MBA pay is falling, right?
If you have not yet started reading www.PoetsandQunats.com and you are interested in pursuing a graduate management degree, then you need to start
right after you read this blog post. It was actually one of my Kaplan GMAT students who first turned me onto it and it has been a regular feature in my internet reading ever since.
How about the Wall Street Journal? Have you ever heard of that? I know, I know… absurd question. Here’s the problem, though: according to poetsandquants.com founder and regular contributor, John A. Byrne, WSJ is promulgating some unfortunate misinformation. As popular as I know P&Q is, Mr. Byrne’s article, titled “Silly News,” will reach a very small fraction of those who have read the WSJ article it is attacking.
In sum, the Journal makes a classic argumentative flaw; one that is tested profusely on the GMAT. It is called ‘representativeness.’ For those of you who have studied Critical Reasoning questions, specifically those CR questions within the argument family (aka, the assumption family), you may well have heard of this flaw.
We know that when we are presented with an argument on the GMAT, we will always be given two of the three component parts of an argument. We will always be given a conclusion and we will always be given evidence that presumably allows the author to reach that conclusion. What we will never be given is the author’s assumption(s). They are of course inherent in the argument, but we can only derive them by using the primary core competency tested by the GMAT: critical thinking. Incidentally, representativeness is such a common flaw, pattern recognition (another of the GMAT four core competencies) is all you’ll need after this and several other flaw types are on your radar.
Basically, if an argument uses statistical data as evidence to drive a conclusion, your immediate question should be, “Is the group studied representative of the group in the conclusion?” Think about size of the study, time duration of the study, who specifically was studied, and whether there might be any inherent biases in how the study was set up or conducted.
In the real life example provided by the exchange between WSJ and P&Q, John Byrne identifies a mismatch between the group in the study and the group in the conclusion. I want you to read both articles. In fact, I want you to read the WSJ article first and try to derive the critical question that weakens the argument. In other words, try to identify how John Byrne is going to attack it. This will be excellent practice for making predictions—a requisite skill for Critical Reasoning question success! Then, read the PoetsandQuants.com article. Finally, come back here and post your comments!!