This is a follow up question of our blog on Basics of Causal Arguments. If you haven’t solved the practice question 1, solve it first before trying this one!

Question –

The price per kilogram of wheat in Granaria was $3.00 last year, while the nearby villages were selling their wheat at prices ranging between $ 1.75 and $ 2.25 per kilogram. A close comparison revealed that the wheat grain of Granaria was not only bigger in size but also harder than the grains of nearby villages, two physical properties of grain that play a very important role in the quality of the grain, and in final products such as flour. Clearly, the higher price of Granarian wheat must be due to its better quality.

Which of the following most strongly supports the conclusion in the above argument?

A. In the years before last year Granaria’s wheat production was often comparable with that of most of the other villages and so were the prices.

B. Last year there was no other village that could find buyers even in other bigger towns willing to buy its wheat at prices above $ 2.25 per kilogram.

C. Because of weather disturbances, the production of wheat in Granaria took a significant hit last year but the reduced production did not lead to the high price as a huge segment of villagers shifted from wheat to other grains.

D. The wheat grain of other villages were comparable with the Granarian wheat grain with regards to other attributes such as colour and protein content.

E. The farmers of Granaria do not use as much pesticides as the farmers of other villages do for growing wheat.

Answer: C

Solution –

Step 1 – Analysing the stimulus and question stem

The price per kilogram of wheat produced in Granaria was $3.00 last year, while the nearby villages were selling their wheat at prices ranging between $ 1.75 and $ 2.25 per kilogram.

  • We are looking at a scenario where Granaria and some other nearby villages produce wheat.
    • Last year, the price of wheat in Granaria was $3.00 per kilo.
    • In other villages, the price of wheat grown there lay between $2.25 and $1.75

A close comparison revealed that the wheat grain of Granaria was not only bigger in size but also harder than the grains of nearby villages, two physical properties of grain that play a very important role in the quality of the grain, and in final products such as flour

  • Comparison of the wheat grain of Granaria and other nearby villages shows
    • The wheat Grain of Granaria is bigger and harder than the wheat grains of other villages.
    • Size and hardness are indicators of good quality grain.

Clearly, the higher price of Granarian wheat must be due to its better quality.

  • Conclusion: The higher price of the Granarian wheat must be because of its better quality.

Step 2 –

The price per kilogram of wheat produced in Granaria was $3.00 last year, while the nearby villages were selling their wheat at prices ranging between $ 1.75 and $ 2.25 per kilogram.

  • We are looking at a scenario where Granaria and some other nearby villages produce wheat.
    • Last year, the price of wheat in Granaria was $3.00 per kilo.
    • In other villages, the price of wheat grown there lay between $2.25 and $1.75

A close comparison revealed that the wheat grain of Granaria was not only bigger in size but also harder than the grains of nearby villages, two physical properties of grain that play a very important role in the quality of the grain, and in final products such as flour

  • Comparison of the wheat grain of Granaria and other nearby villages shows
    • The wheat Grain of Granaria is bigger and harder than the wheat grains of other villages.
    • Size and hardness are indicators of good quality grain.

Clearly, the higher price of Granarian wheat must be due to its better quality.

  • Conclusion: The higher price of the Granarian wheat must be because of its better quality.

Step 2 – Pre-thinking

  1. The conclusion contains a causality and hence we can use the causality framework here.
  2. Identify the cause and effect
    1. Cause: Better quality of Wheat grain
    1. Effect: Higher selling price of the wheat
  3. Follow the three guidelines:
    1. X happened before Y
      1. Assumption#1: The price was not already as high when the quality of wheat was not as good.
    1. Nothing else caused Y/ No alternate cause
      1. Assumption#2: The higher price was not because of anything other than quality of the wheat grain.
        1. For example: there was no significant increase in the demand for wheat in Granaria.
    1. No Reverse causality
      1. Assumption#3: The lure of higher prices did not force the farmers to produce high quality of wheat grain.
  4. Additionally we can use direct evidence to show that wherever the quality of wheat grain is higher, the prices are significantly high.

Step 3 – Answer Choice Elimination

Option A Analysis

The time frame of this choice is “years before last year” . This makes the choice unimpactful. Also, the quality and prices of wheat were similar in Granaria and other villages. This choice does not tell us that it was the quality of wheat due to which the price of wheat was higher in Granaria this year. Thus this choice out of scope.

Incorrect Choice.

Option B Analysis

We already know the price range of wheat in other villages. This choice adds no new information and is just a distortion of given information.

Incorrect Choice.

Option C Analysis

This choice is in line with assumption#2 and the strengthener provided along with it.

This  choice helps us rule out an alternate cause (Z did not cause X) – reduction in supply (Z) – which could have been the reason behind the high wheat prices in Granaria last year. The high wheat prices were not a result of a decrease in production. People had shifted to eating other grains and the demand for wheat had not gone up in the face of reduced supply.

Correct Choice.

Option D Analysis

This choice talks about the properties which were similar in Granarian wheat and the wheat of other villages. But we already know that Granarian wheat grain is better in two other aspects. This similarity does nothing to strengthen the conclusion and is mostly a distortion of information on physical attributes of wheat.

Incorrect Choice.

Option E Analysis

This choice tries to suggest that the Granarian wheat may not be as good as that of other villages since the Granarian farmers use less pesticides. Less pesticides could mean lower production but not necessarily so. This is therefore mostly out of scope and a weak “weakener” at best.

Incorrect Choice.