LSAT Reading : Strengthen or Weaken Argument in Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #5 : Humanities

Adapted from The Art of Public Speaking by Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (1915)

Our English has changed with the years so that many words now connote more than they did originally. This is true of the word "monotonous." From having but one tone, it has come to mean more broadly, lack of variation.

The monotonous speaker not only drones along in the same volume and pitch of tone, but uses always the same emphasis, the same speed, the same thoughts—or dispenses with thought altogether.

Monotony, the cardinal and most common sin of the public speaker, is not a transgression—it is rather a sin of omission.

Emerson says, "The virtue of art lies in detachment, in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety." That is just what the monotonous speaker fails to do—he does not detach one thought or phrase from another; they are all expressed in the same manner.

To tell you that your speech is monotonous may mean very little to you, so let us look at the nature—and the curse—of monotony in other spheres of life, then we shall appreciate more fully how it will blight an otherwise good speech.

If the Victrola in the adjoining apartment grinds out just three selections over and over again, it is pretty safe to assume that your neighbor has no other records. If a speaker uses only a few of his powers, it points very plainly to the fact that the rest of his powers are not developed. Monotony reveals our limitations.

In its effect on its victim, monotony is actually deadly—it will drive the bloom from the cheek and the luster from the eye as quickly as sin, and often leads to viciousness. The worst punishment that human ingenuity has ever been able to invent is extreme monotony—solitary confinement. Lay a marble on the table and do nothing eighteen hours of the day but change that marble from one point to another and back again, and you will go insane if you continue long enough.

Which of the following, if true, would most undermine the author's point?

Possible Answers:

An essay by an expert on public speaking that advocates a calm demeanor and even tone.

A report on political candidates that indicates monotonous public speakers tend to win fewer elections.

A scientific study showing that repeating phrases and ideas enhances the understanding by a listener to public speaking.

A history of public speaking showing that the most well regarded public speakers were the ones who had the most variation in their style and ideas.

A piece of research showing that most public speakers are often quite monotonous.

Correct answer:

A scientific study showing that repeating phrases and ideas enhances the understanding by a listener to public speaking.


The author's point about monotony as the biggest problem with speakers rests on the idea that a speaker who is monotonous will lose the interest of the listener. The correct answer choice needs to go directly against this main point in order to truly undermine the author's argument. A scientific study that shows the very ideas that the author rails against are actually effective would be what undermines the author's point the most.

Example Question #9 : Business Passages

While hotels have traditionally held a firm grip on the market of vacation-goers, the emergence of companies fostering short-term rentals are dramatically changing the landscape of the travel industry. Before the advent of the modern online forum, short-term rentals were an arrangement limited by sheer logistics. Information about the availability of (and desire for) a short-term rental was difficult to transmit and share. However, with the current explosion of social media and cyber enterprise, the business model of short-term rentals has blossomed.

In 2011, 40% of travelers reported that they would be staying in a short-term rental during the year, as opposed to a traditional hotel. By 2013, this figure had jumped up to a staggering 49%. The short-term rental business is a $24 billion market, holding 8% of the total market of U.S. travel. Rapidly expanding and growing with the innovations of creative renters, the question that hangs in the air is what this means for communities. Short-term rentals have had a polarizing effect in many ways, becoming a source of joy for venturists and cause of dismay for many homeowners.

In recent news, there have been incredible scandals in which short-term renters have abused the property loaned to them, causing thousands of dollars' worth of property damage. Other accusations include disturbing the peace and the commission of criminal acts. Homeowners' Associations (HOAs) have been up in arms, and the legal backlash has been significant. New York enacted firm restrictions on short-term renters, and many HOAs now embed limits on the purposes that a space may be used for, barring short-term rentals.

