Critical Reasoning Question 5-MURDER

Statistics show that more than half of the nation’s murder victims knew their assailants; in fact, 24% last year were killed by relatives.  Nor was death always completely unexpected.  In one study, about half the murder victims in a particular city had called for police protection at least 5 times during the 24 months before they were murdered.  Nonetheless, most people are more likely to fear being killed by a stranger in an unfamiliar situation than by a friend or relative at home.

Which of the following, if true, best explains the reaction of most people to the likelihood of being murdered?

A.  Statistics are likely to be discounted no matter what the source, if their implication seems to run counter to common sense.

B.  In the face of such upsetting problems as murder and assault, most people are more likely to react emotionally than rationally.

C.  A study taken in only one city is not likely to have an effect on attitudes until similar studies have been undertaken at the national level and have yielded similar results.

D.  Most people do not consider themselves to be in the high-risk groups in which murder occurs frequently between relations, but do see themselves as at least minimally susceptible to random violence.

E.  People who seek police protection from relatives and friends are often unwilling to press charges when the emotions of the moment have cooled.


The correct answer is: D

Most murder victims were killed by people they knew, yet most people are more likely to fear being killed by a stranger.  The best way to explain this apparent contradiction is (D):  Most people don’t believe they fall into the high-risk groups containing murderous friends and relations, but they do think they could be victims of random violence.

As for (A), did these people find it counter intuitive that most murder victims knew their killers?  We don’t know, so we can’t assume they dismissed the statistics.  (B)’s too vague to explain the discrepancy.  In light of the statistics, people’s fear of strangers seems irrational, but is it emotional?  A more emotional response might be to become terrified of being killed by one’s spouse or best friend.  (C) fails because national statistics already exist, as the firs sentence makes clear.  Finally, (E) might explain why people who knew they might be killed ended up dead, but it doesn’t resolve the discrepancy at hand.

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