This idea is certainly not new. Rousseau's* "noble savages" wandered, pure of heart, through a pristine world. . . . *Rousseau was an eighteenth-century French philosopher.
The first paragraph talks about how Native Americans are (and always have been) misconceived. "This idea is certainly not new." -- The author referenced Rousseau to back up that statement. So, the reference is used to emphasize the "longevity of certain types of misconceptions." The answer is (B). It's very straightforward.</p>
<p>(A) is wrong because nowhere does it say that Rousseau has anything to do with the "philosophical origins of cultural bias." The reference is only posed as an example of a similar philosophical representation of the idea.</p>
<p>(C) is wrong because the reference to Rousseau does not emphasize the "tendency to fear the unknown." Saying that the idea has been explored in philosophy throughout history is not saying anything about a human's tendency to fear the unknown, though they may be related.</p>
<p>(D) is wrong because the reference to Rousseau certainly does not emphasize the "diversity among European intellectual traditions." There is no talk of tradition here; what is described is simply an inherent representation of Native Americans.</p>
<p>(E) is wrong because the reference to Rousseau in no way tries to emphasize the "argument that even great thinkers are fallible." This argument was never given. It may be relevant in your mind but in text it is not even on the same topic.</p>
Western historians, culture-bound by their own approach to knowledge, are apt to declaim that next to nothing, save the evidence of archaeology, can be known of early Native American life. To them, an absolute void is more acceptable and rigorous than an educated guess.
<p>The author obviously disagrees with these Western historians, who would rather not form an opinion (or something like that) about Native American history than to imagine or to form an educated guess about it like an enthused (and advantaged) historian would.</p>
<p>Hence, in these lines, the author portrays Western historians as disadvantaged by an overly narrow methodology. The author implies that these historians' methodology (their procedures in examining history) is overly narrow. They are not open to history that is not fully clear.</p>
<p>It is not (A) because the author does not portray Western historians as "oblivious to the value of archaeological research." The author says that these historians claim that next to nothing, "save the evidence of archaeology," can be known about early Native Americans. This means that they are somewhat downplaying archaeology in such a statement; however, they acknowledge it in that they say "next to nothing" as opposed to simply "nothing." The author does not particularly believe that the historians are OBLIVIOUS to the value of archaeological research.</p>
<p>(C) is wrong because the author does not praise these historians. He or she does not portray them as "excessively impressed by prestigious credentials."</p>
<p>(D) is wrong because the author does not portray Western historians as "well meaning but apt to do more harm than good." Nowhere in the excerpt does the author say that these historians mean well. The impression is that they are pretty much idle and unappreciative maybe.</p>
<p>(E) is wrong because the author does not portray Western historians as "anxious to contradict the faulty conclusions of their predecessors." This is such an irrelevant answer choice.</p>