However, this reaction is an over-reaction, and a detrimental one at that. Cities and towns that set hard limits against short-term rentals are halting the economic growth that would otherwise accompany them. Vacationers are likely to be deterred from venturing out to towns that have banned more affordable short-term rentals. While some vacationers might opt to stay at a hotel in desirable locations, as the short-term rental industry continues to grow, it will become more and more likely that vacation-goers will simply choose alternative destinations that actually allow for short-term rentals.

This is not to say, however, that short-term rentals should be completely unregulated. The key is imposing useful regulations that are mutually beneficial to both communities and to the proprietors of short-term rentals. One potential solution would be to impose reasonable taxes on visitors that use short-term rentals; having requirements for minimum stays could also ensure more consistency for the communities. This also has the added benefit of generating income for towns and cities. There is no reason why communities should see the short-term rental industry as an adversary, when it can just as easily be made into an ally.

Which of the following, if true, best supports the author's contention that bans against short-term rentals would inhibit economic development?

Possible Answers:

Vacationers who enjoy short-term rentals tend to spend more money in tourist destinations.

The average vacationer is very flexible with respect to the types of housing that they will use when travling, which includes the use of short-term rentals.

Many vacationers exclusively use short-term rentals and would be unlikely to visit a town or city without them.

Many vacationers enjoy short-term rentals and could visit a town or city without them.

All vacationers enjoy short-term rentals, but would substitute hotels if they were not available.

Correct answer:

Many vacationers exclusively use short-term rentals and would be unlikely to visit a town or city without them.


The author's conclusion that bans against short-term rentals would inhibit economic development hinges on the fact that short-term rentals are a non-substitutable commodity that consumers seek out. 

The only answer choice that describes short-term rentals as a non-substitutable commodity is "Many vacationers exclusively use short-term rentals and would be unlikely to visit a town or city without them."

If many vacationers exclusively use short-term rentals, then that means they will not use hotels as a replacement. As a result, towns and businesses would lose the business that these patrons would otherwise provide. 

A tempting wrong answer is "Vacationers who enjoy short-term rentals tend to spend more money in tourist destinations." This answer is not as strong as the correct answer because it does not make an argument that short-term rentals are non-substitutable. There is nothing to suggest that vacationers who enjoy short-term rentals would not settle for hotels if short-term rentals were not available.

Example Question #12 : Business Passages

The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) can help countries throughout the world have a more uniform way of navigating the challenging waters of international law surrounding trade. It is not uncommon for two countries to have adopted different laws on international trade that conflict with each other. This becomes a serious problem when trade disputes arise. To help make this concept more tangible, consider the following hypothetical.

Suppose China ships three million dollars' worth of electronics to Uganda using standard bulk shipping transportation methods via a commonly traveled sea route. However, the packaging isn't secured in a manner sufficient to withstand unforeseen weather conditions. As a result, the goods become damaged in transit and are no longer fit for resale. Given that two countries are involved in this transaction–China and Uganda–the question arises as to which country’s trade laws will apply to resolve the matter at hand.

In this scenario, it is fortunate that both China and Uganda are parties to the CISG, which provide for a uniform set of laws governing trade. Such laws cover which party would be responsible for the damaged goods in this scenario. As a result, there will be no dispute as to whether China’s or Uganda's trade laws apply. Given that both countries are parties to the CISG, the laws set forth by the CISG would be applicable.

However, not all countries are parties to the CISG. One example is Rwanda. Even though Rwanda is not a party to the CISG, the fact of the matter is that CISG laws can still apply to it. The CISG applies to trade between countries so long as one of those countries is a party to the CISG (unless the parties expressly specify that the CISG will not apply to their specific trade arrangement). Several of Rwanda's main trade partners, such as the United States, China, Belgium, and Uganda, are parties to the CISG, so the laws of the treaty will apply in those trade agreements. Meanwhile, there is a different story when it comes to Rwanda's trade agreements with Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Thailand, which are not parties to the CISG. Due to these countries’ lack of membership in the CISG, if a problem ever arose in a trade agreement between Rwanda and one those countries, it would be unclear as to which country’s laws would apply.

