This is one of the questions in ETS guide to the GRE -

"For some time now, __________ has been presumed not to exist: the cynical conviction that everybody has an angle is considered wisdom."

The answer is disinterestedness. I learnt the meaning of words cynical, conviction and disinterestedness yet this doesn't make sense to me especially the meaning of "cynical conviction". Can someone please elaborate?

  • See here: forum.wordreference.com/threads/…
    – Cardinal
    Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 10:27
  • BTW, cynical conviction strikes me as "a cynic's unfair judgements about something"
    – Cardinal
    Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 10:48
  • A lack of, or freedom from bias, evenhandedness, has been presumed not to exist. People are cynical and are convinced (i.e. they hold the cynical conviction) that no one is able to be objective and detached, and that everyone has a personal bias or agenda. They consider their cynicism wisdom.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 12:23
  • OED cynic A person disposed to rail or find fault; now usually: One who shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions, and is wont to express this by sneers and sarcasms; a sneering fault-finder. Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


What I get from this sentence is that it is trying to say this: "In the past, it was assumed everyone cared about everything, even just a little bit; the idea that everyone has their own unique opinion on everything is treated as fact."

In the sentence, "cynical" should be treated to mean as "ignorant or self-serving," and "conviction" means "strong belief" (So together they would mean something along the lines of "an ignorant or self-serving belief"). This is actually a quite profound statement, as it is essentially telling us not to assume that someone cares about or has an interest in something, even if it is important.

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