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# Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study

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31 Jan 2019, 03:02
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Project CR Butler:Day 52:Critical Reasoning (CR1)

Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study of democracy in the United States, believed that a government that centralizes power in one individual or institution is dangerous to its citizens. Biographers claim that Tocqueville disliked centralized government because he blamed Napoleons rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.

Which of the following, if true, would cast the most serious doubt on the biographers claim?

A. Although Napoleon was popularly blamed at the time for the terrible living conditions in Normandy, historians now know that bad harvests were really to blame for the poor economic conditions.
B. Napoleon was notorious for refusing to share power with any of his political associates.
C. Tocqueville said he knew that if his father had not suffered ill health, his family would have had a steady income and a comfortable standard of living.
D. Although Tocqueville asserted that United States political life was democratic, the United States of the nineteenth century allowed political power to be concentrated in a few institutions.
E. Tocqueville once wrote in a letter that, although his childhood was terribly impoverished, it was not different from the experience of his friends and neighbors in Normandy.

The argument has extraneous information to confuse you.

Focus on this: Biographers claim that Tocqueville disliked centralized government because he blamed Napoleons rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.

They claim that he disliked centralised Govt because he blamed Napolean's rule (centralised power) for his childhood poverty.

We need to weaken the claim of why he hated centralised Govt. (C) tells us that he did not blame Napolean for his childhood poverty. Apparently, he believed that if his dad had kept good health, they would have been comfortable. So Napolean's rule would not have caused poverty. This does weaken the claim that he hated centralised Govt because he blamed Napolean's rule for poverty. We know he was against centralised Govt but that would be because of some other reason.
Let's look at other options too:

A. Although Napoleon was popularly blamed at the time for the terrible living conditions in Normandy, historians now know that bad harvests were really to blame for the poor economic conditions.
It doesn't matter whether Napolean was actually to blame or not. The biographers claim that Tocqueville blamed Napolean's rule for poverty. We have to weaken this claim. We have to show that Tocqueville did not blame Napolean for poverty. Whether Napolean was actually to be blamed or not is irrelevant.

B. Napoleon was notorious for refusing to share power with any of his political associates.

Again, irrelevant as above.

D. Although Tocqueville asserted that United States political life was democratic, the United States of the nineteenth century allowed political power to be concentrated in a few institutions.

We have to weaken biographers claim on why Tocqueville disliked centralised power. It has nothing to do with whether US has centralised power or not.

E. Tocqueville once wrote in a letter that, although his childhood was terribly impoverished, it was not different from the experience of his friends and neighbors in Normandy.

Just because others also suffered doesn't mean Tocqueville did not blame Napolean for poverty.

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31 Jan 2019, 06:37
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Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study of democracy in the United States, believed that a government that centralizes power in one individual or institution is dangerous to its citizens. Biographers claim that Tocqueville disliked centralized government because he blamed Napoleons rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.

So writer X criticised government that centralized power, because it influenced negatively on citizens. Biographers claim that writer X was against centralization of power, since it was Napolelons rule that made him spend his childhood in poverty.

Which of the following, if true, would cast the most serious doubt on the biographers claim?

So you we need weaken biographers claim that Napoleons rule played a key role in impoverishment of writer X

A. Although Napoleon was popularly blamed at the time for the terrible living conditions in Normandy, historians now know that bad harvests were really to blame for the poor economic conditions. Harvests are seasonal, it is only one aspect of economy - agriculture. i think one cant dhift the blame for poor economy onto poor harvests. Moreover we are concerned with writer`s position and Napoleons rule

B. Napoleon was notorious for refusing to share power with any of his political associates. (irrelevant. )

C. Tocqueville said he knew that if his father had not suffered ill health, his family would have had a steady income and a comfortable standard of living.
Correct, as per option C/ writer`s opinion - If his father hadnt suffered ill health, writer would have a comfortable childhood. This option does indeed cast serious doubt on biographers claim that the cause of writer`s poor childood, was Napoleons rule.

