LSAT Reading : Inferences About the Opinions and Beliefs of Other People in Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Humanities Passages

Adapted from The Monk by Matthew Lewis (1796)

The monks having attended their abbot to the door of his cell, he dismissed them with an air of conscious superiority in which humility's semblance combated with the reality of pride. He was no sooner alone, than he gave free loose to the indulgence of his vanity. When he remembered the enthusiasm that his discourse had excited, pride told him loudly that he was superior to the rest of his fellow-creatures.

“Who,” thought he; “Who but myself has passed the ordeal of youth, yet sees no single stain upon his conscience? Who else has subdued the violence of strong passions and an impetuous temperament, and submitted even from the dawn of life to voluntary retirement? I seek for such a man in vain. I see no one but myself possessed of such resolution. Religion cannot boast Ambrosio's equal! How powerful an effect did my discourse produce upon its auditors! How they loaded me with benedictions, and pronounced me the sole uncorrupted stalwart of the church! What then now is left for me to do? Nothing, but to watch as carefully over the conduct of my brothers as I have hitherto watched over my own. Yet hold! May I not be tempted from those paths which till now I have pursued without one moment's wandering? I must now abandon the solitude of my retreat; the fairest and noblest dames of Madrid continually present themselves at the abbey, and will use no other confessor. Should I meet some lovely female in that world that I am constrained to enter, lovely . . . as you, Madonna . . . !”

As he said this, he fixed his eyes upon a picture of the Virgin, which was suspended opposite to him. This for two years had been the object of his increasing wonder and adoration. He paused, and gazed upon it with delight.

“What beauty in that countenance!” He continued after a silence of some minutes. “Oh! If such a creature existed, and existed but for me! Gracious God, should I then resist the temptation? Should I not barter for a single embrace the reward of my sufferings for thirty years? Should I not abandon . . . Fool that I am! Whither do I suffer my admiration of this picture to hurry me? Away, impure ideas! Let me remember that woman is forever lost to me. Never was mortal formed so perfect as this picture. But even did such exist, the trial might be too mighty for a common virtue, but Ambrosio's is proof against temptation. Temptation, did I say? To me it would be none. It is not the woman's beauty that fills me with such enthusiasm; it is the painter's skill that I admire, it is the divinity that I adore! Are not the passions dead in my bosom? Have I not freed myself from the frailty of mankind? Fear not, Ambrosio! Take confidence in the strength of your virtue.”

Here his reverie was interrupted by three soft knocks at the door of his cell. With difficulty did the abbot awake from his delirium. The knocking was repeated.

“Who is there?” said Ambrosio at length.

“It is only Rosario,” replied a gentle voice.

“Enter! Enter, my son!”

The door was immediately opened, and Rosario appeared with a small basket in his hand.

Rosario was a young novice belonging to the monastery, who in three months intended to make his profession. A sort of mystery enveloped this youth, which rendered him at once an object of interest and curiosity.

Ambrosio would be most likely to disagree with which of the following statements?

Possible Answers:

His pride makes him imperfect.

Rosario was wrong to disturb him at that time.

He needs to address his feelings about the painting.

The idea of an infallible monk is laughable.

The church has flaws.

Correct answer:

His pride makes him imperfect.


We have to pick the statement which Ambrosio would be most likely to reject, so it follows naturally that it would be something to do with his personal character. We know from the third paragraph that he believes that the church has flaws due to the fact that the monks around him are fallible as they have stained consciences. Ambrosio himself addresses his feelings about the painting as being inappropriate when he says to himself, “Away, impure ideas! Let me remember that woman is forever lost to me. Never was mortal formed so perfect as this picture. But even did such exist, the trial might be too mighty for a common virtue, but Ambrosio's is proof against temptation.” Finally, we can assume that Ambrosio is not angered by Rosario's disturbance, as there are no words to that effect in the passage. The statement against Ambrosio's pride would cause disagreement because he would be too proud to admit to such a fault.