There has been heated discussion as to whether Rwanda should sign the CISG. The United Nations Development Program takes the stance that it would behoove Rwanda to join. Whether or not Rwanda decides to become a member, the CISG will still apply to a large portion of its trade agreements, as about 100 countries are in fact CISG members, with a strong portion of those members also being trade partners with Rwanda. On the flip side, some Rwandan politicians believe that valuable autonomy would be lost if Rwanda assented to the CISG. However, given the potential benefits that Rwanda stands to gain from the CISG, these fears do not merit forgoing such a valuable opportunity.

Which of the following, if true, would be most likely to weaken the author’s argument that Rwanda should join the CISG?

Possible Answers:

Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania and Thailand have since become CISG members.

Most Rwanda politicians encourage Rwanda to join the CISG. 

The majority of Rwanda’s trade is conducted with Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania and Thailand.

The article was written several years ago, and in the elapsed time, many member countries to the CISG have withdrawn their membership.

The United States has a neutral stance as to whether Rwanda should join the CISG. 

Correct answer:

The article was written several years ago, and in the elapsed time, many member countries to the CISG have withdrawn their membership.


The option that would be most likely to weaken the author's argument is, "The article was written several years ago, and in the elapsed time, many member countries to the CISG have withdrawn their membership." Given that the CISG draws its power from the fact that many countries are a member, if countries began withdrawing their membership, the CISG would lose power. This would make it less enticing for Rwanda to join. 

A tempting wrong answer choice is "The United States has a neutral stance as to whether Rwanda should join the CISG." While this would not necessarily help the author's argument, it would not weaken it as much as the correct answer choice.

Example Question #1 : Strengthen Or Weaken Argument In Humanities Passages

Adapted from a text by Charles William Eliot in The Oxford Book of American Essays (1914)

The third characteristic contribution that the United States has made to civilization has been the safe development of suffrage. The experience of the United States has brought out several principles with regard to the suffrage that have not been clearly apprehended by some eminent political philosophers.

In the first place, American experience has demonstrated the advantages of a gradual approach to universal suffrage over a sudden leap. Universal suffrage is not the first and only means of attaining democratic government; rather, it is the ultimate goal of successful democracy. It is not a cure-all for political ills; on the contrary, it may itself easily be the source of great political evils. When constituencies are large, it aggravates the well-known difficulties of party government; so that many of the ills which threaten democratic communities at this moment, whether in Europe or America, proceed from the breakdown of party government rather than from failures of expanded suffrage. The methods of party government were elaborated where suffrage was limited and constituencies were small. Manhood suffrage has not worked perfectly well in the United States, or in any other nation where it has been adopted, and it is not likely very soon to work perfectly anywhere. It is like freedom of the will for the individual—the only atmosphere in which virtue can grow, but an atmosphere in which vice can also grow. Like freedom of the will, it needs to be surrounded with checks and safeguards, but is the supreme good, the goal of perfected democracy. 

Secondly, like freedom of the will, expanded suffrage has an educational effect that has been mentioned by many writers, but seldom been clearly apprehended or adequately described. This educational effect is produced in two ways. In the first place, the combination of individual freedom with the social mobility a wide suffrage tends to produce permits the capable to rise through all grades of society, even within a single generation; and this freedom to rise is intensely stimulating to personal ambition. Thus capable Americans, from youth to age, are bent on bettering themselves and their conditions. Nothing can be more striking than the contrast between an average American laborer conscious that he can rise to the top of the social scale and a European worker who knows that he cannot rise out of his class and is content with his hereditary classification. 

In the second place, it is a direct effect of a broad suffrage that the voters become periodically interested in the discussion of grave public problems. In no field of human endeavor have the fruits of the introduction of steam and electrical power been more striking than in the methods of reaching multitudes of people with instructive narratives, expositions, and arguments. The multiplication of newspapers, magazines, and books is only one of the immense developments in the means of reaching the people. The interest in the minds of the people that prompts to the reading of these multiplied communications comes from the frequently recurring elections. The more difficult the intellectual problem presented in any given election, the more educative the effect of the discussion.

