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# In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that

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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
Option A most seriously weakens the argument. The increased human population could lead to more golf courses and lawns being built in alligator habitats, resulting in more human-alligator encounters. The increase in sightings of alligators on golf courses and lawns could be due to human encroachment on alligator habitats rather than an actual increase in the alligator population. Therefore, the increased sightings do not necessarily indicate that the alligator population significantly increased over the decade of the 1990s.
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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
CrackverbalGMAT wrote:
A tricky one!

A. The human population of Florida increased significantly during the 1990s.
This could probably be the reason for the increased sighting of alligators. Let’s look at the other options to see if we have a contender.

B. The hunting restrictions applied to commercial as well as private hunters.

Very much irrelevant. Was there any difference in the hunting restriction in the given period? Not sure. Eliminate.

C. The number of sightings of alligators in lakes and swamps increased greatly in Florida during the 1990s.
Only supports the conclusion that the alligator population in Florida during the 1990s increased. Eliminate.

D. Throughout the 1990s, selling alligator products was more strictly regulated than hunting was.
Irrelevant. Eliminate.

E. Most of the sightings of alligators on golf courses and lawns in the 1990s occurred at times at which few people were present on those golf courses and lawns.

Does that mean people were lying and the sightings were fake? Assumptions like these could often lead us to wrong answers. Eliminate.

Option A says that the human population of Florida increased significantly during the 1990s- More people- more sightings of alligators.
This tells us that the population of alligators has not increased but the sightings of alligators have increased because there has been an increase in the human population of Florida. Weakens the argument. Option A is correct.

Vishnupriya
GMAT Verbal SME

@VeritasPrepHailey GMATNinja

I want to know how this question is different from below question
https://gmatclub.com/forum/farmer-sever ... 94365.html
CR90061.01

Additionally, in the stem, it is mentioned - “ there is no reason for the people who reported seeing a mountain lion to have deliberately concocted a false report”

The options in the two questions are framed differently - even when they look alike.

Check this video in which I compare and contrast the wordings of the two questions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55QgRwZmFRo
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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
AndrewN wrote:
jayarora wrote:
Hi experts,

I pre-thought of two scenarios in which the population of alligators need not have increased: 1) What if restrictions limiting the access of alligators to golf courses were eased? 2) What if people started reported spurious cases?

I believe option E is along the lines of (2). Most of the times if there were only one or two persons then it could be that these reports were 'fake'. How do I eliminate this answer choice?

Sighting of alligators is quite a rare event and even if the population increases significantly one cannot expect the cases to 'dramatically' increase

Hello, jayarora. You ask a fair question. Speaking to the strategy of pre-thinking, I find it mildly useful. In some questions, pre-thinking can help me get the answer spot-on, before I even encounter the answer choices; in others, I can pre-think up a storm and find no corresponding answers. Because it is difficult to predict whether any given question will fall into Camp A or Camp B, I typically bypass pre-thinking and engage directly with the question, then the passage, then each answer choice, making sure the option I choose has firm grounding in the text and answers the question being asked.

About your second scenario above, I will say that I used to think along similar lines, but after working through plenty of questions on my own and helping students with others, I have come to appreciate that the only information you can take as gospel is that which is presented in the passage. Even if the argument or conclusion is wayward, the information on which that argument may be based should not be taken as untruthful or doubtful. In fact, GMAC™ even speaks to this point in the OG in the Critical Reasoning chapter:

4. To test reasoning, try to imagine scenarios where the premises are true and the conclusion false.

Many critical reasoning questions will require you to evaluate the soundness of the reasoning presented in a passage. To evaluate reasoning, you do not need to decide whether premises or conclusions are actually true. Determining actual truth is beyond the scope of the test: no test-taker could determine the truth or falsity of every assertion present in critical reasoning passages. Moreover, many critical reasoning passages refer to fictional scenarios. Normally, in evaluating a piece of reasoning, you should try to
imagine a situation in which the premises would all be true with the conclusion false. If such a situation would be very unlikely to occur, then the reasoning is strong. On the other hand, if such a situation could likely occur, then the reasoning is poor.

