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GRE Reading Comprehension Practice Test 05

    In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal
    literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities:
    the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did
    not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our
5   Western capitalist democracies - the development of a vast
    mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither
    with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more
    or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take
    into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions.

10  In the past most people never got a chance of fully
    satisfying this appetite. They might long for distractions,
    but the distractions were not provided. Christmas came but
    once a year, feasts were "solemn and rare," there were few
    readers and very little to read, and the nearest approach
15  to a neighborhood movie theater was the parish church, where
    the performances, though infrequent, were somewhat monotonous.
    For conditions even remotely comparable to those now prevailing
    we must return to imperial Rome, where the populace was kept
    in good humor by frequent, gratuitous doses of many kinds of
20  entertainment - from poetical dramas to gladiatorial fights,
    from recitations of Virgil to all-out boxing, from concerts
    to military reviews and public executions. But even in Rome
    there was nothing like the non-stop distraction now provided
    by newspapers and magazines, by radio, television and the
25  cinema. In Brave New World non-stop distractions of the most
    fascinating nature (the feelies, orgy-porgy, centrifugal
    bumblepuppy) are deliberately used as instruments of policy,
    for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much
    attention to the realities of the social and political
30  situation. The other world of religion is different from
    the other world of entertainment; but they resemble one
    another in being most decidedly "not of this world." Both
    are distractions and, if lived in too continuously, both
    can become, in Marx's phrase, "the opium of the people"
35  and so a threat to freedom. Only the vigilant can maintain
    their liberties, and only those who are constantly and
    intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves
    effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of
    whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the
40  spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but
    somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and
    soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find
    it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would
    manipulate and control it.

45  In their propaganda today's dictators rely for the most
    part on repetition, suppression and rationalization - the
    repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as
    true, the suppression of facts which they wish to be ignored,
    the arousal and rationalization of passions which may be
50  used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art
    and science of manipulation come to be better understood,
    the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine
    these techniques with the non-stop distractions which, in
    the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of
55  irrelevance the rational propaganda essential to the
    maintenance of individual liberty and the survival of
    democratic institutions.

1. The author would be most likely to agree that propaganda

A. can serve a vital function in democracy
B. is concerned mainly with the irrelevant
C. is now combined with entertainment
D. is universally recognized as a danger
E. needs constant vigilance to avoid

2. The “early advocates of universal literacy” (line 1) are mentioned as

A. advocates of propaganda
B. opponents of an idea that the author thinks is correct
C. proponents of an idea that the author wishes to counter
D. people who made wrong predictions about freedom of the press
E. social commentators unaware of man’s appetite for distractions

3. The author refers to “Brave New World” as a fictional example of a society in which

A. non-stop distractions are the main instrument of government policy
B. people are totally unaware of political realities
C. entertainment is used to keep people from full awareness of social realities
D. entertainment resembles religion in its effects on the masses
E. non-stop entertainment is provided as it was in Rome

4. By “intelligently on the spot” (line 37) the author apparently means

A. alert to the dangers of propaganda
B. in a particular society at a particular time
C. in a specific time and place
D. conscious of political and social realities
E. deeply aware of current trends

    The principle of selection solved the riddle as to how what
    was purposive could conceivably be brought about without the
    intervention of a directing power, the riddle which animate
    nature presents to our intelligence at every turn, and in
5   face of which the mind of a Kant could find no way out, for
    he regarded a solution of it as not to be hoped for. For,
    even if we were to assume an evolutionary force that is
    continually transforming the most primitive and the simplest
    forms of life into ever higher forms, and the homogeneity of
10  primitive times into the infinite variety of the present, we
    should still be unable to infer from this alone how each of
    the numberless forms adapted to particular conditions of life
    should have appeared precisely at the right moment in the
    history of the earth to which their adaptations were
15  appropriate, and precisely at the proper place in which all
    the conditions of life to which they were adapted occurred:
    the humming-birds at the same time as the flowers; the
    trichina at the same time as the pig; the bark-coloured moth
    at the same time as the oak, and the wasp-like moth at the
20  same time as the wasp which protects it. Without processes
    of selection we should be obliged to assume a
    "pre-established harmony" after the famous Leibnitzian model,
    by means of which the clock of the evolution of organisms
    is so regulated as to strike in exact synchronism with that
25  of the history of the earth!

    All forms of life are strictly adapted to the conditions
    of their life, and can persist under these conditions alone.
    There must therefore be an intrinsic connection between the
    conditions and the structural adaptations of the organism,
30  and, since the conditions of life cannot be determined by
    the animal itself, the adaptations must be called forth by
    the conditions. The selection theory teaches us how this
    is conceivable, since it enables us to understand that there
    is a continual production of what is non-purposive as well
35  as of what is purposive, but the purposive alone survives,
    while the non-purposive perishes in the very act of arising.
    This is the old wisdom taught long ago by Empedocles.

5. It can be inferred that the author believes that the “Leibnitzian model” (line 22) is

A. ingenious and worthy of serious consideration
B. untenable by all rational people
C. an acceptable solution to Kant’s dilemma
D. unworthy of further consideration
E. an alternative that might still be valid

6. The author’s primary purpose in this extract is to

A. suggest that a particular theory explains otherwise puzzling phenomena
B. describe the details of the selection theory for a lay audience
C. justify a particularly controversial model of the origins of life
D. persuade the reader that Empedocles was right
E. prove that selection is the only possible way of looking at evolutionary biology

7. The examples in lines 17 - 19 are intended to

A. reinforce the author’s point that is difficult to explain adaptation
B. show that adaptations must take place only at specific times and in specific places
C. give specific illustration of organisms that are particularly well-adapted to their conditions
D. show organisms that have evolved synchronously in a predestined manner
E. demonstrate that intelligent design is needed for purposive evolution

8. Answer this question based on the information in the paragraph below.

The committee on sexual discrimination in the workplace has highlighted Supremo Company as a chief offender. Of the twenty senior executives in the firm, only one is a woman. And of the forty junior executives, only five are female.

Supremo could best defend itself against the charges by showing that

A. male and female executives at the same level have the same qualifications
B. they pay the same salary to senior men and senior women
C. ten times more men than women apply for jobs with the company
D. the work pressures and long hours make jobs with the company unattractive to married women
E. all job applicants who were rejected had fewer qualifications than those accepted

Test information

Q 8 questions

Time 14 minutes

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