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# In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it

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Re: In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it [#permalink]
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AbdurRakib wrote:
In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it is inadvisable to require the best results that state-of-the-art technology can achieve. Current technology is able to detect and eliminate even extremely minute amounts of contaminants, but at a cost that is exorbitant relative to the improvement achieved. So it would be reasonable instead to set standards by taking into account all of the current and future risks involved.

The argument given concerning the reasonable way to set standards presupposes that

A. industry currently meets the standards that have been set by environmental authorities
B. there are effective ways to take into account all of the relevant risks posed by allowing different levels of contaminants
C. the only contaminants worth measuring are generated by industry
D. it is not costly to prevent large amounts of contaminants from entering the environment
E. minute amounts of some contaminants can be poisonous

OG V 2017 New Quetion(Book Question: 153)

Argument:

When setting environmental stds, we shouldn't set them to strictest achievable as per current tech. Say if current tech can clean fumes produced by an industry such that there will be less than 1 part of CO per million, we shouldn't set the standards to require 1 ppm.
Why? Because current tech is quite advanced and can really really clean the fumes but the cost will be exorbitant. The benefit obtained does not warrant the cost. So say as long as the amount of CO is less than 1 part in 1000 of fumes, this concentration is safe for humans and stays safe throughout their lifetime. Now does it makes sense to remove CO from fumes till you get only 1 part in 1 million? No. Lower level of cleaning (1 part in 1000) is enough. Higher level of cleaning will be much more expensive but has no added benefits.

Conclusion: Set standards as per all risks involved (not as per what the available tech can do) . (So if we can cover all risk by filtering fumes to get 1 part CO in 1000, then set that as the standard)

What are we assuming here? That we can find all risks posed by different levels of contaminants.
Think about it - what if we were unable to measure the level of risk at different levels of contaminants - say what is the risk of CO at 1 part per 100 vs 1 part per 1000 vs 1 part per million? If we were unable to measure it, can we set standards as per risks involved? No. So this is a presupposition for our conclusion and hence (B) is the answer.

A. industry currently meets the standards that have been set by environmental authorities

The point is on what basis the environmental authorities should set the standards.

C. the only contaminants worth measuring are generated by industry

The argument says "industry and others". No such presupposition.

D. it is not costly to prevent large amounts of contaminants from entering the environment

We are talking about cost vs benefit. Just cost is irrelevant.

E. minute amounts of some contaminants can be poisonous

The argument doesn't assume this. In fact it implies that minute amount of some contaminants may be acceptable.

General Discussion
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Re: In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it [#permalink]
Can someone elaborate on why E is wrong?

Conclusion : it would be reasonable instead to set standards by taking into account all of the current and future risks involved

If we're assuming that even minute amounts of contaminants can be poisonous then isn't that the basis for needing to establish any type of standards?

I was down between B and E.

Is E wrong because of the word "some". If it didn't have that and said minute amounts of contaminats can be posionous would the answer change?
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joannaecohen wrote:
Can someone elaborate on why E is wrong?

Conclusion : it would be reasonable instead to set standards by taking into account all of the current and future risks involved

If we're assuming that even minute amounts of contaminants can be poisonous then isn't that the basis for needing to establish any type of standards?

I was down between B and E.

Is E wrong because of the word "some". If it didn't have that and said minute amounts of contaminats can be posionous would the answer change?

It is generally misleading to consider the conclusion in isolation. Always relate the conclusion with the premise and then find out the missing link (i.e., the assumption).

When the conclusion is considered in isolation then E can be an assumption, but selecting E would be wrong because it does not fill the gap between the premise and the conclusion.

Premise: Current technology is able to detect and eliminate even extremely minute amounts of contaminants, but at a cost that is exorbitant relative to the improvement achieved.

Conclusion: So it would be reasonable instead to set standards by taking into account all of the current and future risks involved.

