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Damming the Merv River would provide irrigation for the dry

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Director
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Damming the Merv River would provide irrigation for the dry [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2011, 03:57
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Is the following argument strong or weak? Please provide your reasoning because I don't agree with the official answer. This is from the PowerScore CR Bible.

Damming the Merv River would provide irrigation for the dry land in its upstream areas; unfortunately, a dam would reduce agricultural productivity in the fertile land downstream by reducing the availability and quality of water there. The productivity loss in the downstream area would be greater than the productivity gain upstream, so building a dam would yield no overall gain in agricultural productivity in the region as a whole.

OA:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Strong
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Re: PowerScore: Damming the Merv River [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2011, 04:18
nonameee wrote:
Is the following argument strong or weak? Please provide your reasoning because I don't agree with the official answer. This is from the PowerScore CR Bible.

Damming the Merv River would provide irrigation for the dry land in its upstream areas; unfortunately, a dam would reduce agricultural productivity in the fertile land downstream by reducing the availability and quality of water there. The productivity loss in the downstream area would be greater than the productivity gain upstream, so building a dam would yield no overall gain in agricultural productivity in the region as a whole.

OA:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Strong


I dont see any reason why this should be anything other than a strong argument.
what is your interpretation/doubt?
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Re: PowerScore: Damming the Merv River [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2011, 04:30
Well, actually as I was writing up my concerns with the OA, I reconsidered my position. However, what still bothers me is that the phrase "in the region as a whole". The phrase is used without being defined (what if the the region consists of 3 areas: upstream, downstream, and "middlestream").

Any thoughts?
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Re: PowerScore: Damming the Merv River [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2011, 05:04
The stimulus has the feel of an "assumption" question. Usually the stimulus of assumption questions are "less flawed" -- which makes it a bit more tricky to find the assumption. The author is assuming that "water availability" determines agricultural productivity. Fair enough -- this seems like a rational assumption --> so the argument itself is not *weak*.

Plus -- there are no *obvious* logical flaws in the author's conclusion. He says the dam will make the downstream areas less productive and the upstream areas more productive (based of water availability). But that the productivity increase in the upstream areas will not compensate for the decrease in productivity in the downstream areas.

Of course there are several ways in which you can weaken the author's conclusion -- by attacking the assumption or by introducing outside information -- eg. the downstream areas use new strains of crop that require less water, or that there is a new canal that will supply water to the downstream areas from an alternate source. All these pieces of *outside* information will weaken the author's conclusion (net agricultural productivity will decrease because of the dam).

As written -- the argument is definitely not weak.
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Re: PowerScore: Damming the Merv River [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2011, 05:10
nonameee wrote:
Well, actually as I was writing up my concerns with the OA, I reconsidered my position. However, what still bothers me is that the phrase "in the region as a whole". The phrase is used without being defined (what if the the region consists of 3 areas: upstream, downstream, and "middlestream").

Any thoughts?


I guess you are going for the uptown, midtown and downtown analogy eh?

I would think it would be a safe bet to look at it as upstream and downstream -- relative to the dam.
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Re: PowerScore: Damming the Merv River [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2011, 06:42
nonameee wrote:
Well, actually as I was writing up my concerns with the OA, I reconsidered my position. However, what still bothers me is that the phrase "in the region as a whole". The phrase is used without being defined (what if the the region consists of 3 areas: upstream, downstream, and "middlestream").

Any thoughts?


Good point. Worthwhile consideration. That's the reason we have options in CR questions, thank God!!!
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Re: PowerScore: Damming the Merv River [#permalink] New post 09 Jul 2011, 11:07
nonameee wrote:
Is the following argument strong or weak? Please provide your reasoning because I don't agree with the official answer. This is from the PowerScore CR Bible.

Damming the Merv River would provide irrigation for the dry land in its upstream areas; unfortunately, a dam would reduce agricultural productivity in the fertile land downstream by reducing the availability and quality of water there. The productivity loss in the downstream area would be greater than the productivity gain upstream, so building a dam would yield no overall gain in agricultural productivity in the region as a whole.

OA:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Strong


I think it is strong only
as the author is explaining everything and moreover any other factor is not given to conclude whether the dam is useful or not

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Re: PowerScore: Damming the Merv River   [#permalink] 09 Jul 2011, 11:07
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