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ohthatpatrick
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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?