Rather than filling in a gap between premise and conclusion, option E points at a weakness in the premise-conclusion link - the gist of the argument is that since the cost for detecting minute amounts is high, it is prudent to set standards as per risk (i.e. not to set very stringent standards unnecessarily). Option E is a weakener for this argument.
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Re: In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it [#permalink]
Although the answer choice 'B' is correct. I would request folks to share their thoughts on how to answer these kind of questions. Presupposes... I didn't get it at all.
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Re: In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it [#permalink]
AnubhavK wrote:
Although the answer choice 'B' is correct. I would request folks to share their thoughts on how to answer these kind of questions. Presupposes... I didn't get it at all.

Dear AnubhavK,

I'm happy to respond. :-)

For GMAT CR purposes, "presupposes" is the same as "assumes." This is another way of asking an assumption question. See:
Assumptions and the Negation Test on the GMAT
GMAT Critical Reasoning: More on Assumption Questions

The strategies discussed in those blogs will be helpful to some extent. What you really need to do to get comfortable with GMAT CR questions is to develop a habit of reading. Why do you think that a 1/3 of the GMAT Verbal questions are about arguments? Any manager or executive has to hear many arguments every single day. Fundamentally, every sales pitch is an argument. A successful executive is one who can learn a great deal from the arguments he hears, discern the flaws and what not to believe, and understand when an argument indicates that he has to change course. You get better by reading arguments and thinking about them. If you read the business news, you will find tons of arguments. Read these arguments and reflect on them. See:
How to Improve Your GMAT Verbal Score
That is really how you improve.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it [#permalink]
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Passage Analysis

• In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet,
o The passage is about setting of environmental standards.
o These standards are required to be met by industries and others.

• it is inadvisable to require the best results that state-of-the-art technology can achieve.
o The author does not advocate the use of the best possible result that current best technology can provide as standard values.

• Current technology is able to detect and eliminate even extremely minute amounts of contaminants, but at a cost that is exorbitant relative to the improvement achieved.
o Present technology can detect and remove extremely small amount of pollutants.
o Even though such a high level of standards is possible, the cost incurred to use this kind of technology is exceptionally large relative to the improvement it can bring about.

• So it would be reasonable instead to set standards by taking into account all of the current and future risks involved.
o Therefore, the author concludes that the sensible way to set standards would be to consider the potential risks that may appear in present or in future, instead of setting the best performance the current best technology can give.

Conclusion: It would be reasonable to set environmental standards by considering all the current and future risks involved, instead of aiming for the best results that state-of-the-art technology can achieve.

Question Stem Analysis
This question asks us to identify what is presupposed by the author while making the argument. In other words, we are required to identify the assumption behind the argument.

Pre-thinking

Falsification Question
In what scenario is it possible that it would not be reasonable to set environmental standards by considering all the current and future risks involved, instead of aiming for the best results state-of-the-art technology can achieve?
Given that
• Current technology can detect and eliminate even extremely minute amounts of contaminants, but at a cost that is exorbitant relative to the improvement achieved.

Thought Process
The author suggests that, in the case of detection and removal of contaminants, environmental standards related to industries and others should not be set according to the best results that the best existing technology can deliver, but ,by considering the current and future risks involved. The reason provided for this suggestion is that state-of-the-art technology is extremely expensive for the level of improvement obtained. The author’s suggestion stays valid as long as the alternative suggested in the passage is possible with reasonable accuracy and the implementation of this option is not as costly as using the current best technology.

Falsification condition#1
What if the evaluation of all the current and future risks involved with contaminants is not possible with reasonable accuracy? In that case, the conclusion breaks down.
Assumption#1
Evaluation of all the current and future risks involved with contaminants is possible with reasonable accuracy.

Falsification condition#2
What if the costs associated with implementing environmental standards by considering all the current and future risks are higher than the cost of using state-of-the-art technology? In this case we can safely say that the premise cannot lead to the author’s conclusion.
Assumption#2
Costs associated with implementing environmental standards by considering all the current and future risks are significantly lower than the cost of using state-of-the-art technology.

