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Q22 - Commentator: Unfortunately, Roehmer's opinion column

by ohthatpatrick Fri Oct 05, 2018 2:31 pm

Question Type:
Flaw

Stimulus Breakdown:
Conclusion: Impuging motives and alienating opposing viewpoints is probably not a problem for R.
Evidence: R's column only attempts to please her loyal readers.

Answer Anticipation:
My immediate reaction is, "Who are her loyal readers?" Would they be pleased by her alienating adversaries or digging into the motivations of adversaries? Or would her loyal readers rather that she engage the ideas of her adversaries instead?

Correct Answer:
E

Answer Choice Analysis:
(A) Is there a cause/effect story going on in the argument? Sure, the author thinks that a shift to impugning her adversaries' motives will CAUSE peoplewith opposing viewpoints to be alienated. Would it be a solid objection to the argument to say, "Hey author, maybe people with opposing viewpoints being alienated is really CAUSING the columnist to impugn the motives of her opponents"? No, that doesn't make any sense. It's pretty clear that impugning motives has already happened, and the alienation of these opposing people sounds more like a hypothetical effect that may come.

(B) Does the author mention any personal characteristics of the author? Not that I can see. And even if we called one of these moments a "personal characteristic" (she's always taken a partisan stance), the answer would still be wrong because of MERELY. The author criticizes the column at least in part because of the polarizing effect it's having on national politics.

(C) This is similar to (A), but when we see "concludes X because Y", we can just ask ourselves if X matches the conclusion and Y matches the evidence. Does the author conclude "one event caused another"? Nope. He concludes "That is unlikely to be a problem for Roehmer". I would eliminate.

(D) Internal contradictions, historically, are almost never the answer, although a recent test did bring one out of hiding. If we re-read all the claims, it's hard to find any that contradict each other.

(E) YES (I hope). He's criticizing R's polarizing tactic of impugning the motives of people she disagrees with. Meanwhile, he disagrees with R and is impugning her motives at the end .... "her column is just AN ATTEMPT to please her loyal readers".

Takeaway/Pattern: I would have lower-than-average confidence about this answer. It certainly wasn't on my radar initially (as evidenced by my breakdown of the stimulus). But, since NONE of the answers fit the prephrase, then we shift into a much more flexible mindset and really consider whether we missed any of the issues these five answers are pointing out. Only by re-opening the investigation could I see the 'hypocrisy' that (E) is referring to. Notice that being hypocritical is not the same as "contradicting yourself", in (D). Contradictory claims cannot both be true. Hypocrites can say one thing and do another, and it's true they said it and true they did it.

#officialexplanation
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Re: Q22 - Commentator: Unfortunately, Roehmer's opinion column

by LolaC289 Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:01 am

Honestly, usually after Patrick's wonderful explanations everything would seem clear to me at last, but this one is an exception. I guess the biggest problem is that I didn't find the commentator "impugning" Roehmer's motives in his conclusion, I thought in the last sentence the commentator seems to be at ease with Roehmer by saying "that is likely NOT a problem for Roehmer". So I went with (D) because I felt like he was criticizing at first but turned OK with Roehmer at last. Maybe I didn't understand his argument correctly. Can anyone help?
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Re: Q22 - Commentator: Unfortunately, Roehmer's opinion column

by ohthatpatrick Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:13 pm

Thanks for the side compliment. It's unlikely that you would find my explanation satisfying, given that my explanation for the problem was, "I don't find this problem satisfying!" :)

You can read "that is likely not a problem" sarcastically, which is how it's intended.

f.e.
A recent UN climate study found that we're all screwed by 2040 if we don't drastically cut our use of fossil fuels. But that is likely not a problem for Sen. Roehmer, since she receives more campaign financing from fossil fuel companies than does any other Senator.

Do you hear in that usage how it's sneering and accusatory?

Apparently, that's the way in which we were supposed to read this Commentator.

That happens a lot in RC and sometimes in LR: you read something "straight", when it's really supposed to be read in dry, scholarly sarcasm. You have to use context clues about the writer's overall purpose to then "read it the right way".

