- Read the question first
- Read the passage
- Find the conclusion, highlight keywords
- Find assumptions that the argument lies on
- Attack these assumptions with the answer options
- Discard any invalid options and you’ll have your answer
This passage is talking about the life expectancy in Iceland, and the author concludes that we all should adopt their diet for us all to live long and healthy lives. This is a classic example of correlation vs causation. Recall:
From Logical Reasoning and Critical Thinking Guide
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 in 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).
Why is this an example of correlation not being causation?
This is the main flaw of the argument in this case because the author is not providing any backing to show that the diet is the reason why Icelanders are healthy and have long life expectancies. There could be a variety of other factors contributing to it. So without any scientific backing or proof, we cannot solely assume that merely adopting their diet will also improve our health and increase our longevity. An example of a counterpoint could be that we are not considering their sleep or exercise.
A There may be other reasons for the Icelanders’ health and longevity.
This is the answer referring to the correlation not being causation. We can correlate the Icelanders having a healthy diet and them having good health, but we cannot say that it is the cause of it. There are other factors at play here. Therefore A is correct as it exposes the flaw of correlation and not causation.
B People may not like being told what they should eat.
This is irrelevant, the author is saying that we should adopt the diet due to these health benefits. The author is not considering whether or not it would even be possible or popular, instead, they are just showing why we should do it, not how. Therefore B is incorrect.
C The Icelandic diet may be prohibitively expensive elsewhere.
Again, this is a logistic problem that is not relevant at the current time. This focuses on implementation. Regardless of whether or not the diet is expensive, the author is saying there will be benefits. Therefore C is incorrect.
D There may be insufficient space in many countries to raise grass fed animals.
E Vegetarians may not be able to live on an Icelandic diet.
I will group D and E together because they are basically the same as B and C. These are irrelevant options and easy to sort through because they are focusing on the wrong things. To expose the flaw in this argument, we need to undermine why the author wants us to take this diet. The reason they want us to take the diet is for the health benefits and longevity shown by the Icelanders. If you break this link, between the diet and their strong health, then we have no reason to take this diet. D and E are focusing on small logistical things that are hypothetical (‘may’). Therefore D and E are incorrect.