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Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by ohthatpatrick Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:20 pm

Question Type:
Strengthen

Stimulus Breakdown:
Conclusion: The number of tornadoes has probably not doubled since the 50s.
Evidence: Yes, the # of reported tornadoes has doubled since the 1950s, but we've gotten better at finding them, so we're probably just finding a higher % of tornadoes than before.

Answer Anticipation:
The author is looking at a Curious Fact and concluding some Causal Explanation. We always ask ourselves the same two questions for this sort of argument:
1. Are there any OTHER WAYS to explain the background fact?
2. How PLAUSIBLE is the author's explanation?

On a Strengthen, question we would want to rule out other ways to explain the background fact, or increase the plausibility of the author's explanation. The latter is more common, so I would think about how to strengthen the plausibility of the author's story:

if we're reporting more than twice as many tornadoes, I'd like to know that we're more than twice as good at finding tornadoes, in order to believe the author's story that it's just about better observation. There's also a tiny gap between "finding" a tornado and "reporting" it, so we would like to close that gap and say, "When we find more tornadoes with our improved ability, we report those tornadoes".
Correct Answer:
C

Answer Choice Analysis:
(A) No one cares about what damage has/hasn't occurred. We're only analzying the QUANTITY of tornadoes.

(B) Who cares about whether the tornadoes are hitting this place or that place? We just care about HOW MANY there have been.

(C) Maybe (and ultimately YES!). If all the increase in tornadoes has come from smaller tornadoes, it makes some sense that THOSE are the tornadoes we probably previously didn't find, whereas our enhanced ability to locate tornadoes would NOW make us able to record those.

(D) No one cares about deaths (no offense, tornado victims).

(E) No one cares about range, just # of tornadoes.

Takeaway/Pattern: This did indeed strengthen the plausibility of the author's explanation (also, all the other answers were CRAZY out of scope). If you're immediate reaction to (C) was, "who cares about the SIZE of tornadoes? We only care about the #", then you want to make sure after every answer you're asking yourself, "does this make it more plausible that better detection is making the difference?". This is a pretty cryptic correct answer and requires us adding commonsense ideas like, "the SMALLEST tornadoes are the ones we would most likely have been missing before and finding now.

#officialexplanation
 
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by tw4jp Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:35 pm

Yikes, I chose B because I thought if tornadoes hit the major population centers more, then more people will be able to find and report them! I need to stop making imagery inference from the answer choices. :oops: However when I was pting, i felt answer choice c needs a bigger inference jump that B.
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by ohthatpatrick Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:59 am

A couple things:

1. We're talking about
"the number of tornadoes reported"
not
"the number of tornado reports"

When a tornado hits near a big city, there will be millions of people reporting the tornado, but there will still only be one tornado reported.

2. Doesn't (B) kinda weaken?
The conclusion is "the actual number of tornadoes hasn't gone up", and (B) says "the actual number of tornadoes has gone up, by a lot, in big cities".

Your line of objection would necessitate adding some assumption that "the number of tornadoes outside of big cities has gone down by half." Otherwise, you're increasing the actual number of tornadoes.
 
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by tw4jp Thu Feb 01, 2018 2:32 am

Thanks Patrick! I really appreciate your quick and comprehensive response! However, I still have a question. I thought the conclusion of the stimulus is the last sentence -- we're probably just finding a higher percentage of them than we used to. Why the conclusion is" the actual number has probably not increased"?
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by ohthatpatrick Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:30 am

You'd call the 2nd sentence the conclusion because it essentially goes one step farther in the chain of reasoning.

Our ability to find T's has improved,
so, we're probably finding a higher % than before
so, the number of T's occurring has probably not actually gone up.


In those three ideas that I just laid out, 1 supports 2, and 2 supports 3.

2 is still an INTERMEDIATE CONCLUSION, so it's fair game to worry about strengthening the connection between 1 and 2.

But we could also object to the move from 2 to 3, and say
"Hey, even though we're getting better at finding T's, there might ALSO be more T's actually occurring."

The author would be able to point to (C) and say, "Doesn't look like it. The number of large and medium T's being reported are the same as ever."
 
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by KristenW551 Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:24 am

I still have trouble killing A, especially with part of your takeaway, "...requires us adding commonsense ideas..."

If physical damage has remained constant wouldn't that prove that there has been no increase in the number of tornados? Sure we are able to find more because of improved ability, but the amount of wreckage remaining constant helps us understand that the # of tornados isn't changing. I kept C but did not (and still don't like it) because it seems as though it leaves room for an increase in small tornados to happen. Also even after rereading it sounds like it is contradicting the premise.
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by LolaC289 Sun Oct 07, 2018 5:07 am

ohthatpatrick wrote:(C) Maybe (and ultimately YES!). If all the increase in tornadoes has come from smaller tornadoes, it makes some sense that THOSE are the tornadoes we probably previously didn't find, whereas our enhanced ability to locate tornadoes would NOW make us able to record those.


