Contrary to Malthus's arguments, human food-producing capacity has increased more rapidly than human population. Yet,...

on November 14, 2019

Question about C

How are we supposed to cross out C for being wrong? My thought process: -Marthus's argument: capacity will not increase more rapidly than population. -Marthus's argument was wrong. -But the agricultural advances that allowed the capacity to increase more rapidly than human population will compromise biological diversity, and thus will support Malthus's prediction in the future. It seems like the correct answer choice is saying that 'Marthus's argument' in sentence 1 is the same thing as 'Malthus's prediction' in sentence 3, hence answer choice D which says it seems wrong but will be correct in future. I thought those two were different, and that (although it first seems not) Marthus's argument is actually supporting Marthus's prediction; hence chose C. I want help to understand how I was supposed to think and not fall for questions like this. How could I correctly cross out C?

2 Replies

Skylar on November 14, 2019

@CHLee Happy to help!

This is tricky. (C) is incorrect because it says the argument suggests the statement in question "actually supports Malthus's position." In the passage, however, we see this statement introduced as "contrary to Malthus's arguments."

Although one could argue that human food-producing capacity increasing more rapidly than the human population will eventually lead to other effects that will support Malthus's prediction, it is too much of a stretch to say that this statement taken by itself supports the argument. Instead, we should recognize that this statement changing in the future is what may ultimately support Malthus's prediction (D).

Does that help? Let us know if you have any additional questions!

Annie on November 14, 2019

Hi @CHLee,

Good question! This question is asking you to determine what role a certain statement (P1 below) plays in the argument. The best way to go about this is to break down the argument into its component parts.

Premise: Contrary to Malthus's arguments, food producing capacity has increased faster than human population.
Premise: But, agricultural advances often compromise biological diversity.
Conclusion: Malthus's prediction that insufficient food will lead to war, pestilence, and famine will likely be correct because a lack of biodiversity will erode our ability to produce food.

Answer Choices:
(A) is incorrect. This answer choice is trying to trick you into forgetting which part of the sentence is at issue. The question is asking about the statement that food producing capacity has increased faster than human population, not about the part of the sentence which states "contrary to Malthus's arguments." So, while Malthus made a hypothesis, the statement in question is not a hypothesis.

(B) is incorrect. This answer choice incorrectly states the conclusion. The argument finds that Malthus will likely be proven correct, not that he was misguided.

(C) is incorrect. This is a very appealing answer choice but is ultimately incorrect because of the statement in the answer choice that it "supports Malthus's position." We know that Malthus believes (1) that the human population will increase more than human food producing capacity and (2) that this will doom humanity. In contrast, the argument here states that (1) human population did not increase more than food producing capacity but (2) advances in agriculture will lead to less biodiversity which will doom humanity. Thus, while the two end up at the same conclusion, they do not get there via the same path. Therefore, the statement is not supporting Malthus's argument.

(D) is correct. The statement is presented as a fact. Additionally, we are told that advances in agriculture will compromise biodiversity which will lead to famine. Thus, the fact that human food-producing capacity has outpaced the human population will change.

(E) is incorrect. The statement is a fact, not a hypothesis, and there is no discussion of inadequate evidence. Thus, this answer is irrelevant.