Example Question #2 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Humanities Passages

Adapted from English Literature: Its History and Its Significance for the Life of the English Speaking World by William J. Long (1909)

Coleridge left Cambridge in 1794 without taking his degree, and presently we find him with the youthful Southey—a kindred spirit who had been fired to wild enthusiasm by the French Revolution—founding his famous Pantisocracy for the regeneration of human society. "The Fall of Robespierre," a poem composed by the two enthusiasts, is full of the new revolutionary spirit. The Pantisocracy was to be an ideal community that combined farming and literature; work was to be limited to two hours each day. Moreover, each member of the community was to marry a good woman and take her with him. The two poets obeyed the latter injunction first, marrying two sisters, and then found that they had no money to pay even their traveling expenses to the new utopia.

During all the rest of his career a tragic weakness of will takes possession of Coleridge, making it impossible for him, with all his genius and learning, to hold himself steadily to any one work or purpose. He studied in Germany; worked as a private secretary, till the drudgery wore upon his free spirit; then he went to Rome and remained for two years, lost in study. Later he started The Friend, a paper devoted to truth and liberty; lectured on poetry and the fine arts to enraptured audiences in London, until his frequent failures to meet his engagements scattered his hearers; was offered an excellent position and a half interest (amounting to some £2000) in the Morning Post and The Courier, but declined it, saying "that I would not give up the country and the lazy reading of old folios for two thousand times two thousand pounds—in short, that beyond £350 a year I considered money a real evil.” His family, meanwhile, was almost entirely neglected; he lived apart, following his own way. Needing money, he was on the point of becoming a Unitarian minister, when a small pension from two friends enabled him to live for a few years without regular employment.

A terrible shadow in Coleridge's life was the apparent cause of most of his dejection. In early life he suffered from neuralgia, and to ease the pain began to use opiates. The result on such a temperament was almost inevitable. He became a slave to the drug habit; his naturally weak will lost all its directing and sustaining force, until, after fifteen years of pain and struggle and despair, he gave up and put himself in charge of a physician, one Mr. Gillman of Highgate. Carlyle, who visited him at this time, calls him "a king of men," but records that "he gave you the idea of a life that had been full of sufferings, a life heavy-laden, half-vanquished."

The shadow is dark indeed; but there are gleams of sunshine that occasionally break through the clouds. One of these is his association with Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, out of which came the famous Lyrical Ballads of 1798. Another was his loyal devotion to poetry for its own sake. With the exception of his tragedy Remorse, for which he was paid £400, he received almost nothing for his poetry. Indeed, he seems not to have desired it; for he says: "Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward; it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude, and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me." One can better understand his exquisite verse after such a declaration. A third ray of sunlight came from the admiration of his contemporaries; for though he wrote comparatively little, he was by his talents and learning a leader among literary men. Wordsworth says of him that, though other men of the age had done some wonderful things, Coleridge was the only wonderful man he had ever known. Of his conversation it is recorded: "Throughout a long-drawn summer's day would this man talk to you in low, equable but clear and musical tones, concerning things human and divine; marshaling all history, harmonizing all experiment, probing the depths of your consciousness, and revealing visions of glory and terror to the imagination."

Based on how he is described in the passage, Wordsworth would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements?

Possible Answers:

Wordsworth did not know many nice people.

Coleridge did more wonderful things than any other person.

The weight of the things Coleridge did outweighed who he was.

The distinction between what we say and what we do can only be written down.

Coleridge was greater as a person than the greatness of great works. 

Correct answer:

Coleridge was greater as a person than the greatness of great works. 


The passage states that Wordsworth said “though other men of the age had done some wonderful things, Coleridge was the only wonderful man he had ever known.” This does not suggest that Coleridge was the only nice person he had ever known or that Coleridge did more wonderful things than any other person; instead, it means that Coleridge was great as a person where others only achieved greatness in their works.

