March 27, 2009

LSAT and IQ

A continuing theme here is the distinction between acceptable public discourse about IQ (it's meaningless, it's biased, it's evil, it's useless) and private behavior (it's important, it's what makes me better than those Sarah Palin fans).

For example, consider law school admissions, which are a key part of the American power structure. Top law schools place a strong weight on one's test score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). I never took that test, but at a quick glance, it strikes me as a very good test of verbal IQ.

Of course, compared to, say, Raven's Progressive Matrices, it's culturally biased (it's only in English, and it helps to be familiar with the subject matter of the reading comprehension selections, such as the practice question discussion of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man), and it obviously helps to study up on the tricks for figuring out logical puzzles using pencil and paper. But those tricks are worth knowing in general, and if you really want to make lawyering your life work, well, it's hardly asking too much to practice taking the test.

Via the interesting quant blog Le Carrefour de la Sagesse, I found the Law School Admissions Council report "LSAT Performance with Regional, Gender, and Racial/Ethnic Breakdowns:"
... Designed to measure analytical (or deductive) and verbal (or informal logic ) reasoning skills and reading comprehension, the specific item type makeup of the scored portion of the current test is as follows:

Item Type Number of Items
Reading Comprehension 26–28
Logical Reasoning A 24–26
Logical Reasoning B 24–26
Analytical Reasoning 22–24

A 35-minute writing sample is also administered at the end of the test. Prior to the 2005–2006 testing year, the time given for this writing sample was 30 minutes. Writing samples are not scored, but copies of the writing assessment are sent to all law schools to which the test taker applies.

Here's a sample analytical reasoning question:
A law firm has exactly nine partners: Fox, Glassen, Hae, Inman, Jacoby, Kohn, Lopez, Malloy, and Nassar. Their salary structure must meet the following conditions: Kohn’s salary is greater than both Inman’s and Lopez’s.

Lopez’s salary is greater than Nassar’s.
Inman’s salary is greater than Fox’s.
Fox’s salary is greater than Malloy’s.
Malloy’s salary is greater than Glassen’s.
Glassen’s salary is greater than Jacoby’s.
Jacoby’s salary is greater than Hae’s.

If Malloy and Nassar earn the same salary, what is the minimum number of partners that must have lower salaries than Lopez?

(A) 3
(B) 4
(C) 5
(D) 6
(E) 7

Answer on P. 21. "This is considered an item of “middle difficulty.”" These kind of questions are helpful in figuring out if somebody can work through the logic of a proposed contractual clause to figure out if does what the clients want it to do. Much of lawyer work resembles computer programming in a language based on 15th Century English. You write a lot of if-then-else statements and then debug them.

And here's a Logical Reasoning question, most of which seem to involve pointing out logical fallacies:
A study has shown that there are still millions of people who are unaware that they endanger their health by smoking cigarettes. This is so despite government campaigns to warn people of the dangers of smoking. Reluctantly, one has to draw the conclusion that the mandatory warnings that tobacco companies are required to print have had no effect. Which one of the following, if true, would refute the argument in the passage?

(A) Many people who continue to smoke are aware of the dangers of smoking.
(B) Some people smoke cigarettes for legitimate reasons.
(C) Government has had to force companies to warn potential customers of the dangers of their products.
(D) Some people who are aware of the dangers of smoking were made aware of them by the mandatory warnings.
(E) Smoking is clearly responsible for a substantial proportion of preventable illness in the country.

Answer on p. 23-24. "This question is classified as “difficult”; only 44 percent
of test takers answered it correctly." Forty percent of test-takers fall for a red herring answer.

How is it scored:
As the content of the LSAT has evolved over time, the scale used to report LSAT scores has also been changed on a couple of occasions. The original LSAT scale of 200–800 remained from 1948 until 1982. Due in part to a concern that this scale gave the impression of too much precision, a scale that ranged from 10–50 was established in June 1982. This scale was later reduced to 10–48. Major changes incorporated into the current version of the test, introduced in June 1991, resulted in another score-scale change, establishing the 120–180 scale...

