Bunuel wrote:

The incidence of suicide in the country of Travonia has increased dramatically in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that since the introduction of several nonprescription brands of sleeping pills, the number of deaths from overdoses alone has nearly doubled. However, certain types of suicides have not increased in number during this period. It is true that elderly suicides have seen a greater than 70 percent increase, but teen suicides now account for only 30 percent of all suicides in the country. This is a significant decrease over 1985, when teen cases represented 65 percent of all country-wide suicides.

The argument above is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that it does which of the following?

(A) It discounts the possibility of suicides occurring in groups other than the elderly and teenagers.

(B) It takes for granted that the introduction of non-prescription sleeping pills has had the same effect on two different demographic groups.

(C) It assumes that a decrease in the percentage of teen suicides necessarily signifies a decrease in the number of teen suicides.

(D) It overlooks the possibility that the total number of deaths in Travonia has increased since 1985.

(E) It relies on evidence that contradicts its conclusion

KAPLAN OFFICIAL EXPLANATION:

Where do the test makers find these depressing places? People in Travonia are killing themselves in record numbers. Let's see what's going on. The author states that Travonia's suicide rate has increased, citing an increase in the number of overdoses following the recent release of certain brands of sleeping pills. Getting to the heart of the argument, the author then asserts that certain types of suicides have not increased in number, conceding that the percentage of elderly suicides has increased but noting that the percentage of teen suicides has decreased. The latter fact sounds like good news on the face of it, but is tempered by the fact that the author blurs the distinction between numbers and percents. just because the percentage represented by teen suicides has decreased, that doesn't mean that fewer teens are committing suicide. A decreased percentage needn't signify a decreased number of suicides, and the author's flaw comes in failing to recognize this, as (C) expresses. A common logical flaw, indeed.

(A) The argument doesn't explicitly discuss other groups, but it certainly doesn't discount the possibility that other groups might exist.

(B) Not really, since the author doesn't link the sleeping pill takers to either demographic group, as mentioned in the explanation for (A).

(D) The total number of deaths in general is outside the scope of the argument, which deals exclusively with deaths from suicides and overdoses. The author need not consider the overall death figures in Travonia in order to make this argument.

(E) is vague, and wrong. The evidence about percentages doesn't contradict the author's conclusion, it just doesn't necessarily support it in the way the author suggests.

An 800 test taker is crystal clear on the distinction between numbers and percentages.

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