Logic over Content (III)

by on February 12th, 2013

Today’s post is the third in a series of articles pertaining to the problem of ‘logic over content’ or, in other words, the importance of focusing on logic rather than on the in-depth meaning of the words used in a question.

Using overly complicated vocabulary, as I tried to demonstrate in the two previous posts, is a technique commonly utilized by test-makers to distract us from the logic underlying a question.

Critical Reasoning questions can especially be filled with such joyous, mind numbing, and distressing occasions! However, there is an easy technique that can help you simplify all the elaborately phrased arguments, making them easy to understand and interpret.

Let’s consider the following example of a Conclusion Weakening question:

Polystyrene egg containers are created by the injection of polymers and gaseous compounds into a mold at high pressure. The gases in the final form are released upon destruction of the object and are harmful to the earth’s ozone layer. Therefore, cardboard egg containers are better for the earth’s ecology than polystyrene ones.

Which of the following, if true, undermines the author’s conclusion? Which of the following, if true, calls the environmental groups’ conclusion into question?

A. In some countries, egg containers have been completely abolished, and consumers are required to bring their own when buying eggs.

B. Contrary to popular belief, ever since the implementation to environmental reforms, the area of ozone depletion is increasing in size constantly.

C. Injection molding is a common industrial process that is responsible for the manufacturing of almost all packaging products.

D. Many countries have successfully banned the use of ozone-destructive chemicals by any form of industry.

E. Cardboard egg container production requires the use of an artificial resin that remains in the object and poisons the atmosphere upon the object’s decomposition.

This question seems quite difficult to analyze. The argument includes technical vocabulary not used in everyday speech. However, we can simplify the argument by disposing of the unnecessary terms and expressions that make the picture blurry but are not indispensable for the logic of the argument and replace them with much simpler words or even symbols. Now, let’s try to apply this approach to our question. Firstly we need to highlight the complicated terms that we would like to dispose of.

Polystyrene egg containers are created by the injection of polymers and gaseous compounds into a mold at high pressure. The gases in the final form are released upon destruction of the object and are harmful to the earth’s ozone layer. Therefore, cardboard egg containers are better for the earth’s ecology than polystyrene ones.

Let’s simplify the underlined fragments of the argument:

Containers X are created in the process Z. The gases produced/ released during the reaction are harmful to the earth’s ozone layer. Therefore, cardboard egg containers are better for the earth’s ecology than containers X.

Clearly our argument in the simplified form is much easier to analyze.

Key takeaways:

1. Make sure you do not fall into the trap set by test-makers and don’t ever give up on a question worded in a seemingly difficult way until you make sure that the expressions you cannot understand do influence the logic of the presented idea. This is certainly very much true for all text including the Reading Comprehension!

2. Make the argument akin to a mathematical equation – dispose of all the expressions that make the picture blurry and replace them with very simple words or symbols.

9 comments

  • well for this question :
    Which of the following, if true, undermines the author’s conclusion?
    i think E is best
    the conclusion is that cardboard egg containers are better for the earth’s ecology than polystyrene ones.
    now how does E attacks this conclusion :i t does so by stating that Cardboard egg container production requires the use of an artificial resin that remains in the object and poisons the atmosphere upon the object’s decomposition.
    thus in a way E is stating that the purpose will get defeated !!
    what is the purpose ?
    the purpose is to not harm the environment

    i fail to understand where is the environmental groups’ conclusion ?
    there is no mention of environmental groups’ in the question ? is the question complete ?

    • I agree, I'm with E. The second question must be an ULTRA Typo. I've never seen a CR example with 2 questions.

  • hi think, it is D.

  • Economist gmat plz put the OA

  • @pnkaj D is no where close to the conclusion

  • economist gmat plz put the OA its been more than a week !!!

  • The answer should be E.

    A. In some countries, egg containers have been completely abolished, and consumers are required to bring their own when buying eggs. - Doesn't relate to the conclusion
    B. Contrary to popular belief, ever since the implementation to environmental reforms, the area of ozone depletion is increasing in size constantly. - Would be rather supporting the author's statement since increase in ozone depletion area will lead people to be more cautious.
    C. Injection molding is a common industrial process that is responsible for the manufacturing of almost all packaging products. No Way close to the topic
    D. Many countries have successfully banned the use of ozone-destructive chemicals by any form of industry. Can be a choice, since it might imply that not much ozone destructive chemicals are released in atmosphere, giving some countries room to emit the chemical. - Still this is a weak choice, can only be the last option
    E. Cardboard egg container production requires the use of an artificial resin that remains in the object and poisons the atmosphere upon the object’s decomposition. - By far the best choice. This states that the cardboard egg container poisons the atmosphere.

  • Thank you for a very fruitful discussion. You will find the explanation of this question here:
    http://www.beatthegmat.com/logic-over-content-t186648.html#586806

  • There you go, thanks Kasia :)

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