Example Question #3 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Deeds of a Great Railway by G. R. S. Darroch (1920)

August 4th, 1914, was not fated after all, as we know, to be a day of disaster. That it was not so is perhaps attributable in the main to two causes. "Miraculous" is the manner in which escape from disaster has been described; but the miracle was performed primarily and essentially by the loss of those "many thousands of brave men whose sacrifice we deplore, while we regard their splendid gallantry and self-devotion with unstinted admiration and gratitude." A secondary, but by no means inconsiderable, cause contributory to the successful working of the miracle lay in the fact that we did possess the "order," the "certainty," in regard to moving that part of the army detailed for home defense, and of the six divisions of which the original Expeditionary Force was composed, and which were flung across the Channel to assist in stemming the initial German onrush. And it is with regard to this "order," this "certainty," and the attendant successful working of the railways that the ensuing pages are concerned.

We have already traced in some degree of detail the antecedents of the Railway Executive Committee, that body of distinguished civilian railway experts, who, from the time that the government assumed, under provisions of the Act of 1871, nominal control of the railways, became, and throughout the war remained, responsible to the government for the maintenance and the efficient working of the entire railway systems of the British Isles; and in order to acquire some insight into the amazing and complex detail involved in this efficient working, we cannot very well do better than probe a few of the more salient facts concerning the London and North-Western Railway, which, on the outbreak of hostilities, and appropriately enough, was deputed to act as the "Secretary" Company to the Western and Eastern Commands and afterwards to the Central Force.

In a report dated October 1st, 1914, Mr. L. W. Horne, secretary to the "Secretary" Company to the Commands previously mentioned, describes the measures that were adopted both prior to and during mobilization, in conformity with the War Office program.

Owing to the "very drastic alterations in the mobilization time tables" made by the War Office, a staff was specially appointed to deal with the matter, and as a result of herculean efforts, "on mobilization being ordered, not only was our scheme complete, but time tables and sheets numbering many thousands were ready for immediate issue."

Special troop trains were "signaled by a special code of 4-4-4 beats," this code signifying "precedence over all other trains," ordinary passenger service being curtailed as occasion demanded. Seven hundred and fifty-one special trains were required for the "large quantities of stores, equipment, etc.," and "in order to ensure that such consignments should be worked forward without delay," it was agreed that "they should be given 'Perishable transit.'"

As will doubtless be within the memory of most of us, on August 3rd, 1914, Sir Edward Grey was in a position to inform the House that "the mobilization of the Fleet has taken place.” The credit for the promptitude of this precautionary measure was in due course claimed by Mr. Winston Churchill, and resulted shortly afterwards in the resignation from his post as a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty of Prince Louis of Battenberg, eldest son of Prince Alexander of Hesse, Germany. The message spontaneously addressed by His Majesty the King to Admiral Sir John Jellicoe ran, "I send you, and through you to the officers and men of the Fleets . . . the assurance of my confidence that under your direction they will revive and renew the old glories of the Royal Navy, and prove once again the sure shield of Britain." To enable officers and men to "revive and renew the old glories of the Royal Navy," coal, not canvas, was needed, this entailing the provision forthwith of six hundred and fifty-one special trains for the conveyance of approximately 150,000 tons of Admiralty coal from the South Wales collieries to certain points on the East Coast.

From the passage we can assume that the resignation of the Lord Commissioner of the Navy was due to which of the following reasons?

Possible Answers:

Because he disagreed with the credit being given to Churchill

Because he disagreed with the mobilization of the fleet

Because he came from a prominent German family

Because he had fulfilled his role by helping to mobilize the British Navy

Because he was retiring

Correct answer:

Because he came from a prominent German family


While it may appear, from the author's sentence structure, that the Lord Commissioner left his post because he disagreed with Churchill or the mobilization of the fleet, one can infer that he left due to his association with Germany. We know from the first paragraph that the war being discussed is between Britain and Germany, and we know that the Lord Commissioner comes from a prominent German family, his father being a prince and hailing from Hesse. Therefore, it can be inferred that at the outbreak of a war with Germany, he might likely stand down due to his German connections for the interests of the nation.

