Critical Reasoning
Verbal Ability

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Q.

Last year the rate of inflation was 1.2 percent, but for the current year it has been 4 percent. We can conclude that inflation is on an upward trend and the rate will be still higher next year.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakensthe conclusion above?

 A.

The inflation figures were computed onthe basis of a representative sampleof economic data rather than all of the available data.

 B.

Last year a dip in oil prices brought inflation temporarily below its recent stable annual level of 4 percent.

 C.

Increases in the pay of some workers are tied to the level of inflation, and at an inflation rate of 4 percent or above, these pay raises constitute a force causing further inflation.

 D.

The 1.2 percent rate of inflation last year represented a 10-year low.

 E.

Government intervention cannot affect the rate of inflation to any significant degree.

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Solution:
Option(B) is correct

Option A : As long as the sample wasrepresentative, the figures should be accurate. This point does not weaken the conclusion.

Option B Correct : This statement suggests that the 1.2 percent inflation rate is an unusual occurrence in recent years. Especially because the dip below the stable 4 percent ratewas temporary, this unusual occurrence cannot be used as the basis for predicting a trend.

Option C :  This statement explains oneprocess bywhich inflation increases and tends to support the conclusion that inflation will continue to rise.

Option D :  This information implies, for example, that two years ago, the inflation rate was higher than 1.2 percent. This raises thepossibility (without stating it) that last year and theyear preceding mark a trend of declining inflation (and that the current year's 4 percent is an aberration).

However, if the inflation rate two years ago was only slightly higher than 1.2 percent (for example, 1.25 percent), then it would be difficult to regard these two numbers as signaling a trend of declining inflation. Wedo not have enough information here to regard this as a significant weakener. The information is sufficient tojustify a little doubt about the argument's conclusion—but not at all specific enough to undermine the argument's conclusion as much as does answer choice (B).

Option E :  The failure of government intervention to affect the rate of inflation could be seen to support, not weaken, the conclusion.

The correct answer is B.


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