IMAT 2015 Q8 [Reasoning Matching]

Concern about the effects of chemicals upon the environment has led to calls for more research. But we should not wait for further research before we ban some of the chemicals used by industry. If anyone has a good reason to think something is harmful, it should not be used until, or unless, the risk is found to be zero. We know enough about past mistakes to be forewarned. Much of the harm to wildlife and humans is long­-term, and the disturbing results we see today reflect the chemical environment 40 years ago. Thousands more chemicals have been released into the environment since then.

Which one of the following most closely matches the reasoning above?

A. People should not be able to adopt children until proper checks have been carried out. Serious consequences may follow if adoptive parents are unsuitable.

B. A suspected terrorist should be arrested at once. Waiting for conclusive evidence in the past has resulted in atrocities that could have been avoided by acting on suspicion, and the threat of terrorism has grown.

C. Some homes for the elderly have been found to give dangerously substandard care. Therefore they should be closed down and the residents found acceptable alternatives.

D. Cyclists should not place too much confidence in the benefits of helmets, because there is no conclusive evidence as yet that helmets prevent serious injuries.

E. Some cars that have passed the annual roadworthiness test would not pass 6 months later. Cars should be tested more than once a year once they pass a certain age.

Summary Steps:

  • Read over the argument and break it into actions and reactions.
  • Assign each part a variable.
  • Simplify expression with variables.
  • Put each answer option into the same variable format and see which are the most similar.
  • Eliminate and solve.

The passage is saying that we should ban any chemical suspected to have a harmful effect, they should be immediately banned until proven otherwise. The principle here is: guilty until proven innocent. Let’s try to simplify what the author is saying: “if we suspect Y is X, we should ban Y immediately until we can prove Y is not X”. This is the basic argument simplified, we replace ‘chemical’ with Y and harmful with ‘X’. Now let’s take a look at the options.

A People should not be able to adopt children until proper checks have been carried out. Serious consequences may follow if adoptive parents are unsuitable.

Parents are like Y in this situation. The issue is that this is more restrictive than the original argument. The author is not saying to ban all chemicals until proven safe, they just want to ban the ones suspected of harm. In this case, all parents (every Y regardless if it is suspected of X) are checked. Therefore A is incorrect because it is too broad.

B A suspected terrorist should be arrested at once. Waiting for conclusive evidence in the past has resulted in atrocities that could have been avoided by acting on suspicion, and the threat of terrorism has grown.

Terrorists are like Y in this situation, and their crimes are like X. “We should arrest Y if we think they will do X, until we can prove Y cannot do X”. This closely follows the reasoning in the text above because it is very preventive and acts on suspicion rather than evidence. It also follows the principle used of ‘guilty until proven innocent’. Therefore B is correct.

C Some homes for the elderly have been found to give dangerously substandard care. Therefore they should be closed down and the residents found acceptable alternatives.

This is a statement made ‘after the fact’. Our argument is only on prevention and taking over-precautious measures in order to ensure something bad happens. In this example, the damage has already been done and we are finding a solution for the aftermath. So this passes in a different time frame than our main argument, and therefore it is incorrect.

D Cyclists should not place too much confidence in the benefits of helmets, because there is no conclusive evidence as yet that helmets prevent serious injuries.

This is not similar because we are still using the product that may cause harm here. In this case, the helmet is similar to the chemicals (Y), and the serious injury is similar to the harm (X). This argument would be the phrase: we should be careful using Y, because we do not know if they prevent X. As you can see, it follows a different reasoning structure and therefore cannot be correct.

E Some cars that have passed the annual roadworthiness test would not pass 6 months later. Cars should be tested more than once a year once they pass a certain age.

This is saying that we should have these cars continually checked to make sure they are worthy of being able to be on the road. The cars are analogous to the chemicals, and the ability to pass the roadworthiness test is like the deciding factor on whether or not harm will be caused. ‘We should keep checking that Y meets X, if Y does not meet X, then harm can occur”. This argument is not as preventative as the one in the passage because it requires continual checking of these cars, instead of immediately banning them on suspicion of harm until proving they are safe. Therefore E does not match the reasoning above closely enough.