Flaws and Paradoxes – Questions and Concepts for CAT Preparation

Thursday, October 31st, 2019


Flaws and Paradoxes Questions and Concepts for CAT Preparation

Paradox is a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well-founded or true. A flaw is an error. You are using elements that just cannot work together or you are distorting the line of thinking. They render an argument worthless or useless.

How to approach questions on paradoxes?

  1. Consider the line of reasoning
  2. Assess the possible contradictions in the argument
  3. Assess what assumption might reconcile and reconnect the contradictions

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following, if true, best reconciles the seeming discrepancy described above?
  • Which of the following, if true, most helps to resolve the apparent paradox?

How to approach questions on flaws?

  1. Consider the line of reasoning
  2. Assess the possible errors in the argument

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following points to the most serious logical flaw in the author’s argument?
  • The argument is flawed in that it ignores the possibility that
  • Which of the following indicates a flaw in the reasoning above?

Flaws and Paradoxes – SET 1 :

Allergy is the reaction of the body to the entry of a foreign entity. A recent study has revealed that food allergies are more common in country X than in country Y. However, more people of country Y were consumers of foods that cause allergic reactions (such as milk, fish) than those of country X.

Question: Which of the following, if true, could offer an explanation to the paradox above?

A. Country X is smitten with antibacterial detergents and hand sanitizers which confuse the immune system leading it to misidentify certain foods as foreign.

B. Allergy is also caused by factors other than the presence of foreign elements in the food.

C. Country Y has got more doctors, who specialise in treating food allergy related diseases than country X.

D. People of country Y have been consumers of allergy causing foods for a long time, there has been no known evidence of deaths caused by allergic reactions to food

E. Several studies on food allergies have revealed the dissociation between sensitivity to food and actual allergies.

Solution: For this statement to be a paradox, there must be something that must be aggravating the food allergies in X. (A) is a possibility as it says that due to overuse of hand sanitisers and detergents, the immune system is acting awry and misidentifies certain foods as foreign. This will make the statement that X has more food related allergies true. (B) We are talking about food allergies and the food itself is a foreign element. So, this option is irrelevant. (C) This doesn’t explain why the person is saying that food allergies are more in X than Y. (D) This doesn’t mean they did not have allergies; it only means that they did not have allergies to the point that it might lead to death. Hence, this does not explain the connection between the two. (E) Here we are saying that food does not cause allergies. In that case, there is no point in having this argument.

Hence, (A) is the correct answer.

 

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Flaws and Paradoxes – SET 2:

Humidity refers to the presence of water vapour in the atmosphere around us. It is surprising that the higher the humidity at a place, the more the people sweat.

Question: Which of the following if true, can be a logical explanation for the above phenomenon?

A. A higher temperature evaporates the water vapours in the atmosphere

B. People sweat only when they exert themselves physically

C. Presence of water vapour in the atmosphere is always negligible

D. People sweat even when the humidity is low

E. The pressure of water vapour at a saturation level in the atmosphere prevents sweat from human bodies from evaporating

Solution: As per the given statement, we would expect that since there is water in the atmosphere, then we should not sweat more. Water should be drawn out of our bodies when the environment is dry. We need to find the option which explains this paradox. The option which suggests a logical explanation as to why we sweat despite having water vapours in the environment would be our answer. (A) There is no mention of temperatures anywhere in the statement. (B) We are not told if people sweat more in humid climates or not. (C) He has talked about humid climates which means water vapours are not negligible. (D) This doesn’t tell us why we sweat when it’s high. (E) Due to the humidity, the sweat from your body doesn’t evaporate, the greater people seem to sweat.

Hence, (E) is the correct answer.

Flaws and Paradoxes – SET 3:

Only a member of the progressive party would oppose the bill to stop with all the testing of nuclear bombs. Maria cannot be a member of the progressive party as she supports the bill.

Question: Which of the following would show that the conclusion is not validly drawn?

A. All the parties other than the progressive party support the bill

B. The progressive party generally opposes all efforts at war preparation

C. Maria has, on an earlier occasion supported a bill introduced by a member belonging to a different party

D. It is possible that some members of the progressive party may not oppose the bill to stop testing of nuclear bombs

E. Maria is not known to take a view independent of her party’s on critical issues

Solution: From the given statement, we can say that only a member of the progressive party will support the bill to stop the testing of nuclear bombs. Maria can not be a member of the progressive party as she supports the bill. There also can be members who do not oppose it. Outside of this party, there is no one who opposes. The party could be a combination of people who oppose and some who do not. This has not been taken into consideration. (A) We can not comment on this. Outside of this party, there is no one who opposes. The party could be a combination of people who oppose and some who do not. (B) Not related to this argument at all. (C) Not related to this argument. (D) Not taking this into consideration would be the flaw.

Hence, (D) is the correct answer.

Flaws and Paradoxes – SET 4:

In a recent survey conducted in a city, it was found that among three hundred houses which had burglar alarms, only in one was a burglary attempt made during the last three years. This clearly proves that fitting houses with burglar alarms are an effective deterrent to burglary.

Question: Which of the following, if true, exposes the most serious flaw in the above conclusion?

A. In the houses which had manual security during the day, the burglar alarms were activated only during the nights.

B. The burglar alarms were fitted in such a manner that their presence the not noticeable to outsiders

C. The burglaries were committed only during the nights.

D. The three year survey period saw a spurt in robberies and attempted robberies in the city

E. The alarm was dysfunctional in the houses that were burgled

Solution: We can not say that this is an effective deterrent as we need to make a comparison with the houses which did not have a burglar alarm. This information has not been provided to us in the question. Another possibility is that people did not burglarise these houses because they knew it had burglar alarms. (A) This still tells us that they had burglar alarms. It doesn’t deal with the flaw. (B) People did not know if there were alarms there. Hence, alarms were not the reason why they did not rob the house. (C) We do not know about this. It is irrelevant. (D) This would support the argument and not demonstrate a flaw. (E) Even this would not demonstrate the flaw.

Hence (B) is the correct answer.

Flaws and Paradoxes – SET 5:

Despite the efforts of a small minority of graduate students at one university to unionize, the majority of graduate students there remain unaware of the attempt. Most of those who are aware believe that a union would not represent their interests or that, if it did, it would not effectively pursue them. Thus, the graduate students at the university should not unionize, since the majority of them obviously disapprove of the attempt.

Question: The reasoning in the argument is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that the argument:

A. tries to establish a conclusion simply on the premise that the conclusion agrees with long-standing practice.

B. fails to exclude alternative explanations for why some graduate students disapprove of unionising

C. presumes that simply because a majority of a population is unaware of something, it must not be a good idea

D. Ignores the possibility that although a union might not effectively pursue graduate student interests, there are other reasons for unionizing

E. blurs the distinction between active disapproval and mere lack of approval

Solution: We can complete the question by adding commits to what flaw. We are looking at the task of identifying a flaw. The answer should describe why the argument is not sound.  So here are the facts:
1. Majority of students are unaware of the attempt to unionize
2. Of the ones aware, most believe the union would not represent their interests

Conclusion: Students should not unionize, because most of them disapprove.
(C) doesn’t quite match up with an argument. The author never says that unionizing is “not a good idea,” but rather merely states that the students should not unionize because most of them disapprove.
Think of it this way. If I say “The class should not have ice cream because most of them don’t want ice cream,” this doesn’t mean that I myself think ice cream is a bad idea.
(E) is a better match, not only because it actually contains the word “disapproval,” but because it gets at the heart of what’s happening. Most people don’t know about it, and our author concludes that they “disapprove.”

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