Science writer: Scientists' astounding success rate with research problems they have been called upon to solve causes...

Lauren on August 19 at 09:58PM

Attacking “most strongly supports” questions

Hi I was wondering what is a good way to approach and answer questions that ask you to identify which answer choice is “most strongly supported” by the statements in the question stem? I’ve seen this come up a lot but don’t know a good, quick way to figure out the correct answer. Thank you! @lsatmax

2 Replies

Irina on August 19 at 11:56PM

@Lauren-Au,

Most strongly supported question asks you to make a logical inference. Taken all the statements in the stimulus as true, what could we conclude?

The correct answer choice could either be a paraphrase of the conclusion or a separate inference from the premises provided.

Let's look at the stimulus. The writer says that scientists' success rate with research problems they have been called upon to solve causes the public to believe that science can solve any problem. The truth is there is some selection bias as scientists typically select the problems to solve themselves. When the problems are instead selected by politicians or business leaders, their formulation is nevertheless guided by scientists in such a way to make solutions feasible. Scientists are almost never asked to solve problems that are not subject to such formulation. The argument basically says that scientists either control the selection or formulation of the problems most of the time, thus creating this false sense of science being able to solve anything.
What could we conclude based on these statements?


Let's look at the answer choices:

(A) If a problem is formulated in such a way as to make a scientific solution feasible, scientists will usually be called upon to solve a problem.

Incorrect. that converse of what the author is saying, instead he is saying that if scientists are called upon to solve a problem, their formulation is guided by scientists.

(B) Any problem a scientist can solve can be formulated in such a way as to make a scientific solution feasible.

Incorrect. The argument tells us that scientists are almost never asked to solve problems not subject to such formulation, but we cannot infer from that alone that any problem a scientist can solve can be formulated in such a way.

(C) Scientists would probably have a lower success rate with research problems if their grounds for selecting such problems were more narrow.

Correct. The author attributes the astounding success rate to the fact that problems are typically selected by scientists themselves, so if their grounds for selecting problems were less narrow, it is likely the success rate would be lower.

(D) Most of the problems scientists are called upon to solve are problems that politicians want to be solved, but whose formulation the scientists have helped to guide.

Incorrect. The fact pattern only tells us that typically the problems are selected by scientists themselves, we cannot infer whether politicians want most problems solved.

(E) The only reason for the astounding success rate of science is that the problems scientists are called upon to solve are usually selected by the scientists themselves.

Incorrect. The argument tells us that is one of the reasons, but not the only reasons. At least one other reason is the problem formulation is typically guided by the scientists to make solutions feasible.

Does this make sense?

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Lauren on August 21 at 07:47PM

Thank you!