Example Question #4 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Jack London’s The Road (1907)

Barring accidents, a good hobo, with youth and agility, can hold a train down despite all the efforts of the train-crew to "ditch" him—given, of course, night-time as an essential condition. When such a hobo, under such conditions, makes up his mind that he is going to hold her down, either he does hold her down, or chance trips him up. There is no legitimate way, short of murder, whereby the train-crew can ditch him. That train-crews have not stopped short of murder is a current belief in the tramp world. Not having had that particular experience in my tramp days I cannot vouch for it personally.

But this I have heard of the "bad" roads. When a tramp has "gone underneath," on the rods, and the train is in motion, there is apparently no way of dislodging him until the train stops. The tramp, snugly ensconced inside the truck, with the four wheels and all the framework around him, has the "cinch" on the crew—or so he thinks, until some day he rides the rods on a bad road. A bad road is usually one on which a short time previously one or several trainmen have been killed by tramps. Heaven pity the tramp who is caught "underneath" on such a road—for caught he is, though the train be going sixty miles an hour.

The "shack" (brakeman) takes a coupling-pin and a length of bell-cord to the platform in front of the truck in which the tramp is riding. The shack fastens the coupling-pin to the bell- cord, drops the former down between the platforms, and pays out the latter. The coupling-pin strikes the ties between the rails, rebounds against the bottom of the car, and again strikes the ties. The shack plays it back and forth, now to this side, now to the other, lets it out a bit and hauls it in a bit, giving his weapon opportunity for every variety of impact and rebound. Every blow of that flying coupling-pin is freighted with death, and at sixty miles an hour it beats a veritable tattoo of death. The next day the remains of that tramp are gathered up along the right of way, and a line in the local paper mentions the unknown man, undoubtedly a tramp, assumably drunk, who had probably fallen asleep on the track.

What can be inferred about the position of the average newspaper reporter regarding hobos?

Possible Answers:

They view the hobo lifestyle as a romantic endeavor.

They believe hoboes should be protected by new governmental regulations.

They see hoboes as a quintessential part of American society.

They generally look down on the hobo lifestyle.

They believe train crews should be prosecuted when they harm hoboes.

Correct answer:

They generally look down on the hobo lifestyle.


Newspapers only get one mention in the passage, at the very end, when the author describes how the reporters simply say that the hobo killed by the train crew was a drunk tramp who fell asleep on the tracks. This indicates that the newspapers look down on the hobo lifestyle and do not feel that the train crew was doing anything particularly wrong.

Example Question #5 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Humanities Passages

Adapted from from Olympe De Gouge's Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen (1791).

Women, wake up; the tocsin of reason sounds throughout the universe; recognize your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The torch of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his force and needs yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust toward his companion. Oh women! Women, when will you cease to be blind? What advantages have you gathered in the revolution? A scorn more marked, a disdain more conspicious. During the centuries of corruption you only reigned over the weakness of men. Your empire is destroyed; what is left to you then? Firm belief in the injustices of men. The reclaiming of your patrimony founded on the wise decrees of nature; why should you fear such a beautiful enterprise?

…Whatever the barriers set up against you, it is in your power to overcome them; you only have to want it. Let us pass now to the appalling account of what you have been in society; and since national education is an issue at this moment, let us see if our wise legislators will think sanely about the education of women.

