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Current time:0:00Total duration:7:37

Identify a flaw | Video lesson

Video transcript

this question starts out the reasoning in the argument is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that the argument we can really finish the question with the words does what or commits what flaw so we're looking at a task of identifying the flaw the great thing about a flaw question is that you already know that the argument is bad once you identify the question as a flaw question you're armed with that knowledge up front so you can read what the really skeptical eye and know that even though the arguer thinks the argument is good you know that it's not in flaw questions the answer will describe why the argument isn't sound the for wrong choices will usually be a description of a flaw which is not the flaw that's happening in this passage pause your video now if you'd like to try this question on your own otherwise we'll move on to the explanation okay let's read the stimulus together and for flaw questions it's a really good idea to break the argument down into its conclusion and support and really separate the conclusion from its support because we're looking for the gap between the two pieces and that gap is going to be too big and flawed arguments the passage reads despite the efforts of a small minority of graduate students at one university to unionize the majority of graduate students there remain unaware of the attempt most of those who are aware believe that a union would not represent their interests or that if it did it would not effectively pursue them thus the graduate students at the University should not unionize since the majority of them obviously disapprove of the attempt alright where's our main conclusion it's gonna be here starting with us but ending right here we can't include the last part because we see the evidence word since so very simply the main conclusion is that the graduate students at the University should not unionize everything else in the passage serves to support that recommendation now let's look at that claim starting with since that should be our main evidence right the arguer thinks the grad students ain't unionized because the majority of them obviously disapprove of the attempt well wait a minute that sounds like it needs to be supported as well how do we know that the majority of the grad students obviously disapprove of the attempt because earlier in the passage we're told that the majority of grad students are unaware of the attempt to unionize and most of those who are aware don't agree with unionizing it's picture time here's a representation of all the grad students at this university here's the majority of them who are unaware of the attempt to unionize now on the other side who are aware most of them are against unionizing can we say then that the majority of grad students obviously disapprove of the attempt no this arguer is mistaking the majority who don't know about the attempt to unionize as a majority who disapproves of the attempt to unionize and that's not okay what if these students who don't know about it found out about it and then approved of it we just don't know so this argument doesn't work it's generally easier and faster for flawl questions if you have a strong prediction in mind before going into the twists that way you can just play the matching game here we're saying that the flaw is that the arguer is mixing up the majority of students who don't know about something as the majority who disapproves of that something that's such a good prediction that on test day you could just scan to find the match for that prediction but let's go through each choice one at a time for completeness sake a reads tries to establish a conclusion simply on the premise that the conclusion agrees with a long-standing practice so this isn't relevant we were never told anything about a long-standing practice so we can quickly eliminate this twist B tells us that the argument fails to exclude alternative explanations for why some graduate students disapprove of unionizing this doesn't matter our prediction plus it doesn't describe a flaw in the argument because what if the argument did exclude alternative explanations for why some grad students disapprove of unionizing that makes no difference to the argument but certainly doesn't fix the argument because we don't care why anyone disapproves or proves of unionizing we're only interested in whether the majority of these students actually do disapprove C presumes that simply because a majority of a population is unaware of something it must not be a good idea this might have been tempting without a prediction but let's break it down the arguer isn't saying that unawareness means something isn't a good idea even though unawareness is mentioned early on in the passage with the arguer saying is that obvious disapproval from a majority means that something isn't a good idea so this choice isn't accurately describing what's happening d ignores the possibility but although a union might not effectively pursue graduate student interests there are other reasons for unionizing what if the arguer didn't ignore this possibility that still wouldn't help the argument and make it more sound we don't care about the specific reasons for unionizing we need to know whether a majority of the grad students actually do disapprove and we're suspicious considering that a majority of them don't even know about the attempt to unionize finally e blurs the distinction between active disapproval and mere lack of approval that is a match for what we identified as a problem in this argument the arguer confuses people actually disapproving of something with people not even knowing about that thing if you don't know about something then sure you have a lack of approval for it but that doesn't mean that you disapprove of it and this is our answer to recap for flaw questions prepare yourself for an unsound argument from the start identify the arguers main point and phrase the support for it in a simple but accurate way there will be a problem with the journey from evidence to conclusion or in the gap between the evidence and conclusion and it's a good idea to understand what that problem is before you evaluate the choices that's because the wrong choices for flaw questions can sound really fancy and distracting and it's time-consuming to think about each choice carefully instead of just finding the one that matches your prediction finally there are some common flaws that you can look for which we cover elsewhere in your practice materials and those can also help you home in on a familiar pattern when you see one