In these discussions, the people who supply the appeals to the receptive masses benefit alongside them. There is no better mental exercise for the most highly trained person than the effort to expound a difficult subject in so clear a way that an untrained person can understand it. The position of the educated and well-to-do is a thoroughly wholesome one in this respect: they cannot depend for the preservation of their advantages on land-owning, hereditary privilege, or any legislation not equally applicable to the poorest and humblest citizen. They must compete. They cannot live in a too-safe corner.

Which of the following, if true, would contradict the author's argument and opinions?

Possible Answers:

Women read the newspapers even though they cannot vote.

A prominent philosopher argues against women's suffrage in the United States.

Elections in a nation are canceled, but people continue to read just as many newspapers and magazines at the same rate as before.

Legislation favoring poorer citizens above wealthy ones is rejected.

Many newspapers and pamphlets contain slanderous claims against political candidates not aligned with the paper's politics.

Correct answer:

Elections in a nation are canceled, but people continue to read just as many newspapers and magazines at the same rate as before.


In the fourth paragraph, the author states, "The interest in the minds of the people that prompts to the reading of these multiplied communications comes from the frequently recurring elections," where "multiplied communications" refers to the increased number of "newspapers, magazines, and books" available due to technological advancements. If it were shown that people read just as many newspapers and magazines at the same rate when elections were canceled as before they were canceled, this would contradict the author's point that people are prompted to read newspapers and magazines by "the frequently recurring elections."

Example Question #7 : Humanities

Adapted from History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria in Light of Recent Discoveries by L. W. King and H. R. Hall (1906)

The killing and entombment of the royal servants is of the highest anthropological interest, for it throws a vivid light upon the manners of the time. The king was dead. But yet how could one really die? Shadows, dreams, and all kinds of phenomena which the primitive mind could not explain induced the belief that, though the outer man might rot, there was an inner man which could not die and still lived on. And where should this inner man still live on but in the tomb to which the outer man was consigned? And here, doubtless it was believed, in the house to which the body was consigned, the ghost lived on. And as each ghost had his house with the body, so no doubt all ghosts could communicate with one another from tomb to tomb; and so there grew up the belief in a tomb-world, a subterranean Egypt of tombs, in which the dead Egyptians still lived and had their being. Over this dread realm of dead men presided a dead god, Osiris of Abydos.

Now none could live without food, and men living under the earth needed it as much as men living on the earth. The royal tomb was thus provided with an enormous amount of earthly food for the use of the royal ghost. Royal slaves were needed to take care of all this provision, and to serve the ghost of the king. Ghosts only could serve ghosts, so that of the slaves ghosts had to be made. That was easily done; they died when their master died and followed him to the tomb. No doubt it seemed perfectly natural to all concerned, to the slaves as much as to anybody else. But it shows that an animate thing was hardly distinguished at this period from an inanimate thing. The most ancient Egyptians buried slaves with their kings as naturally as they buried jars of wine and bins of corn with them. Both were buried with a definite object. Of the sanctity of human life as distinct from other life, there was probably no idea at all. The royal ghost needed ghostly servants, and they were provided as a matter of course.

But as time progressed, the ideas of the Egyptians changed on these points, and in the later ages of the ancient world they were more humane, far more so than the Greeks, in fact. The cultured Hellenes murdered their prisoners of war without hesitation. Who has not been troubled in mind by the execution of Mkias and Demosthenes after the surrender of the Athenian army at Syracuse? When we compare this with Grant's refusal even to take Lee's sword at Appomattox, the difference is striking. But the Egyptians of Gylippus's time were probably more humane than the Greeks as well. When Amasis had his rival Apries in his power, he did not put him to death, but kept him as his coadjutor on the throne. Apries fled from him, allied himself with Greek pirates, and advanced against his generous rival. After his defeat and murder at Momemphis, Amasis gave him a splendid burial. When we compare this generosity to a beaten foe with the lack of it shown by the Assyrians, for instance, we see how far the later Egyptians had progressed in developing a respect for the lives of others.