The results form a near perfect bell curve with mean/median/mode just above 150. (See Figure 2) with a standard deviation of about 10. So, a 180 would be three standard deviations above the mean, which, since the mean test-taker is well above average, is off the charts.

Men outscore women on averge by 1 to 2 points, with men and women split almost exactly equally among test takers.

Mean scores by race for 2005-2006:

African Americans: 142.3
Native Americans: 147.3
Asian Americans: 152.1
Caucasian: 152.7
Hispanic: 146.5
Mexican American: 147.7
Puerto Rican: 138.3
Other: 150.7
No Response: 155.2

So, we see the usual one standard deviation difference between blacks and whites, what La Griffe du Lion calls the Fundamental Constant of Sociology. The Mexican American score (o.52 standard deviations lower than non-Hispanic whites) is a little better than what we usually see.

The low scores of African Americans and Puerto Ricans relative to Mexican Americans are probably related to the large number who take the test (11,288 African Americans and 2,274 Puerto Ricans) relative to Mexican Americans (only 1,789).

In comparison, 72,700 Caucasians and 8,976 Asians took the test in 2005-2006. The tiny percentage of test-takers who were Mexican Americans (1.8% versus about 10% of the population) reflects another theme common at iSteve: that America's Eastern elites vastly underestimate the impact of illegal immigration on America because it doesn't provide much competition for their own children. They just don't notice Mexicans around much in the circles in which they move. (On the other hand, since they don't pay any attention to them in their daily lives, they are suckers for bad ideas about them in their business and political lives: "Should we purchase a Mortgage-Backed Security consisting of 1,000 half-million dollar zero money down loans in California? Sure, why not? What's the worse that could happen? Who ever lost money betting on California houses?" etc. etc.)

The really bad Puerto Rican scores probably also have something to do with the test being given in Puerto Rico, but the LSAT is only given in English. Puerto Rico has its own little universe of colleges and law schools that nobody in America has ever heard of because they use Spanish as their language of instruction, but the LSAT is so useful that Puerto Rican law schools insist on their applicants taking it (along with a GRE-like test in Spanish).

The LSAT is one test where African-American men outscore African-American women, but only about 60% as many black men take the test as black women.

Le Carrefour goes on to offer an LSAT to IQ conversion chart. I suspect, however, that it slightly underestimates IQs relative to LSAT scores. It assumes that somebody who scores 151 on the LSAT has an IQ of 105, which strikes me as five or ten points too low for somebody who is close to graduating from college or has already graduated and is considering three more years of study.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Damn, my wife is smarter than I am. I KNEW IT! (oh, and four kids, too-- we're doing our part!)

Anonymous said...

I attend http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osgoode_Hall_Law_School and I took the LSAT in June 2007, achieving a score of 162, or 86th percentile. And yes, that conversion chart seriously underestimates IQ.

Guts Strongman said...

Steve: I just took the LSAT. (176, which is 99.6 percentile, though I got several 180's on practice tests /brag). I took _many_ prep tests. (Every one released by LSAC, most timed.) My initial score was a 164, but I did terribly on the logic games. With logic games removed, my initial score would have been a 177.

After my diagnostic test, I spent three months systematically studying the logic games. Result: I lost one point due to one off the logic games, but got all the rest in the logic games section correct. It seems to me that, if IQ is stable and not amenable to large short-term improvement, then the logic games portion would be the non-IQ portion of the LSAT. However, it seems like in your post you've called out logic games, specifically, as being a test of IQ.

One thing that's interesting about the LSAT is how strictly it's timed. I think that this feature of the test might contribute more to its correspondence with IQ than anything specific to the content of the questions.

Vernunft said...

I wouldn't be quick to make any judgments in this area. We could pit your gut feeling (LSAT takers have a mean IQ well above the average) against mine (law students are stupid, and the set of all LSAT takers has to include more people at the low end than the law student population; ergo etc.). We need hard numbers here.

dearieme said...

