Biologists have noted reproductive abnormalities in fish that are immediately downstream of paper mills. One possible...

Emily on July 24, 2018

Cause and Effect Relationship

I am having trouble identifying the cause and effect relationship we are trying to weaken. I understand what the writer is trying to invalidate but not how answer choice C weakens.

2 Replies

Mehran on July 24, 2018

@EmilyMarieMenendez my favorite question from the December 2004 LSAT, which was my actual LSAT!

This question drove me crazy on the actual exam and I actually ended up missing it because I did not even realize how the author was attempting to refute the cause and effect argument so I completely overlooked answer choice (C).

Let's break it down.

The conclusion here is, "However, dioxin is unlikely to be the cause, . . . "

Why? " . . . since the fish recover normal hormone concentrations relatively quickly during occasional mill shutdowns and dioxin decomposes very slowly in the environment."

So notice that the author is trying to disprove this cause and effect argument that dioxin is causing the reproductive abnormalities in fish that are immediately downstream of the paper mills by showing cause without effect. This is the tricky part.

How is the author showing cause without effect during the occasional mill shutdowns? The author states that "dioxin decomposes very slowly in the environment" so despite the fact that the mill has shutdown, dioxin would still be present in the environment but the fish are recovering normal hormone concentrations.

This is why (C) weakens the author argument. (C) states that "normal river currents carry the dioxin present in the river far downstream in a few hours" so (C) actually removes the cause from the equation as well.

Without a constant stream of dioxin (i.e. "paper mills release daily"), which would occur during occasional mill shutdowns, this river current will remove dioxin from the environment immediately downstream of the paper mills and this is why the fish recover normal hormone concentrations (i.e. no cause, no effect).

Hope that helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Emily on July 24, 2018

This makes sense now! Thank you so much.