Women have done more harm than good. Constraint and dissimulation have been their lot. What force has taken from them, ruse returned; they have had recourse to all the resources of their charms, and the most irreproachable man has not resisted them. Poison, the sword, women controlled everything; they ordered up crimes as much as virtues. For centuries, the French government, especially, depended on the nocturnal administration of women; officials kept no secrets from their indiscretion; ambassadorial posts, military commands, the ministry, the presidency [of a court], the papacy, the college of cardinals, in short everything that characterizes the folly of men, profane and sacred, has been submitted to the cupidity and ambition of this sex formerly considered despicable and respected, and since the revolution, respectable and despised…

Under the former regime, everyone was vicious, everyone guilty… A woman only had to be beautiful and amiable; when she possessed these two advantages, she saw a hundred fortunes at her feet… The most indecent woman could make herself respectable with gold; the commerce in women was a kind of industry amongst the highest classes, which henceforth will enjoy no more credit. If it still did, the revolution would be lost, and in the new situation we would still be corrupted. Can reason hide the fact that every other road to fortune is closed to a woman bought by a man, bought like a slave from the coasts of Africa? The difference between them is great; this is known. The slave [that is, the woman] commands her master, but if the master gives her her freedom without compensation and at an age when the slave has lost all her charms, what does this unfortunate woman become? The plaything of disdain; even the doors of charity are closed to her; she is poor and old, they say: why did she not know how to make her fortune?

Which of the following can most reasonably be inferred about the attitudes of the author?

Possible Answers:

The author feels the African slave trade is a necessary injustice

The author believes that the revolution could give women an opportunity to advocate for themselves, even if it has not thus far done so

The author believes that women should use their beauty to their advantage 

The author believes that women should accept men's injustices

Correct answer:

The author believes that the revolution could give women an opportunity to advocate for themselves, even if it has not thus far done so


The author's first two sentences clearly show that she would likely believe that the revolution gives women the opportunity to advocate for themselves, as evidenced by her call for her female readers to "wake up; the tocsin of reason sounds throughout the universe; recognize your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies." The author's repeated request that women recognize their rights indicates that she does not believe that women should accept men's injustices. There is no indication that the author believes that the African slave trade is an unjust necessity, although she references slaves. Finally, while the author notes that women used beauty and amicability to their advantage, she never indicates that this is what they "should" do, only that these traits were used to women's advantage when they had no other route to fortune.

While the author is critical of how women have been treated during the revolution, and the general lack of true sex equality in the movement, she still clearly prefers it to the alternatives, and sees it as an opportunity, if handled correctly, to give rights and freedoms to female citizens.

Example Question #6 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Humanities Passages

"Perspective" by William Floyd (2015)

In the visual arts, “perspective” describes creating a two-dimensional image which has the illusion of depth and shading to make it appear like a three-dimensional image. The ability to paint with perspective was a Renaissance idea, when painters such as Jan van Eyck and Leonardo da Vinci created scenes which had a revolutionary look, particularly as compared to the notably flat medieval paintings of earlier artists. These reflected life in a way that it was thought painting could never hope to achieve. The question that obviously arises from this revolution in painting is why the artists of the middle ages felt so comfortable with their lack of such perspective.

The fifteenth century Italian painter and Dominican friar born Guido Pietri was dubbed Fra Beato Angleico, which in English is “the Blessed Angelic Friar,” for the way he captured the imagination of his contemporaries. While he painted less than a century before da Vinci, Fra Angelico appears to belong to a different tradition entirely, with a completely different aesthetic sense. His portraits are oddly formal, while his crowd scenes are so busy as to be overwhelming. To look at his “Annunciation of the Virgin” or “Last Judgement” is to see a painting which is almost too flat and busy, necessitating a careful look at each element, moving across the painting, rather than being able to take in the entire scene of the painting at once.

Which might be the actual expectation of a medieval painter. Any scene with a dozen saints has such precision in the portrayal of each saint, who has to be recognizable to every worshipful person viewing it, that it requires an up close view of every single element. Additionally, the subject matter is presented in such a way as to make the viewer move from left to right. This essentially means that a medieval viewer “read” a painting as much as they viewed it. Each element was a self-contained piece which needed to be viewed in a specific order. Rather than conveying one scene, the painting was actually more of a storytelling device. Naturally, the time of perspective was also the time the printing press brought widespread literacy to Europe. With more people being able to read a text, a painting had less need to function as a text itself, making a revolution in painting a necessity for the genre.

It can be inferred from the passage that art critics and historians view medieval art as __________.

