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CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 45

Observatory director: Some say that funding the megatelescope will benefit only the astronomers who will work with it. This dangerous point of view, applied to the work of Maxwell, Newton, or Einstein, would have stifled their research and deprived the world of beneficial applications, such as the development of radio, that followed from that research.

If the statements above are put forward as an argument in favor of development of the megatelescope, which one of the following is the strongest criticism of that argument?

[A]. It appeals to the authority of experts who cannot have known all the issues involved in construction of the megatelescope.
[B]. It does not identify those opposed to development of the megatelescope.
[C]. It launches a personal attack on opponents of the megatelescope by accusing them of having a dangerous point of view.
[D]. It does not distinguish between the economic and the intellectual sense of “benefit.”
[E]. It does not show that the proposed megatelescope research is worthy of comparison with that of eminent scientists in its potential for applications.
Answer: E

The director argues for the funding of the megatelescope on the grounds that the whole world benefits from new technology and new inventions, and that funding for these ventures is not beneficial to only the scientists themselves. The director uses Maxwell, Newton and Einstein as examples of scientists who were not limited by a lack of funding, and were, therefore, able to make discoveries that benefited the whole world. Clearly, the director is drawing an analogy between the megatelescope research and the research of those three great scientists. That’s a pretty heady comparison to make; the author needs to present evidence showing that the megatelescope research may approach the same level as that done by these great scientists. (E) is therefore the strongest criticism of the argument.

(A) The director is using Newton and the others as examples of earlier scientists who made great discoveries; there is absolutely no appeal to the authority of these long-dead people on the subject of the megatelescope. And since they’re the only experts mentioned, (A) isn’t a possible criticism of the argument.

(B) is irrelevant. It really doesn’t matter who opposes the development or funding of the megatelescope, because the opponents of this argument aren’t being attacked by the director; only their point of view is questioned.

(C) is a distortion. Charging that someone’s point of view is dangerous is distinctly not the same as launching a personal attack on that person.

(D) makes an irrelevant distinction. The word ``benefit’’ in either the economic or the intellectual sense would have the same effect on the argument, since the astronomers, along with the rest of the world, could reap either or both kinds of benefits from the funding.

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