Insufficient rain can cause crops to falter and agricultural prices to rise. Records indicate that during a certain n...

Flavio on December 5, 2016

Effect without Cause?

Does answer choice D present an effect without cause weakening of the argument?

3 Replies

Mehran on December 8, 2016

@Flavio this is actually an Errors in Reasoning question, so we are looking for the answer choice that points out the logical fallacy in this argument.

Let's break down the argument to make sure we see the flaw here clearly.

Premise 1: "Insufficient rain can cause crops to falter and agricultural prices to rise."

All this tells us is that it is possible for insufficient rain to cause crops to falter and agricultural prices to rise.

Premise 2: "Records indicate that during a certain nation's recent crisis, faltering crops and rising agricultural prices prompted the government to take over food distribution in an effort to prevent starvation."

This establishes that during a recent crisis, crops faltered and agricultural prices rose.

Conclusion: "Thus, the weather must have played an important role in bringing about the crisis."

From these premises, the author concludes that weather (i.e. insufficient rain) must have played an important role in bringing about the crisis.

This is clearly a flawed argument. We know that it is possible for insufficient rain to cause crops to falter and agricultural prices to rise. From the existence of these two effects, the author concludes that weather MUST have played a role.

But there could be other causes that result in the effects of faltering crops and rising agricultural prices.

Additionally, insufficient rain does not always result in faltering crops and rising agricultural prices. It can cause these effects but that just means it is possible.

The author is overlooking this.

(D) points out this flaw, i.e. "infers, merely from the fact that one event [insufficient rain] could have caused a second event [faltering crops and rising agricultural prices], that the first event in fact caused the second."

So (D) would be the correct answer here.

Hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Amanda on November 12, 2017

Thanks- great explanation. What is wrong with A?

Mehran on November 12, 2017

Hi @sharpen7, thanks for your post.

Answer choice (A) is incorrect because the author of the stimulus doesn't even expressly state that insufficient rain occurred here before this particular crisis. (A) is not an accurate description of the erroneous reasoning employed by the stimulus.

Hope this helps!