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# Historian: We can learn about the medical history of

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05 Nov 2008, 13:55
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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 histroian'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.
d) Mercury poisoning can cause deafness in people with venereal disease.
e) Beethoven suffered from psychological problems of the same severity as Newton's.

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 14:10
IMO D

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 14:19
B...whats OA?

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 14:26
We would all appreciate some explanation guys!

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 15:03
a) None of the mercury introduced into the body can be eliminated.
- looks attractive because of testing need to verify hypothesis but the word NONE makes it a little extreme

b) Some people in Beethoven's time did not ingest mercury.
- some people vs. all people vs no one ingested. If all people ingest, then hypothesis cannot be verified. If no one ingests then it was not used as a treatment...hypothesis cannot be verified

c) Mercury is an effective treatment for venereal.
- premise in passage states mercury was used as a treatment...effectiveness is out of scope

d) Mercury poisoning can cause deafness in people with venereal disease.
- hypothesis states venereal disease is suspected to cause deafness

e) Beethoven suffered from psychological problems of the same severity as Newton's.
- out of scope

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 15:09
im spaniard, therefore my english is not good, but im going to try to explain my answer.

the parragraph says that beethoven had deafness caused by venereal desease.

hence, answer D explains the cause-effect. If mercurium was taken by beethoven to treath his venereal desease and mercurium can cause deafness in people who suffer venereal desease, it could be the cause of his deafness and support the hypothesis.

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 16:31
This is an LSAT question. You have the OA in the book, don't you?

Anyway, here's an important clue for everyone who doesn't have the OA: It is critical to understand the conclusion of the argument accurately. The conclusion is NOT that Beethoven had VD, and it is NOT that VD caused his deafness. The actual conclusion is that IF we find mercury in his hair, THEN we know that VD caused his deafness. In shorthand: If A is true, then B caused C.

When the conclusion is this complex, you can be fairly sure that it needs a lot of assumptions to hang together. The correct answer choice could be any one of them. Because it needs several assumptions, the correct answer won't PROVE the conclusion; it will just make it more likely, or will eliminate a possible way of disproving it.

What are some of these assumptions? One is that the presence of A proves the existence of B -- or at the very least, COULD prove the existence of B. Another is that B is the only possible cause of C.

With that in mind, take another look at the answer choices.
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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 16:46
GOM,

In another Q, which had a similar If X then Y construct where Y happened to the conclusion, you mentioned that the final conclusion is Y. I tried to search that post. I am not able to find it. I will again an edit this post, if I find it.

Any way, I did decide that VD -> deafness as the conclusion and then saw your response to be puzzled. Arrived at D via negation test using the same conclusion. Even If I go by your logic, neither the stimulus nor any of the answer choices establish that researchers did find trace of mercury in his hair

Do you happen to remember that Q? I believe bigtreezl or bigfernhead were involved in that discussion too.

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 18:03
(A) ?
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Kick GMAT ass

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 21:49
Hey Grumpy thanks for stopping by!
Missed ya

grumpyoldman wrote:
This is an LSAT question. You have the OA in the book, don't you?

Yes but the OE, along with the OA, just don't click. Decided to look for alternative explanations by posting the Q on the forum.

grumpyoldman wrote:
Anyway, here's an important clue for everyone who doesn't have the OA: It is critical to understand the conclusion of the argument accurately. The conclusion is NOT that Beethoven had VD, and it is NOT that VD caused his deafness. The actual conclusion is that IF we find mercury in his hair, THEN we know that VD caused his deafness. In shorthand: If A is true, then B caused C.

Got that one right.

grumpyoldman wrote:
When the conclusion is this complex, you can be fairly sure that it needs a lot of assumptions to hang together. The correct answer choice could be any one of them. Because it needs several assumptions, the correct answer won't PROVE the conclusion; it will just make it more likely, or will eliminate a possible way of disproving it.

Yep, had a number of assumptions paraphrased in my head. Thanks for mentioning "won't prove" and "eliminate a possible way of disproving" parts -- did not think from that angle.

grumpyoldman wrote:
What are some of these assumptions? One is that the presence of A proves the existence of B -- or at the very least, COULD prove the existence of B. Another is that B is the only possible cause of C.

With that in mind, take another look at the answer choices.

Here is what I got so far:

Concl: if find trace of M in hair --> VD caused Deafness
Evid: M was commonly used to treat VD

A) wrong: None of the mercury introduced into the body can be eliminated. The conclusion says: If traces of M in hair then...
B) ?
C) wrong: effectiveness of the treatment has nothing to do with using M.
D) wrong: M can cause Deafness. However the conclusion is: if M than must Deafness (due to VD)
E) irrelevant to our conclusion “if M in hair then VD caused Dfnss”

Now, I am completely blank for B. I tried to negate it, but unsuccessfully...

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 22:48
snaps wrote:
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 histroian'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.
d) Mercury poisoning can cause deafness in people with venereal disease.
e) Beethoven suffered from psychological problems of the same severity as Newton's.

It has to be A...

A - Closest to argument
B - Goes out of the sameple set
C - Extreme/generalization - keep it out
D - Again - extreme conclusion basis limited facts-OOS
E - Can't say so...limited facts.

It's more thru elimination.

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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05 Nov 2008, 22:52
snaps wrote:
Hey Grumpy thanks for stopping by!
Missed ya

grumpyoldman wrote:
This is an LSAT question. You have the OA in the book, don't you?