D. Although Tocqueville asserted that United States political life was democratic, the United States of the nineteenth century allowed political power to be concentrated in a few institutions. We are not concerned with decantralization of power. out of scope.

E. Tocqueville once wrote in a letter that, although his childhood was terribly impoverished, it was not different from the experience of his friends and neighbors in Normandy. it doesnt weaken. it just says that he was not the only one who lived in poor conditions
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31 Jan 2019, 09:06

Thank you for your explanation. However, I have a question

X caused Y

X:-- he blamed Napoleons rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.
Y: Tocqueville disliked centralized government

We have to find alternative cause which in in option C.

Alternative X:--- Tocqueville said he knew that if his father had not suffered ill health, his family would have had a steady income and a comfortable standard of living.

My Point how does this new X led to Tocqueville disliking government??

Because his father was ill, why will he dislike government??

I am not getting this point. We have to find that alternative which also mentions his reason for disliking government. But this option C alternative is not doing that.
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Re: Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study  [#permalink]

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31 Jan 2019, 09:12
VeritasPrepBrandon wrote:
This is a weaken C.R. question. The biographers are claiming that Tocqueville blames Napoleon for his poor childhood, and that this is why he dislikes centralized government. If we can find another cause of his poor childhood outside of Napoleon, however, then this argument falls apart. Answer choice C does exactly that. It attributes Tocqueville's poor childhood to his father's ill health, and not Napoleon. This breaks the causal link that Napoleon caused his poor childhood (and is why Tocqueville dislikes centralized government), and thus weakens the biographers' claim.

I hope this helps!!!

Nice explanation, this made me clear. Thanks for posting this.
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01 Feb 2019, 20:08
warrior1991 wrote:

Thank you for your explanation. However, I have a question

X caused Y

X:-- he blamed Napoleons rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.
Y: Tocqueville disliked centralized government

We have to find alternative cause which in in option C.

Alternative X:--- Tocqueville said he knew that if his father had not suffered ill health, his family would have had a steady income and a comfortable standard of living.

My Point how does this new X led to Tocqueville disliking government??

Because his father was ill, why will he dislike government??

I am not getting this point. We have to find that alternative which also mentions his reason for disliking government. But this option C alternative is not doing that.

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01 Feb 2019, 20:57
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Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study of democracy in the United States, believed that a government that centralizes power in one individual or institution is dangerous to its citizens. Biographers claim that Tocqueville disliked centralized government because he blamed Napoleons rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.

Which of the following, if true, would cast the most serious doubt on the biographers claim?

A. Although Napoleon was popularly blamed at the time for the terrible living conditions in Normandy, historians now know that bad harvests were really to blame for the poor economic conditions.
B. Napoleon was notorious for refusing to share power with any of his political associates.
C. Tocqueville said he knew that if his father had not suffered ill health, his family would have had a steady income and a comfortable standard of living.
D. Although Tocqueville asserted that United States political life was democratic, the United States of the nineteenth century allowed political power to be concentrated in a few institutions.
E. Tocqueville once wrote in a letter that, although his childhood was terribly impoverished, it was not different from the experience of his friends and neighbors in Normandy.

warrior1991 wrote:
warrior1991 wrote:

Thank you for your explanation. However, I have a question

X caused Y

X:-- he blamed Napoleons rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.
Y: Tocqueville disliked centralized government

We have to find alternative cause which in in option C.

Alternative X:--- Tocqueville said he knew that if his father had not suffered ill health, his family would have had a steady income and a comfortable standard of living.

My Point how does this new X led to Tocqueville disliking government??

Because his father was ill, why will he dislike government??

I am not getting this point. We have to find that alternative which also mentions his reason for disliking government. But this option C alternative is not doing that.

warrior1991 - you are focused on the wrong people. It's easy to do.
I think we may have some verb tense issues going on, too.
In passages that contain sequential logic, the verbs can make a difference. Maybe not. Let's see.

• Work backwards: what do the biographers claim?

Question: Which of the following, if true, would cast the most serious doubt on the biographers claim?

