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Historian: We can learn about the medical history of

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New post 27 Aug 2004, 08:44
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Historian: We can learn about the medical history of individuals through chemical analysis of their hair. It is likely, for example, that Isaac Newton’s psychological problems were due to mercury poisoning; traces of mercury were found in his hair. Analysis is now being done on a lock of Beethoven’s hair. Although no convincing argument has shown that Beethoven ever had a venereal disease, some people hypothesize that venereal disease caused his deafness. Since mercury was commonly ingested in Beethoven’s time to treat venereal disease, if researchers find a trace of mercury in his hair, we can conclude that this hypothesis is correct.

Which one of the following is an assumption on which the historian’s argument depends?

(A) None of the mercury introduced into the body can be eliminated.
(B) Some people in Beethoven’s time did not ingest mercury.
(C) Mercury is an effective treatment for venereal disease.
(D) Mercury poisoning can cause deafness in people with venereal disease.
(E) Beethoven suffered from psychological problems of the same severity as Newton’s.

please explain, thank you
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New post 27 Aug 2004, 09:09
Using the negation tactic, I will choose B.

If you negate B, you come out with "All people injested mercury". Certainly, if everyone injested mercury, then finding mercury in ones hair wouldn't support speculation either way.
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New post 27 Aug 2004, 09:20
Hi, SigEpUCI

I would like to know how to negate (B).

I supposed the negation of (B) is "Some people in Beethoven’s time did ingest mercury"; that is, "Most people didn't ingest mercury. "

Am I wrong?

And, how do you think about (D).


thank you.

Last edited by chunjuwu on 27 Aug 2004, 10:16, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 27 Aug 2004, 09:55
His argument requires that the presence of mercury in the hair would allow (and possibly validate) the hypothesis. An unstated assumption here is that mercury was not present in everyones hair.

Think of it this way:
If mercury is present in everyones hair, what does the finding of mercury in Beethovens hair tell us? Absolutely Nothing!
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New post 28 Aug 2004, 02:06
please search for this question. It was discussed before
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New post 28 Aug 2004, 22:42
I agree POE is the best reasoning here, choice B
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