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Citizens in Country X are frequently complaining that lines in government offices are much longer now than they were 15 years ago. No real measure of the length of the lines in government offices in Country X today exists, but the citizens' complaints are almost certainly exaggerated, if not altogether unwarranted. The number of government officials in Country X has quadrupled over the past 15 years whereas the number of citizens has only doubled.
Which of the following, if true, casts the most doubt on the above conclusion?
This answer choice neither weakens nor strengthens the conclusion. What's missing in this answer choice in order for it to be correct is information about the current average waiting time, specifically information showing that today's waiting time is shorter than 7 minutes. Without a figure to compare it to, 7 minutes is useless information and cannot help us weaken the conclusion.
This answer choice strengthens the conclusion by confirming its assumption, showing that there are more service-providing government officials per citizen today than there were 15 years ago. This change in ratio is likely to yield shorter waiting times and shorter lines. However, you were asked to weaken the conclusion that the citizens' complaints are uncalled for (i.e., prove the complaints are justified).
This answer choice attacks the argument's assumption. Just because more officials are employed does not mean that they are used in positions that will directly shorten the lines.
This answer choice strengthens the conclusion while we're supposed to be weakening it. If the number of all citizens (i.e., the total number of adults and children) has doubled, and the number of children has tripled, the percentage of adult citizens has diminished over the past 15 years. Children do not normally go to government offices so this implies shorter waiting time and shorter lines. However, we should be looking for information that shows that this is not true.
This answer choice neither weakens nor strengthens the conclusion. Since the argument deals with a comparison between today's lines and those of 15 years ago, to weaken the conclusion we need an answer choice that will favor one of the two situations. Because this answer choice only gives us data about today's situation, we cannot compare it to that of 15 years ago.