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CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 17

When Cortez arrived in Mexico in A.D. 1519, he observed the inhabitants playing a ceremonial game with a rubber ball. The pre-Columbian inhabitants of Mexico began to use rubber around A.D. 1000. Thus, we can be sure that the game must have originated sometime between approximately A.D. 1000 and Cortez’ arrival.

The conclusion reached above depends on which one of the following assumptions?

[A]. The pre-Columbian inhabitants of Mexico played games on all ceremonial occasions.
[B]. The making of rubber balls was one of the earliest uses of rubber by the inhabitants of Mexico.
[C]. The ceremonial game referred to was popular throughout Mexico.
[D]. The game had been played since its inception with a rubber ball.
[E]. The dating of the first use of rubber in Mexico was due to Cortez
Answer: D

When did the inhabitants of Mexico start playing this ceremonial game? They were observed playing the game with a rubber ball in 1519, and rubber itself was not used in Mexico before approximately the year 1000. So the author concludes that the game must have been invented between approximately 1000 and 1519. Is that right? We know that the game couldn’t have been played with a rubber ball before that time, but what if the game had not always been played with a rubber ball (the Denial of (D))? If the game could have been played with something else (and we’ll leave it to your imagination to determine what that other object might be), then the game might have been played well before the year 1000, and the author’s argument would fall apart, confirming (D) as a necessary assumption.

To look at it another way, suppose that someone visited America in 1980 and saw the inhabitants playing baseball with aluminium bats. If it were established that aluminium bats were not used before, say, 1960, then would it be fair to say that baseball could not have been played before 1960? Of course not, since the same game could have been played earlier with the materials that were then available.

(A) and (C) are out of the scope. The question concerns when the game was originated, and not the popularity of the game (C) or game-playing in general (A).

(B) If (B) were false, then the window in time in which the game could have been originated would be narrower, but still within the limits suggested by the author; thus, the argument would remain intact. Since the denial of (B) does not defeat the argument, (B) cannot be necessary to the argument.

(E) is irrelevant. Cortez’s observation is important because it shows that the game could not have originated after 1519. Otherwise, there is nothing special about Cortez; there’s no reason to require the rubber dating to have been due to him.

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