One thing that makes me despair sometimes at IQ tests and the like is the feeling that sometimes the people who set them aren't the sharpest blades themselves. Consider the statement that K earns more than BOTH I & L. I'd read that as: K earns more than I; and K earns more than L. But in English as she is spoke, someone might interpret it as K earns more than I and L added together. If this test is meant to be a test of reasoning rather than a test of habits of English usage, that's a silly way to have phrased it; it potentially muddies the waters.

James said...

Fascinating as the racial/ethnic dimension is, consider also the sexual side. This report's confirmation of the Summers Heresy may be hard to see in the small but consistent SD differences in Table 3 or by squinting at the tails in Figure 11. Clearer confirmation is available in data from the Law School Admission Council's annual reports which demonstrate that in recent years while roughly equal portions of males and females take the LSAT, only forty percent of the top ten percent of test takers are females. Some implications of this are developed in my "Is the Ceiling Truly Glass of Something More Variable?" in the December 2008 issue of SOCIETY.

anony-mouse said...

I wonder what the differences would be to the results if you told the takers which questions were of which difficulty.

Sideways said...

Answer on p. 23-24. "This question is classified as “difficult”; only 44 percent
of test takers answered it correctly." Forty percent of test-takers fall for a red herring answer.


and 16% either don't answer or answer with something not even close to correct, apparently. Sounds like a "maybe law school isn't for you" detector.

I found that one much easier than the other one, but it's the sort of thing I think about all the time, while I haven't had to do the other type of question since high school.

A medical student said...

Ooh, do the MCAT.

ironrailsironweights said...

Let's check out the names of the law firm partners on the analytic reasoning question. There's Lopez (Hispanic), Jacoby (Jewish; Glassen also might count), Hae (Asian), and Nassar (probably Arab). Though there aren't any names often found among blacks, like Jefferson or Robinson.

Peter

stari_momak said...

You realize, of course, that results form an almost perfect Guassian distribution because it's designed to do just that.

Anonymous said...

On the 2nd question, why is D necessarily correct? The argument is talking about people who smoke -- “there are still millions of people who are unaware that their smoking endangers their health."

But D doesn't restrict nor necessarily include members who smoke (it gives no indication); it therefore could include no smokers, in which it would fail to refute the argument. Too pedantic? Or am I missing something else?

Anonymous said...

My experience was similar to Guts: I was greatly helped by a Kaplan prep course, though I will spare you the details of my astronomical score. It does make me wonder about the LSAT, and IQ tests that resemble it.

Anonymous said...

I see that "no response" (deracinated SWPLs) had the highest score.

Muswell Hillbilly said...

I forget what I got on the LSAT, but after I took it, I got a part time job teaching LSAT prep classes with Princeton Review. I think generally you have to have a 170(?) or thereabouts to qualify for those jobs, but I might be wrong.

Test prep could generally improve people's scores maybe 5 points on average, which isn't insignificant if you start out around the low 160s, for instance. Of course, the lower scores (I taught some classes where the average score was 140 or so) were easier to raise by more.

Andrew Ryan said...

"A medical student said...

Ooh, do the MCAT."

When I was in graduate school one of my professors was on the med school admissions board. He would always come talk to us about the recent candidates he'd interviewed and ask if they should be accepted or not. Once, he mentioned an applicant's MCAT score and someone asked him what was the required score to get accepted to medical school. He asked if we meant a white student or black student. He then said white students needed a 30 (75th-80th percentile) whereas black students needed a 21 (24th-28th percentile)!!

Not sure if its true or not. I'd be shocked if applicants getting 21's on MCATs would be able to complete medical school and pass the boards.

BTW, here's the 2008 MCAT data broken down by race:

http://www.aamc.org/data/facts/2007/mcatgparaceeth07.htm

Anonymous said...

"No response" to the race / ethnicity question doesn't necessarily mean deracinated SWPL. It might mean a white or Asian male who figures that admission committees are full of deracinated SWPLs, and that he has nothing to gain by having his application tossed into the "oppressor" pile right off the bat. That's what I figured, anyway, when I didn't answer that question.

Anonymous said...

