Critical Reasoning - Weaken the Argument

GMAT® Verbal Prep Lessons & Questions

This GMAT verbal practice question is a critical reasoning question. The exercise entails weaking the argument or finding an answer option that best refutes the author's argument.


During mediaeval times, the administrative system was organized such that jobs were traditionally held within the same family. The eldest son of the village's blacksmith will take up his father’s business and become the next blacksmith. The other sons would join the army or serve the king in some fashion while the daughters did what their mother did. Although the world has undergone innumerable changes, the dynastic system has not undergone any change whatsoever. Children who have fathers who played major league baseball are 800 times more likely than other kids to become major league players themselves.

Which of the following best refutes the author's reasoning?

  1. In countries with a royal family, the eldest son of the king is destined to be the next king.
  2. The blacksmith's eldest son in a mediaeval village could not choose any other profession even if he wanted to.
  3. A major baseball player will have better knowledge and skills and will be able to guide his son better.
  4. 60℅ of the country's doctors have at least one parent who is a doctor.
  5. It is a proven fact that success in any career is determined more by skill and practice rather than by genetic makeup.

Explanatory Answer

Video explanation will be added soon.
  1. Step 1: Analyzing the Argument

    The argument draws parallels between the mediaeval and modern times and concludes that the dynastic system of sons taking on their fathers’ jobs has not changed over the years. To make the point, the author gives an example of blacksmiths in mediaeval times and baseball players today.

    In order to question the credibility of the argument, the correct option must point out that the times are different and that there need not be a parallel between career systems today and in mediaeval times.

  2. Step 2: Eliminating Options

    • Option (A) gives one more example of dynastic systems today. If anything, (A) lending further credibility to the argument and is not refuting it. For the same reason, Option (D) can also be eliminated.
    • Option (C) implies that having a father in the same profession increases the possibility of the son following the father’s footsteps. The reasoning and implication in (C) is probably not as evident as in (A) and (D) but ultimately, (C) lends credibility to the argument, if anything.
    • Option (E) is possibly a very attractive option. However, the argument does not state that genetic makeup was the reason that people chose a profession; rather it was the accepted practice of the day. Therefore, stating that genetic makeup does not influence the success of a career is irrelevant to the argument. Also, the argument does not discuss “success” in a career at all but just the choice of a career.
    • Option (B) works because it implies that there was no choice given to those who lived in mediaeval times. The argument, when discussing the “likelihood” of someone becoming a baseball player implies that anyone today has the choice to become one, if they wanted to. Thus, a difference in the systems today and then has been pointed out and the option weakens the author’s reasoning.
Option B is the correct answer.

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