(A) industry currently meets the standards that have been set by environmental authorities.
INCORRECT
It is not relevant whether industry currently meets the already set standards, as it is the way of setting standards we are concerned about and not the present scenario. Hence this is not the correct choice.

(B) there are effective ways to take into account all of the relevant risks posed by allowing different levels of contaminants.
CORRECT
This statement is in line with our pre-thought assumption#1 and hence it is the correct choice.

(C) the only contaminants worth measuring are generated by industry.
INCORRECT
This information is not required for the conclusion to hold true. Also, the choice of contaminants which have to be measured is not within the purview of the passage. Hence, this is not the correct answer.

(D) it is not costly to prevent large amounts of contaminants from entering the environment.
INCORRECT
Even if it is costly to prevent large amounts of contaminants from entering the environment, it will not break down the conclusion. Hence this is an incorrect choice.

(E) minute amounts of some contaminants can be poisonous.
INCORRECT
This is not a relevant piece of information as environmental standards will have to be set such that harmful amount of contaminants is not allowed, irrespective of the way we choose to set the standards. Hence this cannot be the correct answer.
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The Story

In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it is inadvisable to require the best results that state-of-the-art technology can achieve.
The statement talks about what not to do when setting environmental standards. It doesn’t make sense to require the best results that tech can achieve.
(Don’t require the best —> ask for less than the best.)

Current technology is able to detect and eliminate even extremely minute amounts of contaminants, but at a cost that is exorbitant relative to the improvement achieved.
Ok, so we now get a reason for why it doesn’t make sense to require the best results. The statement gives us an example of what current tech can achieve. But, such an achievement comes at an extreme cost. The cost is too high relative to the improvement achieved.
Connecting this statement to the previous one, I understand that it doesn’t make sense to set environmental standards according to what best tech can achieve. Because the associated cost would be exorbitant.

So it would be reasonable instead to set standards by taking into account all of the current and future risks involved.
The first statement gave something that is inadvisable. This sentence starts with talking about what would be ‘reasonable instead’. So, the statement will give us a suggestion about what should be done instead of requiring best results that tech can achieve.
What would be reasonable? To set standards by taking into account all the current and future risks involved.

Wait. What? Where did current and future risks come from? My brain is in overdrive. I could have understood had they said: It would be reasonable instead to set standards that take into account the cost implications as well. Why are they talking about risks here?

Ah! I got it. I connected this statement back to the previous one. The previous statement tells us that the cost associated with implementing a state-of-the-art tech solution is exorbitant relative to the improvement achieved. So, it is not a question of affordability, but a question of worth.

The head of the standards committee might say:

• If it is not a big risk now or in the future, and if the cost associated with it is high, let’s not include that in the standards.
• If it is a significant risk, and even if it is expensive, as long as we have the tech for it, let’s include it in the standards.

Gist:
The argument is about the basis upon which the environmental standards should be set. Whether:
1. the standards should be set as high as tech allows —> inadvisable
2. or, the standards should be balanced with cost, and set as high as needed taking into account the associated risks —> reasonable

I can’t think of any gaps at this point. Can you? I’ll move on to the question now.

Question Stem

The argument given concerning the reasonable way to set standards presupposes that
‘presupposes’ – an assumption question.

Framework: We’re looking for something that would support the argument and without which the argument would fall apart.

In the context:

1. something that would increase my confidence in the point that “it would be reasonable to set standards by taking into account all of the current and future risks involved.”,
2. and without which (on negating it), it would not be reasonable to set standards by taking into account all of the current and future risks involved.

(A) industry currently meets the standards that have been set by environmental authorities
Incorrect.
No impact.

Say there is a recommendation that it is reasonable to make the minimum marriageable age 18.

What impact does the following information have on the recommendation?

Society currently meets the standards that have been set by the government

No impact.

