October 27, 2009

Homework #20 Answer

Many older men and women are still victims of age stereotypes. They are denied career advancement because they are simply considered "too old" to do the job, whether that's actually true or not. This is a terrible waste of human potential. To help fix this problem, older people applying for jobs should do everything they can to seem young, competent and energetic. Once they are hired, they should not tell anyone their true age, so they can avoid being treated unfairly by co-workers.

Which one of the following, if true, is most damaging to the argument above?

A. Harmful age stereotypes can only be destroyed if capable older people reveal their true age.

(A) is correct. The argument is that older workers should combat age stereotypes and avoid discrimination by hiding their age. This statement makes the precise opposite suggestion. If it is true that harmful age stereotypes can only be destroyed if older people reveal their age, then the problem can't be solved if they hide their age.

B. Scientific studies have found certain changes in brain function to be common in people older than 65.

(B) is incorrect because it provides an excuse for age discrimination, where the argument is suggesting a way to undermine and potentially end it. Further, the argument suggests that people should hide their age by "acting young" and either lying or avoiding the question, so if it's true that older people experience changes in brain function, that's even more reason to hide their age.

C. More and more older people are already finding employment in clerical and food-service jobs.

(C) is incorrect because whether or not older people have jobs is not the issue, nor is it the issue what kinds of jobs they have. The issue is how to go about getting a job, and how to avoid age discrimination once hired. Even if this statement is true, it does not undermine the author's suggestion that older people should act young and conceal their true age.

D. There is wide popular support of laws forbidding age-based discrimination for workers between 40 and 70 years old.

(D) is incorrect because "wide popular support" of anti-discrimination laws doesn't mean much. Even if there are such laws (and there are), everyone knows that having a law against something and actually preventing it from happening are two different things. This statement, that there is "wide popular support" for such laws, is even weaker. It does not undermine the author's suggestion that older people should act young and conceal their age in order to obtain and maintain employment. Even under such laws, this is still a valid suggestion.

E. Improved nutrition prevent, or maybe even reverse, many of the physical changes that occur as people get older.

(E) is incorrect because the author is not suggesting ways for older workers to maintain their health and stave off the inevitable deterioration that comes with aging. The whole point of age discrimination is that people make assumptions about a person's ability based solely on his age, not on his actual physical or mental capacity which varies from one individual to the next. What that means is that it would not matter whether or not an older person stays physically fit, let alone how he goes about doing it.