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Elements of the Argument
In this video we are going to be dealing with the elements of the paragraph argument. Now let me preface this by saying that, EPS, the people who write the GRE, don’t actually have a specific section called the paragraph argument. They don’t even call this type of question we have here, the paragraph argument.
Indeed, paragraph argument is simply subsumed or is part of the reading comprehension section. So EPS just considers this another reading comprehension question, but it is definitely not. So what is it then? Well, a paragraph argument is a paragraph, hence the name.
And in that paragraph, it’s making an argument. And that part I highlighted in red there, squigglied in red, is the paragraph argument. Now, each paragraph argument will be followed by a question. Which of the following, if true, weakens the argument above? So, in this specific case what I’ve done is I’ve dissected this paragraph.
So you may wanna take a quick second and just read this, be familiar with what it says. But I’m not necessarily gonna spend the entire time reading that paragraph because what I’m gonna do now is I’m gonna dissect it. And I’m gonna tell you what are the elements of these paragraph arguments? What are they made up of?
They’re made up of premises and the conclusion. Of course your job is to find that conclusion, but first let’s start with the premises. What are premises? Well premises are fact and the facts in this paragraph are that over the last few years Milanda has suffered a drought and as a result it’s experienced major losses in crops.
That is given as a fact in the paragraph. We have to assume that is true. What else is a fact? Since the drop began, the amount of Milanda imports has increased, fact number two. Now the next part of the paragraph argument, some would say the most important part, is the conclusion.
The conclusion is the tying together of facts. And, it’s not really that difficult to find it because it usually almost like almost always comes at the end after the facts have been stated. So, what’s tricky about these isn’t identifying the premise, and identifying the conclusion, but, it’s identifying the gap. So you can see here, as the conclusion stated, it’s word for word.
But the gap, the gap is something that conclusion does not take into account. Moreover, it’s something that’s not even printed, it’s this missing piece,and that’s what makes it difficult to find. So, what is the gap? What are we talking about here? Well X causes Y, that’s what this stands for.
You you’re gonna wonder, wait, why is Chris doing algebra? But this isn’t algebra, but this is formal logic. Something is causing something else to happen. In the problem that we just went through, it assumes something. It assumes that an increase of imports is caused by the drought. So drought is X, and the drought causes the number of imports in Milandia to go up.
That is the conclusion. So the drought has caused imports to go up. Now, the gap is, well wait a second, what if something else caused the imports to go on? What if there is another cause? And therefore, the argument makes this leap, and it’s jumping over a chasm, and that why I call is, the gap.
But there can, there can definitely be something else, and that something else, we’re gonna jump through there. But that something else is called the Z, the Z is this other factor that we need to identify. Something else caused the increase in imports what could it be? Well this is one possibility a quickly rising middle class has increased the demand for consumer electronics produced outside Milanda.
What this means is that people are suddenly buying all these cool laptop computers from outside Milanda. And those computers are part of the imports, and so imports are going up because of that, not because of the drought. So Z is a possible answer or explanation that shows that the drought is not causing the imports to go up.
Another possibility could be this one. Milanda’s economic well-being rests on imports from many different countries, or rather different industries, not just crops. And so, we could see that aha, it’s importing all this other stuff not related to food and drought conditions. Now the thing about these questions is, they’re not gonna ask you, oh can you please state what could be a possibility.
That would be really hard to do. That’s what the test writers do, they come up with these answers, but you have to be able to identify that Z. So what the actual question will look like is this, aha, here it is, the paragraph argument in full. Now you’ll notice that that’s the exact same as the very first slide.
But what every question comes with of course are the answer choices, A through E. Every paragraph argument will have A through E. Your job is to, course, read this question. Anticipate the gap, thinking well wait a second, they’re assuming that, the drought is causing the imports to increase, maybe it’s something else.
That’s all you really have to do in once you’ve identified the gap. Then you read the question. Which of the following, if true, weakens the argument above? And so now where you wanna identify,well, which one points to the Z? Let’s read A. This is the first significant drought Milanda has had in the last 100 years.
Does this relate to this gap in the argument about something else possibly causing imports to go up? And the answer is no it is irrelevant, so we got rid of it. B, Milanda’s economic well-being rests on imports from many different industries, not just crops. And you’re gonna say hey, hey we just saw that that was the Z and that’s the answer.
Yes that is the answer, but make sure you understand the logic why that’s the answer of course, that’s the key to all of these paragraph argument questions. But let’s just get rid of these other guys. The neighboring country of Xandia has witnessed a decrease in exports since the drought began. You’re gonna notice that a lot of these are irrelevant.
They want you to start thinking that oh, maybe imports and exports maybe it is relevant. But you’re comparing a different country, it has nothing to do with Milanda so we get rid of C. D, the amount of import food, imported food that the average Milandas consumed has increased since the beginning of the drought.
So again they bring in words from the prompt that’s what these tricky wrong answers do. And we think, ooh imported food drought, but it’s talking about what it’s saying, well it’s actually increased. It is bringing in more food and you always want to remember what’s the question asking for, to weaken it.
So we can get rid of D. E, the drought in Milanda is expected to intensify in the coming years. That doesn’t really deal with imports at all, so we can get rid of E as well. Now key with these questions of course is to really to pick up on the gap, and to be able to read through these. What’s gonna change, though is not the paragraph itself, but the questions.
This weakened type of question is just one and in the following videos you’re gonna see other variants of questions that follow the paragraph
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