4

Following is a text found relevant to a Yes, No, Not Given, question in IELTS general reading sample paper.

As the windiest country in the Europe, the United Kingdom's wind power potential is larger than the rest of Europe put together. Half of this resource is in Scotland. The UK's government has promised to generate 10% of their electricity using renewable resources. Wind power is seen to be the answer to doing this. The UK has issued wind farm licences to produce as much electricity as about six nuclear power stations. This policy has found favour with the public who support the search for cleaner energy sources.

What should be the answer for the following statement, according to the above text?

  1. Wind power is popular with the UK general public.

My judgement is: the text does not imply that the wind power is popular in the UK, therefore, the answer should be Not Given.

But, according to the marking scheme, the answer is Yes.

Do you think that answer is justifiable?.

10
  • The policy is "issuing wind farm licenses", which found favor. It doesn't directly say that "wind power" has favor, but wind farm licenses are to approve the building of wind farms. So it is unlikely one would favor the licenses but not the farms.
    – user3169
    Jul 27, 2016 at 4:35
  • 1
    I agree with you, @Johna. Strictly speaking, we don't know if the UK public like wind power. The policy of using wind power has found favour with the public, but that doesn't necessarily mean that wind power is itself popular like football is popular. The Beatles were popular for years before they "found favour" with the queen, for example. Jul 27, 2016 at 4:42
  • 1
    @Johna - Tell us what you think this statement from the text means: "This policy has found favour with the public." The objective in the test is not to quibble with the person who wrote the questions, but to provide the best answer. That is especially easy in this case. Jul 27, 2016 at 5:21
  • 4
    @Johna No. "the public" here is clearly meant to imply "a majority of the public." You misunderstand the sentence. It does not refer to "The unknown percentage of the public who are supportive of cleaner energy sources." Instead, the phrase "who are supportive of cleaner energy sources' modifies "the public." It means: "The public, who are supportive of cleaner energy sources." Jul 27, 2016 at 5:41
  • 2
    @Johna To suggest that the percentage who support it is unknown, you might say: This policy has found favour with those among the public who support the search for cleaner energy sources. The sentence as written, without a comma, is ambiguous, but I think most readers will take the meaning that the public ___ support the search for cleaner energy sources. Jul 27, 2016 at 6:05

1 Answer 1

1

Though the passage and the statement you're being asked to evaluate seem relatively simple at first blush, they require a solid understanding of English and the definition of the words used to come up with the correct answer. We're being asked to evaluate this statement:

Wind power is popular with the UK general public. Yes? No? Not given?

Let's start with what our possible responses mean.

  • Yes: There is at least one way that the passage could imply this statement is true.
  • No: There is no way that the passage could imply this statement is true.
  • Not Given: There is not enough information to determine the truth of this statement.

So to begin with, our answers are most permissive of an answer of Yes, and least with an answer of No, only yielding a Not Given in the case that no information correlates to the statement in question, so let's start with the UK general public? What in the full passage describes the general public?

This policy has found favor with the [general] public who support the search for cleaner energy sources.

Some have pointed out that without a comma after public that the meaning of the sentence is vague, and this is indeed true. In this configuration, it could be describing only a portion of the public. However, it could also describe the public as a whole. As this is a valid interpretation of the sentence, and we're asking merely whether there is any way the passage could imply the statement, we can say two things with confidence about the UK general public:

  1. They favor the issuing of wind farm licenses.
  2. They support the search for cleaner energy sources.

Now we need to tie these statements in to the concept of Wind Power. What does the passage have to say about wind power?

Wind power is seen [by the UK's government] to be the answer to [making good on its promise to generate 10% of its electricity using renewable sources].

This is directly tied to the issuing of wind farm licenses; and we've already established that the UK general public favors this. So let's see what kind of chain of logic that creates.

  1. The UK government has issued wind farm licenses.
  2. The UK general public favors this.
  3. Therefore, the UK general public favors wind farms.
  4. Furthermore, favor for wind farms implies favor for wind power in general.
  5. Additionally, the UK general public supports the search for cleaner energy sources.
  6. As wind power is a very clean energy source, it may be safely implied that the UK general public would support wind power as an energy source.
  7. Therefore, as the UK general public favors wind power, and supports wind power as an energy source, absent any arguments against either of these points, it is safe to assume that wind power is popular with the UK general public.

That final point is a bit more tenuous than those that precede it, so let's ask the relevant question: can something be supported or favored by a population without being popular?

The argument could be made that an entity (singular or plural) could support something that they dislike. For example, you may dislike dental visits; they can be expensive, annoying, and downright painful. Still, if you want healthy teeth, they are one of the best ways to accomplish this, so you begrudgingly support them.

For a population to favor something, on the other hand, a majority of that population must do so. As popularity is defined as something regarded with favor by people in general, we can equate the favor of a population with its popularity.

So, since there is a way that the passage could imply the statement to be true, the answer IELTS gives -- Yes -- is indeed justifiable. It's not the only interpretation, but it is a valid interpretation.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .