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Strongly supported inferences | Video lesson

Watch a demonstration of one way to approach a question that asks you to find a statement that is most strongly supported by the argument presented in a Logical Reasoning question on the LSAT.

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  • male robot johnny style avatar for user Annie
    I'm really confused as to why option #4 is wrong. Isn't it inferred that if his hearing was gradually lost, then his music gradually became more introspective?
    (6 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user A M
    What's the difference between a strongly supported inference and an entailment? - is it that an entailment must be true and an inference could be false...
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Shirdil Mirzai
    Do we rule out Option C because it says gradually? In other words, had it not said "gradually", C would have been supported by the passage?
    (1 vote)
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Video transcript

- [Instructor] To identify this question, let's look at what it asks. Which one of the following statements is most strongly supported by the musicologist's claims? This is a strongly supported question, which is similar to an entailment question in a lot of ways, because we are figuring out which choice is supported by the passage. The difference between an entailment question and this type of question, though, is that in an entailment question, the answer will absolutely follow from the statements in the passage. But in a strongly supported question like this one, the answer just needs to be supported, not proven. So pause your video now if you'd like to try this question on your own. Otherwise, let's go into the explanation. Okay, let's read this stimulus together. For strongly supported questions, we aren't trying to find a conclusion and its evidence the way we do with a lot of other question types. Here, we have statements that we're meant to assume are true. So it's really important to pay attention to any relationships that we see. The musicologist says Ludwig van Beethoven began losing his hearing when he was 30. This loss continued gradually, but was not complete until late in his life. While it may seem that complete hearing loss would be a severe liability for a composer, in Beethoven's case it gave his later music a wonderfully introspective quality that his earlier music lacked. Here we have a structure that's built partially around time and partially around surprising results. Beethoven began losing his hearing at 30, and that loss continued gradually and was complete much later. We're then told that we would expect complete hearing loss to be really detrimental to a composer, but for Beethoven, it meant that his later music had a wonderfully introspective quality that his earlier music didn't have. For these question types, we'll generally not try to form a specific prediction because there are so many possible claims that could be supported by a passage. Instead, we want to evaluate each choice against the passage in turn, and ask ourselves if the claim in the choice is supported by the passage or not. A reads, it was more difficult for Beethoven to compose his later works than his earlier ones. If you chose this, it's probably because it seems reasonable that a deaf composer would have a harder time writing music than when he could hear. But the question isn't asking us to decide what seems reasonable. It's asking us what's actually supported by the claims we're given. There's nothing in the passage that indicates how difficult it was for Beethoven to compose music at any time. So we can't support choice A. B states, had he not lost his hearing, Beethoven's later music would have been of poorer quality than it is. As with choice A, we can't assume this. There's nothing in the passage to support it. The only thing we know about Beethoven's later music isn't about its quality. It's that his later music had a wonderfully introspective quality that his earlier music didn't have, which is different than talking about its overall quality, like poor quality or high quality. So we can't support that Beethoven's music would have been worse if he hadn't lost his hearing. It's just different, not better and not worse. C's claim is that, had he not lost his hearing, Beethoven would have been less introspective than he was. We need to make sure to read this carefully. The passage tells us that Beethoven's music was more introspective later in life, but this choice is about how introspective Beethoven himself was. We don't have any information in the passage about how introspective Beethoven was. So we can rule this choice out. D is, Beethoven's music became gradually more introspective as he grew older. This isn't supported by the passage, although it does repeat a lot of the words from the passage. Look carefully. What's gradual isn't Beethoven's music getting introspective. It's the loss of his hearing. Just because his hearing declined gradually, that doesn't mean that the music became introspective gradually. Well, that leaves us with E. And let's see why it has to be the answer. E says, had he not lost his hearing, Beethoven's later music would probably have been different than it is. This choice starts out identical to choices B and C, but it ends in a way that is supported by the passage. Notice that choices B and C are definite in what they're projecting. His music would have been of poorer quality. His music would have been less introspective. But this choice claims that his music would probably have been different than it is. This is much safer language. We can support this because it's reasonable that Beethoven's later music would have been less introspective than it was. It's important to note that this wouldn't be the answer for an entailment question, since it doesn't have to be true. But it is strongly supported so we can select it. So to recap, for strongly supported questions, try to pay really close attention to definitions, to connections between terms, to the relationships that you see. We saw four wrong choices here that made claims beyond what the passage supports. So make sure to stay really close to the language that you see. Don't select a choice just because it has familiar words from the passage, or because it sounds approximately right. Usually, you won't have a strong prediction for this type of question. So always make sure that you're comparing each choice against the passage one by one. Ask yourself, "Can I support this choice using information in the passage, information that I can see myself?" If you can't, or if you feel like you have to make some assumptions to justify the claim, then you've got the wrong choice.