Since the reading-comprehension section of the LSAT is the least coachable, would it be the section that best measures IQ? (You can boost your score in the other two sections--games & arguments--quite significantly with just a few months' practice.) Because the RC section always struck me as the most subjective and poorly written (even though I did best on it--I had a knack for figuring out what the testmakers wanted to hear).

Bill said...

Guts Strongman said...

...My initial score was a 164, but I did terribly on the logic games. With logic games removed, my initial score would have been a 177[...]


I didn't like those games either. Eager beaver diagram drawing is how you ace that part. It's like doing those godawful algebra problems.

The two highest scoring undergrad majors on the LSAT are: 1. physics; and, 2. international studies. I believe physics students score an average of 154 or something like that. If your average university physics student has an IQ of 110, I'd be quite amused, and would rub it in the face of some of the physicists I know. I'd tell them that they are no more qualified to design nuclear reactors than they are to work in a county library. Oh man, they'd take that badly.

A linguist friend of mine scored 170 (he tested cold) and declined law school, despite plenty of offers. If his IQ is "only" 133 I wonder how he got an 800 on the verbal section of the old-school SAT. Seems a bit off to me, too.

Anonymous said...

I took umpteen practice LSAT tests before taking the real deal. I always scored well on reading comp and less well on logic/games. But something went awry on test day and I got nearly a perfect score on the games/logic sections and performed abysmally on the RC section. Go figure.

tommy said...

(D) Some people who are aware of the dangers of smoking were made aware of them by the mandatory warnings.

Only 44% of LSAT takers got this one? That can't be right. Or maybe it is right: how many people fail the LSAT?

tommy said...

L > N
I > F
F > M
M > G
G > J
J > H

L > N
I > F > M > G > J > H
M = N

I > F > N = M > G > J > H
L > N = M > G > J > H

Answer is (C)

Geez. I should have been a lawyer.

Cal said...

I'm a test prep instructor who has never taken the actual LSAT. My experience is similar to Guts--when I first started with the test, my logical reasoning was already in the high 90s, my reading score basically perfect, and the logic games section closer to the 70th percentile. Most of that was timing; I could have done better with more time.

I would now get something in the high 170s, I suspect, with the one exposure being the *type* of logic games the test was comprised of.

The LSAT is not a pure test of verbal IQ--that distinction belongs to the GRE verbal section, which is nothing more than a vocabulary test with a few reading questions. Only 2% of the population gets higher than a 700, which suggests what most experts already know--the test results are not scaled for a high achieving population (the LSATs almost certainly are, as has been observed). High verbal scores on the GRE are, I wager, very strongly correlated with a high reading score on the LSAT.

The LSAT is a test for which a high score *requires* high verbal IQ, but it tests far more than that. The logic reasoning section is helped by a high verbal IQ, but it's more purely a test of analytical reasoning.

Logic games are almost entirely unrelated to verbal iq. They indirectly test some aspect of spatial reasoning--I'm not enough of an expert to say how. Some people can read the law firm question and "see" the relationships in their head--they translate the words into physical relationships. This gives them a speed advantage.

I am notoriously hamstrung by spatial reasoning--one of my great triumphs as a math tutor and teacher has been to learn how to translate spatial relationships into logical ones so that I can internalize them. I learned how to do the same in logic games, and that's what I do in my test prep instruction--take people who, like me, struggle with spatial representation and teach them to quickly translate the logic game into an illustration.

I also run into many people who are terrible at logic reasoning and reading, but very good at logic games, precisely because they "see" the game in their head without need of translation. It is much harder to give them the verbal skills they need to do really well on the test, and thus they rarely get above 155. (I do improve their scores, though.)

The other possibility is that logic games tests capacity for working memory (another area I'm not strong in, probably *because*, rather than in spite of, excellent long-term recall). If you can read the list of requirements and keep them all in RAM, you can do the problem quickly.

In either case, the logic games component is not testing verbal IQ. Any high IQ person can do the test given a reasonable amount of time, but 6 minutes per game is not immediately reasonable for someone who needs to translate the situation into a picture. But that comes with practice.

