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Professor Fernandez has been ____ about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted that its actions were on the contrary,___

I;m confused between the two options
A. dubious...self serving
B. disparaging...sporadic
Which one should be correct?

Professor Fernandez has been dubious about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted that its actions were on the contrary,self serving.

Professor Fernandez has been disparaging about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted that its actions were on the contrary,sporadic.

I mean neither seems wrong,compared to the other options:

C. enthusiastic...contemptible
D. excited...gratuitous
E. disillusioned...benevolent

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The reason that the first option is correct and the second isn't is that the phrase on the contrary always introduces an idea that cancels an implication that has been made in the previous discourse (by somebody, not necessarily the speaker).

In this particular case, if the government's actions were sporadic (happened infrequently at random intervals), that wouldn't cancel the idea that they were humanitarian. The motive for the actions could still have been to help human beings for the sake of helping human beings.

In contrast, the idea that the governments actions were self-serving does cancel the implication that their actions were primarily for the benefit of other human beings. It indicates that the government wanted to help themselves, not other human beings in general. This is not humanitarian.

The thing that this question is testing, is firstly readers' understanding of the discourse markers, in particular, in contrast. Secondly it's testing readers' understanding of the true meaning of humanitarian, self-serving and the other adjectives used in the distractor questions.

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Here's my choice:

Professor Fernandez has been dubious about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted that its actions were on the contrary, self serving.

I only went by the meaning of the words, and the above makes perfect sense.

dubious = doubtful

self-serving = preoccupied with one's won interests

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