At a large elementary school researchers studied a small group of children who successfully completed an experimental...

Connor on March 25 at 03:59PM

Why is D incorrect?

Wouldn't participating in other programs besides chess contribute as an alternative explanation to the argument and weaken it?


Naryan on March 26 at 01:12PM

Hi @connordelacruz,

Weaken questions (and strengthen, for that matter) are notorious for this kind of thing. Students very often feel that many of the answer choices could help weaken/strengthen IF you allow your imagination to wander long enough. The best trick I've found is to remember: that which you are strengthening/weakening will ALWAYS be related to the error in the passage. Let me walk you through how I read this question.

Stim: Okay, kids who did a chess program increased their grades. That's fair. But, then the author says chess causes the grades to increase. Wait a minute, what? Maybe a better study schedule both boosted grades and chess performance? This is classic correlation-causation flaw. Just because two things happen at the same time, that doesn't mean one causes the other. Ex: CO2 levels are going up at the same time that humans are buying more smartphones. Clearly the CO2 is making people buy phones!! Right? If you can see what's wrong with this, you can see what's wrong with the author's conclusion.

We want to weaken, IE we want a fact that exposes this error. Something like: "a third thing causes both grades up and chess success." Or maybe "grades up is actually the thing that causes chess success."

A: As soon as I read "...who did not participate..." a red flag goes off in my head. I have my anticipation^^, and this isn't it. It's like saying "Well, some chemicals other than CO2 could make you buy phones...sure, I guess. Not the issue.

B: Lower preprogram levels? It doesn't matter how bad they were, the argument is saying we had increases. Again with the analogy, that's like an argument saying "before CO2 increases almost nobody had phones." Fine, but that still isn't addressing the problem that CO2 DOESN'T MAKE YOU BUY PHONES.

C: Yes, exactly! This shows that it wasn't chess skills that made their grades go up, they wanted to be on the team! These kids simply got off their butts and studied harder, it really had nothing to do with the chess. It could have been an underwater basket weaving program for all they cared. This shows that the author's causal link is baseless.

D: Okay, same red flag for me as A. As soon as they start talking about people outside the program, I'm not liking it. But let's say you didn't pick that up, why is D still wrong? Well, D basically says a second program also increased grades. Ok...what's wrong with that? This is an alternative way to increase your grade, but it does NOT disprove chess as causally increasing grades. Let's jump back to the analogy. D is basically saying "Methane also makes you buy more phones." Our delusional author would just say "cool, so both methane AND CO2 make you buy smartphones!" This would not help us dismantle their argument.

E: The word talent sets me off here. We're practicing to be lawyers, remember, and details matter. Let's not commit our own equivocation flaws. Talent and skills garnered by practicing something are VERY different. This is bringing in something that was never discussed.

I hope this helps, if you have any more questions just ask!