Law School Discussion

TM Lesson Seven, TYPE 2-3 Question

TM Lesson Seven, TYPE 2-3 Question
« on: August 07, 2005, 10:29:09 PM »
There is a widespread beleif that people can predict impending earthquakes from unusual animal behaviour.  skeptics claim that this belief is based on slective coincidence: people whose dogs behaved oddly just before an earthquake will be especially likely to remember that fact.  At any given time, the skeptics say, some of the world's dogs will be behaving oddly.

Clarification of which one of the following issues would be most important to an evaluation of skeptics' position?

C.) Are there animals about whose behaviour people know too little to be able to distinguish unusual from everyday behaviour?

d.) are the sorts of behaviour supposedly predictive of earthquakes as prounounced in dogs as they are in other animals?

e.) is the animal behaviour supposedly predictive of earthquakes specific to impending earthquakes or can it be any kind of unusual behaviour?

Which one is the right answer?  And why are the wrong answers wrong??


Re: TM Lesson Seven, TYPE 2-3 Question
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2005, 10:37:40 PM »
For this question type, we are looking for a crucial piece of information that will allow us to decide whether an argument is valid or invalid.  Therefore, the correct answer, usually asked in the form of a question, when properly applied (usually, you should answer the question with polar opposite answers) will be able to strengthen and weaken a conclusion made in the stimulus.

The facts in the stimulus are:

1)  Widespread belief: Unusual animal behavior predicts impending earthquakes
2)  Skeptics belief:  No, the widespread belief is a mistaken relationship (unusual animal behavior -> credible predictions of earthquakes) for correlation (unusual animal behavior coincides with earthquakes).  People simply remember that dogs behaved oddly just before an earthquake.  Some of the world’s dogs behave oddly at any time.

What piece of information will help us decide if the skeptics' claim is correct or incorrect?

Answer (E) provides this key information.

Is the animal behavior supposedly predictive of earthquakes specific to impending earthquakes or can it be any kind of unusual behavior?

If there is any animal behavior specific to impending earthquakes, then there is some kind of relationship between animal behavior and animal behaviors having predictive qualities.  For example, let’s say studies show after every earthquake in the past, dogs have closed their eyes and chased their tails seven times.  That would mean, if my dog was to close his eyes and chase his tail seven times, there may be an ensuing earthquake on the rise.  This behavior would be specific enough to not be a simple coincidence.

However, if there is any kind of unusual animal behavior before an earthquake, then we cannot conclude that any given animal behavior can predict an earthquake.  Animals behave oddly all the time.  There is no evidence of a relationship between odd animal behavior and an impending earthquake here.

Therefore, knowing the answer to the question posed by Answer (E) gives us the most important [information for] an evaluation of the skeptics position.


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Re: TM Lesson Seven, TYPE 2-3 Question
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2005, 10:51:25 PM »
C is incorrect, whether people know enough about the behavior of some animal is not a concern here.  Even if there exist an animal whose behavior people do not know, it doesn't weaken the claim made by some people.  We are concerned with whether the behaviors were predictive. 

D is also incorrect, because whether other animals behaved as oddly as did the dogs were not important.  What if there are some variation in the behavior?  it doesn't effect the argument.  Maybe dogs are smarter and they can predict earthquake better.  The claim never said every animal behaved equally odd. 

E is correct.  Because we are concerned with whether these supposedly odd bahavior is really predictive of the earthquake or just random act by the animals. 

In questions like these, if you are not sure, formulate two oppose answers to the question raised.  If the answer choice is correct, one answer will destroy the argument, while the other justify it. 

Re: TM Lesson Seven, TYPE 2-3 Question
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2005, 11:02:10 PM »
Thanks guys!
Sure clarifies that question. ;D