Which of the following, if true, would most greatly contradict the author's opinions?

Possible Answers:

Neither the Ancient Egyptians nor their Ancient Greek contemporaries practiced human sacrifice.

The Ancient Egyptians killed more of their prisoners of war than the contemporary Ancient Greeks did.

 When the pharaoh died, his or her pets were also killed and entombed with his or her remains.

Amasis wrote a eulogy for Apries praising his prowess in battle.

The Ancient Greeks who lived at the same time as the Ancient Egyptians discussed also had a belief system that involved an afterlife.

Correct answer:

The Ancient Egyptians killed more of their prisoners of war than the contemporary Ancient Greeks did.


Of the provided answer choices, "The Ancient Egyptians killed more of their prisoners of war than the contemporary Ancient Greeks did" would most contradict the opinions that the author demonstrates in the passage. The author makes a point in the last paragraph to compare the Ancient Egyptians with the Ancient Greeks and argue that the Ancient Egyptians were more humane than the Ancient Greeks. He supports his argument with evidence in the form of the anecdotes, contrasting the execution of Mkias and Demosthenes by the Athenian army with the story about the Ancient Egyptian Amasis being lenient toward his rival, Apries. Thus, if it turned out that the Ancient Egyptians actually killed more of their prisoners of war than did the Ancient Greeks, this would provide evidence that would oppose the author's anecdotal evidence and suggest that the Ancient Egyptians were less humane than the contemporary Ancient Greeks.

Example Question #1 : Analyzing Style, Tone, Audience, And Point Of View In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Jack London’s The Road (1907)

Barring accidents, a good hobo, with youth and agility, can hold a train down despite all the efforts of the train-crew to "ditch" him—given, of course, night-time as an essential condition. When such a hobo, under such conditions, makes up his mind that he is going to hold her down, either he does hold her down, or chance trips him up. There is no legitimate way, short of murder, whereby the train-crew can ditch him. That train-crews have not stopped short of murder is a current belief in the tramp world. Not having had that particular experience in my tramp days I cannot vouch for it personally.

But this I have heard of the "bad" roads. When a tramp has "gone underneath," on the rods, and the train is in motion, there is apparently no way of dislodging him until the train stops. The tramp, snugly ensconced inside the truck, with the four wheels and all the framework around him, has the "cinch" on the crew—or so he thinks, until some day he rides the rods on a bad road. A bad road is usually one on which a short time previously one or several trainmen have been killed by tramps. Heaven pity the tramp who is caught "underneath" on such a road—for caught he is, though the train be going sixty miles an hour.

The "shack" (brakeman) takes a coupling-pin and a length of bell-cord to the platform in front of the truck in which the tramp is riding. The shack fastens the coupling-pin to the bell- cord, drops the former down between the platforms, and pays out the latter. The coupling-pin strikes the ties between the rails, rebounds against the bottom of the car, and again strikes the ties. The shack plays it back and forth, now to this side, now to the other, lets it out a bit and hauls it in a bit, giving his weapon opportunity for every variety of impact and rebound. Every blow of that flying coupling-pin is freighted with death, and at sixty miles an hour it beats a veritable tattoo of death. The next day the remains of that tramp are gathered up along the right of way, and a line in the local paper mentions the unknown man, undoubtedly a tramp, assumably drunk, who had probably fallen asleep on the track.

If the author included the perspective of the train crew, what effect would that have on the overall perspective of the passage?

Possible Answers:

It would portray the train crew as malicious and vindictive.

It would create confusion over the actual circumstances of a hobo's death.

It would portray the hobos in a less favorable light.

It would make the local newspapers look more untrustworthy.