SHOULD someone be cool with the idea of alienating potential readers?
Probably not. With that presumption in mind, we should hear "but that likely is not a problem for Roehmer" as "Roehmer wouldn't care about that, now would she! After all, she's only trying to cater to her loyal readers".

Honestly, it's not crazy to read those last two claims neutrally. Some writing CAN be for a partisan audience and so you COULD be genuinely unbothered by the fact that you're alienating people with opposing views.

I think the test writer who wrote this was hearing the voice of a partisan attack, but keeping the language very moderate. So the rest of us tend to read it in the moderate style. It's only because we need to find a correct answer that I can ultimately see the argument the way (E) wants us to hear it.
 
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Re: Q22 - Commentator: Unfortunately, Roehmer's opinion column

by MattS781 Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:05 pm

Patrick,

I have read both of your responses and this question is still confusing me. It's especially frustrating because it's the only one I got wrong in the entire section.

I chose (A) under the following, flawed, logic:
"Perhaps she doesn't write in such a polarizing way because she is trying to please her 'loyal readers', but rather her loyal readers are such because she writes in such a way. I. e. cause vs effect."

I know that that is terrible logic because it attacks the premises instead of the conclusion. Normally I would never assume something like that, but I had it between that and (E), which was far too weak for me, so I was grasping at straws.

Can you help me knock my thoughts on (A) so I can finally accept (E) completely?
 
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Re: Q22 - Commentator: Unfortunately, Roehmer's opinion column

by IsadoreS904 Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:39 pm

I really dont understand this one at all. What is the tactic? and how does he object to it?
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Re: Q22 - Commentator: Unfortunately, Roehmer's opinion column

by ohthatpatrick Sat Nov 24, 2018 12:44 am

To the 2nd to last poster, I think you nailed it when you said that (A) would be objecting to the premise, not the reasoning/conclusion.

Also, since you're no doubt very familiar with Causal flaws, you might need to lean on your sense of, "I don't know what this argument is, but I know it isn't an example of correlation -> causality / reverse causality."

It's certainly possible that LSAT would find a way to sneak that flaw into a more unsuspecting paragraph, but if we're trusting our gut, it doesn't seem like this is a causal argument.

To say that there was a "PURPORTED cause of a phenomenon" means that a phenomenon happened and that the author has named a supposed cause of that phenomenon. We could say that "polarized national politics' is a phenomenon and R's opinion column is a purported cause of that. But we're not really objecting to this argument by saying "what if the reverse of that is happening".

And I don't think we can use cause/effect language with the actual reasoning core in the final sentence, because it doesn't go "this phenomenon happened, so X must be why."

================

To the last poster:

The author objects to the tactic of "impugning the motives of her adversaries" (attacking someone you disagree with by saying or implying that they have faulty motivations).

If I wanted to criticize the recent tax bill (which gave most of the long term benefit to super rich people), a substantive criticism is "super rich people didn't need the tax relief; the economy was already booming ... this will add greatly to our already bloated deficit".

If I was going to criticize the bill by impugning the motives of my adversaries, I would be saying "Congressional Republicans don't care about the well being of most Americans; they just want to cater to the rich people who donate to their campaigns".

The author is saying this tactic sucks; it has a polarizing effect (we should assume good intentions of those we disagree with and say "I'm sure they thought this would help the economy overall, but I find their approach misguided").

Is R an adversary to the author? Sigh. I guess so? The fact that we start with "unfortunately" makes it seem like the author has a negative opinion. And the fact that the author uses sarcastic language like, "I guess alienating readers with opposing viewpoints isn't a problem for R" also points to the idea that the purpose of this paragraph is to attack R.

And how does the author attack R's style of writing? He says "her column is just an attempt to please her loyal readers". That is impugning the motive of his adversary. He is accusing R of not writing genuinely held beliefs but rather just pandering to a loyal audience.

So the author ended up doing the same thing to R that he was earlier criticizing R for.

Hope this helps.