Biographers claim that Tocqueville disliked centralized government because he blamed Napoleon's rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.

-- Focus on the biographers.

-- Attack their claim.

-- The truth value of the biographers' claim depends on the fact in boldface type:
Tocqueville disliked centralized government because he
blamed Napoleon's rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy.

-- Biographers: Because Tocqueville blamed Napoleon's rule for the poverty of his childhood in Normandy, [de Tocqueville disliked central government]

-- The biographers' claim: Because Tocqueville blamed Napoleon . . .
How do we attack this causal link?
Attack because.
Find the answer in which Tocqueville does not blame Napoleon.

• ANSWER C: does Tocqueville blame Napoleon?

C. Tocqueville said he knew that if his father had not suffered ill health, his family would have had a steady income and a comfortable standard of living.

Time sequence:

-- Tocqueville's father was ill.
-- His father could not work.
-- Because Tocqueville's father could not work, [Tocqueville suffered childhood poverty]:
the family did not have a steady income and a comfortable standard of living.
-- Tocqueville himself said that he grew up in poverty because his father was ill.

Whom or what is Tocqueville blaming for the poverty of his childhood?
-- Does Tocqueville blame Napoleon?
-- No. Tocqueville blames his father's illness.

-- Done. The biographers claim that Tocqueville did X because he blamed Napoleon for the poverty of his childhood.
Tocqueville did not blame Napoleon.
He blamed his father's illness.

We could stop here and mark Answer C.

• Extend the analysis

Tocqueville disliked centralized government, but not because Tocqueville blamed Napoleon for Tocqueville's childhood poverty.

One more step? Okay. We do not need to go here. But we can.

True: Napoleon was autocratic (authoritarian, a despot, acted as if he were a king)

True: Napoleon centralized power in himself

True: Tocqueville disliked centralized power in government

Why did Tocqueville dislike centralized government?

-- Was his dislike because, as the biographers claim, Tocqueville blamed Napoleon for Tocqueville's childhood poverty?

-- Does Tocqueville's dislike of central government have anything to do
with Napoleon's being to blame for the poverty that Tocqueville suffered as a child?

-- No.
-- BETTER EXPLANATION (and completely unnecessary because the logical chain is broken):
The political theory argument would be that
Tocqueville disliked centralized power because Napoleon centralized power,
and centralized power, in turn, created disastrous results for France.

-- Tocqueville's dislike of centralized power is not connected to Tocqueville's blaming Napoleon for T's childhood poverty.
-- Tocqueville blames his father's illness for Tocqueville's childhood poverty.

But the biographers insist that:
1) Tocqueville believed that Napoleon was responsible for the childhood poverty [FALSE]
and
2) because Tocqueville blamed Napoleon for poverty, Tocqueville disliked centralized government [FALSE]
The because part is wrong in #2.

The biographers are wrong, dead wrong, about the reason that Tocqueville disliked centralized government.

A. Although Napoleon was popularly blamed at the time for the terrible living conditions in Normandy, historians now know that bad harvests were really to blame for the poor economic conditions.

-- This answer has nothing to do with the biographers' claim.

-- The biographers' claim hinges upon whether Tocqueville blamed Napoleon for Tocqueville's childhood poverty.

-- If Tocqueville did NOT blame Napoleon for Tocqueville's childhood poverty,
then the biographers are wrong about WHY Tocqueville disliked centralized government.

Historians' knowledge about what was to blame
for poor economic conditions has nothing to do with
what the biographers claim about whom Tocqueville blamed.

If the answer does not go directly to the issue of whom Tocqueville blamed [for his childhood poverty],
then the answer does not even address, let alone weaken, the biographers' claim.

We do not have to get to the issue of centralized government,
although we can and did.

Hope that helps.
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01 Feb 2019, 21:22
generis

Thank you once again. I understood what you said.

Correct me.

Finally the point that comes out is that (tocqueville's poverty) has no bearing on (his disliking government).

