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Correlation-to-Causation

Test 53 - Section 3 - Question 11

Logical Reasoning

Difficulty: 4


Explanation


It's a correlation-to-causation argument: On evidence that businesspeople who travel internationally on business are more likely to suffer from chronic insomnia than are businesspeople who don't, the argument concludes that business travel must be causing insomnia. That's bullshit.


Correlation-to-causation is one of the LSAT's most common flaws. Tune into it, and make an objection. Correlation can suggest causation, but it does not prove it. That's the first step.

The second step is to consider a couple standard weakeners:


1) Alternate cause: What if there was some other thing that caused both international business travel and insomnia? Like, what if you were Jeff Bezos? I'm sure JB travels internationally all the time—looking ever more Lex Luthor-esque in his fancy suits and private jets—and I would not be surprised at all to find that the Bezonator rarely sleeps. But I don't think it would be fair to say that "the stress of international travel" are causing him not to sleep. It seems more likely that being the CEO of Amazon requires lots of attention and causes lots of stress. Those things, not the travel, could be causing him not to sleep. 


2) Reversal of cause and effect: What if, instead of international travel causing insomnia, it was the other way around? What if insomnia caused an insatiable desire to travel internationally? What if insomnia caused people to be super creative and ambitious? What if being super creative and ambitious caused you to become an internet entrepreneur supervillain? That may sound far-fetched, but it actually turns out to be the correct answer here. 


It's a Strengthen question, so we're looking to support the idea that international business travel causes insomnia. Keep our objections in mind! The correct answer on a Strengthen question is frequently the opposite of one of our objections.


A) Nah, this seems like a weakener. If most international travel only happens between next door neighbors—Antwerp to Amsterdam, let's say—why would we think that international travel causes insomnia? (That's a lovely 75-minute train ride. What's so stressful about that?)


B) This would weaken the argument. We're looking for a strengthener.


C) Tricky, but yep. As predicted, this answer protects against one of our objections above. Consider what it would mean for the argument if employees who already had insomnia were more likely than their coworkers to be all like "sure, send me to Tokyo for 24 hours; idgaf I'm an insomniac anyway!" If that were the case, it would be a significant problem for the argument—insomnia would be causing international travel, rather than international travel causing insomnia. This answer is the opposite of that. It protects against the reversal of cause and effect. That's why it's the answer. 


D) This would weaken the argument. We're looking for a strengthener.


E) This also might weaken the argument. Or it's just irrelevant. Who cares what happens after international travel stops? What does that have to do with whether international travel causes insomnia while you're doing it? 


The correct answer is C because it protects against a weakener. These are a lot easier to see if we predict the weakeners in the first place. It's reason #49239 that we don't read the question stem first. Always just attack the argument. Then figure out what team you're on. 


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