Paradox forms a very important part of the critical reasoning, and the most important question regarding paradox is resolving the paradox. These questions are often asked in a number of competitive exams.
For resolving a Paradox, it is first imperative to know what exactly Paradox is. A paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true (or wrong at the same time).
In order to resolve the paradox, the first step is to understand the paradox.
A recent archeological expedition in Northern Asia revealed a great number of skeletons of animals that died about 1000 years ago. Further research indicated that all the skeletons had been subjected to temperatures in excess of 300 degrees Celsius. This fact provided grounds for speculation that they were killed and cooked by tribes that lived in Northern Asia at that time. However, some of the skeletons belonged to animals that were considered sacred by those tribes and were never hunted or eaten.
Which of the following best explains the apparent discrepancy above?
- Some of the skeletons found during the expedition belonged to animals that no longer inhabit the area.
- Skeletons of most animals did not have damages typical of the skeletons of animals that had been killed, cut, and cooked.
- Tribes that inhabited Northern Asia 1000 years ago used fire to cook food.
- Another study indicated that there was a great famine in Northern Asia at that time, which forced local tribes to look for alternative sources of food.
- A further study indicated evidence of a large fire that had occurred in Northern Asia approximately 1000 years ago.
Critical Reasoning: Concepts & Practice
Strategy to solve Paradox Questions:
- Identify the paradox.
- The speculation was that animals had been killed and cooked.
- However, some skeletons belonged to those animals which were considered scared.
Hence these are the two contradicting statements occurring, making this the paradox.
- Change the paradox into a simple question, so as to resolve it easily.
In this example, we can simply ask the question - why were the scared animals subjected to such high temperatures?
- Eliminate the irrelevant choices.
- Choice (a) is talking of the past and the future, but it doesn’t answer the question, hence it will be eliminated.
- Choice (b) is increasing the paradox rather than resolving it. It is adding to the contradiction by saying that the animals had not been killed or cooked, and hence can be eliminated.
- Choice (c) only answers part of the paradox, but it doesn’t answer the question, and thus it is crossed out.
- On reading choice (d) it seems as the obvious as the answer ,however, it fails to explain the paradox without assuming additional data, and thus in spite of seeming to be correct, this choice is, in fact, incorrect.
- Choice (e) resolves both the paradox, and also solves the question. Because in a fire, all the animals will be burned irrespective of their sacredness.
This is the way in which a paradox is resolved.
Verbal Preparation Series