Columnist: Taking a strong position on an issue makes one likely to misinterpret or ignore additional evidence that c...

Owen on March 27 at 04:57PM

Question 18

Is answer A wrong, because it says "it is reasonable"? I can see why answer C is right, but Im having trouble understanding why A is wrong.

2 Replies

Shiyi on May 24 at 12:45AM

I am confused about the answer choices. Could you explain each answer choice?

Ravi on May 24 at 05:56PM

@OwenC and @Shiyi-Zhang,

Happy to help. Let's take a look.

We're looking for the answer choice that illustrates a principle that
matches the columnist's reasoning. The columnist is discussing how to
understand an issue fully. She says in order to do so, we should
analyze all of the evidence that conflict's with one's stand. Taking a
strong position on an issue makes one less likely to consider such
evidence, so the columnist argues that taking strong positions should
be avoided until unless one has already considered all of the
important evidence that conflicts with the position.

We're looking for a principle in the answer choices that matches the
columnist's sentiment.

(A) says, "It is reasonable to take a strong position on an issue if
one fully understands the issue and has considered the evidence
regarding that issue impartially."

It's true that the columnist does conclude that one shouldn't take a
strong stance on an issue unless one has considered all of the
evidence. However, she does not state that considering all of the
evidence and understanding an issue fully is sufficient to justify the
act of taking a strong position, so (A) is out because it's confusing
a necessary condition for a sufficient condition.

(B) says, "To ensure that one has impartially considered the evidence
regarding an issue on which one has taken a strong position, one
should avoid misinterpreting or ignoring evidence regarding that
issue."

(B) is discussing details of when one has already taken a strong
position, and this is not in-line with the conclusion of the stimulus
of not taking strong stands on issues. (B) is simply telling us that
we should not misinterpret information, but one of the premises of the
argument already says that this will happen if one takes a strong
position. Thus, (B) is out.

(C) says, "Anyone who does not understand an issue fully should avoid
taking a strong position on it."

This is just what we're looking for. (C) is saying one shouldn't take
a strong position if one doesn't understand an issue fully. This
mirrors the argument's conclusion, so this is the correct answer
choice.

(D) says, "One should try to understand an issue fully if doing so
will help one to avoid misinterpreting or ignoring evidence regarding
that issue."

The whole point of the columnist's argument is that one should not
take a strong stand if one doesn't understand an issue fully. (D) does
not mention not taking a strong stand, so it's missing a big piece of
the argument. Thus, (D) is out.

(E) says, "It is reasonable to take a strong position on an issue only
if there is important evidence conflicting with that position."

We have no information in the stimulus that tells us when it's
reasonable to take a strong position on an issue. Thus, we can get rid
of (E).

Does this make sense? Let us know if you have any more questions!