Possible Answers:

a low point for religious themes in Western art

impressive when judged on its own merits

not as technically advanced as Renaissance art

a period with only a few great artists

the greatest period for technical innovation in Western art

Correct answer:

not as technically advanced as Renaissance art


The author's overall tone in defending Fra Angelico and medieval art gives the best clue to the general feeling by critics and art historians about the period. As the author is vigorously defending Fra Angelico, the way the argument proceeds indicates that most critics do not see his work on the same level as that of Renaissance masters.

Example Question #6 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Humanities Passages

Passage adapted from Edgehill: The Battle and Battlefield (1904), by Edwin Walford.

The reign of King Charles I. showed a widening of the difference between the ecclesiastic and puritan elements of the English community—elements which were the centers of the subsequently enlarged sections, royalist and parliamentarian. In the later dissentions between the King and the Commons it was early apparent how widespread had been the alienation of the people from the King’s cause—an alienation heightened, as Green in his “Short History” tells us, by a fear that the spirit of Roman Catholicism, so victorious on the continent, should once more become dominant in England. How great was the tension may be known from the fact of the contemplated emigration to the American colonies of such leaders as Lord Saye and Sele, Lord Warwick, Lord Brooke, and Sir John Hampden and Oliver Cromwell. When the rupture at last came, the Parliament was found to have secured the larger arsenals, and also to have forces at its disposal in the trained bands of London and in the militia, which it was enabled rapidly to enroll. Though the unfurling of the Royal Standard near Nottingham failed to secure many adherents to the King’s cause, Essex hesitated to attack the royalists when they might have been easily dispersed, thinking no doubt to overawe the King by mere show of force. Yet when Charles began recruiting in the neighborhood of Shrewsbury, he was soon able to gather an army, and on October 12th, 1642, he commenced his march upon London. The astute and carefully moderate policy of the Commons was to rescue the King from his surroundings, and to destroy the enemies, especially the foreign enemies, of the State, about the King’s person. The sanctity of the King’s person was yet a prominent factor—the belief in divinity of Kingship, notwithstanding all the misrule there had been, was yet alive in the hearts of the people. Therefore when the King had gathered his forces together and began his Southward march, Lord Essex with his army was commissioned “to march against his Majesties Army and fight with them, and to rescue the persons of the King, Prince and Duke of York.” The Earl of Essex, with the Parliamentarian forces, was at that time in Worcestershire, endeavoring to prevent the recruiting of the King’s troops; and though the Earl moved two days later on by rapid marches into Warwickshire, it was only to find that he had been out-marched by the King, who, after resting at Southam, stood with the Royalist army at Edgcot across the way to the capital. That this had been accomplished, notwithstanding the opposition of the strongholds of Warwick and Coventry, speaks not unfavorably for the generalship of Earl Lindsay, the King’s Lieutenant-General, whom we find at Edgcot contemplating an attack upon Banbury Castle. The King’s was a good position: it commanded all the roads to London, held Banbury in its hand, covered the Cherwell bridge and fords, and had within touch the dominating escarpment of Edge Hill. If the purpose was the subjection of some prominent leaders of the Parliamentarians it succeeded only in the taking of Lord Saye and Sele’s house at Broughton, and of Banbury, and Banbury Castle; in the partial destruction of Lord Spencer’s house at Wormleighton, and in sending a summons to Warwick Castle to surrender.

It can be assumed from the information in the passage that the Earl of Essex believed King Charles I __________.

Possible Answers:

was an excellent monarch who earned loyalty from his subjects

was never officially confirmed as monarch

was not a good monarch and should be removed from office

was not a good monarch, but did nothing illegal

was the monarch and should therefore be obeyed

Correct answer:

was not a good monarch and should be removed from office


The passage mentions the Earl of Essex a handful of times, entirely in conjunction with his leading the Parliamentary Armies. This indicates he is opposed to the King generally, information which is backed up by the mention that the Earl of Essex is leading an army under orders to capture "the King, Prince, and Duke of York."

