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Complete Question Explanation

Must Be True. The correct answer choice is (A)

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. Even though the public distrusts mass media as too powerful, that distrust is promulgated by the information reported by the media itself. It is reasonable to conclude that the public would have a hard time discerning real media bias in the news, if such a bias were ever to exist.

Answer choice (B): There is no evidence to suggest that the mass media tailor their reports to conform to a specific political agenda. Even if the media is biased, such bias may come in a variety of ways that are not necessarily politically motivated. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (C): Whether the media bias results from a conscious effort to distort the news or not is completely unsupported by the information presented in the stimulus. Even if you feel that Answer choice (C) is true in the "real world," you should not use your own knowledge, experience or bias to answer this question.

Answer choice (D): Whether news reporters and the public share the same views about what is most important in society is an irrelevant consideration that is not supported by the stimulus. The stimulus discusses the issue bias, not views. Furthermore, we have no way of knowing what is most important and what is not. This answer choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (E): If the public's predisposition is influenced by the mass media and the news event contradicts an already established stereotype, chances are the public will disbelieve the reporting of that news event since its reporting would deviate from the expected norm. At best, we cannot know how the public would react in this case. This answer choice is not supported by the stimulus and is incorrect.
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I was stuck between answer choice (A) and (E), but ultimately eliminated (E) for the following reason. I thought "stereotype" was new information, or rather, outside the scope of the stimulus and "believe" was exaggerated (QUESTION: the stimulus says "the body of information...evaluates the plausability, is this the same as belief?), considering the stimulus did not mention stereotypes or what the public believes to be true and only what could be true, I eliminated (E).

Based on my reasoning, should I have eliminated (E)? Or, despite eliminating the incorrect answer choice, is my reasoning at fault? Thanks!
 Charlie Melman
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Hi Adriana,

On your bolded question: What the stimulus is saying there is that people determine the likelihood of a media report being true by comparing new information that the media is presenting them with information the media has presented them in the past.

On your reasoning as a whole: When answer choice (E) talks about stereotypes, we don't know if those stereotypes have anything to do with media biases, which is the subject of the stimulus. So you're right about answer choice (E) taking us out of the scope of the stimulus. However, the public's beliefs are relevant here, since when the public decides that information is plausible or implausible it is forming beliefs about the likelihood that a piece of information is true.

I hope that helps!
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It helped, thank you!
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I am really struggling with both why A is correct and E is incorrect, but my difficulty not lies with why E is incorrect. How do we identify that “stereotype” is outside information? When I read this, I misunderstood the answer choice to mean: “when something is reported that goes against what has already been reported, the public will believe the new reports” which is what I thought occurred in the stimulus. Could you help me understand the logic? (Particularly in your explanation that in actuality the public would disbelieve the new report?) Thank you!
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Hi nmaugust!

The stimulus tells us that the public distrusts the media and thinks that is is biased, but that the public generally only evaluates the plausibility of new media reports based on what they have already heard of through mass media. Basically, as much as we want to be able to evaluate media reports objectively, our thinking and point of view has already been influenced by the mass media. So we can never truly evaluate whether the media is biased or not because everything we know basically comes from the media. That supports answer choice (A): it would be very difficult for us to discern media bias if everything we know comes from the media to begin with and we're not even aware of our own biases that have formed through consuming media.

Answer choice (E), on the other hand, says that if the media presents a new report that goes against a stereotype they frequently incorporated into that reporting, the public would be predisposed to believe that report. But, again, the stimulus tells us that the public distrusts the media but also can't even objectively evaluate media reports. So the public is likely to distrust this report, both because it's from the media and because it goes against a stereotype that the public has likely picked up from the media, without fully realizing that they now share a bias with the media.

Hope this helps!

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I am trying to understand what the stimulus even says. This is where I got stuck. It is way too confusing.

Stimulus says - public is aware of biases in media and distrusts the media. But when the public gets new information from the media, their opinion on the new information is somewhat already influenced by past information given by the media.

I understand why B,C,D are wrong.

I am confused as to why A is correct.

I chose E because I thought that was closest to my above interpretation (paraphrase) of the stimulus. I don't see how E is the opposite of the information in the stimulus. I thought this answer meant that people will believe what the media says because they have already been influenced by previous information given to them by the media.

Lastly, was there a way to pre-phrase this?

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 Jonathan Evans
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Hi, Justandrea,

Good questions about a confusing problem!

Sometimes when stimuli strike me as confusing, I like to take it from the top and bullet-point out the information for myself, either to assess which facts are at my disposal or to analyze the mechanics of an argument.

Here, we know:
  1. Public: aware of possibility of media bias
  2. Public: distrusts media as too powerful
  3. Public: source of information available to evaluate plausibility of media report comes from the mass media
Which two statements connect to each other? In this case, the most plausible connection is between statements (1) and (3). The plausibility of media reports is directly related to the presence or absence of bias, since bias itself would call into question such media reports' reliability/plausibility.

Therefore, if the source of information that people use to evaluate media reports' plausibility depends information from these same media that may or may not be biased, at a minimum it would be difficult to assess the presence or absence of bias. If the media are indeed biased, it is safe to infer the biased information provided by these media would likely cloud a fair evaluation of the presence of bias.

With respect to answer choice (E), we have direct evidence from statements (1) and (2) outlined above that the public would in fact be predisposed NOT to believe a report of the event.

I hope this helps!

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