Try a Sample Logical Reasoning Question: Flaw

Test J, Section 2, Question 17

Hospital executive: At a recent conference on nonprofit management, several computer experts maintained that the most significant threat faced by large institutions such as universities and hospitals is unauthorized access to confidential data. In light of this testimony, we should make the protection of our clients’ confidentiality our highest priority.


The hospital executive’s argument is most vulnerable to which one of the following objections?


A

The argument confuses the causes of a problem with the appropriate solutions to that problem.

B

The argument relies on the testimony of experts whose expertise is not shown to be sufficiently broad to support their general claim.

C

The argument assumes that a correlation between two phenomena is evidence that one is the cause of the other.

D

The argument draws a general conclusion about a group based on data about an unrepresentative sample of that group.

E

The argument infers that a property belonging to large institutions belongs to all institutions.

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This question was tricky for me. It’s rare this happens, but I didn’t notice the flaw on first reading. I knew something was wrong, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what. This happens. The way to approach these questions is to go through the answer choices and reflect as you do. Ask yourself, “did the passage do this?” If yes, “is this a flaw?”

A. The argument doesn’t “confuse” causes and solutions. The cause is hackers, presumably, though no cause for confidential data security is actually discussed.

B. Yep. I didn’t notice it the first time, but this has to be it. What are computer experts doing making claims about the threats to large institutions, broadly? Maybe the biggest threat from a technological standpoint is unauthorized access to data. Nevertheless, how can these computer experts weigh in on whether that’s a bigger threat, in general, than, say, access to funds? They can’t. They should stick to their own field and qualify their statements.

C. There aren’t any claims regarding either correlation or causation in this passage.

D. No. The author concludes regarding a specific hospital and what that hospital should do. The justification for this conclusion is a general conclusion made by computer experts.

E. No. The author never says, “since large institutions face this threat, all institutions, small, medium, and large, must face this threat.”

The answer is B because it represents a flaw and is the only answer choice that accurately characterizes something the passage did.

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