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Studies have shown that elderly people who practice a

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Director
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Studies have shown that elderly people who practice a [#permalink]

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23 Dec 2004, 07:17
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Studies have shown that elderly people who practice a religion are much more likely to die immediately after an important religious holiday period than immediately before one. Researchers have concluded that the will to live can prolong life, at least for short periods of time.
Which of the following, if true, would most strengthen the researchersâ€™ conclusion?
(A) Elderly people who practice a religion are less likely to die immediately before or during an important religious holiday than at any other time of the year.
(B) Elderly people who practice a religion appear to experience less anxiety at the prospect of dying than do other people.
(C) Some elderly people who do practice a religion live much longer than most elderly people who do not.
(D) Most elderly people who participate in religious holidays have different reasons for participating than young people do.
(E) Many religions have important holidays in the spring and fall, seasons with the lowest death rates for elderly people.

HIGHTLIGHT BELOW TO SEE OA:
According to the passage, the death rate among elderly people who practice a religion is higher after an important religious holiday than before. From this fact researchers have concluded that people can prolong their lives by willpower, presumably thinking that such people can hold off death long enough to enable them to experience the holiday. You are asked to find a fact that supports the researchersâ€™ conclusion.
Choice A is the correct answer. The fact that before and during an important religious holiday the death rate is lower than usual is crucial additional information that helps to support the idea that for the duration of the holiday people succeed in holding of death, and hence it helps to support the researchersâ€™ conclusion. Choice B is incorrect since this information applies to all times of the year, not just to holiday times, and so provides no support for the conclusion. Choice C is irrelevant because the researchersâ€™ conclusion is about what can affect the precise time of a personâ€™s death, not how long people live overall. Choice D is incorrect; the fact that there is some difference in motivation gives no particular reason to think that the motivation can have the effect that the researchers claim. The researchersâ€™ conclusion is based on a striking pattern of death rates over the range of a few days. Therefore, the general seasonal information provided by choices E lends no support to their conclusion.

I disagree with the OA. I think (C) is more correct. The conclusion is "the will to live can prolong life" so (C) said, in fact, religious elderly live longer. This must strengthen the conclusion. (A) however just restates the premise
"elderly people who practice a religion are much more likely to die immediately after an important religious holiday period than immediately before one"
Another way to say this is (A):
"Elderly people who practice a religion are less likely to die immediately before or during an important religious holiday"
(see "more likely" and "less likely" are just reversing each other)

Please tell me wrong!
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Manager
Joined: 13 Dec 2004
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23 Dec 2004, 09:30
Quote:
I disagree with the OA. I think (C) is more correct. The conclusion is "the will to live can prolong life" so (C) said, in fact, religious elderly live longer. This must strengthen the conclusion. (A) however just restates the premise
"elderly people who practice a religion are much more likely to die immediately after an important religious holiday period than immediately before one"
Another way to say this is (A):
"Elderly people who practice a religion are less likely to die immediately before or during an important religious holiday"
(see "more likely" and "less likely" are just reversing each other)

Please tell me wrong!

Haha. Okay, you're wrong.

Let's look at (C) first. The conclusion, as you indicate, says that the will to live can prolong life. (C) doesn't say anything about the will to live. It just says that people who practice religion sometimes live longer. It's actually out of the scope of the conclusion. You're either associating the commonality of the practice of religion from the testing group or you're reading something into the fact that they're religious (perhaps religious people want to live more than non-religious people do?).

Now let's look at (A). When somebody tells you that something is more or less likely to happen, you know from statistics class that you have to look at a large enough sample size to know where the normal distribution is. In this case, if older people were more likely to die after a religious event than during, yet they were just as likely to die during the event as at any other time of the year, your conclusion would be different than the researchers', no? So, knowing that old people are less likely to die before or during a religious event than at any other time of the year adds certainty to the researchers' conclusion.

One more suggestion, it's a tactic for strengthen questions. If you logically reverse answer choices, only the CORRECT ANSWER CHOICE will attack the conclusion of the argument. In this case, reverse answer choice (A):

Elderly people who practice a religion are MORE likely to die immediately before or during an important religious holiday than at any other time of the year.

This clearly makes you wonder about the conclusion of the argument, and lean more toward something that concludes that religious events actually correlate positively with the deaths of old people!
Director
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23 Dec 2004, 11:03
OK, I kinda understand it. Let me "paraphrase" this my way, please tell me if this correct:
+ There are 3 periods that they can die: before, during, after
+ More likely die "after" does NOT necessary mean "less likely die before & during"
+ More likely die "after" could also be TRUE if "less likely die before & more likely die during" OR "more likely die before & less likely die during"
+ By saying "less likely die before & during" CONFIRM "More likely die after" is the ONLY "likely".

Correct?
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23 Dec 2004, 13:44
C does not refer to the premise stated in the question that religious elderly people are less likely to die before the religious holidays. It only states that religious people live longer than non religious people - little reference to the topic under discussion of religious elderly people dying before or after religious holidays. I believe the correct answer is A in this case - as it strengthens the author's argument, stating that religious elderly people are less likely to die before a religious holiday.
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23 Dec 2004, 16:29
Quote:
OK, I kinda understand it. Let me "paraphrase" this my way, please tell me if this correct:
+ There are 3 periods that they can die: before, during, after
+ More likely die "after" does NOT necessary mean "less likely die before & during"
+ More likely die "after" could also be TRUE if "less likely die before & more likely die during" OR "more likely die before & less likely die during"
+ By saying "less likely die before & during" CONFIRM "More likely die after" is the ONLY "likely".

Correct?

You're pretty close.

There are 3 periods in which they can die
1. immediately after
2. immediately before or during (counted as the same for the purposes of the question), or
3. any other time of the year.

You know old people are more likely to die "immediately after" than "immediately before and during". No other facts are stated by the stimulus.

Let me put it this way. You would assume that you have a normal death distribution throughout the year. Say 2 per month. If February is a religious holiday month, the conclusion of the researchers says that the 2 people who would have died in February "will" themselves to live until March.

But, what if, given a February religious holiday month, the death distribution went like this:

Jan: 2
Feb: 4
Mar: 6
Apr: 2
May: 2
June: 2
etc., with 2 dying every month after June.

It would still be true to say that old people are more likely to die after a religious holiday, but you probably wouldn't conclude that people will themselves to live through the holiday, since twice as many died during the holiday as was normal. Answer choice A) says that the same number of people are expected to die in every month except March, so you know you have an increased number of dead just after the holiday.

Make sense?
Director
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24 Dec 2004, 05:13
Awesome explaination hilairity. I like the example.
24 Dec 2004, 05:13
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