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Author’s attitude | Worked example

Video transcript

- [Instructor] Before we get going with the passage on this one, let's take a look at the stem, and we can use that understanding to drive how we read the passage. So the author's attitude towards dowsing can best be described as, and then these options. So what we're trying to do is pull out how the author feels about this thing, which is dowsing. And if you don't know what dowsing is, that is okay. I expect we are about to learn. Let's read the passage. Dowsing, as known as diving or doodlebugging, is an unlikely process. I'm going to go, as I read through this, I'm going to look for words that expose the author's attitude. And so the fact that the author has described dowsing as unlikely is interesting to me. That gives me a hint. So okay, it's an unlikely process used to locate water, metals, or other objects. The dowser holds out a fork-shaped twig or rod and walks with the fork outstretched until they allegedly feel a pull. And notice that, unlike the definition, pull is in quotes. And also there's this word allegedly, meaning supposedly. And so the fact that there is this, the pull in quotes, indicates to me a certain kind of remove. Since this is basically what's being described as like paranormal, right, like using a twig to find water or metal, it sounds to me, because of the word unlikely and the word allegedly and the fact that this is in quotes, that the author doesn't quite believe that this is true, that what dowsing is really works as it's described. But we'll keep going. So walks with the fork outstretched until they allegedly feels a pull on the object, which indicates the item they are searching for is below ground. Although there is no scientific basis for this practice, it is still popular among people who believe in paranormal activity. So this part actually feels relatively objective. Whatever the author's bias is, or attitude, it doesn't really feel like it comes through here to me. But we do have these three data points, allegedly, unlikely, and the fact that pull is in what I would call scare quotes, suggesting like, oh, that's, you know, like a sarcastic, we can call them air quotes, if you will, a pull on the object. It feels sarcastic to me. I'm gonna write sarcasm, question mark. So with that in mind, let's go through our options. Hostile. This is an interesting choice. I feel like certainly, alleged, unlikely, and sarcastic pull indicate resistance to it. Hostile feels a little strong. I'm gonna leave a little squiggle here. Come back to that later. See if there's not a better option. Admiring. Well, admiring I think we can safely dispense with because they seem pretty doubtful. If the author were being admiring, I think they would be a little bit more credulous, like a little bit more believing. Instead of saying allegedly, they might just strike the adverb entirely, and they probably wouldn't put pull in quotes. They would probably just say until they feel a pull on the object. So I'm gonna say it's not admiring. Indifferent, that means like uncaring, right? That's a reading I just also don't buy. It really does seem like the author has an opinion. They think it's unlikely. So I'm going to cross that out. Skeptical, to me, feels like the words that I have been using previously to describe what I felt the author's attitude was. I think of this as kind of a doubting approach. It's unlikely. They allegedly feel a so-called pull on the object. I know you can't see my air quote fingers, but I'm doing finger quotes. So I think skeptical is probably it. Optimistic? You know, hopeful, maybe a belief that this is true. I don't buy that from our options here. So I'm gonna cross out optimistic, and I'm also gonna cross out hostile, because I think that hostile is too strong compared to skeptical. My strategy for this is that I wanted to go through the passage and pull out any words that seemed like they had opinions in them that felt loaded in some way. So look for loaded language. What seems like it's evidence of an opinion to you? And then what does it have in common? When you look at all of those things together that you've identified as opinions, what in your words feels like the best way to summarize that opinion? And then you look for a match, and you want to make sure that it's not too extreme, like hostile, or too weak or contradictory, like optimistic. So you're kind of looking for that Goldilocks option. What is the thing that most exactly matches your impression of the author's attitude? One technique that can be super useful is to assign to the value to the attitude on a one-to-five, positive-to-negative scale, where one is very strong negative. In our case, that would be hostile. And where five is a very strong positive, which in this case would be optimistic. Skeptical, in our case, is more of a two on the scale. So coming up with your own descriptor for the author's attitude and then assigning it a place on this one-to-five, negative-to-positive scale can very quickly help you eliminate other choices and find the answer.