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LSAT Contradictions and Distortions

Once you have a handle on scope, you may suddenly find yourself tempted by contradctions on distortions on the LSAT test. These answers deal with the evidence in the argument, and are thus “in scope,” yet they go against what the author wrote or make bad connections that the author did not intend.

This is the fourth article in a series of articles dealing with wrong answer choices on the LSAT test. The article series includes:

  • LSAT Logical Reasoning Wrong Answer Choices: Introduction
  • LSAT Out of Scope Answers
  • Right Answer, Wrong Question
  • LSAT Contradictions and Distortions
  • LSAT Answers with Wrong Tone
  • LSAT Practice Questions for Wrong Answers
  • LSAT Contradictions and Distortions

    Often, the LSAT test presents you with tempting answer choices that go against what the author is arguing. They may directly contradict the author or they connect two pieces of the argument that do not need to be connected. They seem tempting because the scope is correct, but unless you’re dealing with a weaken question, you don’t want to contradict the author. Besides, weaken answers are typically more sophisticated than simply saying the author is wrong. They usually ask you to attack the central assumption. And as far as making connections in an argument, all you care about is connecting the gap in logic-finding the central assumption. In this case, the connection addressed the red flag: what is the connection between chimpanzees and children in emotionally distant families?
    Reread the same argument we used in the previous articles, but this time consider keep the a question stem in mind of “which of the following does the author infer?”

    Researchers at State University are teaching chimpanzees to communicate using sign language. For years the research continued largely without success. The researchers would reward the chimpanzees with food when they used the right gestures. The chimpanzees simply mimicked the researchers’ gestures in a sort of Pavlovian response. The researchers recently had a breakthrough. By adding emotional words and cues along with simple nouns, the chimpanzees seem able to grasp larger concepts and some even form simple sentences. This research proves that children raised in emotionally distant families have difficulty expressing themselves with language.

    (A)   Chimpanzees were able to phrase simple sentences after being trained using a Pavlovian response.

    This is in scope, but is the opposite of what the author is saying. How could the author infer the opposite of what she wrote?

    (B)    Children who have trouble expressing themselves should learn sign language.

    This answer takes two pieces of the argument and connects them in a way the author never intended. We want to find the connection between chimps and children, not sign language and children.

    (C)    Chimpanzees can only learn language if they are given emotional stimulus while learning.

    This seems close to what the author is saying, but the extreme language distorts it. We know that chimpanzees learn language better when given emotional cues, but the author never said it was the only way to learn.

    (D)   When the chimpanzees were given emotional cues, they stopped imitating the gestures of the researchers.

    Again, this distorts the author’s words by making a connection where one doesn’t exist in the argument. We know that they learned better and were able to form simple sentences after being given emotional cues, but we don’t know that they stopped mimicking the researchers entirely.

    (E)    Chimpanzees and children both require emotional cues to learn language.

    OK, so we’re stacking the deck and all the right answers in this series are (E). Still, if this were the actual LSAT, you should just mark this answer as correct and move on-without ever reading it. Why waste your time if you’ve eliminated the other answers — one answer has to be correct so if the others are wrong this is it. This choice answers the red flag: what is the connection between chimps and children?

    Next we’ll take a look at LSAT Answers with Wrong Tone.