Anonymous said...

I think it's off. I scored 1420 on old pre '95 SAT with a 700V and 720M breakdown. I got a 168 LSAT (97th Percentile). I think the usual conversion on the SAT score is about a 140-145 IQ, so I think this scale is a bit off to the tune of 5-10 points. Not sure if more off at the tails or less. Anyway.

Mr. Anon said...

"Bill said...

"The two highest scoring undergrad majors on the LSAT are: 1. physics; and, 2. international studies. I believe physics students score an average of 154 or something like that. If your average university physics student has an IQ of 110, I'd be quite amused, and would rub it in the face of some of the physicists I know. I'd tell them that they are no more qualified to design nuclear reactors than they are to work in a county library. Oh man, they'd take that badly."

Only bad physics students end up taking the LSAT. The data you referred to just means that the dumbest physics student is probably still smarter than a smart lawyer.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with anonymous that D is not necessarily correct. Just as A does not imply that smokers learned about the dangers of smoking thru warnings, D does not imply that those made aware of the dangers of smoking are themselves smokers.

Neither of those two answers would be fully correct and I don't think A is anymore right or wrong than D.

sol ipsis

Anonymous said...

A note on coachability:

You can improve your scores on g-loaded tests (IQ tests, SATs, GREs, LSATs, etc.), but the gains are 'hollow gains', i.e., they are practice effects and not reflective of g. However, if nobody in the test taking group prepares and if everybody in the test taking group prepares, the rank ordering within the group remains the same (i.e., r= nearly 1.0) and the predictive validity will be about the same. Obviously, if the test takers prepare, the raw scores will be higher. If some people prepare and some don't, then the test becomes less predictive of true ability. With grad school tests, almost everybody prepares for them these days, so this is not likely to be a large problem for the LSAT.

Anonymous said...

The numbers do seem to be a bit off on the conversion. Using wordsum is probably not a good idea for guessing IQs when better data is available because, although vocabulary is g-loaded, wordsum is really only one 10 question subtest and it tops out at an IQ equivalent of around 120.

The NLSY offers better data for calculating IQs because all participants took the AFQT. According to the NLSY, the average college graduate has an IQ of 114. IQ 114 is also the threshold that Gottfedson (1997) calculated for being able to do a professional job (e.g., lawyer, doctor, engineer) competently and pass the certification examinations.

According to Herrnstein and Murray (1994), the average lawyer has an IQ of around 120 or a little higher.

The above would imply that the average LSAT taker probably has an IQ of between 114 and the low 120s. (Not all LSAT takers are accepted to law school or become lawyers and pass the bar, but they are also probably somewhat brighter on average than the average college graduate.)

LSAT takers have a mean LSAT score of about 150 or 151. Accepted law students average around 153. According to the Texas board of Bar examiners, people who pass the bar in Texas, going from memory, average about 155 or 156, so this number is probably indicative of an IQ of around 120.

As for the Mensa requirment, the poster mistates the 95th percentile as a score of 167. It is actually 166. From the data above, however, I think an LSAT of 166 may actually equate to an IQ greater than 130. I base this on an article I read several years ago, according to which, the only Universities whose undergraduates took the LSAT and obtained an average score or 160 or above (and just barely above at that) are Harvard, Yale and MIT. For the rest of the Ivies and their prestige equivalents, the average scores were in the high 150s. I don't know what the average IQ at top 20 universities is and perhaps their best and brightest students don't decide to become lawyers, but I doubts it is as low as the poster suggests from his LSAT-IQ conversion chart.

Anonymous said...

A linguist friend of mine scored 170 (he tested cold) and declined law school, despite plenty of offers. If his IQ is "only" 133 I wonder how he got an 800 on the verbal section of the old-school SAT. Seems a bit off to me, too.

I regularly get those kinds of crazy high scorers on tests of verbal intelligence, yet I can barely add. I think this does mean an IQ of around 130.

Lover of Wisdom said...

