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Official LSAT: Common sense suggests that we know our own thoughts

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Official LSAT: Common sense suggests that we know our own thoughts  [#permalink]

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Official LSAT 14.7.2018

Common sense suggests that we know our own thoughts directly, but that we infer the thoughts of other people. The former process is noninferential and infallible, while the latter is based on others' behavior and can always be wrong. But this assumption is challenged by experiments in psychology demonstrating that in certain circumstances young children tend to misdescribe their own thoughts regarding simple phenomena while nonetheless correctly describing those phenomena. It seems that these children have the same thoughts that adults have regarding the phenomena but are much less capable of identifying these thoughts. Some psychologists argue that this indicates that one's awareness of one's own thoughts is every bit as inferential as one's awareness of another person's thoughts. According to their interpretation of the experiments, thoughts are unobservable entities that, among other things, help to explain why we act as we do. It follows from this that we are wrong to think of ourselves as having noninferential and infallible access to our own thoughts.

Recognizing an obligation to explain why we cling so tenaciously to an illusory belief in noninferential and infallible knowledge of our own thoughts, these psychologists suggest that this illusion is analogous to what happens to us when we become experts in a particular area. Greater expertise appears to change not only our knowledge of the area as a whole, but our very perception of entities in that area. It appears to us that we become able to see and to grasp these entities and their relations directly, whereas before we could only make inferences about them. For instance, chess experts claim the ability to see without calculation whether a position is weak or strong. From a psychological perspective, we become so expert in making incredibly fast introspective inferences about our thinking that we fail to notice that we are making them. This failure leads naturally to the supposition that there is no way for us to be wrong in our identification of what we ourselves think because we believe we are perceiving it directly.

In claiming that we have only inferential access to our thoughts, the psychologists come perilously close to claiming that we base our inferences about what we ourselves are thinking solely on observations of our own external behavior. But, in fact, their arguments do not commit them to this claim; the psychologists suggest that we are somehow able to base our inferences about what we are thinking on internal cognitive activity that is not itself thought—e.g., fleeting and instantaneous sensations and emotions. The frequent occurrence of such internal activities explains why we develop the capacity to make quick and reliable inferences. Their internality makes it impossible for anyone else to make an inference based on them that contradicts our own. Thus, they are crucial in creating the illusion of noninferentiality and infallibility.

1. Which one of the following most accurately expresses the main point of the passage?

(A) Only experts within a given domain have noninferential and infallible access to their own thoughts; other people must infer their own thoughts as they do others' thoughts.
(B) In opposition to the common belief that thoughts are directly perceived, some psychologists argue that people infer what their own thoughts are.
(C) In response to the common belief that thoughts are directly perceived, some psychologists claim that this belief is an illusion resulting from our inability to make quick and reliable inferences.
(D) Some psychologists have recently attributed children's failure to give an accurate description of their own thoughts to their lack of expertise.
(E) Some psychologists hold that people are able to make inferences about what they are thinking that are based solely on observing their own external behavior.

2. Which one of the following, if true, would most call into question the psychologists' interpretation of the experiments with children (fourth and fifth sentences of the passage)?

(A) Some children who took part in the experiments were no less capable than some adults at identifying their own thoughts.
(B) Experiments with older children found that they were as accurate as adults in identifying their thoughts.
(C) The limited language skills possessed by young children make it difficult for them to accurately communicate their thoughts.
(D) Most young children cannot be expected to know the difference between direct and indirect access to one's thoughts.
(E) The psychologists who conducted the experiments with children were concerned with psychological issues other than the nature of people's access to their own thoughts.

3. Based on the passage, the author is most likely to believe which one of the following about the view that "we base our inferences about what we ourselves are thinking solely on observations of our own external behavior" (first sentence of the last paragraph)?

(A) It constitutes a denial of the possibility of scientifically studying thinking processes.
(B) It has often been misunderstood by psychologists.
(C) It was the prevailing view until undermined by recent psychology experiments.
(D) It seems to contradict common sense but is basically sound.
(E) It is not considered to be an intellectually defensible position.

4. Which one of the following is most closely analogous to the explanation in the passage of how persons fail to notice that they are making inferences about their thoughts?

(A) An anthropologist cannot describe his own culture accurately because he has become too familiar with its workings and therefore takes them for granted.
(B) Science is limited with regard to studying the human mind because science necessarily depends on human reasoning.
(C) As they develop, children become increasingly comfortable with formal abstraction and therefore become vulnerable to failures to learn from concrete experiences.
(D) Judges are barred from trying cases involving their family members because of a potential conflict of interest.
(E) A ship's commander must delegate certain duties and decisions to other officers on her ship because she is too busy to attend to those duties and decisions.

5. According to the passage, one's gaining greater expertise in a field appears to result in

(A) an altered way of expressing one's judgments about issues in that field
(B) a more detail-oriented approach to questions in that field
(C) an increased tendency to ignore one's own errors in judgment within that field
(D) a substantively different way of understanding relations within that field
(E) a reduced reliance on sensations and emotions when inferring one's thoughts regarding that field

6. According to the psychologists cited in the passage, the illusion of direct knowledge of our own thoughts arises from the fact that

(A) we ignore the feedback that we receive regarding the inaccuracy of the inferences we make about our thought processes
(B) knowledge of our own thoughts is usually unmediated due to our expertise, and we simply overlook instances where this is not the case
(C) we are unaware of the inferential processes that allow us to become aware of our thoughts
(D) our inferences regarding our own thoughts are generally extremely accurate, as are our perceptions of the world
(E) our inferences regarding our own thoughts are sometimes clouded and uncertain, as are our perceptions of the world

7. It can most reasonably be inferred that the choice of children as the subjects of the psychology experiments discussed in the passage was advantageous to the experimenters for which one of the following reasons?

(A) Experiments involving children are more likely to give interesting results because children are more creative than adults.
(B) Adults are more likely than children to give inaccurate reports of their thought processes.
(C) Since adults are infallible in their access to their own thoughts, only the thought processes of children shed light on the nature of inference.
(D) Mental processes are sometimes easier to study in children because children are more likely than adults to make certain cognitive errors.
(E) Children are less experienced than adults in inferring the thoughts of others from observations of their behavior.


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Originally posted by LeoGT on 13 Jul 2018, 21:41.
Last edited by workout on 26 Sep 2018, 21:00, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Official LSAT: Common sense suggests that we know our own thoughts  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Oct 2018, 18:10

+1 kudos to the posts containing answer explanations of all questions


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Re: Official LSAT: Common sense suggests that we know our own thoughts &nbs [#permalink] 02 Oct 2018, 18:10
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