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It is known from cave paintings and other evidence that the hunting [#permalink]
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­Explanation

It is known from cave paintings and other evidence that the hunting people occupying the Bax Cave area in Country X tens of thousands of years ago repeatedly set fire to the surrounding area. Archaeologists hypothesize that because the fires caused later plant growth on the land, the hunters set the fires in order to attract herbivorous prey species. Such actions, they claim, are evidence for the mental capacity to delay gratification for weeks, months, or even years.

Archeologists have concluded the following:

    Such actions (people occupying the Bax Cave area in Country X tens of thousands of years ago repeatedly set fire to the surrounding area), they claim, are evidence for the mental capacity to delay gratification for weeks, months, or even years.


That conclusion is supported by the following intermediate conclusion or hypothesis:

    the hunters set the fires in order to attract herbivorous prey species


We see that archeologist have seen that the people set fires, hypothesized regarding why they set the fires, and arrived at a conclusion based on the hypothesis.

Which of the following would it be most useful to determine in evaluating the archaeologists’ claim?

A yes answer or no answer to the question presented by the correct answer will strenghen or weaken the case for the final conclusion.

It can do so by strenghtening or weakening the support for the main conclusion or the support for the intermediate conclusion, the hypothesis.

A. Whether the Bax Cave area is susceptible to fires caused by lightning strikes

Regardless of whether the area is susceptible to fires caused by lightning strikes, the passage says, "It is known ... that the hunting people occupying the Bax Cave area ... repeatedly set fire to the surrounding area."

So, it appears that the hunting people set fires regardless of whether all fires in the area were set by them.

Thus, what we know about the situation is not materially changed by a yes or no answer to this question.

Eliminate.

B. Whether remains can be found of hunting tools from tens of thousands of years ago in or near the Bax Cave

Regardless of whether remains can be found of hunting tools from tens of thousands of years ago in or near the Bax Cave, the people discussed in the passage are "hunting people."

So, presumably, they did hunt.

In other words, the argument is not about whether they hunted. It's about what they did to optimize conditions for hunting. So, evidence indicating that they hunted would not help to support the conclusion.

Eliminate.

C. Whether in the immediate aftermath of fires in the Bax Cave area, animals sought by hunters came to seek prey driven out of dens or other shelters

A yes or no answer to this question could weaken or strenghten the case for the hypothesis that "the hunters set the fires in order to attract herbivorous prey species."

After all, if the answer to this question is "Yes," then we have a possible alternative reason why they set the fires. It could be that they set the fires to drive prey out to attract other animals they sought. So, a yes answer weakens the case for the conclusion by indicating that something else could have been going on and thus casting doubt on the hypothesis that supports the main conclusion.

On the other hand, a no answer strengthens the case for the conclusion by serving to rule out a possible alternative reason for their setting fires. In other words, a no answer to this question serves to increase the probability that the hypothesis that the hunters set the fires to attract herbivorous prey species is correct and thus strengthens the argument.

Keep.

D. Whether people occupying the Bax Cave tens of thousands of years ago consumed plants adapted to fire ecologies

This choice is a little hard to eliminate since a yes answer to this question could seem to indicate that there may have been an alternative reason why the people occupying the Bax Cave area set the fires. Maybe they set them to get plants adapted to fire ecologies to grow.

However, (C) is a much better answer, and we can eliminate this choice because simple fact that they consumed such plants doesn't mean that they set fires to get such plants to grow. 

In other words, if we think about this choice, we can see that the people could have consumed plants adapted to fire ecologies along with other plants. This choice doesn't ask whether they "preferred" to consume such plants or "needed" such plants. It's simply about whether they consumed the plants.

What if they did? Does that information mean that they set fires to get such plants to grow? Not really. All it means is that they ate plants that grew in areas where fire occurred. That information doesn't clearly indicate anything about planning or delaying gratification.

Eliminate.

E. Whether the mental capacity to delay gratification for weeks, months, or even years was exhibited by contemporaries of the people occupying the Bax Cave tens of thousands of years ago

Neither a yes nor a no answer to this question would materially strengthen or weaken the argument since the conclusion is about the people occupying the Bax Cave area.

Honestly, in a context other than a GMAT question we might take a yes answer to this question as evidence that people of that time in general had the mental capacity to delay gratification for weeks, months, or even years and thus that the people occupying the Bax Cave area likely did too. At the same time, since we know that we're dealing with a GMAT question, we can make the call that a choice that involves such indirect and weak support isn't going to be the correct answer.

Eliminate.

Correct answer:
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It is known from cave paintings and other evidence that the hunting [#permalink]
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ritz31 wrote:
It is known from cave paintings and other evidence that the hunting people occupying the Bax Cave area in Country X tens of thousands of years ago repeatedly set fire to the surrounding area. Archaeologists hypothesize that because the fires caused later plant growth on the land, the hunters set the fires in order to attract herbivorous prey species. Such actions, they claim, are evidence for the mental capacity to delay gratification for weeks, months, or even years.

Which of the following would it be most useful to determine in evaluating the archaeologists’ claim?

A. Whether the Bax Cave area is susceptible to fires caused by lightning strikes

B. Whether remains can be found of hunting tools from tens of thousands of years ago in or near the Bax Cave

C. Whether in the immediate aftermath of fires in the Bax Cave area, animals sought by hunters came to seek prey driven out of dens or other shelters

D. Whether people occupying the Bax Cave tens of thousands of years ago consumed plants adapted to fire ecologies

E. Whether the mental capacity to delay gratification for weeks, months, or even years was exhibited by contemporaries of the people occupying the Bax Cave tens of thousands of years ago

­I received a DM requesting that I comment.

Premise:
The hunting people occupying the Bax Cave area repeatedly set fire to the surrounding area.
Conclusion:
Such actions are evidence for the mental capacity to delay gratification for weeks, months, or even years.

Assumption:
The purpose of the fires was LATER PLANT GROWTH and the subsequent attraction of herbivores and that there is thus a link between FIRE-SETTING and DELAYED GRATIFICATION.

This is an EVALUATE CR.
The answer choices to this type of CR often begin with the word whether.
To make the situation clearer, omit this word when reading the answer choices.
With the word whether omitted, the correct answer choice will either strengthen or weaken the conclusion, enabling us to EVALUATE whether the conclusion is valid.

C, with the word whether omitted:
In the immediate aftermath of fires in the Bax Cave area, animals sought by hunters came to seek prey.
Implication:
The purpose of the fires was not LATER plant growth but the IMMEDIATE attraction of animals coming to seek prey, weakening the conclusion that the hunters had the mental capacity to delay gratification.



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Re: It is known from cave paintings and other evidence that the hunting [#permalink]
Choice C also has another flaw. It uses the word "immediate". This contradicts what the passage says "...delay gratification for weeks, months, or even years."

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Re: It is known from cave paintings and other evidence that the hunting [#permalink]
IMO - C is correct because if animals that hunters sought after came immediately after the fire, this would contradict the hypothesis that they had delayed gratification.
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Re: It is known from cave paintings and other evidence that the hunting [#permalink]
Is the reasoning for C based on the fact that we are looking for evidence to EVALUATE the claim and support it?? because if it was infact to support then C makes no sense in the fact that there is no Delay in gratification.
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Re: It is known from cave paintings and other evidence that the hunting [#permalink]
GMATNinja Bunuel GMATGuruNY Can you please explain this question

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Re: It is known from cave paintings and other evidence that the hunting [#permalink]
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