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Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the

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Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the  [#permalink]

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Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs is: never change that set, except by rejecting a belief when given adequate evidence against it. However, if this were the only rule one followed, then whenever one were presented with any kind of evidence, one would have to either reject some of one’s beliefs or else leave one’s beliefs unchanged. But then, over time, one could only have fewer and fewer beliefs. Since we need many beliefs in order to survive, the statisticians’ claim must be mistaken.

The argument is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that it


(A) presumes, without providing any justification, that the surest way of increasing the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs must not hinder one’s ability to survive

(B) neglects the possibility that even while following the statisticians’ rule, one might also accept new beliefs when presented with some kinds of evidence

(C) overlooks the possibility that some large sets of beliefs are more correct overall than are some small sets of beliefs

(D) takes for granted that one should accept some beliefs related to survival even when given adequate evidence against them

(E) takes for granted that the beliefs we need in order to have many beliefs must all be correct beliefs

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Originally posted by noboru on 13 Dec 2010, 13:08.
Last edited by Bunuel on 18 Jun 2018, 20:22, edited 2 times in total.
Edited the question.
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Re: Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Apr 2017, 19:30
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Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs is: never change that set, except by rejecting a belief when given adequate evidence against it. However, if this were the only rule one followed, then whenever one were presented with any kind of evidence, one would have to either reject some of one’s beliefs or else leave one’s beliefs unchanged. But then, over time, one could only have fewer and fewer beliefs. Since we need many beliefs in order to survive, the statisticians’ claim must be mistaken.
The argument is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that it
(A) presumes, without providing any justification, that the surest way of increasing the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs must not hinder one’s ability to survive
(B) neglects the possibility that even while following the statisticians’ rule, one might also accept new beliefs when presented with some kinds of evidence
(C) overlooks the possibility that some large sets of beliefs are more correct overall than are some small sets of beliefs
(D) takes for granted that one should accept some beliefs related to survival even when given adequate evidence against them
(E) takes for granted that the beliefs we need in order to have many beliefs must all be correct beliefs


The passage first presents a claim that some statisticians make: "the surest way to increase the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs is: never change that set, except by rejecting a belief when given adequate evidence against it" (in other words, "don't add any beliefs; rather, only remove beliefs when given adequate evidence against them).

The author then prefaces the argument with, "if this were the only rule one followed.." (and that rule is, "never change that set, except by rejecting a belief when given adequate evidence against it."). Therefore, the author's argument is only concerned with what would happen if that were the only rule one followed (ie if one were to only remove beliefs and never add new beliefs). If someone were to "accept new beliefs when presented with some kinds of evidence" (as stated in choice B), then that person would NOT be adhering only to that rule (since they would be ADDING to the set of beliefs). So the author does not neglect the "possibility that even while following the statisticians’ rule, one might also accept new beliefs when presented with some kinds of evidence"; rather, the author specifically states that the argument does not apply in those situations. Thus, B can be eliminated.

Now let's consider choice A... both the author and the statisticians would agree that, "if this were the only rule one followed... then, over time, one could only have fewer and fewer beliefs". The statisticians claim that this is the "surest way to increase the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs"; however, the author concludes that "the statisticians’ claim must be mistaken", since "we need many beliefs in order to survive". But the statisticians only claim that following that rule will increase the overall correctness of the total set of one's beliefs; they never claim that following that rule will or will not hinder one's ability to survive. For example, imagine a person with 100 beliefs who only follows the rule presented in the passage and ends up rejecting 95 of those beliefs. This may in fact hinder that person's ability to survive, but if the few remaining beliefs are all correct, then the statisticians claim would still be correct and the author's argument would fail. In other words, the statisticians claim is only concerned with the correctness of the total set of one's belief, not with how those beliefs (or lack thereof) affect one's ability to survive. Choice A accurately identifies this weakness in the author's argument.
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New post 22 Jan 2018, 09:52
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noboru wrote:
Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs is: never change that set, except by rejecting a belief when given adequate evidence against it. However, if this were the only rule one followed, then whenever one were presented with any kind of evidence, one would have to either reject some of one’s beliefs or else leave one’s beliefs unchanged. But then, over time, one could only have fewer and fewer beliefs. Since we need many beliefs in order to survive, the statisticians’ claim must be mistaken.
The argument is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that it
(A) presumes, without providing any justification, that the surest way of increasing the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs must not hinder one’s ability to survive
(B) neglects the possibility that even while following the statisticians’ rule, one might also accept new beliefs when presented with some kinds of evidence
(C) overlooks the possibility that some large sets of beliefs are more correct overall than are some small sets of beliefs
(D) takes for granted that one should accept some beliefs related to survival even when given adequate evidence against them
(E) takes for granted that the beliefs we need in order to have many beliefs must all be correct beliefs



Premise: Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs is: never change that set, except by rejecting a belief when given adequate evidence against it.

