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Apes are our friends

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DanaJ Site Admin
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Apes are our friends

Post Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:34 am
Elapsed Time: 00:00
  • Lap #[LAPCOUNT] ([LAPTIME])
    Source: Beat The GMAT Practice Questions

    Before Koko, Washoe, and other apes first showed they possessed some facility with symbols, people spoke with reasonable confidence about what it was that separated humans from other animals. If there was disagreement about whether the difference was the ability to construct sentences, think symbolically, or create tools, at least there was broad agreement that there were intrinsic differences between human and animal intelligence. Debate centered on the question of what it was that made the human mind qualitatively different, and not whether it was qualitatively different at all. Language-using apes have eroded that earlier notion and also exposed uncertainty over the proper definition of human intellectual abilities. The animal/human dichotomy that has guided our thinking about language has given the investigation of language a curious circularity. Starting with the assumption that there were no continuities between animal and human language, we have looked for evidence to support this assumption, and then used this evidence to justify the assumption.

    This circularity lent the human intellect a spurious unity. By arrogantly ruling that there were no continuities linking animal and human thought, we fostered the idea that human abilities should be considered only in relation to other human abilities, not in relation to their animal correlatives. Testimony to this tendency is that while the general population is inclined to believe that human abilities are the product of divine intervention or even, as some think, intervention from outer space, many are unwilling to accept the wonders of the intellect as the product of the development of abilities found to lesser degrees in other animals alive today. Carl Jung, among countless others, believed that man could not achieve selfknowledge through comparison with other animals. Thus, on the one hand we preclude valid comparison with the most likely candidates for shedding light upon our origins, then complain about our alienation from the natural order of things. Nor is this a matter of simple prejudice. Behind Noam Chomsky’s theory that there is an inherited deep structure of language, one can see a creationist view of the universe.

    Long before Darwin, there were scientists inclined to accept our ancestral connection to the natural order. Searches for the fabled “missing link” occupied theorists from Albertus Magnus onward. But even this idea that there must have been some intermediate creature half human, half animal implies that no real comparison can be made between human and animal until such a creature is discovered.

    Darwin sowed the seeds of a perspective on humankind and nature that improved the climate for consideration of the communalities of human and animal. Evolutionary theory has changed markedly since he first hypothesized a common ancestor for human and ape, and indeed Darwin, who in many respects was quite stodgy and conservative, would probably be shocked at the implication of many of the experiments done in his name. However, for all the changes in the theory of evolution, it supplies a perspective that permits the search for significant continuities between human and animal. It is difficult to overstate how different the same behavior might seem when seen from an evolutionary perspective as opposed to the traditional animal/human dichotomy. When we look at humankind’s higher intellectual abilities from an evolutionary perspective, we compare them with similar abilities in other animals, and the need to posit a “missing link” vanishes. The “missing link” between human and animal turns out to be a perspective that permits a revealing comparison of behavior across species.

    Whether or not Koko and her chimp friends have thrown the scientific world into confusion depends on which perspective one takes on human behavior.

    In this passage, the author argues all of the following EXCEPT:

    A. there is no essential difference between human and animal intelligence.
    B. the reasoning used to support the idea of a fundamental difference between human and animal intelligence has been circular and therefore specious.
    C. the idea of a common biological ancestor for humans and other species predates Darwin.
    D. the traditional animal/human dichotomy is inconsistent with an evolutionary perspective.
    E. some scientific theories are consistent with fundamental religious doctrines.



    Last edited by DanaJ on Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:43 pm; edited 2 times in total

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    niksworth Legendary Member Default Avatar
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    Post Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:01 am
    I would go with E.

    This is a detail question and requires a look in the paragraph for particular references.

    A - In paragraph 1, Debate centered on the question of what it was that made the human mind qualitatively different, and not whether it was qualitatively different at all. Language-using apes have eroded that earlier notion

    B - End of Paragraph 1 and Beginning of Paragraph 2. - Starting with the assumption that there were no continuities between animal and human language, we have looked for evidence to support this assumption, and then used this evidence to justify the assumption.

    This circularity lent the human intellect a spurious unity


    C - Paragraph 3 - Long before Darwin, there were scientists inclined to accept our ancestral connection to the natural order

    D - Paragraph 4 - It is difficult to overstate how different the same behavior might seem when seen from an evolutionary perspective as opposed to the traditional animal/human dichotomy

    E - No reference in paragraph to religious doctrines and their relationship with scientific theories. Right answer.

    deeyah Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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    Post Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:13 am
    E is the right answer.

    DanaJ Site Admin
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    Post Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:45 pm
    This was a pretty hard one for me and I must admit I too selected E as you guys did. I was pretty surprised when I noticed that wasn't the correct answer, but oh well... The explanation from the Beat The GMAT Practice Questions helped clear things out.

    So the correct answer here is actually A, but it's really hard to spot so I think I'll list why the rest are wrong first.

    B is incorrect as niksworth mentioned and the proof of this can be found in the "transition between paragraphs" section, i.e. last sentence of paragraph 1 and first sentence of paragraph 2.

    C is also incorrect because of the third paragraph, where we find out that before Darwin, there were scientists willing to accept evolution.

    Again, as niksworth pointed out, the reasoning behind eliminating D is in paragraph 4.

    Eliminating E takes a bit of attention to detail that I myself lacked... The clue to this is in the last sentence of the second paragraph: "Behind Noam Chomsky’s theory that there is an inherited deep structure of language, one can see a creationist view of the universe. " This means that Chomsky's theory is consistent with creationism, a religious view of the birth of the human race.