I understand your point, but I still don't see this adds support to the author's conclusion more than to the one he is arguing against, since he is preferring his explanation to the other. To me, this is at best providing support both ways (so, no support actually): if the large medium sized ones reported are constant, implying that the reported increase is all from the small ones, why is it more possible that this increase is due to more report, but not ACTUAL increase of the small tornadoes?

If I've found this answer leans even a little bit more to the author's way than the other, I'd go for it. But I haven't.

Looking forward to your reply!

[Little Update: My friend, a fellow LSAT student actually made a good point to me that by common sense, it is rare (although still possible) for a meteorological condition to ONLY cause small-size phenomenon but not cause medium or huge ones. Thus, if small ones are the only kind reported increasing, it is more likely that they've been RECORDED more than they've been PRODUCED more. :? Maybe it is common sense that I'm most lacking...]
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by ohthatpatrick Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:23 pm

To circle back to the last couple questions

(A) would have worked as you were thinking if it said, "The total annual damage caused by tornadoes has remained roughly constant". All other things being equal, that sounds like we've got an equal number of tornadoes.

But saying the "average damage of a tornado" doesn't give us any sense of whether there are more or less tornadoes. It makes it seem like tornadoes haven't gotten more/less SEVERE, but it says nothing about whether there are more/fewer tornadoes.


The last poster was saying
why is it more possible that this increase [in smaller tornadoes being reported] is due to more report, but not ACTUAL increase of the small tornadoes?


I think your friend's point is correct, but you also just end up needing to pick (C) because nothing else is doing ANYTHING. So even if (C) only does a little, it wins.

Common sense question:
If we improve our ability to find tornadoes, would that make us better at finding small ones, medium ones, and large ones equally? Or would our improved detection be most important at the smaller end of the scale?

Generally, you don't need fancy detection to notice a large tornado. Everyone sees it; it does lots of damage; it's hard to miss. You might be able to now learn more about a large tornado, but that has nothing to do with detecting whether or not it occurred. We would have always been spotting the biggest tornadoes.

The ones that are smaller, or shorter in duration, or occurring in areas farther from civilization .... these are the ones that would most likely elude our detection until we started getting better at detecting.

So there is a common sense idea that improved detection would disproportionately improve our ability to detect the smallest / shortest / most isolated tornadoes.
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by LolaC289 Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:53 pm

ohthatpatrick wrote:The last poster was saying
why is it more possible that this increase [in smaller tornadoes being reported] is due to more report, but not ACTUAL increase of the small tornadoes?


I think your friend's point is correct, but you also just end up needing to pick (C) because nothing else is doing ANYTHING. So even if (C) only does a little, it wins.

Common sense question:
If we improve our ability to find tornadoes, would that make us better at finding small ones, medium ones, and large ones equally? Or would our improved detection be most important at the smaller end of the scale?

Generally, you don't need fancy detection to notice a large tornado. Everyone sees it; it does lots of damage; it's hard to miss. You might be able to now learn more about a large tornado, but that has nothing to do with detecting whether or not it occurred. We would have always been spotting the biggest tornadoes.

The ones that are smaller, or shorter in duration, or occurring in areas farther from civilization .... these are the ones that would most likely elude our detection until we started getting better at detecting.

So there is a common sense idea that improved detection would disproportionately improve our ability to detect the smallest / shortest / most isolated tornadoes.


Thank you Patrick for your (always) timely & inspiring reply, which really helped a lot !! Please know how much you've helped us LSAT takers, you are our most beloved trainer!!!
 
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by DPCTE4325 Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:59 pm

ohthatpatrick wrote:Question Type:
Strengthen

Stimulus Breakdown:
Conclusion: The number of tornadoes has probably not doubled since the 50s.
Evidence: Yes, the # of reported tornadoes has doubled since the 1950s, but we've gotten better at finding them, so we're probably just finding a higher % of tornadoes than before.

Answer Anticipation:
The author is looking at a Curious Fact and concluding some Causal Explanation. We always ask ourselves the same two questions for this sort of argument:
1. Are there any OTHER WAYS to explain the background fact?
2. How PLAUSIBLE is the author's explanation?

On a Strengthen, question we would want to rule out other ways to explain the background fact, or increase the plausibility of the author's explanation. The latter is more common, so I would think about how to strengthen the plausibility of the author's story:

if we're reporting more than twice as many tornadoes, I'd like to know that we're more than twice as good at finding tornadoes, in order to believe the author's story that it's just about better observation. There's also a tiny gap between "finding" a tornado and "reporting" it, so we would like to close that gap and say, "When we find more tornadoes with our improved ability, we report those tornadoes".
Correct Answer:
C

Answer Choice Analysis:
(A) No one cares about what damage has/hasn't occurred. We're only analzying the QUANTITY of tornadoes.

(B) Who cares about whether the tornadoes are hitting this place or that place? We just care about HOW MANY there have been.

(C) Maybe (and ultimately YES!). If all the increase in tornadoes has come from smaller tornadoes, it makes some sense that THOSE are the tornadoes we probably previously didn't find, whereas our enhanced ability to locate tornadoes would NOW make us able to record those.