Example Question #7 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Humanities Passages

"Ed Sullivan and All the Rest" by William Floyd (2015)

Modern television talk shows center on the host, with the guests as a side dish that still accentuates the main entrée of the funny person at the center of the spectacle. Their forerunners were on television as early as television was in American homes, scene stealers such as Steve Allen and Jack Parr making even the most famous celebrities play inside their world. At the same time, though, one man showed how a television show could highlight a variety of performers, from the remarkable to the mundane and the famous to the unknown. If more television shows operated like “The Ed Sullivan Show,” maybe television would be less ego centric.

Ed Sullivan began his career before World War II as an entertainment and sports reporter, gaining his first significant notoriety as a celebrity maker for his gossip column in the New York Daily News. This influential position led him to be chosen as the host of “The Toast of the Town,” a variety show on CBS, in 1948. He was awkward on camera and made no effort to be a schmoozer or comedian. Despite his awkwardness, Ed Sullivan became a household name, with his show first informally and then officially being known as “The Ed Sullivan Show.” No one cared about watching Sullivan himself, but rather what Sullivan presented to his audience each week. Sullivan was a force behind the scenes, putting together the show that everyone wanted to watch each week.

The genius of Sullivan’s show was that it was truly a variety show. Sullivan made sure to show his audience ballet and opera selections, yet also never shied away from presenting Rock n Roll acts on his prestigious time slot. He was also a key benefactor for a number of young comedians, who would present their usual stand-up routines free of comment in front of a national audience. Naturally, the Beatles were not actually big in America until they had gotten the Sullivan anointment, but many other acts could credit Sullivan with a breakthrough. Considering the time he was on the air, 1948 to 1971, Sullivan made twentieth century American popular culture. With the fragmentation of culture through cable, the internet, and streaming services, no one can ever hope to have the same impact as a man described as having the personality of an Easter Island statue.

Based on the information in the passage, it can be inferred that most people today view Ed Sullivan as _____________.

Possible Answers:

a strange man whose success is rather unfathomable

the best host in the history of television

the creator of the modern television talk show

an interesting figure who more people should emulate

a relic of television's early history

Correct answer:

a relic of television's early history


While the author is quite complementary and reverential towards Ed Sullivan, the language used indicates that most people do not feel quite the same about Sullivan. Instead, the passage makes clear that many people seem to think of Sullivan only as an old fashioned relic with no impact on modern television.

Example Question #8 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Humanities Passages

Passage adapted from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (1845)

I look upon my departure from Colonel Lloyd's plantation as one of the most interesting events of my life. It is possible, and even quite probable, that but for the mere circumstance of being removed from that plantation to Baltimore, I should have to-day, instead of being here seated by my own table, in the enjoyment of freedom and the happiness of home, writing this Narrative, been confined in the galling chains of slavery. Going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity. I have ever regarded it as the first plain manifestation of that kind providence which has ever since attended me, and marked my life with so many favors. I regarded the selection of myself as being somewhat remarkable. There were a number of slave children that might have been sent from the plantation to Baltimore. There were those younger, those older, and those of the same age. I was chosen from among them all, and was the first, last, and only choice.

I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotistical, in regarding this event as a special interposition of divine Providence in my favor. But I should be false to the earliest sentiments of my soul, if I suppressed the opinion. I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence. From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise.

The author would agree with which one of the following statements?

Possible Answers:

The selection of the author to be freed from the plantation was logical

The author deserved God’s love due to his deep faith

God was not watching over any other children on the plantation except the author

The author is embarrassed by God’s attention to him

God works in mysterious ways

Correct answer:

God works in mysterious ways


Douglass does not state that he was more deserving than the other children, or that God had abandoned them, or that it made sense to him that he was chosen over the others. At the same time, he is not ashamed by that. Simply, he believes God to be all-knowing and all-powerful, and so would likely agree that God works in mysterious ways not meant to be understood by man.

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