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#36042
Complete Question Explanation
(See the complete passage discussion here: lsat/viewtopic.php?t=14395)

The correct answer choice is (D)

From the discussion of Passage Similarities in the passage discussion, we can prephrase an answer to this Passage
Commonality question. Both authors hold decidedly negative attitudes towards propaganda, and both
regard it as antithetical to the standards of historian objectivity (lines 18 and 28).

Answer choice (A): Neither author mentions propaganda in order to refute a claim made by
proponents of a rival approach to historical scholarship. No such approach was ever discussed.

Answer choice (B): Neither passage compared the relative bias of historians to scholars in fields
other than history.

Answer choice (C): Propaganda does not refer to a type of scholarship that has recently been
discredited, since no mention of any such scholarship was made in either passage.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. For both authors, propaganda is an extreme
to which historians may tend. In passage A, the author warns that an objective historian “must never
become an advocate or, worse, propagandist” (lines 17-18, italics mine). In the first paragraph
of passage B, the author cautions against conflating historical scholarship with propaganda, and
recommends self-discipline as an effective antidote (lines 27-32).

Answer choice (E): Neither passage draws a comparison between propaganda and other kinds of
persuasive writing.
 wulflov
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#35706
Having some trouble understanding why (D) is correct and not (E), which I chose. I saw on another forum that (E) is disqualified by its reference to "persuasive writing," which is supposedly distinguished from the "objective" writing that is the focus of the passage. But "objective" writing is still intended to be persuasive, so I don't think that can be the grounds for rejecting (E). Any clues?
 AthenaDalton
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#35728
Thanks for your question!

Let's start by looking at how both passages discuss propaganda:

Passage A: "Objective historians see their role as that of a neutral judge, one who must never become an advocate or, worse, propagandist."

Passage A is using propaganda as an example of the how the worst kind of "historian" functions. It's thrown out as an example of what not to do.

Passage B: "The very possibility of historical scholarship as an enterprise distinct from propaganda requires its practitioners . . . to abandon wishful thinking," etc.

Passage B uses the propaganda example to similarly give historians an idea of what they should be striving to avoid.

Both authors agree that a historian who can be compared to a propagandist is falling short of the ideals of his profession. That's why we can select answer choice (D) as the correct answer -- propaganda is "one extreme to which historians may tend."

As to your question about eliminating answer choice (E), only Author B discusses the benefits of persuasive writing. Author A really doesn't delve into a discussion of persuasive writing, so answer choice (E) would not fit in with the discussion in Passage A.

I hope this makes sense -- good luck studying!

Athena
 lanereuden
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#67117
Also if it helps consider that in passage A,

If we consider things visually on a line/across a spectrum, we’d see: see objectivist, advocate, propaganda

Akin perhaps to:
Moderate, liberal, socialist
 blade21cn
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#74556
As for (D), I agree with the rationale above that in both passages propaganda is mentioned as something that historians should avoid, i.e., the opposite of what historians should do, but how does that fit with this answer choice - "identify one extreme to which historians may tend"? "Tend to" is defined as "give one's attention to." If it's something that's bad and unacceptable, why should historians still tend to it, even as an extreme form? Shouldn't it be abandoned altogether? Sounds to me the use of the word "may" in this answer choice implies it's still allowed.

I chose (E) instead - "draw contrasts with other kinds of persuasive writing." Both passages mention "propaganda" to draw the distinction of the type of writing that historians should avoid, for the obvious reason - that they are not objective. And I don't think "persuasive writing" is a stretch to characterize propaganda, as by definition "propaganda" is biased and its goal is to promote a particular political cause or point of view. Thanks!
 Jeremy Press
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#74568
Hi blade,

Great job digging deep into the question, as usual!

The problem with the correct answer is that you're reading a "should" sense into the "may" in answer choice D. But the term "may" in this context (I agree it's unfortunately a bit more ambiguous than it should be!) is meant to denote mere possibility. In other words, what answer choice D describes (the extreme) is something historians might possibly fall into (as a pure factual matter). Both passages identify this possibility, in order (as you correctly note) to argue against it.

The problem with answer choice E is that Passage A especially does not refer to propaganda to "draw contrasts" (i.e. points of difference) with other types of persuasive writing. Yes, the passage makes an absolute argument that propaganda should be avoided. And I suppose that means there's an implicit contrast with a hypothetically positive type of persuasive writing that is not propaganda. But to "draw" contrasts is to make those contrasts explicit, and Passage A in particular never comes out and does that. For example, Passage A does not note (or praise) a different type of persuasive writing that would be preferable to propaganda. Without an explicit positive mention of another type of persuasive writing (even generally), Passage A is not truly "drawing" contrasts.

I hope this helps!

Jeremy
 blade21cn
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#74571
Thanks for the input, Jeremy, as always! I think I got it.

As for "(D), identify one extreme, to which historians may tend," based upon its definition as "give attention to," "tend to" can be interpreted here to mean "watch out for," or "heed (the warning)," as opposed to "one extreme that historians MAY ADOPT."

As for (E), I disagree that Passage A does not draw contrasts with propaganda - Line 16, "Objective historians see their roles as that of a neutral judge, one who must never become an advocate, or, worse, a propagandist." Rather, I think the issue is with the second half. When (D) is phrased as drawing contrasts "with other kinds of persuasive writing," since no persuasive writing was mentioned except for the kind of writing that historians engage in, this answer choice implies that historians' writing itself is a kind of persuasive writing, with propaganda being another kind of persuasive writing. Author of Passage B may consider historians' writing a kind of persuasive writing, as "objectivity is perfectly compatible with strong political commitment (Line 34)," but author of Passage A thinks historians' writing is objective writing, not persuasive writing.
 Jeremy Press
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#74573
Hi blade,

Ok, great, I think you’ve got it! And, for the record, I totally agree that the lack of other instances of persuasive writing in passage A is a huge part of the problem with answer choice E. I think we both agree that without such instances, the thing that answer choice E says the author is drawing contrasts to is missing!

Jeremy

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