It would make train crews much less sympathetic to the reader.

Correct answer:

It would portray the hobos in a less favorable light.


The author is fully on the side of the hobos, both because he was one and because he knows their stories better. The perspective of the train crew is in opposition to the author's statements about the unfortunate hobo who got caught underneath. Presumably a train crew would describe the hobo's actions in a much less favorable manner than the author does.

Example Question #1 : Strengthen Or Weaken Argument In Humanities Passages

"The Novel" by William Floyd (2015)

The first significant period of popularity for the novel was the mid eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. Scholars have often debated why extended prose narratives became the most significant form of writing for the public during this era. Certainly the availability of cheaper publishing tools meant books were more accessible to more people, and the time period was one of widespread reading in a number of ways, such as letters and pamphlets as well as books. Yet perhaps the most significant cause of the novel’s explosion into the center of popular culture might be that it best reflected the newfound interiority and privacy of eighteenth century Western Europe.

The Industrial Revolution brought changes to nearly every element of society, but significantly transformed home life. Increased social mobility meant that multigenerational families were becoming much less common and more people lived at home. The booming wealth brought by the Industrial Revolution also created more spacious domiciles for those who were still living with family, giving most members of society a chance to have individual spaces where someone could seek out some measure of solitude. The changing social mores of the era also meant that everyday conversation began to take on a subject matter and tone that was previously seen as inappropriate or scandalous. The day to day existence and average life experience of the typical person was radically different than that of the previous generation. Whereas before the Industrial Revolution the entire social structure of the world revolved around community, by the mid seventeenth century the individual became the center of the social universe.

All of these changes perfectly suited the strengths of the novel, particularly as it was written and consumed in the eighteenth century. Where a play has at its core a public performance and poetry was meant to be said aloud, the novel provides a focus on interior thoughts, psychology, and character development. For a world newly experiencing privacy and intimate space, the conversational style and philosophical musings of the novel matched the new reality that the novel reader was encountering. More significantly, the most popular novels, until about the twentieth century, were usually published in a serialized format. By getting the next installment each week or month, readers consumed novels in much the same manner as they read letters from home or snippets of news. Novels fit into the fabric of life during the Industrial Revolution because they were about interiority, individualism, and striving for something new.

Which of the following statements would most weaken the author's argument?

Possible Answers:

Early novelists were most concerned with personal relationships, rather than societal change.

The chief concern of many early novelists was the popularity of their work.

The first successful novels were published well before the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution was rarely mentioned by contemporary novelists.

The structure and tone of early novels was not as settled as it would become in later works.

Correct answer:

The first successful novels were published well before the Industrial Revolution.


The author directly ties the success of early novels to the changes brought about in society by the Industrial Revolution. This means that the author's argument relies on the relationship between novels and the Industrial Revolution. As the only choice that breaks apart the tie between the two, the correct answer is "The first successful novels were published well before the Industrial Revolution."

Example Question #1 : Effects Of New Information In Humanities Passages

Passage adapted from Culture and Anarchy (1868) by Matthew Arnold.

