The proper way to plan for a scientific project is first to decide its goal and then to plan the best way to accomplish that goal. Th U.S space station project does not conform to this ideal. when the cold war ended , the project lost its original purpose , so another purpose was quickly grafted onto the project, that of conducting linited gravity experiments, even though such experiments can be done in an alternative way. It is , therefore ,abundantly clear that the space station should not be built.
The reasoning in this argument is flawed because the argument
A. Attacks the proponents of a claim rather than arguing against the claim itself
B. Presupposes what it sets out to prove
C. Faults planners for not foreseeing a certain event, when in fact that event was not foreseeable
D. Contains statements that lead to a self contradiction
E. Concludes that a shortcoming is fatal, having produced evidence only of the existence of that shortcoming
IMO, the answer is C. I think the best way to answer "IDENTIFY THE FLAW" questions like this is NOT to read the answer choices first. Why? Because they are typically written in a way to confuse you and sometimes you get "sold" on one that sounds so good, you go looking for ways to convince yourself it is right.
Here is what I suggest. First read the stimulus, then decide "in your own words" what is faulty with the passage. ONce you do this, then company your conclusion with the answer choices. This keeps you from "convincing" yourself that one of the fancy sounding answers "must be right".
Let's try it:
Premise: Best way to plan is to set goal and then figure out how to achieve it.
Space station bad plan: Why? When the goal changed, the plan changed. And the new plan can be done cheaper elsewhere
Conclusion: We should have never build the station.
What is wrong with the argument. Well, to me, the fact that the cricumstances change after the initiation of a plan, does not negate the merits of the original plan. The conclusion "we should not have build the station" means that the plan was not a good idea, EVER. But there is nothing to assert that there was anything wrong with the plan when it was formulated. Hence, IMO, by saying it should have NEVER been build faults the original planners for not having ESP (at the time the shuttle was build, most people though the cold war would go on forever -- you young people might not remember this -- and a quick end to it was vitually inconceivable). In essense, the flaw is: The conclusion that something should have happened is based entirely on hindsight.
Premise: We should invest significant money in research to combat deadly diseases. The investment in zerkies is an exception. After the US health industry as well as private donors invested $50 billion into extensive research to combat this deadly disease, some Aftrican tribeman stumbled upon a fungus that cures it completely, hence wiping out the epidemic in only a few years making that huge investment moot. Hence, we should have never invested any money into fighting zerkies.
Premise: People should go to college to educate themselves and enhance their potential to earn money. Sally is an exception. Halfway through her junior year, she won the lottery and never had to care about money ever again. Hence, it is obvious that Sally should not have gone to college.
NOW, look at all 5 choices and decide which of them best matches your independent assessment of the flaw in the argument. As far as I can tell, the best answer is C.
A. There is no ad hominen attack here. The claim is being attacked, albeit in a flawed manner.
B. This claims that there is a circular argument, i.e., The Bible is true. Why? Because if it wasn't true, it wouldn't be in the Bible. I don't see an argument of this type here.
D. This means that you start of with a premise, after a series of valid logical conclusions, you come up with a conclusion that conflicts with your premise.
E. This is tempting, but I am not sure that a shortcoming was really established.
BTW, I don't know if I am wrong or right, but at minimum I am trying to show you guys/girls a systematic way to analyze problems like this.
Former Senior Instructor, Manhattan GMAT and VeritasPrep
Vice President, Midtown NYC Investment Bank, Structured Finance IT
MFE, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, Class of 2005
MBA, Anderson School of Management, UCLA, Class of 1993