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Critical Reasoning: Investigation Questions

In Country E, car sales have dropped significantly in the past 8 years. During this time, public awareness about the ecology and the serious harm caused by fossil fuel-burning vehicles, amongst other things, has experienced a tremendous increase. This heightened level of public awareness, therefore, is the reason for the drop in car sales.  

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

Incorrect.

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The conclusion draws a direct relation between what the public believes and what they buy. The question in this answer choice is irrelevant because even if it was proven that cars do not harm the ecology, the public in Country E still believes that they do.

Incorrect.

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Car sales rates in other countries are irrelevant on their own. Unless we also know the status of the public's ecological awareness in another country, we cannot make a logical comparison between it and Country E.

Incorrect.

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Public awareness campaigns and recycling are entirely irrelevant to this argument. The conclusion focuses on a cause-and-effect relationship between public awareness of car-related pollution and car sales.

Incorrect.

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Because the argument deals with car sales in general, the origin of the cars is beside the point.

This answer choice could rule out a logical alternative explanation to the situation. If buying or using a car became more expensive, it could explain the decrease in sales. However, if buying or using a car cost the same as before, this alternative explanation is invalidated and the conclusion is emphasized (the sales likely dropped because of the public opinion).

Great work!

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The question claims that sales of cars were reduced, and provides increased ecological awareness as the reason. There's a hidden assumption in this causal argument - in order to reach the conclusion that eco awareness is the cause, the argument's author must assume that there is no factor other than eco awareness affecting sales of cars.

Whether there is any opposing evidence showing that vehicles that run on fossil fuels do not influence the ecology to a great extent
Whether car sales have decreased in countries with similar population densities to Country E
Whether the retail prices of cars, or of fuel, have increased during the past 8 years
Whether the public awareness campaigns held in Country E touched on the subject of recycling
Whether the fossil fuel-burning vehicles in Country E are manufactured locally or imported.
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