You also mean that it is not necessary that always X(cause) should cause Y(effect). That means sometimes effect doe not occur even when cause occurs.

Is that correct??
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Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study  [#permalink]

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01 Feb 2019, 23:03
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warrior1991 wrote:
generis

Thank you once again. I understood what you said.

Correct me.

Finally the point that comes out is that (tocqueville's poverty) has no bearing on (his disliking government).

You also mean that it is not necessary that always X(cause) should cause Y(effect). That means sometimes effect doe not occur even when cause occurs.

Is that correct??

warrior1991 , not quite, but you are close.

Tocqueville's alleged blaming of Napoleon for T's childhood poverty has no bearing on T's dislike of centralized government

T did not blame Napoleon for his childhood poverty. Something else made T dislike centralized government.

Poverty may have had something to do with Tocqueville's dislike of centralized government. In an academic sense, we cannot say.
-- But he did not blame Napoleon for that poverty.
-- The biographers claim that Tocqueville DID blame Napoleon.
The issue is the blaming of Napoleon for the poverty. Not the poverty itself.

I will use Q instead of Y. Sometimes it helps to switch.

If X is a cause of Q, then every time that X happens, Q will happen.

The issue here is that X is not a cause of Q. Something else causes Q.

With respect to the highlighted portion. That's not correct.
It's a common mistake in logic. I think you are making the error in #3

Bear with me for a moment.

LOGIC

Main truth claim is TRUE
TRUE: 1) If X, then Q
TRUE: If you are a man, then you are a mammal

#1 logically entails #2.

TRUE: 2) If not Q, then not X
TRUE: If you are not a mammal, then you are not a man

#1 does NOT logically entail #3 or #4

FALSE: 3) If not X, then not Q -- [WRONG! FALSE!]
If you are not a man, then you are not a mammal.
Hooey. A kangaroo is not a man. A kangaroo IS a mammal

FALSE: 4) If Q, then X
If you are a mammal, then you are a man.
Hooey. A kangaroo is a mammal. A kangaroo is not a man.

Error #3
If Tocqueville did not blame Napoleon for T's childhood poverty, then Tocqueville did NOT dislike centralized government.
As a matter of logic: FALSE

There can be more than one sufficient condition for Q.
There can be more than one necessary condition for Q.
X is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for Q.

X = The issue is "blame Napoleon [yes, for poverty, but it's the blame that is key]."

If we can prove that there is no X, for whatever reason,
then there MAY still be a Q, but it is not caused by X — and the biographers are wrong.

The biographers claim: X, therefore Q

X = Tocqueville blamed Napoleon for Tocqueville's childhood poverty.
This whole fact, X, caused
Q = Tocqueville disliked centralized government

So, did Tocqueville blame Napoleon for T's childhood poverty? No.
X did NOT cause Q. Something else caused Q.

Was Q true? Yes. I offered a "political theory" explanation
to demonstrate that Q indeed existed but was not caused by X

Napoleon's Autocracy/Absolutism → disaster in France → Tocqueville dislikes centralized government

Napoleon's Absolutism = A

Biographers: X, therefore Q
FALSE

Political historians: A, therefore Q
TRUE

Q still exists.
But Q was caused by A, not by X. The biographers are insisting that Q was caused by X.

X is a because clause.
The moment we prove that X is false, we are done.

Q still happens. Do we care? No.

The biographers are shouting, "X caused Q! X caused Q!"
We say back, "X did not cause Q! X did not cause Q!" (Something else caused Q. X is not a cause.)

Hope that helps.
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02 Feb 2019, 00:40
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generis

Thank you for bearing with me. I get it clearly now.
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Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study  [#permalink]

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02 Feb 2019, 02:16
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warrior1991 my reasoning was very simple between A and C. Since the argument mentions "writer`s childhood in poverty" that means harvest and child poverty cant be logically connected, whereas fathers illness and child poverty is logical and fits into context.
Tocqueville, a nineteenth-century writer known for his study   [#permalink] 02 Feb 2019, 02:16

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