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PrepTest 73, Logical Reasoning 1, Question 19


Question 19, when a question asks you for something that would weaken the argument, it's a weaken question, no surprise. And in a weaken question, our job is to attack the argument's assumptions. That is what it means to weaken an argument. But before you can find the assumptions, you have to understand the argument which means breaking it down into its conclusion and its evidence.

And here, the conclusion is found right at the end. The object was probably the head of a speaking staff and then they tell you what a speaking staff is, a communal object passed around a small assembly to indicate who has the right to speak. So there's this object that was probably a speaking staff. The first sentence gives us some information about the object.

It's a carved flint object depicting a stylized human head with an open mouth and it was found in the Stone Age tomb in Ireland. Now, there are some people who are wrong about it. Some archaeologists believe that the object was a weapon, the head of a warrior's mace and then the author gives a little bit of evidence against them. It's too small for that purpose.

And because of its size and the fact that an open mouth symbolizes speaking, that's why you should believe that it was probably a speaking staff. To be fair, this author makes a pretty good case listing out various characteristics that seemed to say, yeah, it's probably a speaking staff. But the characters is given art every possible thing we could know about this object or about stabs or maces.

So the assumption here is there's nothing else that we could learn about the object that would argue the other way around. They would say, no, it's probably a mace or probably not a staff. So we're gonna look in the answer choices for something that would attack that assumption. Or in other words, give us some reason to believe that maybe it's not a staff or some reason to believe that maybe it is a mace.

So answer choice A, the tomb in which the object was found to not contain any other objects that might have been weapons. This would actually help the argument. They're trying to prove that it wasn't a weapon. So this says, there weren't any weapons around. So it wasn't found where you find weapons.

Answer choice B, communal objects were normally passed from one generation to the next in Stone Age Ireland. This is our answer and it is kinda clever. Remember they told us that they found this hard flint object in a Stone Age tomb. So if it was in a tomb, it wasnt being passed from one generation to the next. It was being held by whoever had it when they died.

So that would argue against it being a staff, because it would argue against it being a communal object which is what we know that a staff is. So B gives us reason to doubt the argument. It is our answer. Let's glance at the other answers to see why they're not the answer. Answer choice C, the object was carved with an artistry that was rare in Stone Age Ireland.

Does artistry mean is not a weapon or weapons not artful? Does artistry mean it's not a staff? Staff not have artistry? We don't know this. We can't use this either way. Answer choice D, the tomb in which it was found was that of a politically prominent person.

That seems like that would strengthen the argument too, because speaking staves are communal object passed around the assembly. So that politician might want one. So not our answer. Answer choice E, a speaking staff with a stone head is thought to symbolize a warrior's mace.

So this gives us more information about why you might mistake it for a mace, but it doesn't help us go either way actually as to whether this is definitely a sttaff or definitely a mace or not one of the other. Just explains the relationship between them, so it doesn't weaken the argument. Only answer choice B weakens the argument.

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