CARS Archaeology: Recognizing and Evaluating Argument Questions

by Lincoln Smith

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    00:01 The first type of reasoning within the text question would be to recognize and evaluate foundational arguments within a passage.

    00:09 An argument I would say is the smallest unit of meaning that includes multiple elements.

    00:16 To do so, we'll want to examine when an author is giving their own opinion as opposed to citing an outside source, something we have already begun to do. Then we'll trace out cause and effect sequences that constitute arguments.

    00:29 And lastly, we'll connect arguments throughout an entire passage just as we might connect scattered thoughts of a speaker.

    00:41 It's crucial to identify when an author has used evidence to back up their claim.

    00:46 Sometimes, right? An author will do something in their own authority.

    00:51 But an author presenting his or her own opinion opens the door for bias.

    00:58 Try in fact to proactively spot when an author appears to be sympathetic towards a point of view without presenting evidence for that opinion.

    01:07 Feelings as much as a logical expression of thought can be evaluated as claims.

    01:15 But, well, we've discussed how authors have some inherent amount of authority, we nonetheless need to critically evaluate that authority.

    01:27 So let's take some more examples in order to rule out faulty notions of causality that no one can do regardless of their amount of authority.

    01:37 If I say for instance, ice cream sales and home robberies increase concurrently, therefore, selling more ice cream causes homes to be robbed. What would be my faulty notion of causality? Can you spot it? This would be known as an illusory correlation where two variables, ice cream and home robberies get correlated to one another rather than to a third unstated variable.

    02:07 As such, we might think hot weather for instance is common to both ice cream sales and robbery.

    02:15 So when people leave their houses due to hot weather, this might be an opportunity for thieves to enter the house.

    02:24 How about another bit of a brain twister? Last night, I was hit by a taxi. It was dark so I can't quite remember the color.

    02:34 But I'm pretty sure there's a 50% chance the taxi was yellow and the 50% chance the taxi was rainbow colored.

    02:44 Can you spot the logical error in this statement? This illustrates what is known as Bayes' Theorem.

    02:52 The idea that causation depends not only on the power of one's memory but also, on the probability of an event occurring independent of an observer.

    03:01 So if the taxi fleet had 99 yellow cars and only one rainbow colored car, even if you were exactly 50% certain that the car was either yellow or rainbow colored in your mind, the chances are much more likely that the taxi was in fact a yellow car.

    03:21 Perform a quick google search of mental rules of thumb for further examples of mental shortcuts we take to save time that can lead to faulty notions of causality.

    03:32 This will actually be relevant across all sections of the MCAT and some of the most common rules of thumb are explicitly tested in the psychology and sociology section.

    03:42 That being said, let's take one more concrete example. Consider this statement.

    03:48 "When individuals from certain primitive cultures take IQ tests, they perform poorly on questions that require interpretation of two-dimensional depictions of geometrically designed buildings. Therefore, individuals from these cultures are less intelligent." Other than the face value falsity of this statement since IQ is designed to represent a normal distribution, what faulty notion of causation can you spot here? There are probably several but the availability rule of thumb is where we make decisions based on familiar facts rather than looking at the big picture.

    04:28 Some cultures do not possess buildings with 90 degree or otherwise, sharp angles and so, when they see a two-dimensional depiction of something they've never seen in real life, it's understandable that they would get these questions incorrect.

    04:43 For this reason, anthropologists have specifically designed IQ tests for cultures that do not require geometrically interpreted depictions.

    04:55 When we hold a conversation, our thoughts are rarely linear. Indeed, rhetoric was originally a spoken art.

    05:03 What we have found is the best way to communicate an idea when we are having a conversation is often to speak around a subject.

    05:12 This is a way to open listeners' minds by not disturbing their tightly held viewpoints until the speaker is ready to reveal their entire set of arguments to the listener.

    05:27 In line with this idea, don't expect cars passages to be written in a linear fashion.

    05:33 Ideas will be connected across multiple paragraphs.

    05:36 From this perspective, reasoning within the text questions are in fact testing an essential aspect of how the cars passages themselves are structured.

    05:46 This point is so important that it forms the basis for the next half of how reasoning within the text questions are framed.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture CARS Archaeology: Recognizing and Evaluating Argument Questions by Lincoln Smith is from the course CARS Theoretical Foundations.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Illusory correlation
    2. Availability heuristic
    3. Bayes' theorem
    4. Recency bias
    1. Bayes' theorem
    2. Availability heuristic
    3. Illusory correlation
    4. Primacy bias
    1. Availability heuristic
    2. Illusory correlation
    3. Bayes' theorem
    4. Rules of thumb

    Author of lecture CARS Archaeology: Recognizing and Evaluating Argument Questions

     Lincoln Smith

    Lincoln Smith

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