June 2007 LSAT, II, #14

Onward through the June 2007 LSAT. Section 2, Question 14 presents yet another bogus argument.  The ultimate conclusion here is Cause and Effect:  Raw milk, raised to 50 degrees Celsius in a microwave, loses its enzymes because of microwaves, not because of heat.  The evidence for this assertion is the fact that exposure to a conventional heat source of 50 degrees won't lead to the same enzyme loss.  There's a problem here, and you'd better figure out what the problem is before you stumble blindly into the answer choices.  Think about it for a minute.  Take your time.

It's a subtle thing, but if you do enough LSAT questions you'll become attuned to the subtleties.  Why did the argument say, in a straightforward way, that the milk was "heated to 50 degrees" in the microwave, and then say something slightly different and more convoluted ("the milk reaches that temperature through exposure to a conventional heat source of 50 degrees") regarding the experiment on the stove?

Be a trial attorney:  Sir, in your earlier testimony you said "heated in a microwave to 50 degrees"--why didn't you then say "heated on a stove to 50 degrees"?   What does "raised to temperature through exposure to a conventional heat source of 50 degrees" mean?  Does this just mean "heated on a stove to 50 degrees"?  Or does it mean something else?  Can you please elaborate for us?

If you can get that far, then you've already answered the question.

The question says "Which one of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?"  Our task is to pick the answer choice that we would seek to admit into evidence if we were the opposing attorney.  This witness is shifty.  We're looking to discredit the witness' testimony in the eyes of the jury.  I think the witness is in trouble if we can prove that "raised to temperature through exposure to a conventional heat source of 50 degrees" is not the same thing as "heated on a stove to 50 degrees."  Isn't the stove a hell of a lot hotter than the food that comes off the stove?  How long would it take to raise a pan full of milk to 50 degrees if the burner itself were only 50 degrees?  Wouldn't this take all day?

The witness didn't just compare, plainly, heating something in a microwave to heating something in a stove.  The witness put special conditions on the stovetop heating--special conditions that don't sound very realistic to me.

I can't predict the answer exactly here, but I think my inquiry above is at the heart of the matter.  One last thing before we look at the answer choices:  Let's refocus on the witness' conclusion.  The witness wants to prove that it's microwaves, not heat, that causes enzyme loss.  Let's find an answer choice that suggests that it's not microwaves--let's prove that it's heat, or anything else besides microwaves, that causes enzyme loss.

A)  I don't see how this could possibly help us, because our enemy would always say "it was the microwaves that killed the enzymes, not the heat."

B)  Wow, what a terrible answer.  Whether or not the enzymes can be replaced is totally beside the point.  The only relevant issue here is what causes the enzyme loss.  The enemy says microwaves, we say something else.  This answer doesn't help anybody.

C)  This is on the right track, but it feels incomplete.  I can make a case for this one, but I won't do it until I read the rest of the answer choices.  Ideally, I'd pick something that doesn't require me to do much explaining.  If I have to work too hard to justify it, it's rarely the correct answer.

D)  Taste is totally irrelevant.  We're looking for an answer that has something to do with the cause of enzyme loss.  This ain't it.

E)  Ahhh.  Maybe it's not microwaves that are the culprit--maybe it's superheating.  If this answer is true, then the witness' stupid experiment is invalid, because the witness carefully heated milk on a stove using a heat source no higher than the eventual temperature he was trying to reach, but didn't do the same thing in the microwave.  If this answer is true, then the heat pockets in the microwave could have caused the enzyme loss, not the microwaves themselves.  I like this answer better than the case I was going to make for C, so I'm not even going to bother making that case.  Our answer is E.