The proposal to extend clinical trials, which are routinely used as systematic tests of pharmaceutical innovations, t...

David on September 17, 2013

Why is the answer A?

Confused as to why A is the correct answer.

1 Reply

Melody on September 17, 2013

The conclusion of the argument is that new surgical procedures should not be tested in clinical trials. Our premise is that pharmaceutical innovations (which are okay to test in clinical trials) are different from new surgical procedures in that a correctly prescribed drug depends on composition (so there is a systematic way to test whether the drug is correctly prescribed), whereas the effectiveness of a surgical procedure is based on the skill of a surgeon (which is a more subjective standard).

The error here lies with the assumption that though prescribed drugs and surgical procedures have differences (as pointed out by the stimulus prescribed drugs depend solely on their composition for effectiveness, whereas a surgical procedure's effectiveness is related to the skills of the surgeon who uses it ), there may be some similarities between them that justify the extension of clinical trials for surgical procedures. One big thing to note is that the stimulus never told us whether or not surgical procedures depend on something innately to do with the procedure itself, like with medical drugs. All we know is that drugs depend solely on their composition, whereas we don't know whether or not surgical procedures depend at all on their "composition."

(A) Our argument bases its conclusion on the fact that there is no systematic way to test new surgical procedures, because its effectiveness is based on the individual surgeon who is conducting the surgery. However, what if there was some intrinsic or inherent detail about the new surgery that created a systematic way of gauging effectiveness of the new surgery? For instance, what if the new surgery, was inherently harmful regardless of which surgeon performed the surgery? Then there would be a reason to test the new surgery in clinical trials. So, this is why the argument is flawed, because there can be an inherent way to gauge the effectiveness of a new surgery, as is the case with pharmaceuticals. When you see the words "does not consider" the answer choice is offering a scenario, and if that scenario weakens the argument, that is the flaw of the argument.

(B) is incorrect because it is outlandish. In no way does the stimulus refer to the challenged proposal as "deliberately crude."

(C) is incorrect because the stimulus does not assume that a surgeon's skills remain unchanged. We know nothing about the skills of surgeons, other than the fact that the effectiveness of surgical procedures are transparently related to them.

(D) is incorrect because the fact that no evidence is presented for the dissimilarity between prescribed drugs and surgical procedures is not the flaw in the stimulus. We can have a valid argument without scientific evidence for a premise that has been put forth.

(E) is incorrect because the stimulus never discusses anything about "good faith." We do not know whether the rejected proposal was advanced in "good faith," and therefore, the lack of acknowledgment of "any such good faith," is not a flaw in the stimulus.