November 19, 2009

Homework #30 Answer

Jacques Dessens, the food critic who writes for the magazine Dining Today, was wrong in his review of Fabri's restaurant. He criticized the cold strawberry soup because it contained cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes. But Fabri's roasted chicken dish contains cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes, and Mr. Dessens awarded that dish the highest rating possible. Clearly, such blatant inconsistency proves that Mr. Dessens is not qualified to be a food critic.

The argument above is based upon which of the following assumptions?

A. Some of Fabri's customers don't like the roasted chicken dish.

(A) is incorrect because whether it is true or not it does not affect the author's argument. Remember, any choice whose subject is "some," "most," "many" or "few" of something, and not "all" or "none," is probably not the correct answer to an assumption question. The same is true if the verb is qualified by "sometimes," "often," "rarely" or "seldom," as opposed to "always" or "never." Even if every single one of Fabri's customers likes the roasted chicken dish, it is still possible that Mr. Dessens' criticism of the strawberry soup was unfair.

B. The evaluation of the cold strawberry soup should not suffer just because Mr. Dessens does not like some of the ingredients.

(B) is incorrect because it's an opinion, and therefore cannot be an underlying assumption. It's also an idiotic statement; this is exactly what food critics do, so if Mr. Dessens does not like the soup or its ingredients then of course it will receive a poor evaluation, as it should. That is the whole point of his job. This choice reminds me of a student who once said to me, in response to my criticism of then-President George W. Bush's language skills (or lack thereof), in these exact words: "Just because he doesn't speak well doesn't mean he's a bad speaker." Actually, I replied, it means precisely that.

C. As flavor-enhancing ingredients, cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes are better for main courses than for appetizers.

(C) is also incorrect because it's also an opinion, and also tends to support the substance of Mr. Dessens' review and refute the author's criticism thereof. The argument is that Mr. Dessens' review of the strawberry soup was "wrong," because it was "blatant[ly] inconsisten[t]" for him to dislike the strawberry soup but like the roasted chicken when they both contained the same flavor-enhancing ingredients. If those ingredients are better for main courses than for appetizers, then his review was not inconsistent at all. Many students chose this answer because it supports Mr. Dessens' review; however, the substance of his review is NOT the argument being made by the stimulus, and further, this is an assumption question.

D. Cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes enhance the flavor of the roasted chicken and the cold strawberry soup in essentially the same way.

(D) is correct. The argument is that Mr. Dessens' review of the restaurant contained a "blatant inconsistency," i.e., a criticism of the strawberry soup based on its containing cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes, alongside praise for the roasted chicken dish containing the same ingredients. The argument assumes that these ingredients have the same essential effect on the flavor of each dish in question. If the ingredients effect the flavors of different dishes in different ways, then there is nothing inconsistent or "wrong" about Mr. Dessens' review.

E. Cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes are best used in chicken dishes that are not roasted.

(E) is incorrect because it's an opinion, and does not affect the validity of the argument whether it is true or false. The argument is not concerned with the appropriateness of using these ingredients in any particular dish, let alone one outside the scope of the argument.