(D) No one cares about deaths (no offense, tornado victims).

(E) No one cares about range, just # of tornadoes.

Takeaway/Pattern: This did indeed strengthen the plausibility of the author's explanation (also, all the other answers were CRAZY out of scope). If you're immediate reaction to (C) was, "who cares about the SIZE of tornadoes? We only care about the #", then you want to make sure after every answer you're asking yourself, "does this make it more plausible that better detection is making the difference?". This is a pretty cryptic correct answer and requires us adding commonsense ideas like, "the SMALLEST tornadoes are the ones we would most likely have been missing before and finding now.

#officialexplanation


Hey Patrick, I got this question right using your brilliant anti-conclusion method. I was a bit surprised you didn't list out this method so wanted to make sure that you'd advocate the method for these types of questions as well.

Thank you!
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by ohthatpatrick Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:45 pm

Awesome!

Yes, I'm still using the Anti-Conclusion method here, but with causal explanations I think it's even more important to frame our thinking around the two different ways we can argue for the Anti-Conclusion.

When we're saying, "EVEN THOUGH I ACCEPT your evidence, I CAN STILL ARGUE your explanation [your conclusion] is wrong", we can either do so by arguing:

1. I have a DIFFERENT explanation that could explain the same evidence
or
2. I have a way to undermine the plausibility of YOUR explanation

Most of the time, our objections are focused at the conclusion:
Lebron joined the Lakers, so the Lakers will make the playoffs.

(How can I argue "they WON'T make the playoffs?")

But with causality, our objection can be aimed at the conclusion or at the evidence:
Lebron is crying. He must be cutting onions.

(How can I argue that "he ISN'T cutting onions" still works, but it's also really important to ask your brain "what is a DIFFERENT REASON for why he might be crying?")

Our objections either sound like:
1. I don't know whether he's cutting onions, but the reason he's crying is ______ .
(Lebron stubbed his toe / Lebron watched a sad movie)

or
2. I don't know why he's crying, but he's not cutting onions.
(Lebron can't cook / Lebron is scared of knives)
 
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by DPCTE4325 Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:53 pm

ohthatpatrick wrote:Awesome!

Yes, I'm still using the Anti-Conclusion method here, but with causal explanations I think it's even more important to frame our thinking around the two different ways we can argue for the Anti-Conclusion.

When we're saying, "EVEN THOUGH I ACCEPT your evidence, I CAN STILL ARGUE your explanation [your conclusion] is wrong", we can either do so by arguing:

1. I have a DIFFERENT explanation that could explain the same evidence
or
2. I have a way to undermine the plausibility of YOUR explanation

Most of the time, our objections are focused at the conclusion:
Lebron joined the Lakers, so the Lakers will make the playoffs.

(How can I argue "they WON'T make the playoffs?")

But with causality, our objection can be aimed at the conclusion or at the evidence:
Lebron is crying. He must be cutting onions.

(How can I argue that "he ISN'T cutting onions" still works, but it's also really important to ask your brain "what is a DIFFERENT REASON for why he might be crying?")

Our objections either sound like:
1. I don't know whether he's cutting onions, but the reason he's crying is ______ .
(Lebron stubbed his toe / Lebron watched a sad movie)

or
2. I don't know why he's crying, but he's not cutting onions.
(Lebron can't cook / Lebron is scared of knives)


Thank you Patrick!! Can you explain why the negated version of E wouldn't work? To me, it seems reasonable to think that IF the geographical region for prominent tornadoes has increased... then it must mean that there had to have been tornadoes? Otherwise, why would a state consider themselves tornado prone all of a sudden?
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Re: Q24 - Meteorologist: The number of tornadoes reported

by ohthatpatrick Sat Nov 24, 2018 12:10 am

Can I explain why the negated (E) wouldn't weaken?

I'm so confused. :) What are we doing here? Are you saying you did the Negation Test on (E) and seemed to weaken, so therefore you would think that (E) strengthens?

If the geographic range in which tornadoes are most prevalent had NOT been roughly constant since the 1950s, then what does that mean?

- the geographic range grew in size? it shrunk in size?
- it stayed around the same size but shifted north? shifted south?

Negating (E) wouldn't have any clear effect, because saying something "wasn't the same" doesn't give you any indication of how it would have changed.

I think (E) still mildly strengthens in the sense that this argument is essentially explaining a change in tornado reporting by saying we're just finding more of the ones that always existed.

Since the author wants the "improved detection" to be the meaningful change that explains the uptick in reported tornadoes, he would be happy to hear that everything else is more or less the same.

So in that sense, (E) has some strengthening effect, but incredibly little.

It's possible that if the geographic range of most tornadoes went from mainly happening in sparsely populated plains states to happening closer to densely populated urban areas, that could speak towards our being more likely to detect and report them.

But (E) doesn't get specific about whether the geographic range did / didn't shift closer to areas with more people.