In the question at hand, the passage tells us that reports of alligators appearing on golf courses and lawns increased dramatically--a premise. Regardless, then, of whether few or many people were present on those golf courses or lawns at the time of most of the sightings, we are meant to take the premise at face value and accept it as a truth, rather than question that those people could be goofballs or on drugs or some such. In choice (A), we are to understand that if the human population of Florida increased significantly during the 1990s (my emphases), then it would make sense that the number of reported sightings might also logically increase, regardless of whether the alligator population had increased significantly. Sometimes the GMAT™ bends over backwards to qualify what ends up being the correct answer--notice how increased significantly in (A) perfectly parallels the last line of the passage. When you spot such adverbial qualifiers in answer choices, you should pause before you get rid of these answer choices. (The qualifier could be pointing you in the right direction.)

I hope that helps. If you have further questions, feel free to ask.

- Andrew

Hi AndrewN
Thank you for your inputs!
I was stuck between option A and E and chose E based on some grounds. I reviewed the question and my analysis and came up with an understanding why my selection may be wrong.
I seek your guidance for 2 things-
1. Your POV on the corrective analysis
2. Resolution of the query- Whether we may require to make assumptions in strengthen/ weaken qs while considering any option choice :/

1. Corrective analysis
My thought process was that there can fundamentally 2 things could have happened which can help strengthen the author's reasoning-
More people going towards the alligators
More alligators going to the people
Saw A, thought it is bang on, but then thought that yes the population has increased, but highly possible that the population has increased in pockets which may not necessarily be around areas where alligators dwell. Doesnt close the loop. Then while evaluating E, I thought that alligators might generally come to these places when there are less people around. So thought that people are seeing them at such times so not necessary that the population of alligators has increased.
Then thought if such is the nature of alligators and no. of people are the same, the number of sightings should not have increased that too dramatically.

2. This brings me to my question- arent we assuming that the population increase correlates with the population increase of the visitors at the golf courses and lawns? What if the population is growing at the city centres and these lawns are closer to swamps? The population increase may not lead to increased visitors.

Please help me out here- Can we assume things, what are the things we can assume and what is the way by which I can understand that I am overthinking

This question has been in my head for quite some time now. Looking forward to your guidance. TIA!
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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
RenB wrote:
Hi AndrewN
Thank you for your inputs!
I was stuck between option A and E and chose E based on some grounds. I reviewed the question and my analysis and came up with an understanding why my selection may be wrong.
I seek your guidance for 2 things-
1. Your POV on the corrective analysis
2. Resolution of the query- Whether we may require to make assumptions in strengthen/ weaken qs while considering any option choice :/

1. Corrective analysis
My thought process was that there can fundamentally 2 things could have happened which can help strengthen the author's reasoning-
More people going towards the alligators
More alligators going to the people
Saw A, thought it is bang on, but then thought that yes the population has increased, but highly possible that the population has increased in pockets which may not necessarily be around areas where alligators dwell. Doesnt close the loop. Then while evaluating E, I thought that alligators might generally come to these places when there are less people around. So thought that people are seeing them at such times so not necessary that the population of alligators has increased.
Then thought if such is the nature of alligators and no. of people are the same, the number of sightings should not have increased that too dramatically.

2. This brings me to my question- arent we assuming that the population increase correlates with the population increase of the visitors at the golf courses and lawns? What if the population is growing at the city centres and these lawns are closer to swamps? The population increase may not lead to increased visitors.

Please help me out here- Can we assume things, what are the things we can assume and what is the way by which I can understand that I am overthinking

This question has been in my head for quite some time now. Looking forward to your guidance. TIA!

Hello, RenB. First, if you have an answer that you cannot argue against, then why would you trade it for something else? This is exactly the sort of tradeoff that test-takers make that will ensure that more challenging CR (and, to an extent, RC) questions will remain a toss-up. One of the most useful test-taking techniques I developed for myself and have subsequently taught my students is that you have to have the discipline to silence the voice of doubt that will crop up, and that you should not allow yourself to change an answer unless you can disprove it. Everyone has experienced that awful feeling of having had the correct answer and then changed it. So why not try answering questions the other way, with more confidence that you have selected the safest bet? No more chasing answers. Watch your accuracy go up.

I can tell from reading your second question that you probably misinterpreted reports of alligators appearing on golf courses and lawns. Lawns are part of the property on which people live, so they would not be visitors in these locations. Sure, they could live in swampy areas—some Americans joke that Florida is a giant swamp—but that does not change the fact that reports of sightings have increased dramatically. If the human population has increased significantly, then the number of sightings reported in their front- or backyards alone might understandably increase, regardless of whether the alligator population had also increased dramatically, and here, we get increased sightings at golf courses, just for good measure. You might also refer to my earlier post here, in which I discuss the apparent appeal of most in answer choice (E).