Hi Steve:

First, thanks for mentioning my website. Let me address the underestimate worry. You must remember that I pick a few points for the extrapolation. The really important points are the ones from the high-IQ societies that have their own psychometricians figuring out what a 167+ LSAT score might pass for an IQ score. Suppose I do underestimate the average IQ of the LSAT test takers. Then my chart will underestimate the IQ of LSAT test takers from the 151 score average up to the 167 score. But the 167 point onwards is still accurate.

To Guts:

The LSAT, GRE, and SAT are all good tests of crystallized-IQ, which does improve with age. Fluid-IQ, however, drops from the mid-twenties onward. So it's a misnomer that one "can't improve IQ," because of the usual equivocation.

Jeff Burton said...

Oh look! An opportunity to post my LSAT score!

Anonymous said...

"I would agree with anonymous that D is not necessarily correct."

I was the original Anonymous who pointed this out. Could others comment?


It's indeed pretty strange IF the example they chose as a correct answer could in fact be incorrct.

tommy said...

I would agree with anonymous that D is not necessarily correct. Just as A does not imply that smokers learned about the dangers of smoking thru warnings, D does not imply that those made aware of the dangers of smoking are themselves smokers.

But D doesn't restrict nor necessarily include members who smoke (it gives no indication); it therefore could include no smokers, in which it would fail to refute the argument. Too pedantic? Or am I missing something else?

The argument is not, fundamentally, that there are or are not millions of smokers. The argument is that the warnings have had no effect. If some people who were previously unaware of the dangers of smoking were made aware of those dangers through warnings, then it cannot be argued that the warnings have had no effect.

Granted, you could argue that every person who was made aware of the dangers of smoking was not and would have never become a smoker, or that every person made aware of the dangers would have smoked anyway, and therefore the warnings were practically useless, but that would indeed be too pedantic. Don't "over-read" the question.

clem said...

As for the Mensa requirment, the poster mistates the 95th percentile as a score of 167. It is actually 166. From the data above, however, I think an LSAT of 166 may actually equate to an IQ greater than 130.

Uh, Mensa cutoff is 98th percentile. Or is the above just poorly stated?

Anonymous said...

"The argument is that the warnings have had no effect. If some people who were previously unaware of the dangers of smoking were made aware of those dangers through warnings, then it cannot be argued that the warnings have had no effect."

I read the argument very similarly, except with a few changes:

The argument is that the warnings have had no effect on smokers. If some smokers who were previously unaware of the dangers of smoking were made aware of those dangers through warnings, then it cannot be argued that the warnings have had no effect.

It seems to me that makes all the difference.

Lover of Wisdom said...

Clem:

The Mensa cutoff for the SAT testing population is the 95th percentile. The cutoff for the general population is the 98th percent.

Truth said...

Man, you guys love bragging about your (alleged) IQs.

Anonymous said...

Lover of Wisdom said:

"The really important points are the ones from the high-IQ societies that have their own psychometricians figuring out what a 167+ LSAT score might pass for an IQ score."

Question:

How are you so certain of this? Can you provide a reference citing Mensa's methodology? I notice that they take 95th percentile as the Mensa cutoff for the old SAT, LSAT and GRE. It would be funny if the top 5% of all these groups would all be at the same IQ cutoff as each other and equal to the top 2% of the general population. For instance, I doubt that the SAT pool is as bright on average as the pools of people trying to go to law school or other graduate schools. After all, there should be some winnowing going on in college and it should be the better students that tend to apply to grad school. Maybe Mensa is just being lazy or taking a wild assed guess?

Anonymous said...

"Blogger Truth said...

Man, you guys love bragging about your (alleged) IQs."

Whereas "Truth" only brags about his belief in loopy conspiracy theories.

BTW, how's that water-powered car working out for you?

MacSweeney said...

Man, you guys love bragging about your (alleged) IQs.

Yeah, this is a phenomenon on Internet discussion forums in general. Absolutely nobody has anything less than genius level IQ.

It's worth noting that most of the world's most intelligent scholars in their field have never taken an IQ test, or at least haven't stated it, because they have nothing to prove. If you guys are so smart, go accomplish something.

