. Great question; this is a tricky one for sure.

First, as always, let's examine the stimulus carefully, to be sure we understand it with precision.

The stimulus presents an argument. The conclusion is: [adverse] advertising benefits its targets. Why? Because "most elections have been won by candidates who were the targets of that kind of advertising."

Think about how silly that is. How many people can win each election? One. How many people run for office? Many. So it stands to reason that for most of the candidates, adverse advertising does not, in fact, provide any benefit, right?

Answer choice (B) mirrors this flaw. The conclusion is that [harsh] reviews actually benefit actors' careers. Why? Because, again, "most of the really prestigious acting awards have gone to actors who have had performances of theirs reviewed harshly." But again, this is nonsensical. How many actors win each award? One. So, once more, it stands to reason that the majority of actors who are subjected to harsh criticism get no benefit therefrom!

One way to articulate the flaw is shifting "denominators" - the premises are about a select group (winners), whereas the conclusion is about a much larger group of people (many political candidates, many actors).

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

Julie on July 27, 2019

I correctly chose (B) as the correct answer, but when reviewing this question I had a hard time eliminating (D). Can someone explain why it doesn't closely parallel the flaw in the stimulus? Thanks!

Irina on July 28, 2019


The flawed reasoning in the stimulus is as follows:

-political candidates object to adverse advertising
-but advertising actually benefits them as most elections have been won by candidates who were the target of adverse advertising.

This is a correlation/ causation flaw, just because most elections have been won by candidates who were the targets of adverse advertising does not mean the advertising made them win the election.

Let's compare it to (D)

-film critics dislike horror films
-but such films are bound to be successful

To parallel the original reasoning, we would expect a statement that argues that horror films benefit the critics instead of the fact that they are bound to be successful. This set of facts does not demonstrate any correlation as opposed to the stimulus.

Does this make sense?

Let me know if you have any other questions.