IMAT 2014 Q6 [Flaw | Lifespan]

Research reveals that, in a given period of the 20th century, top footballers (defined as those who had played for their country’s team) lived, on average, almost 5 years longer than middle ranking footballers. We can conclude therefore that for the top footballers, success had a beneficial effect on their lifespan.

Which one of the following is the best statement of the flaw in the argument above?

A. Life expectancy increased generally in the 20th century.

B. It assumes that the longer lifespan could not be explained by other factors.

C. Living longer is not necessarily a good thing.

D. Playing football regularly may have health benefits which contribute to longer lifespan.

E. The study was limited to footballers in a given period of time.

Reminder:

  1. Read the question first
  2. Read the passage
  3. Find the conclusion, highlight keywords
  4. Find assumptions that the argument lies on
  5. Attack these assumptions with the answer options
  6. Discard any invalid options and you’ll have your answer

A Life expectancy increased generally in the 20 th century:

The first sentence tells us that the research is over a given period (which is the 20 th century). They are not taking players from different time periods and so this cannot be the flaw. It would be a flaw if you took players, for example, from the 14 th century and then from the 20 th because there has probably been a general increase in life expectancy, however, our passage here uses the same century, which is likely to lead to a more consistent life expectancy across both groups of interest. Therefore A is incorrect.

B It assumes that the longer lifespan could not be explained by other factors:

This is saying that the author is confusing correlation and causation.

Correlation is not causation

What is the difference?

Causation means that one thing directly causes another (this is good evidence).

Correlation is relating two things without much background or evidence, it is possible there is a coincidence or a common factor (ex. Shark attacks are more common on people who ate ice cream that day. But this is a correlation because there are common factors. Most people go to the beach on a hot day, and on a hot day, you are more likely to buy ice cream. It being a hot day relates to the urge to buy ice cream and go to the beach, where the shark attack will occur).
EMS Critical Thinking Guide - Solving Assumptions

The author is assuming that the increase in life span is due to success, however there is no real data that is proving this, there is only data that shows this trend is the research that says footballers live longer if they were playing for their national team. Because we cannot prove that the reason they lived longer is because they were elite level, this must be the flaw in the argument. Therefore B is correct.

C Living longer is not necessarily a good thing:

This is not relevant to the argument. The author is just trying to prove that the top footballers lived longer, there is no opinions on whether or not this is a good or bad thing. Therefore C is incorrect.

D Playing football regularly may have health benefits which contribute to longer lifespan:

This is the assumption needed to make for the conclusion to hold, it is not the flaw. The flaw is going to show us that there is not actually a link and it has to be assumed for the argument to be true. So this answer would help prove the argument instead of expose it (show the flaw). Therefore D is incorrect.

E The study was limited to footballers in a given period of time:

This is a control, you have footballers in the same time period so it will eliminate a few external factors. A trial over a short period is not ideal but the benefit is that all groups of footballers would have been going through the same events as the others, we can play a role in development (ex. If they were all around during the time of social media where you had to be a more resilient athlete to deal with hate. Therefore E is not the flaw in the argument because there is some benefit to the footballers being limited in a short period of time.