According to some astronomers, Earth is struck by a meteorite large enough to cause an ice age on an average of once ...

Timur on August 31, 2014

Answer Choice Explanation

While I understand C is correct, why does "near future" correlate to a "specific prediction"?

Replies

Melody on September 6, 2014

The issue here is that the author uses evidence pertaining to the average frequency of Earth being struck by a meteorite large enough to cause an ice age, i.e. "on an average of once every 100 million years," to then predict that Earth will be struck by such a meteorite in the near future since "the last such incident occurred nearly 100 million years ago."

An average frequency cannot be accurately used to then make a specific prediction that Earth will be struck by a huge meteorite any time soon.

I'm not sure if that's what you meant by "near future" correlating to a "specific prediction." Let us know if you need any further clarification.

Hope that was helpful! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Timur on September 8, 2014

Yes more or less; just a stylistic misunderstanding! Thanks!

Sarah on March 13, 2019

It seems I am a few years late to this thread, but I do believe I had the same issue as the last user who commented. I was going to select C, but the reason I did not was because it said that a "specific prediction about when the next such event will occur" was made. I thought because the person only said "Earth will be struck by such a meteorite in the NEAR future", the prediction was not specific about when exactly this meteor would hit Earth (e.g what does "near" mean? A day? A week? A year?) . Therefore, in my mind, C was not the correct answer due to a lack of specificity in the arguer's prediction that C seemed to look for. I went with answer choice A instead. Although I was skeptical of the terminology "high probability," I figured this phrasing is more subjective (e.g. there is some leniency as to what constitutes a high probability) and resultantly seemed more appropriate. I think where I went wrong was falling into the trap of assuming the answer choice with less specific language would be more applicable :/ Still, I would appreciate if an instructor could explain to me why A is wrong, just so I will be able to make sure I understand why C is the better choice!

Jeremy on March 20, 2019

I had a similar line of reasoning to Sarah. Would also appreciate an explanation why A is an inferior answer as compared to C. Thanks!

Marissa on June 25, 2019

What type of question is this?

Thalia on May 16, 2020

Bumping the above concerns. Can someone further explain why A is incorrect? Thank you!

Aneesh on June 5 at 10:29AM

Made the same error as the above commenters.

According to my understanding and in response to Shunhe's explanation on the other thread,

The bold prediction was that "we can expect that Earth will be struck by such a meteorite in the near future"

High probability is established by "Earth is struck by a meteorite large enough to cause an ice age on an average of once every 100 million years. The last such incident occurred nearly 100 million years ago, so we can expect..."

In addition, (A), as mentioned by other posters has less specific language and does not require that we also establish that 'a specific prediction' was made (which is definitely NOT definitively established --- I have to disagree with LSACs logic here, I don't think 'near future' constitutes a specific prediction at all)

Lastly, the option uses the language 'only a high probability' to show that its not been proven beyond doubt that a meteorite will hit Earth, so it does in fact poke a hole in the statement that there is sufficient justification for funding.

Any rebuttals to these points? I'm increasingly getting the feeling that there will always be a few questions on every test that will not have an undisputable, irrefutable justification for the correct option. :(

Emil on June 28 at 12:31AM

Hi AneeshU,

I think you might be misreading A- there is no bold prediction, but a bold prescription. The "bold prescription" in question is that we should fund meteor defense. I'm not sure this is bold- funding to defend against a low-probability, high-risk event might be considered bold, but that would be debatable. By the same reasoning, we could consider almost every form of insurance to be bold (as insurance also is spending money to mitigate a low-probability high-risk event). Yet, nobody would say that "buy flood insurance" is a bold prescription.

The fact that earth is struck on average by a large meteor every 100m years and we have not been struck in nearly 100m years does not establish that there is a high probability we will be struck soon. This is a misunderstanding of how averages and probability work. If the yankees win the world series once every four years on average (which is roughly true), and their last world series win came in 2009, did that mean that they were more likely to win the 2013 world series? Of course not, because the average frequency of past events does not predict the future. World series wins are independent events, just like asteroid strikes. There is no "schedule" on which earth is struck by asteroids. Averages do not predict the future.

To your third point, I agree that calling "near future" a specific prediction is a bit of a stretch, but moving from a time frame of 100m years to the "near future" is an increase in specificity.

To your last point, A is not undermining the idea that we should fund research. If I tell you "there is a high probability" that you will be hit by a car if you stand in the street, you would probably consider that to be justification to move out of the street. You do not need to be certain that something bad would happen to take action to avoid it, in fact, if you know there is a high probability you would probably consider that to be a very good reason to avoid the thing. More important, the argument never actually established that there is a high probability. The argument is flawed precisely because the author fails to establish that.

This question is not disputable. The argument is flawed because the author mistakes an average for a prediction. If you made this argument in any statistics class, you would be (rightly) dismissed. You cannot, on the basis of an average frequency, predict when the next such event will occur (barring events that are actually scheduled, like lunar cycles, trains, or football games). C describes this flaw. A does not. There is no bold prescription (although there may be a bold prediction), and the author never establishes that there is a high probability of an asteroid strike.

Aneesh on July 4 at 10:10AM

Thanks, Emil.