AndrewN wrote:
In this question, the argument is that the number of alligators has increased significantly, and regardless of when most sightings occurred, that still leaves room for other types of sightings, those in which many people were present. If, for instance, there were 1,000 sightings, and 501 occurred at times at which few people were present, then what about the other 499? Or, to be fair, if we are basing this conclusion on 3 sightings, when there had been just 1 before--a 200 percent increase!--if two of those three, or most of those sightings occurred at times at which few people were present, that still leaves that third instance, and a lot of people could have seen an alligator. Whatever the case may be, whichever numbers you want to use, choice (E) does not affect the argument in the same way, logically, as (A), for reasons better explained earlier.

You may want to adopt a path-of-least-resistance approach to CR. You are not looking to make assumptions; rather, you should be looking at which answer choice best fits the linear logic of the passage, so there is the least friction, and that option requires the least in the way of making assumptions.

Thank you for following up. Keep working on identifying just what makes these questions—official questions—tick. Do not create rules, but follow the logical trail of breadcrumbs that GMAC leaves for you.

- Andrew
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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
AndrewN wrote:
RenB wrote:
Hi AndrewN
Thank you for your inputs!
I was stuck between option A and E and chose E based on some grounds. I reviewed the question and my analysis and came up with an understanding why my selection may be wrong.
I seek your guidance for 2 things-
1. Your POV on the corrective analysis
2. Resolution of the query- Whether we may require to make assumptions in strengthen/ weaken qs while considering any option choice :/

1. Corrective analysis
My thought process was that there can fundamentally 2 things could have happened which can help strengthen the author's reasoning-
More people going towards the alligators
More alligators going to the people
Saw A, thought it is bang on, but then thought that yes the population has increased, but highly possible that the population has increased in pockets which may not necessarily be around areas where alligators dwell. Doesnt close the loop. Then while evaluating E, I thought that alligators might generally come to these places when there are less people around. So thought that people are seeing them at such times so not necessary that the population of alligators has increased.
Then thought if such is the nature of alligators and no. of people are the same, the number of sightings should not have increased that too dramatically.

2. This brings me to my question- arent we assuming that the population increase correlates with the population increase of the visitors at the golf courses and lawns? What if the population is growing at the city centres and these lawns are closer to swamps? The population increase may not lead to increased visitors.

Please help me out here- Can we assume things, what are the things we can assume and what is the way by which I can understand that I am overthinking

This question has been in my head for quite some time now. Looking forward to your guidance. TIA!

Hello, RenB. First, if you have an answer that you cannot argue against, then why would you trade it for something else? This is exactly the sort of tradeoff that test-takers make that will ensure that more challenging CR (and, to an extent, RC) questions will remain a toss-up. One of the most useful test-taking techniques I developed for myself and have subsequently taught my students is that you have to have the discipline to silence the voice of doubt that will crop up, and that you should not allow yourself to change an answer unless you can disprove it. Everyone has experienced that awful feeling of having had the correct answer and then changed it. So why not try answering questions the other way, with more confidence that you have selected the safest bet? No more chasing answers. Watch your accuracy go up.

I can tell from reading your second question that you probably misinterpreted reports of alligators appearing on golf courses and lawns. Lawns are part of the property on which people live, so they would not be visitors in these locations. Sure, they could live in swampy areas—some Americans joke that Florida is a giant swamp—but that does not change the fact that reports of sightings have increased dramatically. If the human population has increased significantly, then the number of sightings reported in their front- or backyards alone might understandably increase, regardless of whether the alligator population had also increased dramatically, and here, we get increased sightings at golf courses, just for good measure. You might also refer to my earlier post here, in which I discuss the apparent appeal of most in answer choice (E).

AndrewN wrote:
In this question, the argument is that the number of alligators has increased significantly, and regardless of when most sightings occurred, that still leaves room for other types of sightings, those in which many people were present. If, for instance, there were 1,000 sightings, and 501 occurred at times at which few people were present, then what about the other 499? Or, to be fair, if we are basing this conclusion on 3 sightings, when there had been just 1 before--a 200 percent increase!--if two of those three, or most of those sightings occurred at times at which few people were present, that still leaves that third instance, and a lot of people could have seen an alligator. Whatever the case may be, whichever numbers you want to use, choice (E) does not affect the argument in the same way, logically, as (A), for reasons better explained earlier.

