The passage provides the most support for inferring which one of the following statements?

Ava on April 12, 2020

C versus D

Can someone explain why C is incorrect? I can see why D is correct, but I fell into C as a trap answer because I felt that the section that talks about the metropolitan customers gave some support to answer choice C, and that answer choice D was almost “too obvious”/directly supported by the text and wouldn’t count as an “inference” as the question stem puts it. Thanks in advance.

Replies

Andrea on April 13, 2020

Hi Shafieiava,

For starters, don’t be too hesitant of something because it looks “too obvious.” Too obvious is very often correct on this exam! Though the LSAT is tricky in a lot of ways, it’s not tricky like that. A straightforward and direct answer that is not flawed in some other way is typically best.

I see your hesitation when you say you didn’t think it would count as an inference because it was too direct. However, because an inference question is like a “most strongly supported” or a “must be true,” they are by nature very direct and often very obvious. It’s on harder questions that they become indirect and more difficult to see.

Think of it this way. If I told you all cats are mammals, and that Fluffy is a cat, you are making an inference when you conclude that Fluffy is thus a mammal. I know, that feels like stating the obvious. It doesn’t feel like an inference so much as it just feels like a fact that’s already been given. But, that’s essentially what inferences are! Because I never explicitly stated separately that Fluffy was a mammal (instead it was logically inferred from the fact that Fluffy is a cat and cats are mammals) you know that’s an inference that you deduced from the facts. If the facts are true (that fluffy is a cat), the inference (that Fluffy is a mammal) must also be true.

Likewise, if a CMC requests that fewer than 10 crops be grown (which goes against the recommendation of A LEAST 10 crops in line 15), then you know that recommendation will not be followed. Straightforward as ever, but just as we can deduce that Fluffy is a mammal from the fact that we know Fluffy is a cat, an inference nonetheless.

Answer choice C is supported..but only if you bring in some outside assumptions about circumstances, which is a big no-no on the LSAT. That’s the tricky thing about the test. Answer choice C seems plausible (maybe even likely), but only plausible if circumstances we have no information about in the passage are assumed to be a certain way. And that’s what the LSAT doesn’t want you to assume. The LSAT is literally testing your ability to recognize that that assumption may not be the case, and testing your ability to then know not to take it for granted. The LSAT is testing your ability to take nothing for granted. If you take things for granted and reason with your own assumptions, (even if likelihood is in your judgement’s favor), you’ve failed at the task the test is presenting to you through these questions.

The LSAT gets us because most people are caught up thinking about what’s most likely given what we know to be true of how the world works. But the LSAT is a test of critical thinking skills. What it’s really looking for is not your understanding of what’s the most probable outcome, but rather, your understanding of what COULD happen in a given situation (even if very unlikely), what MUST happen (if anything), and what CAN’T happen (if anything).

So in short, answer choice C is incorrect because it’s out of the scope of what we know from the passage (i.e. it involves us thinking about what’s likely given what we know to be true of how the world works). However, lots of things could happen out there in the world. Just because it would probably happen one way doesn’t mean it has to happen that way. We don’t know anything about the food purchasing habits of people in rural areas. Maybe this answer choice is true, but maybe it’s not. The passage itself doesn’t support it. We’re not given enough context or information to come to this conclusion about the food buying habits of people in rural areas.

Hope this helps. Feel free to follow up if you have anymore questions!

Ava on April 18, 2020

@AndreaK this was a very helpful and insightful explanation. Thank you!