#Analogies, #Conditional Logic, #Impact, #Adverbs

Question


A major network news organization experienced a drop in viewership in the week following the airing of a controversial report on the economy. The network also received a very large number of complaints regarding the report. The network, however, maintains that negative reactions to the report had nothing to do with its loss of viewers.

Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the network’s position?

(Because of copyrights, the complete official question is not copied here. You can access the question here: GMAT Club)

Difficulty: Medium

Accuracy: 73%

Based on: 7723 sessions

Solution


The Story

A major network news organization experienced a drop in viewership in the week following the airing of a controversial report on the economy. – A news organization aired a controversial report. The next week the channel experienced a drop in viewership.
(This statement only talks about those events happening one after there other. We don’t know yet whether the drop was because of the controversial report.)

The network also received a very large number of complaints regarding the report. – So there was some backlash. The network received a lot of complaints regarding the report.

The network, however, maintains that negative reactions to the report had nothing to do with its loss of viewers. – Despite the complaints, the network claims that the drop in viewership was not caused by the negative reactions to the report.

Gist:
A network aired a controversial report.
The network received complaints regarding the report.
The network experienced a drop in viewership.

Even then, the network maintains that the negative reactions were unrelated to the drop in viewership.

Question Stem

Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the network’s position?

The network’s position: Despite the many complaints, the drop in viewership and negative reactions were unrelated.

Framework:
We have to find something that supports this position.
In other words, something that would increase my confidence in the position that the drop in viewership was not because of the negative reactions.

If I learn of an unrelated reason for the drop in viewership, the network’s position would be supported. e.g. The week was the start of the summer break and most families with kids in school or college would have gone somewhere for a vacation.

Answer choice analysis


Answer Choice: A

Correct

Selected by: 73%

This answer choice does not give me a reason for the loss of viewers. But, that’s fine. By stating that the drop was consistent, I’m thinking that perhaps the cause was something more universal.

But, couldn’t the report have been aired by all networks? That is possible. The report, however, was controversial. It wasn’t a major world event that we’d expect all news networks to cover. So, it’s not likely that all networks aired the same controversial report. So, by stating that other major networks also experienced similar reductions during the same week, I start to think that perhaps the reason was something more general.

  1. To reject the answer choice by thinking that all news networks might have aired the controversial report, and thus the network’s position gets weakened is faulty.
  2. I have seen some people reject this answer choice stating that it is ‘out of scope’ – “we don’t care what happened to the viewership at other news organizations”. As discussed above, the answer choice does support the network’s position. So, such reasoning is faulty as well.
  3. The way to evaluate an answer choice in a strengthen/ support CR question is to check what happens to our level of confidence in the argument once the information in the answer choice comes to light. We are not looking for confirmation here. In the current context, once I learn that other major networks also reported similar reductions in viewership, I start to believe more than before that the negative reactions and the loss of viewers are unrelated. Since, the report was controversial and so unlikely that all networks aired it. Thus, the network’s position is supported. That’s all we are looking for: ‘support’, not a confirmation.

Answer Choice: B

Incorrect

Selected by: 5%

If it is the regular viewers who complained, then I’d expect there to be a drop in viewership. If anything, this answer choice weakens the network’s position.


Answer Choice: C

Incorrect

Selected by: 3%

First of all, what does the option state? If news organizations do not receive complaints about their reports, they do not attribute drops in viewership to their own reports in public.
That is all that we learn from this answer choice – under what circumstance might the network attribute drops in viewership to their report publicly.

This answer choice talks about the ‘Public Relations’ angle of the news organizations – in what situation the news organizations might or might not publically attribute drops in viewership to their reports. Even if we take their public attribution to indicate that the report was the reason, this answer choice goes in the opposite direction of what we’re looking for. So, it is incorrect.


Answer Choice: D

Incorrect

Selected by: 16%

This answer choice is the most commonly selected incorrect answer.

So the network had aired controversial reports in the past as well. And the reports led to viewers complaining as well.

However,

  1. did the network even lose viewers in the past?
  2. And, even if it did, was the loss related to the negative reactions?

    Remember, the position we need to support is that the loss in viewers was not because of the report. This answer choice doesn’t even tell us whether in the past the network experienced loss in viewership after the negative reactions.

What does the answer choice say? That the news organization has aired controversial reports in the past as well, and such reports have led viewers to complain earlier too. I.e., there have been controversial reports and negative reactions to such reports in the past as well.

So, do you now believe more than / less than / or as much as before in the network’s position?

My level of confidence doesn’t change.

This answer choice doesn’t even claim that the news organization lost viewers with such occurrences in the past. Just that the viewers have complained earlier too. This statement does not change my belief in the position that negative reactions did not cause the loss of viewers. The statement has no impact and is thus wrong.

Now, in case you’re wondering, what if the answer choice said:

(D’) The network news organization has aired controversial reports on the economy that have inspired viewers to complain to the network in the past as well and the network has experienced viewership losses right after. 

Would this answer choice be correct?

Note now, the modified answer choice doesn’t claim that the complaints led to the loss of viewers. Just that similar things have occurred in the past.

Even if we take it to be an indication of some causal relation between complaints and viewership loss, our job is to support the position that the complaints were not the reason for the loss of viewers. In other words, the correct answer should lead me to believe even more than before that the loss of viewers was not because of the complaints. This modified answer choice, at best, leads me to think that perhaps the complaints did lead to the loss of viewers. I.e., at best, it goes in the opposite direction of what we’re looking for, and so is still incorrect.


Answer Choice: E

Incorrect

Selected by: 3%

So the network news broadcasts are the primary source of information about the economy for most network news viewers. How most such viewers receive their news about the economy does not help me understand whether the viewers left because of the negative reactions or for some other reason. Irrelevant.

Additional Notes


  1. I discuss answer choices with analogies in detail in this article.
  2. Answer choice C uses the phrase ‘only when’. Let’s make sure that it is clear what the statement means.

    e.g. Statement: I meet my parents only when I go to my hometown.

    Can we infer the following from the above statement?

    a. If I go to my hometown, I definitely meet my parents.
    No. We cannot infer this. It is possible that I go to my hometown, but don’t meet my parents.

    b. If I don’t go to my hometown, I don’t meet my parents.
    Yes. We can infer this. I meet my parents ONLY WHEN I go to my hometown. So, if I don’t go to my hometown, I don’t meet my parents.

3. Answer choice C also becomes easier to eliminate if we take into account the adverb ‘publicly’. I find that many answer choices with adverbs get easier to deal with if we understand and associate the adverbs properly.


The accuracy data is from GMAT Club and might have changed since the time of publishing this solution. If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

You can go through detailed solutions to many other official GMAT questions here.

Anish Passi

GMAT Coach

With over a decade of GMAT training experience, top 1 percentile scores on the CAT and GMAT, and a passion for teaching, I’d like to believe I am quite qualified to be a GMAT coach. GMAT is learnable, and I help students master the GMAT through a process-oriented approach based on logic and common sense. I offer private tutoring and live-online classroom courses. My sessions are often sprinkled with real-world examples, references to movies, and jokes that only I find funny. You’ve been warned 🙂

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  • agrasan says:

    This is very helpful. I got a new way of thinking about option C through the ‘only’ word approach.

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