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Evaluation of evidence | Worked example

Video transcript

- [Instructor] So this passage is relatively short. So before I get to the passage, I wanna take a look at this question stem and see what it is I should be reading for as I go through the passage. So which of the following, if true, would suggest an alternative to the archaeologists' hypothesis? Okay, so I have to identify what the hypothesis is, and suggest an alternative, to me means that we're looking for something that's going to weaken that hypothesis if it were true. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna read through this passage, I'm gonna try to identify a hypothesis, and then state that in my own words, and then we'll go through the answer choices and see which one of those has an impact on that hypothesis, what would change or weaken that hypothesis as opposed to strengthening it or having no impact on it. So the passage, even though no ancient writings survive from the 13th century city of Cahokia, located in what is now Illinois, archeologists hypothesize, all right, given the artifacts found at Cahokian burial sites, that the residents of Cahokia engaged in trade. Well there it is for us in black and white. The archeologists hypothesize that the Cahokians traded stuff. These artifacts, and I'm referring to the artifacts in the previous sentence, the artifacts found at burial sites, include arrowheads made from the black chert of Oklahoma, so not Illinois, worked shells from the Gulf of Mexico, not Illinois, and ornamental cutouts of mica from North Carolina, which is not Illinois. Okay, so the archeologists' hypothesis is that the Cahokians traded. So which of the following options weakens that idea? Weakens the idea or suggests an alternative possibility to the origins of these ostensible trade goods from Oklahoma, the Gulf of Mexico, and North Carolina? So really what we're looking for is an alternative explanation for the presence of these other kinds of like rock and shell goods, and mica's more rock still. What are these non-native, non-Illinois, materials, right, doing in Illinois? That's what we're looking for, is an alternate explanation for how they could end up in Cahokia. So the residents of Cahokia used arrowheads for decorative, as well as practical, purposes. That's irrelevant, right? That doesn't have anything to do with trade. That just suggests what those arrowheads could have been used for. So this, if true, would have no impact on the hypothesis. B, the residents of Cahokia often received gifts from travelers. I suppose if this were true it could explain how those arrowheads from Oklahoma or the shells from Mexico or the mica cutouts from North Carolina, ended up in Cahokia. So this is probably our answer. This weakens or suggests an alternative to how those artifacts ended up in what is now Illinois. I'm pretty sure this is our answer, but let's go through the other ones just to see. So option C, the artifacts found in Cahokia date from the middle of the 13th century. Sure, we see that this is a 13th century city. The artifacts are from then. This has no impact on the question of trade. We're gonna knock it out. The artifacts found at Cahokia are elaborately ornamented. I feel that this also has no impact on whether or not they would be trade goods. You know, they were found in burial sites. They can be as ornamented or not, as they want. I'm gonna cross that off as well. The artifacts found at Cahokia are made from materials that cannot be found in the Cahokia area. This option does the opposite of what we're looking for. In fact this strengthens the argument that the only way these artifacts could have been acquired would have been through trade, right? If there is no chert, which is a kind of stone, in Illinois, or if there is no mica, and there are no shells to work, if that is the case, then this supports rather than suggests an alternative, to the idea that the Cahokians traded to get those goods. And that's a very common mistake that people make on questions like this, is you're reading kind of quickly, this makes sense, right? It's connected to the hypothesis. But we're not just looking for a connection to the hypothesis, we're looking for an alternative. We're looking for something that weakens the hypothesis. And so that means that B is our answer. So your strategy for questions like this is to eliminate options that seem out of scope, or aren't relevant. The date on these artifacts reflects information that we already have in the sentence, that it's a 13th century artifact from a 13th century city. Cool, that changes nothing. There's no impact. Or the fact that the artifacts were elaborately ornamented. That falls outside the scope of the hypothesis. All we're asking is did they trade, and you're looking for a choice that complicates and weakens it. Which choice complicates the scenario such that if it were true, the hypothesis would now be endangered, right? If the residents of Cahokia often received gifts from travelers, then maybe trade wasn't the only way that they received these distant goods. Maybe they received them as gifts. So formulate the hypothesis in your own words and ask yourself what could impact that hypothesis. What weakens, in this case, what weakens that argument? What changes it? When you find a choice that fits that description, you'll have your answer.