Yes but the OE, along with the OA, just don't click. Decided to look for alternative explanations by posting the Q on the forum.

grumpyoldman wrote:
Anyway, here's an important clue for everyone who doesn't have the OA: It is critical to understand the conclusion of the argument accurately. The conclusion is NOT that Beethoven had VD, and it is NOT that VD caused his deafness. The actual conclusion is that IF we find mercury in his hair, THEN we know that VD caused his deafness. In shorthand: If A is true, then B caused C.

Got that one right.

grumpyoldman wrote:
When the conclusion is this complex, you can be fairly sure that it needs a lot of assumptions to hang together. The correct answer choice could be any one of them. Because it needs several assumptions, the correct answer won't PROVE the conclusion; it will just make it more likely, or will eliminate a possible way of disproving it.

Yep, had a number of assumptions paraphrased in my head. Thanks for mentioning "won't prove" and "eliminate a possible way of disproving" parts -- did not think from that angle.

grumpyoldman wrote:
What are some of these assumptions? One is that the presence of A proves the existence of B -- or at the very least, COULD prove the existence of B. Another is that B is the only possible cause of C.

With that in mind, take another look at the answer choices.

Here is what I got so far:

Concl: if find trace of M in hair --> VD caused Deafness
Evid: M was commonly used to treat VD

A) wrong: None of the mercury introduced into the body can be eliminated. The conclusion says: If traces of M in hair then...
B) ?
C) wrong: effectiveness of the treatment has nothing to do with using M.
D) wrong: M can cause Deafness. However the conclusion is: if M than must Deafness (due to VD)
E) irrelevant to our conclusion “if M in hair then VD caused Dfnss”

Now, I am completely blank for B. I tried to negate it, but unsuccessfully...

Hmmmm......i think B shud be the answer.....i picked A, but A is again an extreme choice. It has to be B - Mild: Basic principle keep it moderate and diplomatic - which is B

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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06 Nov 2008, 00:18
I had a hard time arriving at B as the answer (initially I picked D and moved on). Here is my explanation.
Conclusion: "if trace of murcury in hair, then cypothesis is correct. else, hypothesis is not correct".
Hypothesis: "VD caused deafness, although no convincing argument that Deethoven had VD".
This means, Deethoven was deaf, but not sure whether that was caused by VD. If hypothesis is correct, deafness was caused by VD, but if hypothesis is not correct, deafness cannot be attributed to VD.

Choice B: Some people did not ingest mercury. That means, these "some people" did not have VD. Thus, if result shows that mercury trace was present, hypothesis will be correct. However, if no trace of mercury was found, the else condition of conclusion is correct.

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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06 Nov 2008, 00:33
I got B without going through all kinds of logic I just thought about it really simply: using the presence of Hg (yeah I'm gonna abbreviate it) to draw any conclusions about anything implies that Hg is not present on everyone (otherwise the test would be useless). If everyone back then ate Hg for whatever reason, we wouldn't know why Beethoven did and we would have no additional information.

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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06 Nov 2008, 00:47
1
KUDOS
Necessary questions = either confirm the information (no changes in data collection), link premises/conclusions, rule out alternatives.

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.
Eliminate - no bearing on the stimulus. Does not matter as long as we can test the sample and confirm the presence or absence of mercury.
b) Some people in Beethoven's time did not ingest mercury.
If people just ate mercury for the heck of it, it was not because they had VD. Would fit under the rule out alternatives piece.
c) Mercury is an effective treatment for venereal.
Eliminate: Information only states that it was a common treatment NOT "effective".
d) Mercury poisoning can cause deafness in people with venereal disease.
Eliminate: Invalid connection of statements. It should be that VD may have caused deafness.
e) Beethoven suffered from psychological problems of the same severity as Newton's.
Where did Newton come from? Did he drop from an apple tree?

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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease [#permalink]

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07 Nov 2008, 21:44
Oh boy -- I have to try to NOT make this discussion any more complicated than it already is.

icandy, I don't remember another question which had the same structure for the CONCLUSION as this one did. There may have been another one where the conclusion was Y, and the evidence leading to it followed a complex structure. But in this case, the actual CONCLUSION is the entire claim that "if X is true, then Y caused Z".

When you say "neither the stimulus nor any of the answer choices establish that researchers did find trace of mercury in his hair", this shows that you haven't recognized the conclusion exactly. The conclusion definitely is NOT that there was mercury in his hair, or that VD caused his deafness. The conclusion is that IF there is mercury in his hair, then we know that VD caused his deafness.

To handikap: Choice D does not support the argument, because the conclusion is about whether VD caused his deafness, not about whether mercury poisoning caused his deafness. If D is true, this provides another possible cause of deafness, but it is NOT the cause which the conclusion is talking about. To icandy: Similarly, if you negate D, it does not weaken the argument, because the argument doesn't even try to blame mercury poisoning.

To snaps: To understand how to negate B, look at phdizzle's post. He/she is exactly right: The negation of "Some people in Beethoven's time did not ingest mercury" is "Everyone in Beethoven's time DID ingest mercury". If you add that negation to the paragraph, the argument clearly falls apart. As phdizzle says, if everyone back then ingested mercury, then finding it in Beethoven's hair would tell us absolutely nothing -- and that contradicts the conclusion, which claims that it WOULD tell us what caused his deafness.
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Re: Tough CR: Beethoven vs Venereal Disease   [#permalink] 07 Nov 2008, 21:44
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