Mr. Anon said...

MacSweeney said...

It's worth noting that most of the world's most intelligent scholars in their field have never taken an IQ test, or at least haven't stated it, because they have nothing to prove."

Sure they have. It's called the GRE. And they probably know what score they got on it, or at least what their percentile ranking was.

"If you guys are so smart, go accomplish something."

Who's to say that people who post here haven't accomplished something?

Jim O said...

Re: the smoking question. The link doesn't work; at least not on my crummy computer. So I don't know if I'd be marked wrong but: none of the answers truly refute the hypothesis. (B) is the best of the bad choices.
I got a 722 on the LSAT in 1978. In other words, I'm an underachiever. Or I had a lucky day.

Truth said...

"Who's to say that people who post here haven't accomplished something?"

Why the people who post here, because if they had, they would brag about that and not some test they took in 1982.

Jarz said...

Anonymous said:

"The argument is that the warnings have had no effect on smokers. If some smokers who were previously unaware of the dangers of smoking were made aware of those dangers through warnings, then it cannot be argued that the warnings have had no effect.

"It seems to me that makes all the difference."

The argument is not that "the warnings have had no effect on smokers," it's that the warnings have had no effect on anyone.

The question reads, "This is so despite government campaigns to warn people of the dangers of smoking." "People," not "smokers." Hence, if, as "D" states, "Some people...were made aware...", there was an effect, and the argument is refuted.

And this is not pure hypothetical pedantry, as even if no smoker were affected by the warnings, they would still have a valuable real-world effect if they dissuaded non-smokers from taking up the habit.

Get it now?

Anonymous said...

I've accomplished some high-g progeny. I don't have to do anything else except find them some mates. SILLY HIGH G RABBITS! YOU HAVE NO MATES!

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

"Who's to say that people who post here haven't accomplished something?"

Why the people who post here, because if they had, they would brag about that and not some test they took in 1982."

Accomplishments leave trails. Referring to them would reveal ones identity. Most people here wish to remain anonymous so as to "maintain their viabilitiy within the system" to use the immortal words of Bill Clinton.

Anonymous said...

Tommy and Jarz, just as you have to make some additional assumptions beyond what D literally says to conclude that it is the correct answer, you could do the same for A - that of all the people who continue to smoke and are aware of the dangers of smoking, none were made aware of the dangers thru warnings.

I'm just as convinced as before that on strictly logical grounds none of the answers are correct and to choose D, you actually have to read more into it than what is explicitly stated.

sol ipsis

Anonymous said...

ignore my last post. I got it now.

sol ipsis

David said...

Smoking: the correct answer is D.

Let's look at the question closely.

A study has shown that there are still millions of people who are unaware that they endanger their health by smoking cigarettes.

These are smokers. If they were people in general (non-smokers and smokers) then the question would be phrased something like this: "Millions of people still don't know that smoking is unhealthy."

This is so despite government campaigns to warn people of the dangers of smoking. Reluctantly, one has to draw the conclusion that the mandatory warnings that tobacco companies are required to print have had no effect.

Those warnings that tobacco companies are required to print are for smokers or potential smokers, people who pick up a pack or look at magazine ads. The smoking-inclined, let's call them.

Finally, the most important sentence of all:

Which one of the following, if true, would refute the argument in the passage?

We're trying to disprove or at least undermine what the passage says - so, we need to understand what the passage says in the first place. It says Reluctantly, one has to draw the conclusion that the mandatory warnings that tobacco companies are required to print have had no effect. That's what we must trip up.

Of the following, D comes the closest to that.

(A) Many people who continue to smoke are aware of the dangers of smoking. [This helps, not hurts, the argument.]
(B) Some people smoke cigarettes for legitimate reasons. [Ditto: in other words, the warnings aren't working.]
(C) Government has had to force companies to warn potential customers of the dangers of their products. [Irrelevant.]
(D) Some people who are aware of the dangers of smoking were made aware of them by the mandatory warnings. [I.e., contrary to the argument, the warnings could be working.]
(E) Smoking is clearly responsible for a substantial proportion of preventable illness in the country. [Irrelevant.]