1. We don’t learn anything about whether the current marriageable age in the standards is too low or too high, or just right.
2. Even if we had that information, whether society currently meets the standards or not doesn’t matter. What matters is whether it is reasonable to set the marriageable age to 18. E.g.
1. Say the current marriageable age according to the standards is 12. Now whether society currently meets these standards doesn’t help us understand anything about whether the marriageable age should be reasonably set to 18.
2. Say the current marriageable age according to the standards is 28. Again, whether society currently meets these standards doesn’t help us understand anything about whether the marriageable age should be reasonably set to 18.

Whether it is reasonable to set the marriageable age to 18 would depend on factors such as biology and society, and not on whether the people meet the currently set standards.

The argument at hand claims that it is reasonable to set environment standards based on risk assessment. Now, whether industry currently meets the current standards is irrelevant.

(B) there are effective ways to take into account all of the relevant risks posed by allowing different levels of contaminants
Correct.
This makes sense. I hadn’t thought about it earlier, but yes, the argument does assume that there are effective ways to assess risks. If there are effective ways to assess risks, it does sound reasonable to set standards based on such assessment. The answer choice strengthens the argument.

If some of the relevant risks cannot be evaluated properly (negation), then a significant risk may not be covered by the standards.In that case, it would not be reasonable to set standards based on risk assessment.

The negation breaks down the argument.

(C) the only contaminants worth measuring are generated by industry
Incorrect.
The argument mentions “industry and others”. So, what if these ‘others’ do not generate contaminants worth measuring? Well, even then, on what basis should the standards be set? Even if the standards would only be needed for industry and not for others, I don’t learn anything about whether it is reasonable to set the standards based on risk assessment.
This option has no impact on the argument, and, thus, is not an assumption.

(D) it is not costly to prevent large amounts of contaminants from entering the environment
Incorrect.
No impact. It is not a matter of cost. It is a matter of cost balanced with the associated risk.

To explain why this answer choice has no impact, I’ll elaborate on a negation example: it is costly to prevent large amounts of contaminants from entering the environment.

Say, arsenic is a contaminant released into the environment by industry.
Say arsenic is extremely toxic, and even 0.00001% presence of arsenic can be very harmful for humans.

Now, say a plant owner says that they can’t afford to eliminate arsenic to that level.

What should happen in such a case?
Should the standards be lowered, or should the plant either find a way to meet the standards, or be shut down?

If I were the commissioner of the Environmental Standards Agency (or some other awesome name), I would tell the plant that it’s my way or the highway. Plain and simple.

*Ok. Back to being a GMAT coach now.*

Whether the associated cost is high or low would not figure into whether it is reasonable to set standards based on risk assessment.

(E) minute amounts of some contaminants can be poisonous
Incorrect.
The recommendation is not that “let’s not go all the way till the minutest contaminants can be eliminated (the tech allows), and let’s go till ~90%.” The argument doesn’t claim that going all the way till the limit of technology would be an overkill.

The recommendation is that “let’s make the standards as strict as needed based on the associated risks.” The argument claims that standards be set based only on what is needed, and not based on what is technologically possible.

The argument is about what is reasonable while “taking into account all of the current and future risks involved”. So, if even minute amounts of some contaminants can be poisonous, the standards would take that risk into account.

This option has no impact on the argument, and, thus, is not an assumption.
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Re: In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it [#permalink]
AnishPassi wrote:

(E) minute amounts of some contaminants can be poisonous
Incorrect.
The recommendation is not that “let’s not go all the way till the minutest contaminants can be eliminated (the tech allows), and let’s go till ~90%.” The argument doesn’t claim that going all the way till the limit of technology would be an overkill.

The recommendation is that “let’s make the standards as strict as needed based on the associated risks.” The argument claims that standards be set based only on what is needed, and not based on what is technologically possible.

The argument is about what is reasonable while “taking into account all of the current and future risks involved”. So, if even minute amounts of some contaminants can be poisonous, the standards would take that risk into account.

