Archive for the ‘critical thinking’ Category

Real World Graduation, Question 61: Car Leases

RealWorldGraduation_Question_61_CarLeases   <– PDF

Dear readers:

Please select the  PDF to view both the question and answer in this edition.  As always, the answer is on p. 2.



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Real World Graduation, Question 60: Causes of Death

RealWorldGraduation_Question_60_CausesOfDeath   <– PDF

The U. S. Government published a report [1] summarizing the causes of death among Americans in 2004. A total of 2,397,615 deaths occurred in that year, broken down by cause as follows.  The text in parentheses appears in the original; that in square brackets is editorial explanation.

  1. Diseases of the heart: 652,486
  2. Malignant neoplasm [cancers]: 553,486
  3. Cerebrovascular diseases [stroke]: 150,074
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 121,987
  5. Accidents (unintentional injuries): 112,012
  6. Diabetes mellitus: 73,138
  7. Alzheimer’s disease: 65,965
  8. Influenza and pneumonia: 59,664
  9. Nephritis, nephritic syndrome, and nephrosis [kidney diseases]: 42,480
  10. Septicemia [blood poisoning]: 33,373
  11. Intentional self-harm (suicide): 32,439
  12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis: 27,013
  13. Essential hypertension [high blood pressure] and hypertensive renal [kidney] disease: 23,076
  14. Parkinson’s disease: 17,989
  15. Assault (homicide): 17,357
  16. All other causes: 414,674

[1]   A. M. Minino, M. P. Heron, S. L. Murphy, K. D. Kochanek, National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 55, No. 19 (21 Aug 07), Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics (U. S. Department of Health & Human Services)

Consuming too much salt (also known as dietary sodium) is known to cause an increase in blood pressure (hypertension). Increased blood pressure is known to be a contributing cause of strokes, kidney disease, and some heart attacks.  There is a sub-category of “Accidents” that deals with poisoning, but none of those deaths are listed as sodium or salt poisoning.  None of the 414,674 residual deaths from accidents are related to stroke, heart disease, or kidney disease.  Also, none of the 414,674 residual deaths are called out as being due specifically to salt intake.  Based on these facts and statistics, how many of these deaths can be attributed directly or indirectly to the intake of salt?

a. The sum of those due to stroke (150,074) and nephritis/nephritic syndrome/nephrosis (42,480), which totals to 192,554

b. The sum of those due to stroke (150,074) and essential hypertension/renal disease (23,076), which total to 173,150

c. The sum of those due to stroke (150,074), nephritis/nephritic syndrome/nephrosis (42,480), and essential hypertension/renal disease (23,076), which totals to 215,630.

d. The sum of those due to stroke (150,074), nephritis/nephritic syndrome/nephrosis (42,480), and essential hypertension/renal disease (23,076), plus some unknown portion of those due to heart disease (652,486), in which the total is somewhere between 215,630 and 868,116.

e.  All 2,397,615 (except the 414,674 residual deaths) were caused by salt because a) all of them are dead, and b) all of them had to have eaten some salt at some point in their life.

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Real World Graduation, Question 59: Witness Protection

RealWorldGraduation_Question_59_WitnessProtection   <– PDF

One evening, a local tavern was invaded by a large number of motorcycle gang members. Their main mission was to intimidate the bar owner over some previous incident, but some of the members of the gang decided to have a little “fun” and assault the customers, including people who had no stake in the previous incident, and were only having a few beers after work.  Some of the bar patrons were injured seriously enough to require hospitalization.  The police were called, and they were able to make a few arrests, although most of the gang members dispersed before the police came.

Because so many innocent people were injured, the case became a local sensation. Usually the gang members were able to buy off certain officials to reduce charges, but were unable to do so in this case because of public outrage at the scale and severity of the attack.  As the prosecutor was preparing his case against the gang members who had been arrested, a reliable informant reported that the other members of the gang intended to kill anyone they believed would testify against the defendants.  This particular gang operated nation-wide according to a strict organized crime discipline.  They had a long-established reputation for carrying out their threats; they have promised “to finish the job” if any of the victims testify.  But there is little chance of a conviction if the victims do not testify.  The prosecutor was faced with a choice of: a) dropping the cases; b) watering the charges down to a laughable set of misdemeanors, or c) proceeding with the case, and offering each of the victims entry into the Witness Protection Program.  The victims are asked to consider the third prosecutorial option.  What are the benefits of the Witness Protection Program for the victims who testify?

a) They are given a new identity.

b) They are relocated out of the area.

c) They receive protection at public expense.

d) They receive monthly payments in return for standing up to the criminals in the interest of justice.

e) All of the above.

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Real World Graduation, Question 58: Credit

RealWorldGraduation_Question_58_Credit   <– PDF

Credit is a situation in which a person or institution lends money to another person or institution upon a written promise to repay the loan. The loan is usually repaid at an agreed-upon interest rate.  This additional amount paid by the borrower to the lender is the fee to the lender for the use of his (or the lending institution’s) money.  In other words, the lender gives his capital temporarily to the borrower; the borrower repays the amount borrowed plus a certain percentage per year at a certain rate.  The additional amount repaid is income to the lender for the borrower’s use of his capital.


Normally individuals borrow from banks or credit card companies, but not every person is allowed to borrow the same amount. Some people are allowed to borrow more than others.  Why do banks and credit card companies give credit unequally?

a) Most banks prefer to deal with people they know, and are more likely to be more liberal in the amount of credit they give – in other words, those who know bankers and those who work at credit card companies have an advantage.

b) People who are given less credit are victims of some bias or prejudice by the banks and credit card companies; in fact offering different credit levels is a violation of the Fair Lending Act.

c) Banks and credit card companies give credit based on what is necessary to maintain their lifestyle. Therefore, wealthy people are given more credit than the middle class people, and middle class people are given more credit than poor people because the wealthy have more day-to-day needs than the middle class, and the middle class likewise has greater need than the poor.

d) Banks and credit card companies prefer to give more credit to those who are desperate, because they can squeeze a higher interest rate out of them.

e) Some combination of the above, depending on state regulations

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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