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like cheating is a sensitive one, and this increases the chance that misleading responses have been given. You may also raise concerns about the absence of a margin of error, time of the survey, etc. Many of these problems may belong to the report more than the poll itself. The report includes claims, for example, that seem to be drawn from more than the poll. How did the survey find that cheating had increased over three decades? Does the sample include responses from over three decades? This seems unlikely. More probable is that this survey is being compared to an earlier one, but we have no information to work on. Likewise, Professor McCabe is reported to have concluded that strict penalties are a more effective deterrent than exhortations to behave morally. But this is based on the experience of the university departments involved, which would not be part of the sample studied. Exercise 9C Discuss the following arguments from the point of view of the account of causal arguments we have provided. Diagram the arguments. Are the arguments made for or against causal claims plausible or implausible, weak or strong? What would be needed to strength the claim? c) Every time there’s a test on a Friday morning after Thursday pub night, the class tends to do terribly. So if we move the test to Wednesday, results should improve. P1 = Every time there’s a test on a Friday morning after Thursday pub night, the class tends to do terribly [X is correlated with Y.] HP2= The correlation between X and Y is not due to chance. HP3= The correlation between X and Y is not due to some mutual cause Z. HP4= Y is not the cause of X. C = X [the pub night] causes Y [poor class performance]. MC= If we move the test to Wednesday, results should improve. The main conclusion is based on the causal reasoning, much of it hidden. In terms of the analysis of causal reasoning, we can rule out the third and fourth questions: there is no second cause that causes both the pub night and the poor performance, nor is the poor performance the cause of the pub night. Both suggestions are implausible. So we are left reviewing the correlation. Presumably the arguer has experience built up over time, so we can accept that the correlation exists. But is it a matter of chance? We might need more information to be sure of this. How many students writing the tests also go to the pub nights? This would help to rule out chance. In the absence of this, we might provisionally accept such a claim and wit to see whether the move to Wednesday does indeed improve test performance.
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