There is a widespread belief that people can predict impending earthquakes from unusual animal behavior. Skeptics cla...

Parker on November 7, 2018

Answer Choice E

Hi, could someone explain why this choice is correct?

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Mehran on November 10, 2018

Hi @Parker-Zopp, thanks for your question. Let's first be sure - as always - that we fully understand what is happening in the stimulus. Here, there is an argument in the stimulus - the skeptics' viewpoint. If we were to summarize that viewpoint (i.e., if we were to paraphrase the skeptics' main point/conclusion), we should say that people's widespread belief that unusual animal behavior can predict impending earthquakes is based on "selective coincidence."

The question stem presents an Argument Evaluation prompt - what, if clarified, would help us evaluate the skeptics' position (i.e., what, if clarified, would allow us to determine whether the skeptics' conclusion is valid or invalid)?

Answer choice (E) would do that. Notice that, in the stimulus, the skeptics say "at any given time, some of the world's dogs will be behaving oddly." So what matters is whether there are different kinds of odd behavior. Maybe it's true that at any given time, some of the world's dogs are behaving oddly. But if there is a specific type of odd behavior that is associated ONLY with impending earthquakes - say, if right before an earthquake, dogs inexplicably start hopping on their front left paws and yowling - then the skeptics' argument is weakened. This is because a very specific type of odd behavior associated *only* with impending earthquakes would mean that, in fact, people are not just focused on "selective coincidences," and that instead people may correctly believe that an impending earthquake may be predicted from unusual animal behavior. By contrast, if there is NO specific type of odd behavior associate ONLY with impending earthquakes, then the skeptics' argument is strengthened - just because Fido does some random odd thing does not mean that Fido is predicting earthquakes.

Make sense? Hope that helps. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.