You may want to adopt a path-of-least-resistance approach to CR. You are not looking to make assumptions; rather, you should be looking at which answer choice best fits the linear logic of the passage, so there is the least friction, and that option requires the least in the way of making assumptions.

Thank you for following up. Keep working on identifying just what makes these questions—official questions—tick. Do not create rules, but follow the logical trail of breadcrumbs that GMAC leaves for you.

- Andrew

Thank you so much for the detailed doubt clarification! :')
Yes I did misinterpret the qs- did not know that lawns are a part of peoples' residential properties
Will try shushing the doubtful voice in my head
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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
In Option E.
Can you not interpret this as Alligators only came out when there were few people around? Hence the number of alligators need not change
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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
Hello Dear firend
based on your experience with GMAT real exam and official questions, is there any possibility to see a question very similar to OG questions in real exam? Or is it possible to see the exact question? I tried only to solve OG questions in my preparation, is it enough ?

IanStewart wrote:
I'm probably repeating things already posted in this thread, but I haven't read many replies. If an argument read "reports of Adélie penguins in Antarctica increased dramatically between 1800 and 1990, so the Adélie penguin population in Antarctica must have increased dramatically over that period", that argument would very clearly be weakened if we learned "humans first set foot on Antarctica in 1820 or 1821, and in 1990 a few thousand researchers were stationed in Antarctica". When the human population is low (or, as in this example, zero), you won't get many reports regardless of penguin population. When the human population is very high, you may get a lot of reports even about a small population, because every member of that small population might be reported (and some might be reported multiple times).

When we learn here that alligator reports increased, there are at least two competing explanations: maybe there are more alligators to report, or maybe there are more people to make reports. Answer A is a perfect answer here because it suggests an alternate explanation for the facts reported in the stem. And here I'm even ignoring other implications of A (e.g. increased human population might have destroyed natural alligator habitat, and might have led a small population of alligators to migrate to human-populated areas). I'm not sure what's tempting about E; all E suggests to me is that alligators are afraid of people. I suppose if you think this "dramatic increase" in alligator reports was, because the alligators were witnessed only by one or two people, fuelled almost entirely by erroneous reports, then E is a good answer, but that seems awfully tenuous to me.

And to maheswariviresh's concern about whether the OA to some official questions might sometimes be 'wrong': I've seen several thousand official questions (probably more than 10,000) in the many years I've been working in the GMAT field. In that time I've found exactly one official Quant question that had the wrong answer (a Statistics DS question where they neglected to consider the possibility that elements in a set might be negative). On rare occasions, I've found Verbal questions where I think two answers are justifiable, and there is a subtle difference between them that would make one preferable to the other. I've never found an official Verbal question where I'd consider the OA to be wrong, however. That makes official Verbal questions very different from prep company Verbal questions; the OA to prep co Verbal questions seems to me to be wrong about a quarter of the time, judging from the questions I read on this forum (I've very often posted replies to CR questions here pointing out issues with prep company OAs).

It's probable many test takers don't appreciate the extraordinary lengths GMAC goes to in order to ensure the quality of each test question that appears on the GMAT. Every test question undergoes an extensive editorial process, but question development doesn't stop there. Then each question is used as a purely diagnostic question on actual tests, and the response data is analyzed. If a question had an incorrect OA, they would discover it at that stage: the data would reveal that high-level test takers were mostly getting the question wrong. That can never happen with a real GMAT question, so they'd need to revisit the question, correct the issue, and use the revised version again as a diagnostic question, and only if the question had normal response patterns could they consider using it as an actual test question that counted.

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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
A good weakener that I was expecting to come up from my pre-thinking was "the natural habitat for alligators has decreased during the 1990s" etc.
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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
My line of thinking for (E) was given that only a few people at a time were present at an alligator sighting, it is quite possible that the same alligator is being sighted by a different groups of a few people. This would eventually mean that number of sightings has increased for the same alligator and not the alligator population of Florida.

Can't understand why is this line of thinking wrong?

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Re: In the 1960s, surveys of Florida's alligator population indicated that [#permalink]
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