    Now, why A is wrong: in the sentences

    Debate centered on the question of what it was that made the human mind qualitatively different, and not whether it was qualitatively different at all. Language-using apes have eroded that earlier notion and also exposed uncertainty over the proper definition of human intellectual abilities.

    The fact that we have "qualitatively" there suggests that there is no qualitative difference between the human and the animal mind. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that there are no other (non-qualitative, maybe quantitative?) differences between the two.



    Last edited by DanaJ on Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:44 pm; edited 2 times in total

    niksworth Legendary Member Default Avatar
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    Post Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:56 pm
    Wow, that's indeed a good question!

    Actually, while reading through the answer choices and before reaching E, I did put A in the doubtful category. I thought that while the author argues that human and animal mind are not qualitatively different, saying that they are essentially the same is make too strong a statement. However, once I went over E, this thought quickly evaporated through my head!

    This was for two reasons-
    1) I did not know that creationism is a religious theory. I assumed that it is some kind of a philosophical idea.
    2) I knew that Noam Chomsky is a linguist. However, I was hardwired to think that a theory of languages cannot be included in the scientific domain! I guess I will have to redefine 'scientific' in my vocab to avoid such pitfalls.

    Thanks Dana!

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    paddle_sweep Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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    Post Sat Sep 11, 2010 6:20 pm
    A long passage and a tough question. I had marked 'A' as the answer till I reached 'E'. Hmm...

    anirudhbhalotia Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts
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    Post Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:23 am
    Tough one, but hey tough is good for growth!

    I really had to force myself to read the entire passage carefully.

    I too had went for E, but clearly I didnt understand what creationist meant and there in lies my fallacy!



    Dana, you said A is right...so instead of an argument, the passage establishes that there is indeed a difference right from start?

    DanaJ Site Admin
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    Post Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:23 am
    There may or may not be a difference, that's the thing. The author argues that there is no qualitative difference, but that's not the only type of difference between two things. Quantitative differences can be it.

    sanabk Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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    Post Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:21 pm
    I found these lines from P1 to confirm A as the answer.

    "If there was disagreement about whether the difference was the ability to construct sentences, think symbolically, or create tools, at least there was broad agreement that there were intrinsic differences between human and animal intelligence."

    passage says there were intrinsic (basic/essential/ingrained/innate) differences and answer choice says no essential difference.

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    gmat1011 Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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    Post Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:59 am
    as a threshold matter to reject option e in this question one needs to know that the "creationist view" is related to religion, more specifically the Christian religion. I doubt the gmat is going to test that... the exam is administered the world over to people following many difft religions... many may simply not have heard of creationism! you can't link Chomsky's ref to a religious doctrine in e if you haven't heard of creationism...

    kap Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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    Post Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:59 pm
    I thought this one was actually quite simple and knew instantly that the answer is A.

    If you read the last sentence, "Whether or not Koko and her chimp friends have thrown the scientific world into confusion depends on which perspective one takes on human behavior," reveals that the author takes no stance, he simply presented a whole bunch of theories and arguments.

    Therefore, looking at the answer choices, A is the only answer choice that says the author takes a stance/opinion. All the other answer choices say 'the reasoning,' 'the idea,' 'the scientists' view,' etc.

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    gmat1978 Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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    Post Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:23 pm
    Once I read the following statements, all I could understand is that there is qualitative difference between human mind and animal mind. As far as the second statement is concerned, I could not exactly follow what the author is trying to say. Can someone please explain in detail..

    "Debate centered on the question of what it was that made the human mind qualitatively different, and not whether it was qualitatively different at all. Language-using apes have eroded that earlier notion and also exposed uncertainty over the proper definition of human intellectual abilities. "


    Also, looking at the below comment from Dana, where in the passage does the author say that there is no qualitative difference?

    DanaJ wrote:
    There may or may not be a difference, that's the thing. The author argues that there is no qualitative difference, but that's not the only type of difference between two things. Quantitative differences can be it.
    Thanks in advance.

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    Post Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:08 am
    The author is stating the following:

    Debate centered on the question of what it was that made the human mind qualitatively different - in the past, people were wondering what made the human mind different from the animal mind

    and not whether it was qualitatively different at all - people did not even consider if the human and animal minds were qualitatively similar. They did not debate this point, i.e. they assumed that the two minds were in fact qualitatively different.

    Language-using apes have eroded that earlier notion and also exposed uncertainty over the proper definition of human intellectual abilities. - language-using apes have eroded the "earlier notion" that the two minds were qualitatively different.

    If you re-read what I just wrote, you'll see that this point of "eroded notion" indicates the author's intention to side with the fact that the human and the animal minds were NOT qualitatively different.

    Hope this helps!

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    gmat1978 Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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    Post Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:30 pm
    Thanks for your help Dana. It makes sense now.


    DanaJ wrote:
    The author is stating the following:

    Debate centered on the question of what it was that made the human mind qualitatively different - in the past, people were wondering what made the human mind different from the animal mind

    and not whether it was qualitatively different at all - people did not even consider if the human and animal minds were qualitatively similar. They did not debate this point, i.e. they assumed that the two minds were in fact qualitatively different.

    Language-using apes have eroded that earlier notion and also exposed uncertainty over the proper definition of human intellectual abilities. - language-using apes have eroded the "earlier notion" that the two minds were qualitatively different.

    If you re-read what I just wrote, you'll see that this point of "eroded notion" indicates the author's intention to side with the fact that the human and the animal minds were NOT qualitatively different.

    Hope this helps!

    oldguy Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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    Post Fri Mar 18, 2011 7:10 am
    A.

    the article mentions b,c,d,e. so A. long passage. more questions on it ? (now that we have all read it). thanks.

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