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Critical Reasoning: Investigation Questions

It has been discovered that a chemical compound present in a liquid sprayed by pinkback ants as a defense mechanism contains antiseptic properties very useful in the treatment of minor flesh wounds. The volume of the chemical stored in a pinkback's glands is so small that it took scientists more than a year to acquire a sufficient amount for research purposes. Clearly, it will be very expensive, if not impossible, to use the chemical in commercial applications since such applications require much greater amounts than those used during research.

The answer to which of the following would be most useful in evaluating the argument?

Incorrect.

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This answer choice is beside the point. The conclusion focuses on whether or not the chemical can be commercialized rather than whether or not it should be commercialized. Therefore, we do not need to know it's possible future uses.

Incorrect.

[[snippet]]

This answer choice is beside the point. The conclusion focuses on whether or not the chemical can be commercialized rather than whether or not it should be commercialized. Therefore, we do not need to know it's possible future uses beyond treating flesh wounds.

Incorrect.

[[snippet]]

This answer choice attempts to reveal how quickly the chemical can be produced from ants, but we already know the answer. The premises tell us that it took a long time to acquire even the small amount of chemical required for research. We can infer that acquiring commercial quantities will take even longer, significantly longer than what was required for research.

Incorrect.

[[snippet]]

This question is out of the scope of the argument. The author focuses on a particular yet problematic discovery - a chemical produced by pinkback ants in amounts too small to commercialize. Therefore, references to other chemicals cannot have a direct effect on the conclusion.

Good!

[[snippet]]

This question could lead to verifying the accuracy of the conclusion. If the chemical cannot be produced in ways other than taking it from the ants, then the author may be right - it will be difficult to commercialize. If the chemical can be copied, or synthesized, then producing large amounts of it would not be a problem.

What kind of commercial applications could benefit from the presence of such a chemical?
Does the chemical have properties that would make it useful for the healing of ailments other than flesh wounds?
When the chemical is drawn from the glands of a pinkback ant, how long does it take for the ant to reproduce the missing amount?
What alternative sources of other chemicals used for the treatment of minor flesh wounds are there?
Can the compound be synthetically produced without it losing any of its characteristics?