Fraenger's assertion that the artist Hieronymus Bosch belonged to the Brethren of the Free Spirit, a nonmainstream re...

Mazen on May 17, 2022

Assertion versus Hypothesis

Hi I was time-trapped in the definitional distinction between the terms, "hypothesis" and "assertion." An assertion is not the same as a hypothesis. The latter is an inquisitive statement that is subject to the steps of the scientific method in terms, and the latter is a strong belief that may very well run contrary to overwhelming scientific evidence! The first sentence of the stimulus is the conclusion of the argument: "Fraenger's assertion that the artist Hieronymus Bosch belonged to the Brethren of the Free Spirit, a nonmainstream religious group, is unlikely to be correct." Excluding the sentence "Fraenger's hypothesis explains much of Bosch's unusual subject matter," the rest of the argument is designed to support the notion that F's assertion is likely to be incorrect. What through me off with answer-choice D is the word hypothesis. Should not have been trapped in the definitional distinction between the two terms, "hypothesis" and "assertion"? Please let me know! Thank you

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Emil on May 21, 2022

Hi Mazen,
You're entirely correct that an assertion and a hypothesis do not mean the same thing. However, in LSAT language, the distinctions between various types of claims becomes less important. That is, a claim could be a hypothesis, a statement, a generalization, a set of dogma, a belief, an axiom, etc, and we shouldn't care too much about the difference between these things. What matters is if that claim (or hypothesis/statement/etc) plays a role in the argument. A hypothesis could be used to support another claim, making it an intermediary conclusion, or perhaps the hypothesis is the thing that the argument is being used to support- making it the overall conclusion. Perhaps a generalization is used to support another claim, making it a premise, or maybe a generalization is merely context to set up the argument.

Ultimately all that we are about is if a claim is supported by anything else (making it a conclusion) or if it supports anything else (making it a premise), both (and intermediate conclusion), opposes something, or none of the above.

In this case, the author actually uses the terms assertion and hypothesis interchangeably- in the first sentence they refer to Fraenger's beliefs as an assertion, and in the second as a hypothesis. This really does reflect how people speak- I may say "I assert that the earth is flat for xyz reasons" or "my hypothesis is that for xyz reasons, the earth is flat." The exact word choice for what someone call an idea is not particularly important, as long as we can tell the argument structure.

Mazen on May 24, 2022

Very thorough response.
Thank You, Emil