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#5 - In its coverage of a controversy regarding a proposal

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Complete Question Explanation

Weaken—CE. The correct answer choice is (D)

Your task in this Weaken question is to select the answer choice that most undermines the conclusion
that the television program is biased against the proposed freeway.

..... Premise: ..... in its coverage of a controversy regarding a proposal to build a new freeway, a
..... ..... ..... ..... television news program showed interviews with several people who would be
..... ..... ..... ..... affected by the proposed freeway

..... Premise: ..... of the interviews shown, those conducted with people against the new freeway
..... ..... ..... ..... outnumbered those conducted with people for it two to one

..... Conclusion: ..... thus, the television program is biased against the proposed freeway

The correct answer choice in this Weaken question will undermine the conclusion. The only support
given for the conclusion is the ratio of interviews, with two anti-freeway interviews for every profreeway
interview. The argument implies this ratio does not reflect reality, but was manufactured by
the news program to influence public opinion regarding the project. Your prephrase is that the correct
answer will undermine this view.

The incorrect answers will not undermine the conclusion. Instead, they will have no effect on the
conclusion or will support it.

Answer choice (A): This choice has no effect on the conclusion, which concerned the motivations of
the news program in creating the program, not the prior knowledge of the viewers.

Answer choice (B): The expectations of the program’s viewers are not relevant to the conclusion, so
this information has no effect on the conclusion.

Answer choice (C): This choice could support the conclusion by showing the station expressed their
bias not only by manipulating the relative number of interviews, but by selecting interviews that
would have a greater emotional impact favoring the anti-freeway position.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. This choice undermines the conclusion that
the program is biased by raising the possibility that the interview ratio was the result of the actual
distribution of opinion in the community, rather than the result of program bias.

Answer choice (E): If the construction of the freeway would harm the station’s business interests,
that risk of harm would provide another reason to believe the anti-freeway coverage was the product
of bias, supporting the conclusion.
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Can you explain the process for selecting answer choice D? I selected it, because the author concluded the coverage was biased against the proposed freeway, but since the climate prior to the airing of the program over twice as many people were against the freeway then they weren't biased but accurately reflecting the community's opinions?
Adam Tyson
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You've just explained it yourself, Lusting, and did a fine job of it! The argument concludes that the show was biased because the interviews weren't balanced but favored the "against" side by a 2-to-1 margin. We want to weaken that conclusion, which means we want to demonstrate that the show may not have been biased in choosing to highlight the "against" side twice as much as the "for" side. Now, let's prephrase that before we go into the answer choices:

"A 2:1 margin is accurate and fair"
"The show selected interviewees at random and showed all of them"
"A 2:1 margin is representative of the whole"

You don't need all of these, and you don't have to prephrase something that matches any of these word for word, but you want to go into the answer choices with the general idea that there was no bias, but that the choice to do what they did was fair and accurate.

Once you do that, answer D is a slam dunk! None of the other answers address the concepts covered in our prephrase. Sorting your answers into losers and contenders should knock the other 4 out and leave D standing alone, at which point you bubble that in on your answer sheet and move on to the next question quickly and confidently, and probably with a satisfied smile on your face.

Nice job! Keep it up!
Adam M. Tyson
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I got this answer choice wrong because none of the answer choices really stuck out to me. When I first read D, I thought the answer choice meant that the opinion of people were in support of the freeway BEFORE the program, meaning that the program changed their views. I'm not sure what caused that interpretation, do you have a recommendation as to how to avoid making this incorrect inference?

Thank you!
Adam Tyson
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I hate to say it, okjoannawow, but the only thing that can prevent that is more careful reading. The answer clearly says that before the program aired, most people were against building the freeway, not that they were in favor of it. Also, we aren't looking for, and don't need, any information about how people felt about the freeway after the program aired, or if it changed anyone's mind. All we care about is whether the program reflected some bias on the part of the people who made it.

The author thinks there was bias against the freeway, so to weaken that we want to show that it may not have been biased in that way. If the views of the people interviewed were representative of people's views generally, then that would suggest that perhaps the show was not biased against the freeway, but just reporting from a neutral standpoint. If D is true, it looks as if the program actually under-represented the views against the freeway, so if they had any bias it would appear that it was a bias in favor of the freeway! That certainly hurts the author's case.

Read carefully! Go into the answers with a prephrase in mind, which should help make bad answers look bad and good answers look good when you get to them. Practice, practice, practice!
Adam M. Tyson
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