This option has no impact on the argument, and, thus, is not an assumption.

dear AnishPassi,
I think if minute amounts of some contaminants can be poisonous, then it needs to pay attention, so we need good, or better , even advanced system to protect triple from poison, so in other word,E weakens the conclusion.

I am not sure where I missed, please clarify.

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Understanding the argument -
In setting environmental standards for industry and others to meet, it is inadvisable to require the best results that state-of-the-art technology can achieve. - Fact. Also, it talks about industry and others (and not just industry). The standards should not require industry and others to achieve the best results that state-of-the-art technology can achieve. For example - The Guinness World Record for the fastest car in the world is the Thrust SSC, driven by Andy Green. The Thrust SSC set the land speed record on October 15, 1997, at 763.035 mph (1,227.986 km/h). So the result of this car, which has a speed record of 1227.986 km/hr, should not become the standard for the automotive industry in the US, India, or Europe, or for that matter, anywhere for all the cars to meet this speed criteria. This will be ridiculous. Isn't it? Yes. That is what this statement is saying: let's not set standards like this.

Current technology is able to detect and eliminate even extremely minute amounts of contaminants, but at a cost that is exorbitant relative to the improvement achieved. - Fact. It's trying to convey that the technology, for example, costs \$10 million and that the improvements achieved when converted to money amount to, say, \$10,000, which by any means is exorbitant for such a minimal value or output.

So, it would be reasonable instead to set standards by taking into account all of the current and future risks involved. - Conclusion. So, the logical thing would be to take into account all the current and future risks involved and take that into account while setting standards. In our car example, when setting up standards for speed, we need to consider the speeds or risks in the city, near schools, near residential areas, etc., and not the speed that the fastest car in the world can achieve.

Option Elimination -

A. industry currently meets the standards that have been set by environmental authorities - The scope of the argument is to find a missing premise or an assumption for the conclusion to hold: take the current and future risks to set standards. It doesn't even talk about the scope of the argument. Secondly, If they have met so far, that's not even the criteria to set standards. Thirdly, how about "others"? At best, this is out of scope.

B. there are effective ways to take into account all of the relevant risks posed by allowing different levels of contaminants - This is important because if there is no way to take all the risks into account, then our conclusion falls flat. Ok.

C. the only contaminants worth measuring are generated by industry - what about "others"? Do they not generate any contaminants? Moreover, whatever is responsible for generating the contaminants, how is this linked to the scope of the argument to find a missing premise or an assumption for the conclusion to hold: take the current and future risks to set standards? Distortion.

D. it is not costly to prevent large amounts of contaminants from entering the environment - The conclusion is "take the current and future risks to set standards." How is this statement related to the conclusion? Yes, the cost is mentioned in the context of the value derived from the current technology, or it's quite costly compared to the value achieved. The conclusion says to do X instead of Y. Use "current and future risk" instead of "what the best of the technology can achieve."

Or let's say we negate it. It is costly to prevent large contaminants from entering the environment. Then what? Even if it's costly, if contaminants pose a current or future risk, then the standard needs to consider the risk. Cost is nowhere mentioned as a new criterion to set standards. So, even if we negate it, the conclusion still holds. Out of scope.

E. minute amounts of some contaminants can be poisonous - But the conclusion already considers this. If they are risky, they'll be taken into account. But this is not a missing premise for the conclusion to hold: consider the current and future risks to set standards. At best, this option takes a few words from a second sentence in which "minute amounts of some contaminants" are mentioned to show that the current technology can "detect minute amounts of some contaminants," but it's costly. The author uses that to propose "X instead of Y." Now, this option creates distortion by using the familiar words from the argument and creating an option. But the beauty is that the conclusion never said that "minute amounts of some contaminants" will not be measured. The argument just said to use "risk" as a criterion instead of "best results of technology" to set standards. So, at best, this is a distortion.
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