Question


Public health expert: Increasing the urgency of a public health message may be counterproductive. In addition to irritating the majority who already behave responsibly, it may undermine all government pronouncements on health by convincing people that such messages are overly cautious. And there is no reason to believe that those who ignore measured voices will listen to shouting.

The two sections in boldface play which of the following roles in the public health expert’s argument?

(Because of copyrights, the complete official question is not copied here. You can access the question here: GMAT Club)

Difficulty: Medium

Accuracy: 68%

Based on: 6036 sessions

Solution


The Story

Public health expert: Increasing the urgency of a public health message may be counterproductive. – The author has presented an opinion here. Increasing the urgency (of a public health message) may be counter-productive.
(I’m wondering why might it be counterproductive. We’ll probably find out.)

In addition to irritating the majority who already behave responsibly, – So, one reason is that the increased urgency will irritate many of those people who perhaps do not need the health messages and already behave responsibly. (The phrase “In addition to” tells me that the author will present at least one more reason why increasing the urgency may be counterproductive.)

it may undermine all government pronouncements on health by convincing people that such messages are overly cautious. – Another reason: people might start believing that the messages are overly cautious (guess ‘increasing the urgency’ will stretch things too far). And thus, they may not take any government pronouncement on health as seriously.

And there is no reason to believe that those who ignore measured voices will listen to shouting. – What are ‘measured voices’ and ‘shouting’ doing here? First, let’s relate the statement to the context. Essentially, in the context, the sentence means that there is no reason to believe that people who are ignoring a current public health message (measured voices) will listen to one with increased urgency (shouting).

Author’s logic:
In the argument, the health expert’s main point is the first sentence: “Increasing the urgency of a public health message may be counter-productive”
This point is supported by the following reasons
1. It would irritate many people
2. It may undermine all government health pronouncements
3. No reason to believe those who ignore the current health messages will listen to more urgent ones

So, on the one hand, the increased urgency might irritate many people who already behave responsibly and distance people from such messages in general, and on the other, it probably wouldn’t even resonate with those who do not currently behave responsibly (support). That’s why increasing urgency may be counterproductive (main point).

Question Stem

The two sections in boldface play which of the following roles in the public health expert’s argument?

Prediction:
BF1 is the main point of the argument.
BF2 supports the main point.

Answer choice analysis


Answer Choice: A

Incorrect

Selected by: 5%

First half: The first boldface is indeed a conclusion for which support is provided. However, BF1 is the main conclusion of the argument.
Second half: BF2 does not have any support. BF2 does support the main conclusion (BF1).
The first half is incorrect. The second half is correct.


Answer Choice: B

Incorrect

Selected by: 2%

First half: BF1 itself is the only explicit conclusion of the argument. It does not support any other idea.
Second half: BF2 is indeed a premise supporting the only explicit conclusion (BF1).
The first half is incorrect. The second half is correct.


Answer Choice: C

Incorrect

Selected by: 24%

First half: Yes, BF1 is the main conclusion
Second half: BF2 does support BF1.
However, BF2 does not have any support. The first half of the second sentence (irritating majority) and the last sentence (shouting doesn’t work) do not support BF2. They both offer support for the main point (BF1).
First half: Correct. Second half: Incorrect.


Answer Choice: D

Incorrect

Selected by: 2%

First half: BF2 itself is the argument’s only conclusion.
Second half: BF2 is not a conclusion, it supports the only conclusion of the argument.

Another way to evaluate this answer choice: The statement states that BF1 supports BF2. We can check this: Does BF1 support BF1? it doesn’t.
First half: Incorrect, Second half: Incorrect.


Answer Choice: E

Correct

Selected by: 68%

First half: Yes, BF1 is the only explicit conclusion.
Second half: BF2 does support BF1.
First half: Correct, Second half: Correct

Additional notes:

1. The key to getting most boldface questions correct is understanding the passage well. If the passage is an argument, understand what the main point is, what supports it, What role does each idea play.

2. 24% people selected ‘C’ as their answer. For BF2 to be a conclusion, there would need to be support for it.
a. The 3rd statement or the first half of the 2nd statement does not support BF2.

A way to check is: e.g. Does <3rd statement> therefore <BF2> make sense?

‘There is no reason to believe that people who don’t listen to the current messages will listen to more urgent ones’
therefore
‘increasing the urgency of a public health message may undermine all government health pronouncements by convincing people that such messages are overly cautious’.

That doesn’t make sense. It is not like health pronouncements will get undermined because people might be stubborn.
This test can help us understand that the last statement or even the first half of the second sentence does not support BF2.

b. Some people consider that ‘by convincing people that such messages are overly cautious‘ supports ‘It may undermine all government pronouncements on health‘. While I agree with that view, we need to look if there is support offered for the entire boldfaced portion outside the boldfaced portion. There isn’t.

c. The last two sentences have the following structure:
In addition to X, Y. And Z. The structure itself indicates that none of X, Y and Z supports any of the others.

Anish Passi

GMAT Coach

With over a decade of GMAT training experience, top 1 percentile scores on the CAT and GMAT, and a passion for teaching, I’d like to believe I am quite qualified to be a GMAT coach. GMAT is learnable, and I help students master the GMAT through a process-oriented approach based on logic and common sense. I offer private tutoring and live-online classroom courses. My sessions are often sprinkled with real-world examples, references to movies, and jokes that only I find funny. You’ve been warned 🙂

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

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