The only trick involved is that D is weak. It could be stated more strongly: "Millions read and many heed the warnings." Then again, the question would be too easy if the answer were put that forcefully.

Michael said...

This goes back so far (mid-'70s) it may not apply any longer, but FWIW ... Back in the day I generally scored pretty high on standardized tests, and I went on to work in the media and publishing fields. Words come easy. When I was a college senior, having no idea what I might do next, I took a sample LSAT -- and scored the worst I'd scored on any standardized test ever. I forget what the number was, but it was low. I like reading and writing and I seem to be able to think straight. But for the life of me I couldn't figure out what the difference was between many of the answers I was meant to choose among. Needless to say I gave up my small whim of heading into the law ...

Anonymous said...

Jarz, let me play devil's advocate, because I think you may be missing something.

You said: The argument is not that "the warnings have had no effect on smokers," it's that the warnings have had no effect on anyone.

The question reads, "This is so despite government campaigns to warn people of the dangers of smoking."

OK, Jarz, when it says, "This is so", what do you think it's talking about?

The previous sentence states what "is so": "... study has shown that there are still millions of people who are unaware that they endanger their health by smoking cigarettes."

In other words, they are talking about smokers, people who "endanger their health by smoking cigarrettes".

Here's the key thing to keep in mind, IMO. That first sentence referring specifically to smokers *is* the evidentiary piece of the arguemnt that is subject to empirical refutation. And D doesn't provide it.

Anonymous said...

David and Jarz, I think you are correct.

Excellent break down David.

Truth said...

"Accomplishments leave trails. Referring to them would reveal ones identity. Most people here wish to remain anonymous so as to "maintain their viabilitiy within the system" to use the immortal words of Bill Clinton."

That would be one viable theory, another one would be, well, that they haven't accomplished anything.

Anonymous said...

This kerfluffle over D) is absurd, the argument is that it doesn't refute the "argument" (if you call it that) because only "people", and not necessarily smokers, are alleged by D) to have learned about the dangers of smoking from the labels.

But if you wish to be so nitpicky, the statement was essentially "we must reluctantly conclude that the Surgeon General's Pompous Warning has *had no effect*". Actually, then, to literally refute this argument you would have to prove only that something in the universe was somehow affected by one of these labels.

The other arguments don't even talk about the effects that the labels have had. D) does. So it's a slam dunk, how can anyone be confused here?

tommy said...

Tommy and Jarz, just as you have to make some additional assumptions beyond what D literally says to conclude that it is the correct answer, you could do the same for A - that of all the people who continue to smoke and are aware of the dangers of smoking, none were made aware of the dangers thru warnings.

My assumptions are quite reasonable. The question is whether or not warning labels for smoking have had an effect on the number of people smoking among the general population. (A) doesn't address this issue one way or the other. The problem does not restrict itself to the body of current smokers and, even if it did, the statement does not address whether anyone ever dropped smoking because of the warning labels. The existence of millions of smokers doesn't preclude millions more who might have dropped the habit.

If you want to dig a little deeper into this question, then this is a test of whether an individual knows something about implications:

Millions of people smoke -> warning labels have had no effect.

Since the antecedent is undoubtedly true, you can't attack the statement from the standpoint of formal logic other than to argue against the consequent.

An implication is true if the consequent is true regardless of the truth value of the antecedent unless both the antecedent and the consequent are false (in which case the implication is true). No answer except (D) disputes the consequent. (D) is the correct answer.

Anonymous said...

K should earn more than EITHER L or I.

Based on my own IQ scores and my LSAT score, the LSAT -> conversion does understate IQ. But my IQ scores are from school testing in elementary, middle school, and early high school, so its possible that my IQ dropped by the time I took the LSAT 8 or 9 years later. I seem to recall that IQ is a little malleable as you grow.

jg said...

The links on this page don't work anymore. I wish you had posted the answers to the questions instead of a link.