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GMAT Reading Comprehension Practice Test 04

    Evolutionary psychology takes as its starting point the
    uncontroversial assertion that the anatomical and
    physiological features of the human brain have arisen
    as a result of adaptations to the demands of the
5   environment over the millennia. However, from this
    reasonable point of departure, these psychologists make
    unreasonable extrapolations. They claim that the behavior
    of contemporary man (in almost all its aspects) is a
    reflection of features of the brain that acquired their
10  present characteristics during those earliest days of our
    species when early man struggled to survive and multiply.

    This unwarranted assumption leads, for example, to
    suggestions that modern sexual behavior is dictated by
    realities of Pleistocene life. These suggestions have a
15  ready audience, and the idea that Stone Age man is alive
    in our genome and dictating aspects of our behavior has
    gained ground in the popular imagination. The tabloids
    repeatedly run articles about “discoveries” relating to
    “genes” for aggression, depression, repression, and
20  anything for which we need a readymade excuse. Such
    insistence on a genetic basis for behavior negates the
    cultural influences and the social realities that
    separate us from our ancestors.

    The difficulty with pseudo science of this nature is just
25  this popular appeal. People are eager to accept what is
    printed as incontrovertible, assuming quite without foundation,
    that anything printed has bona fide antecedents. We would do
    well to remember that the phrenologists of the nineteenth
    century held sway for a considerable time in the absence of
30  any evidence that behavioral tendencies could be deduced from
    the shape of the skull. The phrenologists are no more, but
    their genes would seem to be thriving.

1. The author’s primary purpose in the passage is to

A. argue for the superiority of a particular viewpoint
B. attack the popular press
C. ridicule a particular branch of science
D. highlight an apparently erroneous tendency in an area of social science
E. evaluate a particular theory of human behavior in all its ramifications

2. The author mentions phrenologists as

A. pseudo scientists who are the logical antecedents of evolutionary psychologists
B. a group with inherent appeal to the followers of evolutionary psychologists
C. a warning against blind acceptance of ideas
D. scientists with whom evolutionary psychologists share common assumptions
E. behavioral scientists who have spawned a variety of wrong ideas

3. The author apparently believes that the journalists writing for the tabloids

A. are more concerned with popular appeal than with authenticity
B. believe that human behavior has a genetic basis
C. run the same articles over and over again
D. are victims of the human desire to excuse inexcusable behavior
E. are highly irresponsible in their efforts to pander to the public

    The pioneers of the teaching of science imagined that its
    introduction into education would remove the conventionality,
    artificiality, and backward-lookingness which were characteristic;
    of classical studies, but they were gravely disappointed. So, too, in
5   their time had the humanists thought that the study of the classical
    authors in the original would banish at once the dull pedantry and
    superstition of mediaeval scholasticism. The professional
    schoolmaster was a match for both of them, and has almost
    managed to make the understanding of chemical reactions as dull
10  and as dogmatic an affair as the reading of Virgil's Aeneid.

    The chief claim for the use of science in education is that it
    teaches a child something about the actual universe in which he is
    living, in making him acquainted with the results of scientific
15  discovery, and at the same time teaches him how to think logically
    and inductively by studying scientific method. A certain limited
    success has been reached in the first of these aims, but practically
    none at all in the second. Those privileged members of the
    community who have been through a secondary or public school
20  education may be expected to know something about the
    elementary physics and chemistry of a hundred years ago, but they
    probably know hardly more than any bright boy can pick up from
    an interest in wireless or scientific hobbies out of school hours.
    As to the learning of scientific method, the whole thing is palpably
25  a farce. Actually, for the convenience of teachers and the
    requirements of the examination system, it is necessary that the
    pupils not only do not learn scientific method but learn precisely
    the reverse, that is, to believe exactly what they are told and to
    reproduce it when asked, whether it seems nonsense to them or
30  not. The way in which educated people respond to such quackeries
    as spiritualism or astrology, not to say more dangerous ones such
    as racial theories or currency myths, shows that fifty years of
    education in the method of science in Britain or Germany has
    produced no visible effect whatever. The only way of learning the
35  method of science is the long and bitter way of personal
    experience, and, until the educational or social systems are altered
    to make this possible, the best we can expect is the production of a
    minority of people who are able to acquire some of the techniques
    of science and a still smaller minority who are able to use and
40  develop them.

Adapted from: The Social Function of Science, John D Bernal (1939)

4. The author implies that the ‘professional schoolmaster’ (line 7) has

A. no interest in teaching science
B. thwarted attempts to enliven education
C. aided true learning
D. supported the humanists
E. been a pioneer in both science and humanities.

5. The author’s apparently believes that secondary and public school education in the sciences is

A. severely limited in its benefits
B. worse than that in the classics
C. grossly incompetent
D. a stimulus to critical thinking
E. deliberately obscurantist

6. If the author were to study current education in science to see how things have changed since he wrote the piece, he would probably be most interested in the answer to which of the following questions?

A. Do students know more about the world about them?
B. Do students spend more time in laboratories?
C. Can students apply their knowledge logically?
D. Have textbooks improved?
E. Do they respect their teachers?

7. All of the following can be inferred from the text except

A. at the time of writing, not all children received a secondary school education
B. the author finds chemical reactions interesting
C. science teaching has imparted some knowledge of facts to some children
D. the author believes that many teachers are authoritarian
E. it is relatively easy to learn scientific method

Test information

Q 7 questions

Time 10-12 minutes

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