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The folktale that claims that a rattlesnake's age can be [#permalink]
14 Aug 2005, 16:06
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The folktale that claims that a rattlesnake's age can be determined from the number of sections in its rattles is false, but only because the rattles are brittle and sometimes partially or completly break off. So if they were not so brittle, one could reliably determine a rattlesnake's age simply from the number of sections in its rattle, because one new section is formed each time a rattlesnake molts.
Which one of the following is an assumption the argument requires in order for its conclusion to be properly drawn?
A) Rattlesnakes molt exactly once a year.
B) The rattles of rattlesnakes of different species are identical in appearance.
C) Rattlesnakes molt more frequently when young than when they were old.
D) The brittleness of a rattlesnake's rattle is not correlated with the length of rattlesnake's life.
E) Rattlesnakes molt as often when food is scarce as they do when food is plentiful.
I will post the OA later. Please post the explanations.
The author concludes that if brittleness/breaking does not happen, then one can say the age of the rattlesnake by looking at the number of rattles. This means that the author assumes that there are no other factors that can vary. But if molting is dependent on eating, then we cannot tell the age of a rattlesnake even if the rattles don't break off.
Added later -> This is classic case of the "all other things being equal" hidden assumption. When you see theories and comparisons you should look out for this fallacy.
The author says - "The folktale is wrong. This is because of the brittleness thing. But once you take out the brittleness issue, you can surely tell a rattlesnake's age by counting its rattles"
Essentially the author's argument is that other than brittleness, counting rattles is a guaranteed way of finding a rattlesnake's age. This means that other than age, rattlesnakes' rattles are not dependent on any other factor, like say weather or maybe...eating Ergo, choice E
think that A) is the answer. This is the correct assumption to determine the age of a rattle snake by its rattles.There is nothing in the text that implies any connection with the food. But we do not know if rattle snakes molt once,twice or trice a year. So if A) is correct then we will be able to determine the age of the snake. Additionally the author states that the [url]folk tale is wrong only because [/url]rattles are brittle and easily break off
B) tells us nothing and is not related with the text
C) in this case we can not determine the age by the rings
D) and E) are not related with the text ,IMHO
I chose A on a practice test. But I understand E being the correct choice. Using the 2 of 5 rule, I easily eliminated B,C, and D. However, what, exactly, makes A the wrong choice? Is it that we can't assume that the rattle molts every year? In other words, we don't know how often it molts, but only that it molts at a constant rate, making it a reliable predictor of age? Just want to confirm for benefit of knowing