Critical Reasoning- The Causes of Famine

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Critical Reasoning- The Causes of Famine

Oklahoma is not perceived as overpopulated because, in spite of a horrendous drought, it is not facing famine. Famine in Oklahoma is inconceivable because it receives a fair price for its exports, it has not leased its land to foreign countries, the poorest of the poor receive a helping hand from the government, and farmers and ranchers receive federal assistance in times of droughts. It is a lack of these factors in Horn of Africa, plus political insecurity in Somalia, which explain the famine – not overpopulation.

Which of the following options best summarizes the main idea of the paragraph?

  1. Hunger is caused by too many people pressing against finite resources.
  2. In spite of drought and overpopulation, there is no famine in Oklahoma.
  3. Overpopulation and famine are not causally related in the Horn of Africa.
  4. Famine in the Horn of Africa is not only due to overpopulation but, more importantly, due to the lack of government assistance and political insecurity.
  5.  

    • Correct Answer
      Choice C

    Detailed Solution

    This paragraph starts out with the statement that Oklahoma is not perceived as overpopulated (implying it is, in actuality), because, despite facing a drought, there is no famine in Oklahoma. It goes on to explain why. Famine is “inconceivable” in Oklahoma because of some important reasons- it receives a fair price for exports, controls its own lands and the government helps out the poor, as well as the farmers and ranchers when there is a drought. The paragraph concludes that it is the absence of these factors in the Horn of Africa, plus the political insecurity in the case of Somalia that explain the famine in the Horn of Africa, emphasizing that overpopulation is not the reason for the famine there.

    The question is, of the 4 options given, which one summarizes the main idea of the paragraph best.

    Let us consider the answer options one by one.

    Option a- Hunger is caused by too many people pressing against finite resources.

    Most definitely, this option is incorrect. The given paragraph emphasizes that famine is not caused because of overpopulation.

    Option b- In spite of drought and overpopulation, there is no famine in Oklahoma.

    The paragraph given states this. However, this is not the main idea of the paragraph. The case of Oklahoma is discussed to justify why famine in the Horn of Africa is not due to overpopulation. Hence, option b is also ruled out.

    Option c- Overpopulation and famine are not causally related in the Horn of Africa.

    This option, clearly, is what the paragraph is trying to convey. Overpopulation is not the cause of famine in the Horn of Africa. The absence of the other factors described in Oklahoma, another overpopulated location facing drought, explains the famine in the Horn of Africa.

    Option d- Famine in the Horn of Africa is not only due to overpopulation but, more importantly, due to the lack of government assistance and political insecurity.

    At the outset, this looks like a very plausible answer. The lack of government assistance and political insecurity are clearly mentioned as factors contributing to the prevalence of famine in the Horn of Africa. However, the catch here is “not only due to overpopulation”. The given paragraph categorically states that it is the lack of the specified factors that explain the famine in the Horn of Africa, not overpopulation. So option d is incorrect, as it includes overpopulation as a reason for the famine.

    Correct Answer: Choice (c)



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