The disparagers of culture make its motive curiosity; sometimes, indeed, they make its motive mere exclusiveness and vanity. The culture which is supposed to plume itself on a smattering of Greek and Latin is a culture which is begotten by nothing so intellectual as curiosity; it is valued either out of sheer vanity and ignorance, or else as an engine of social and class distinction, separating its holder, like a badge or title, from other people who have not got it. No serious man would call this culture, or attach any value to it, as culture, at all. To find the real ground for the very differing estimate which serious people will set upon culture, we must find some motive for culture in the terms of which may lie a real ambiguity; and such a motive the word curiosity gives us. I have before now pointed out that in English we do not, like the foreigners, use this word in a good sense as well as in a bad sense; with us the word is always used in a somewhat disapproving sense; a liberal and intelligent eagerness about the things of the mind may be meant by a foreigner when he speaks of curiosity, but with us the word always conveys a certain notion of frivolous and unedifying activity. In the Quarterly Review, some little time ago, was an estimate of the celebrated French critic, Monsieur Sainte-Beuve, and a very inadequate estimate it, in my judgment, was. And its inadequacy consisted chiefly in this: that in our English way it left out of sight the double sense really involved in the word curiosity, thinking enough was said to stamp Monsieur Sainte-Beuve with blame if it was said that he was impelled in his operations as a critic by curiosity, and omitting either to perceive that Monsieur Sainte-Beuve himself, and many other people with him, would consider that this was praiseworthy and not blameworthy, or to point out why it ought really to be accounted worthy of blame and not of praise. For as there is a curiosity about intellectual matters which is futile, and merely a disease, so there is certainly a curiosity,—a desire after the things of the mind simply for their own sakes and for the pleasure of seeing them as they are,—which is, in an intelligent being, natural and laudable. Nay, and the very desire to see things as they are implies a balance and regulation of mind which is not often attained without fruitful effort, and which is the very opposite of the blind and diseased impulse of mind which is what we mean to blame when we blame curiosity. Montesquieu says:—"The first motive which ought to impel us to study is the desire to augment the excellence of our nature, and to render an intelligent being yet more intelligent." This is the true ground to assign for the genuine scientific passion, however manifested, and for culture, viewed simply as a fruit of this passion; and it is a worthy ground, even though we let the term curiosity stand to describe it.

Which of the following statements would most weaken the argument presented in the passage?

Possible Answers:

Many critics have advocated for the increased use of curiosity in culture before the author.

The Quarterly Review has a mixed reputation among many critics and writers.

Most critics do not particularly care about the definition of "curiosity" or "culture."

Many English writers look down at French writers who write on similar topics.

Monsieur Sainte-Beauve is not a very well known figure among many writers.

Correct answer:

Many critics have advocated for the increased use of curiosity in culture before the author.


The statement that would most weaken the argument needs to be the one that most directly address the argument, which is that critics of culture should more closely consider "curiosity" as a good thing in a way they never have. The only statement among the answer choices that directly contradicts this is "Many critics have advocated for the increased use of curiosity in culture before the author."

Example Question #3 : Strengthen Or Weaken Argument In Humanities Passages

Passage adapted from Rembrandt (1893) by Josef Israels.

While the world pays respectful tribute to Rembrandt the artist, it has been compelled to wait until comparatively recent years for some small measure of reliable information concerning Rembrandt the man. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries seem to have been very little concerned with personalities. A man was judged by his work which appealed, if it were good enough, to an ever-increasing circle. There were no newspapers to record his doings and, if he chanced to be an artist, it was nobody's business to set down the details of his life. Sometimes a diarist chanced to pass by and to jot down a little gossip, quite unconscious of the fact that it would serve to stimulate generations yet unborn, but, for the most part, artists who did great work in a retiring fashion and were not honored by courts and princes as Rubens was, passed from the scene of their labors with all the details of their sojourn unrecorded.

Rembrandt was fated to suffer more than mere neglect, for he seems to have been a light-hearted, headstrong, extravagant man, with no capacity for business. He had not even the supreme quality, associated in doggerel with Dutchmen, of giving too little and asking too much. Consequently, when he died poor and enfeebled, in years when his collection of works of fine art had been sold at public auction for a fraction of its value, when his pictures had been seized for debt, and wife, mistress, children, and many friends had passed, little was said about him. It was only when the superlative quality of his art was recognized beyond a small circle of admirers that people began to gather up such fragments of biography as they could find.

