Columnist: It is impossible for there to be real evidence that lax radiation standards that were once in effect at...

Shiyi on February 27 at 10:08AM

Why is A correct?

Why is A correct?

1 Reply

Ravi on March 1 at 05:07PM

@Shiyi-Zhang,

Happy to help.

The columnist tells us that it's impossible for there to be real
evidence that lax radiation standards at nuclear reactors contributed
to increased cancer rates near these sites. The columnist supports
this assertion by saying that there are so many other potential causes
of cancer that we can't really know which of these factors caused
cancer in these people.

The problem with the columnist's argument is that he's failing to take
into account that even though it might be nearly impossible to
identify a single cause of what caused an individual case of cancer,
it is possible to observe statistical trends in the rates of cancer
for areas near the nuclear reactor sites. If these areas have cancer
rates that are vastly larger than surrounding areas, then that would
suggest that the lax radiation standards may have contributed to
increased cancer rates near the reactors.

The question says, "The argument's reasoning is most vulnerable to
criticism on which one of the following grounds?"

We're looking to identify the flaw of the argument.

(A) says, "The argument fails to recognize that there may be
convincing statistical evidence even if individual causes cannot be
known."

This is just what we'd been anticipating. Even though we may not be
able to tell what the cause for a single case of cancer was, this
doesn't mean that there can't be convincing evidence of a trend near
the site. Remember, the columnist has a really strong conclusion ("it
is impossible for there to be real evidence...") and providing
statistical evidence showing a trend with increased cancer rates near
the sites would certainly qualify as evidence that he's purporting to
be impossible. (A) picks up on exactly the flaw of the columnist's
thinking, and it's our correct answer choice.

Does this make sense? Let us know if you have any more questions!