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Scientists have created double-blind studies so that neither

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Scientists have created double-blind studies so that neither [#permalink] New post 13 Mar 2019, 06:55
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Scientists have created double-blind studies so that neither the subjects of the experiment nor scientists know whether a patient is receiving an actual drug or a placebo, which is nothing more than a sugar pill. Essentially, if one knows that one is receiving an actual pill, such knowledge can affect the outcome of a study. A recent study on the effectiveness of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluvoxamine on depression found that those subjects administered the drug were 15 percent more likely to have a decrease in symptoms than the control group, which was comprised of those who received a placebo. Since neither group knew which they were receiving, the placebo or the SSRI, the observed drop in depression can only be attributed to fluvoxamine.


Which of the following, if true, best calls into question the conclusion of the argument?

A. Neither the patients nor the doctors in either group (the control group or the fluvoxamine group) knew which drug they were receiving.
B. Since patients in both groups were briefed on the potential side effects of an SSRI, which can often be pronounced, many in the fluvoxamine group, upon exhibiting side effects, concluded that they were being administered the SSRI.
C. Fluvoxamine does not exhibit a uniform effect in all patients, with many reporting little improvement in symptoms of depression, even after several months of taking the drug.
D. At dosages two-fold of those employed in the trial, fluvoxamine has been shown to cause brief episodes of psychosis.
E. One subject from the fluvoxamine group experienced debilitating side effects and was forced to drop out of the trial before its completion.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Re: Scientists have created double-blind studies so that neither [#permalink] New post 14 Mar 2019, 21:48

+1 kudos to the posts containing answer explanations of all questions

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Re: Scientists have created double-blind studies so that neither [#permalink] New post 21 Mar 2019, 08:31
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A. This is basically stated in the passage already: "neither group knew which they were receiving." At best, then, this strengthens the conclusion that the drop in symptoms was a result of the effectiveness of the drug.

B. Aha! This is unquestionably correct. Even though neither group was told which pill they received, the patients in the fluvoxamine group were able to determine that they had been given the actual drug, and not a placebo. Once they figure this out, then they might assume that they will feel better, because that is what the drug is supposed to do. Their improvement, then, cannot be attributed only to the drug, but also to the positive thinking associated with the knowledge that one has received a drug that is supposed to improve their condition.

C. The argument does not claim that all patients will improve. Actually, the conclusion reports a mild 15% greater chance of having reduced symptoms. So the drug only works for around 15% of the people, not everyone.

D. This might give a reason for not relying on fluvoxamine, but the conclusion does not say that fluvoxamine should be prescribed. It only says that fluvoxamine is responsible for the drop in depression symptoms, which can still be true even if it does cause psychosis at large dosages.

E. Again, the conclusion is only that fluvoxamine is responsible for the decrease in depression symptoms. This could be true even if some patients reacted very poorly to it.
Re: Scientists have created double-blind studies so that neither   [#permalink] 21 Mar 2019, 08:31
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