Critical Reasoning
Verbal Ability

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Q.

The growing popularity of computer-based activities was widely expected to result in a decline in television viewing, since it had been assumed that people lack sufficient free time to maintain current television-viewing levels while spending increasing amounts of free time on the computer. That assumption, however, is evidently false: In a recent mail survey concerning media use, a very large majority of respondents who report increasing time spent per week using computers report no change intime spent watching television.

Which of the following would it be most useful to determine in order to evaluate the argument?

 A.

Whether a large majority of the survey respondents reported watching television regularly

 B.

Whether the amount of time spent watching television is declining among people who report that they rarely or never use computers

 C.

Whether the type of television programs a person watches tends to change as the amount of time spent per week using computers increases

 D.

Whether a large majority of the computer owners in the survey reported spending increasing amounts of time per week using computers

 E.

Whether the survey respondents' reports of time spent using computers included time spent using computers at work

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Solution:
Option(E) is correct

Option A : The argument is concerned with the change in the amount of television watched bythose whose computer use increased, so whether the survey's respondents reported watching television regularly is irrelevant.

Option B :  The argument is concerned with the change in the amount of television watched by those whose computer use has increased, so it does not matter whether the amount of time spent watching television among people who do not use computers is declining, remaining the same, or increasing.

Option C :  The argument is concerned with the amount of television watched by those whose computer use has increased, not the type of television programs such a person does or does not watch.

Option D :  The argument here isconcerned with people who report spending increasing amounts of time on

the computer; what computer owners do is a separate question.

Option E :  Correct. This statement properly identifies something that would be useful to know in evaluating the argument: whether the survey data included time spent using computers at work—if it did, this would make the data misleading as evidence for the argument's conclusion.

The correct answer is E.


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