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Studies have shown that people who keep daily diet records are far more successful at losing weight than people who don’t keep track of what they eat. Researchers believe that many weight-loss efforts fail because people eat more calories than they intend to consume. One study followed a group of patients who reported that they could not lose weight when consuming only 1,200 calories a day. The study found that the group consumed, on average, 47% more than it claimed and exercised 51% less. In contrast, when dieters record what they eat, their actual consumption more closely matches their reported consumption.

The two boldface portions in the argument above are best described by which of the following statements?

(A) The first is a conclusion reached by researchers; the second is evidence that that conclusion is correct.

(B) The first is an explanation of why a certain theory is thought to be true; the second is an example of research results that support this theory.

(C) The first is an example illustrating the truth of a certain theory; the second is a competing theory.

(D) The first is a premise upon which the researchers base their opinion; the second illustrates that their opinion is correct.

(E) The first introduces a theory that the researchers have disproved; the second is the basis for the researchers’ argument.

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The correct answer is (A) because the first bold statement is, in fact, the conclusion derived from the research ("studies have shown"); the second bold statement provided the evidence/findings/results that led to that conclusion ("the study found").

(B) is wrong because the first bold statement doesn't explain why the theory is true.

(C) is wrong because the first bold statement doesn't illustrate any truth, it merely states a conclusion; the second bold statement isn't a competing theory.

(D) is wrong because the first bold statement isn't a premise, it's a conclusion.

(E) is wrong because it is not the disproved theory, it is actually the arrived upon conclusion from the results provided by the second bold statement.

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  • That is what I thought, but the explanation is different. (A) The first boldface is not the conclusion, it is an observed fact. The second boldface is evidence that the researchers’ conclusion is correct, but is not evidence that the first boldface is correct. (D) CORRECT. The first boldface (diet record = diet success) is a basis for the researchers’ conclusion that many weight loss efforts fail because people consume more than they intended. The second boldface directly illustrates how weight loss efforts of a certain group failed for exactly that reason. – rd22 Mar 29 '15 at 7:00
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    But I still think A should be the answer. – rd22 Mar 29 '15 at 7:01
  • Then they shouldn't have said "studies have shown...". Did they explain why it's a premise and not a conclusion? – Mike Mar 29 '15 at 7:04
  • It's a premise because it is not supported by any evidence. D is the correct answer, but maybe one should save the "reveal" until others have the opportunity to answer. My written answer was interrupted by two phone calls and a potty break -- disappointed to see the "reveal " so early. – Tightwriter Mar 29 '15 at 7:39
  • @Mike What other studies have shown isn't a conclusion of this study. It's not certain that it's a premise, either (the study mentioned may have been the first of all the studies, in which case there is no correlation at all between the two bolded parts), but it's at least probable that findings in similar studies is a premise to be tested and verified or disproved in this study. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 29 '15 at 8:36
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(D) but none of the above. Logic cannot be applied to the two sentences you have bolded without maintaining the context of the paragraph Let's assume all statements are true:

(1) (Many, some, etc.) Studies have shown (an unforgiving generalization in any process of logic) that people who keep daily diet records are far more successful at losing weight than people who don’t keep track of what they eat.

(2) One study (perhaps one of those studies above, but not necessarily) shows that participants, who reported they had consumed no more than 1,200 calories and failed to lose weight (so they kept records, just lousy ones?) had actually consumed a lot more and exercised a lot less (not sure where that fits in as there is no mention of exercise in the first proposition).

(3)Finally, (either notwithstanding or in light of proposition 2, which may not actually support proposition 1), dieters who keep track of their intake will likely present accurate results.

As written, the supporting argument (proposition 2) is invalid in so many ways:

How would they measure their success in limiting caloric intake to 1,200 if not by a record of some sort? They apparently believed they were monitoring their intake.

How many calories were participants in the other surveys consuming; where is 1,200 significant in this argument, and is 47% more (1,764 calories)a point at which studies show that people won't lose weight?

The only conclusion one can agree with in this argument is that which is stated in the concluding sentence: Dieters who keep track of their intake will likely present accurate results -- except, of course, for the contrasting study, where the recorded reports were obviously inaccurate.

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  • “How would they measure their success in limiting caloric intake to 1,200 if not by a record of some sort?” – Obviously, implicitly, by trying to keep guesstimated track of what and how much they were eating in their heads, without ever writing it down. Hence the inaccuracy. I would assume the study in question tracked everything the subjects ate in records, but the participants themselves only did so in one test group. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 29 '15 at 8:23
  • Not documented as a factor in the study. I don't think it's implicit; I think it's something you have inferred from its context. And, I believe your assumption is merely that. My point is merely this: As an exercise in logical thinking and/or scientific reporting, this example is atrocious. – Tightwriter Mar 29 '15 at 8:29
  • That's exactly what makes it implicit (to be inferred or understood without being mentioned), rather than explicit (overtly mentioned). This is obviously a newspaper article or similar, so lots and lots of details are naturally left out as being implicitly inferrable, which is also why strict logic cannot really be properly applied to it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 29 '15 at 8:33

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