Counter premise: However, if this were the only rule one followed, then whenever one were presented with any kind of evidence, one would have to either reject some of one’s beliefs or else leave one’s beliefs unchanged. But then, over time, one could only have fewer and fewer beliefs.

Conclusion: Since we need many beliefs in order to survive, the statisticians’ claim must be mistaken.

It is clear that there is a gap in the Premise to support the conclusion. Agreed that the premise is correct, but where does it prove that given Premise leads to the Conclusion? Answer A clearly addresses this.
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Re: Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Dec 2010, 13:22
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+1 B

The argument believes that there could be only a decrease in the number of beliefs.
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New post 14 Dec 2010, 12:48
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(A) presumes, without providing any justification, that the surest way of increasing the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs must not hinder one’s ability to survive
(B) neglects the possibility that even while following the statisticians’ rule, one might also accept new beliefs when presented with some kinds of evidence
(C) overlooks the possibility that some large sets of beliefs are more correct overall than are some small sets of beliefs
(D) takes for granted that one should accept some beliefs related to survival even when given adequate evidence against them
(E) takes for granted that the beliefs we need in order to have many beliefs must all be correct beliefs

Reject A because The author gives a reason "Since we need many beliefs in order to survive"
(C) Takes it for granted that all will have large sets of beliefs
(D)The stimulus nowhere says that one must accept wrong beliefs as well
(E) Nowhere mentioned.In fact the stimulus accepts that the beliefs may be wrong
I was left with B
but the stimulus says "never change that set, except by rejecting a belief when given adequate evidence against it"B contradicts the stimulus.I will go with C then .In this case All people will ensure that they have large sets of beliefs which will be more correct overall
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Re: Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Feb 2017, 19:17
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I agree with A.

I reject B because, the statistician clearly says that "never change that set, except by rejecting a belief", which translates to not adding new beliefs, but only deleting existing ones.

Also, I support A because the statistician only talks about the correctness of a set of beliefs. However, the author talks about survival, a completely irrelevant conclusion.
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New post 23 Sep 2018, 01:01
i am beginner, if anyone can explain logic behind this answer
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New post 23 Sep 2018, 08:33
The answer is A.

The argument can be boiled down to this: it can't be the case that this system is the right one for increasing the overall correctness of one's beliefs, because it harms are ability to survive. There is a major assumption here: if something harms our ability to survive, it can't be the best way to increase the correctness of our beliefs. This is exactly what A states
(note that even if we strongly personally agree with this assumption, it is still an assumption which is not supported in the passage itself - and as such, is open to criticism)
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New post 23 Sep 2018, 08:36
Lokeshvyas wrote:
i am beginner, if anyone can explain logic behind this answer


Sure thing - we are asked what can criticise the claim. Our first move when we want to criticise a claim is to to inspect air and see if it holds together: that is, if the conclusion is indeed a necessary product of the assumptions - or if there are further unstated assumptions which can be attacked. Here there is such an unstated assumption, which I explain above - is this clear?
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New post 30 Mar 2019, 21:49
I highly doubt that such question is a gmat-like question. Nevertheless, this question is worth to practice. Clearly, all C,D,E are out of scope. I am not surprised that many people will choose B which is a trap. The argument here does not discuss anything about accepting new beliefs.

A is not only an answer but also a pattern.
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New post 05 Aug 2019, 23:41
Can someone please explain why option E is wrong?
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New post 14 Aug 2019, 05:42
Premise: Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the overall correctness of the total set of one’s beliefs is: never change that set, except by rejecting a belief when given adequate evidence against it.

Counter premise: However, if this were the only rule one followed, then whenever one was presented with any kind of evidence, one would have to either reject some of one’s beliefs or else leave one’s beliefs unchanged. But then, over time, one could only have fewer and fewer beliefs.

Conclusion: Since we need many beliefs in order to survive, the statisticians’ claim must be mistaken.

It is clear that there is a gap in the Premise to support the conclusion. Agreed that the premise is correct, but where does it prove that given Premise leads to the Conclusion? Answer A clearly addresses this.
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Re: Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Aug 2019, 12:40
The reason, I think, one doesn't notice why A is correct is because -
It says that the argument "presumes that the only way to increase... (the statistician's claim) must not hinder one's ability to survive"
If the "must not" were replaced by 'must', option A would've seemed more straightforward and one would recognize it as the right option.

Option B, is wrong, however, because it says that one can add beliefs. Understanding the premise would tell you that the argument is only concered about the scenario which involves following just that one rule, and that would mean one cannot add beliefs.
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Re: Some statisticians claim that the surest way to increase the   [#permalink] 14 Aug 2019, 12:40
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