Doctor: Medical researchers recently examined a large group of individuals who said that they had never experienced s...

Meredith on October 18, 2019

Choice E

What's wrong with choice E?

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Skylar on October 20, 2019


This is a tricky question. The doctor in the passage states that half of a group of people who claim to have never experienced back pain have conditions that are often blamed for serious back pain. The doctor takes this to conclude that, since this group felt no pain from the conditions, nobody else would experience pain from the conditions either.

This logic should not sit right with us. Just because this group did not feel pain from such conditions, we cannot assume that this is always the case. The question asks what the doctor's argument fails to consider, so our correct answer choice should be some variation of this idea.

Answer choice (B) states "A factor that is not in itself sufficient to produce a certain effect may nonetheless be partly responsible for that effect in some instances." In the case, the "factor that is not in itself sufficient" refers to the presence of back conditions (i.e. bulging or slipped disks) and the "effect" refers to back pain. So this answer choice is saying the argument fails to consider the idea that just because the presence of back conditions may not be enough by itself to always guarantee back pain, this does not mean that these conditions are not partially responsible for back pain for some people. Following this logic, we see that the doctor's conclusion that these conditions would never lead to pain is false, as these conditions could combine with other factors in other people to result in pain. Therefore, (B) is correct.

Answer choice (E) states "A factor that does not bring about a certain effect may nonetheless be more likely to be present when the effect occurs than when the effect does not occur." Applied to the passage, this means the following: The existence of back conditions that do not cause back pain may be more likely to be present when back pain occurs than when it does not. This does not weaken the doctor's argument because it does not address the causality factor of the conclusion. In other words, answer (E)'s claim that back conditions and back pain can coexist without a causal relationship can be true at the same time that the doctor's claim that back conditions will never cause back pain could be true. Therefore, the doctor's reasoning is not undermined by a failure to consider this claim.

Does this make sense? Please let us know if you have any other questions!