Shakespeare has put into Mark Antony's mouth the statement that "the evil that men do lives after them," and this was very much the case with Rembrandt van Ryn. His first biographers seem to have no memory save for his undoubted recklessness, his extravagance, and his debts. They remembered that his pictures fetched very good prices, that his studio was besieged for some years by more sitters than it could accommodate, that he was honored with commissions from the ruling house, and that in short, he had every chance that would have led a good business man to prosperity and an old age removed from stress and strain. These facts seem to have aroused their ire. They have assailed his memory with invective that does not stop short at false statement. They have found in the greatest of all Dutch artists a ne'er-do-well who could not take advantage of his opportunities, who had the extravagance of a company promoter, an explosive temper and all the instincts that make for loose living.

Which of the following statements would most strengthen the argument presented in the passage?

Possible Answers:

Rembrandt wrote a voluminous autobiography that provides may details of his day-to-day life.

Rembrandt had a number of contemporary biographies written about him that were since lost.

The profession of painting in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was widely ignored.

A number of Dutch painters from Rembrandt's time have few biographical details recorded.

Dutch people of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries often kept meticulous records of daily life and activity.

Correct answer:

A number of Dutch painters from Rembrandt's time have few biographical details recorded.


The author's argument is that very little is known about Rembrandt the man because he lived the kind of life which escaped detailed notice by contemporary writers. If it was true that having few biographical details recorded was a circumstance that happened to many Dutch painters, this fact would strengthen the argument by showing that what happened to Rembrandt's fate was part of a larger trend.

Example Question #1 : Strengthen Or Weaken Argument In Humanities Passages

"Ed Sullivan and All the Rest" by William Floyd (2015)

Modern television talk shows center on the host, with the guests as a side dish that still accentuates the main entrée of the funny person at the center of the spectacle. Their forerunners were on television as early as television was in American homes, scene stealers such as Steve Allen and Jack Parr making even the most famous celebrities play inside their world. At the same time, though, one man showed how a television show could highlight a variety of performers, from the remarkable to the mundane and the famous to the unknown. If more television shows operated like “The Ed Sullivan Show,” maybe television would be less ego centric.

Ed Sullivan began his career before World War II as an entertainment and sports reporter, gaining his first significant notoriety as a celebrity maker for his gossip column in the New York Daily News. This influential position led him to be chosen as the host of “The Toast of the Town,” a variety show on CBS, in 1948. He was awkward on camera and made no effort to be a schmoozer or comedian. Despite his awkwardness, Ed Sullivan became a household name, with his show first informally and then officially being known as “The Ed Sullivan Show.” No one cared about watching Sullivan himself, but rather what Sullivan presented to his audience each week. Sullivan was a force behind the scenes, putting together the show that everyone wanted to watch each week.

The genius of Sullivan’s show was that it was truly a variety show. Sullivan made sure to show his audience ballet and opera selections, yet also never shied away from presenting Rock n Roll acts on his prestigious time slot. He was also a key benefactor for a number of young comedians, who would present their usual stand-up routines free of comment in front of a national audience. Naturally, the Beatles were not actually big in America until they had gotten the Sullivan anointment, but many other acts could credit Sullivan with a breakthrough. Considering the time he was on the air, 1948 to 1971, Sullivan made twentieth century American popular culture. With the fragmentation of culture through cable, the internet, and streaming services, no one can ever hope to have the same impact as a man described as having the personality of an Easter Island statue.

Which of the following statements, if true, would most strengthen the author's argument?

Possible Answers:

Presentations of ballet and opera are rarely seen on modern television talk shows.

The Ed Sullivan Show has had a number of producers go on to help create other television talk shows.

Many viewers of The Ed Sullivan Show wished to have fewer ballet and opera performers on the show.

Modern television talk show hosts often cite Ed Sullivan as a major influence on their careers.

A survey of modern television hosts shows most of them are not familiar with The Ed Sullivan Show.

Correct answer:

A survey of modern television hosts shows most of them are not familiar with The Ed Sullivan Show.


The author presents an argument that modern television talk show hosts should pay more attention to the success of The Ed Sullivan Show, and particularly should adopt a few of Sullivan's stylistic markers. The survey showing that modern television talk show hosts are unfamiliar with Sullivan best strengthens this argument.

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