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RC : seventeenth-century chemist

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RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2009, 09:21
Historians attempting to explain how scientific work was done in the laboratory of the seventeenth-century chemist and natural philosopher Robert Boyle must address a fundamental discrepancy between how such experimentation was actually performed and the seventeenth-century rhetoric describing it. Leaders of the new Royal Society of London in the 1660s insisted that authentic science depended upon actual experiments performed, observed, and recorded by the scientists themselves. Rejecting the traditional contempt for manual operations, these scientists, all members of the English upper class, were not to think themselves demeaned by the mucking about with chemicals, furnaces, and pumps; rather, the willingness of each of them to become, as Boyle himself said, a mere “drudge” and “under-builder” in the search for God’s truth in nature was taken as a sign of their nobility and Christian piety.
This rhetoric has been so effective that one modern historian assures us that Boyle himself actually performed all of the thousand or more experiments he reported. In fact, due to poor eyesight, fragile health, and frequent absences from his laboratory, Boyle turned over much of the labor of obtaining and recording experimental results to paid technicians, although published accounts of the experiments rarely, if ever, acknowledged the technicians’ contributions. Nor was Boyle unique in relying on technicians without publicly crediting their work.
Why were the contributions of these technicians not recognized by their employers? One reason is the historical tendency, which has persisted into the twentieth century, to view scientific discovery as resulting from momentary flashes of individual insight rather than from extended periods of cooperative work by individuals with varying levels of knowledge and skill. Moreover, despite the clamor of seventeenth-century scientific rhetoric commending a hands-on approach, science was still overwhelmingly an activity of the English upper class, and the traditional contempt that genteel society maintained for manual labor was pervasive and deeply rooted. Finally, all of Boyle’s technicians were “servants,” which in seventeenth-century usage meant anyone who worked for pay. To seventeenth-century sensibilities, the wage relationship was charged with political significance. Servants, meaning wage earners, were excluded from the franchise because they were perceived as ultimately dependent on their wages and thus controlled by the will of their employers. Technicians remained invisible in the political economy of science for the same reasons that underlay servants’ general political exclusion. The technicians’ contribution, their observations and judgment, if acknowledged, would not have been perceived in the larger scientific community as objective because the technicians were dependent on the wages paid to them by their employers. Servants might have made the apparatus work, but their contributions to the making of scientific knowledge were largely—and conveniently—ignored by their employers.


1. Which one of the following best summarizes the main idea of the passage?
(A) Seventeenth-century scientific experimentation would have been impossible without the work of paid laboratory technicians.
(B) Seventeenth-century social conventions prohibited upper-class laboratory workers from taking public credit for their work.
(C) Seventeenth-century views of scientific discovery combined with social class distinctions to ensure that laboratory technicians’ scientific work was never publicly acknowledged.
(D) Seventeenth-century scientists were far more dependent on their laboratory technicians than are scientists today, yet far less willing to acknowledge technicians’ scientific contributions.
(E) Seventeenth-century scientists liberated themselves from the stigma attached to manual labor by relying heavily on the work of laboratory technicians.

2. It can be inferred from the passage that the “seventeenth-century rhetoric” mentioned in line 6 would have more accurately described the experimentation performed in Boyle’s laboratory if which one of the following were true?
(A) Unlike many seventeenth-century scientists, Boyle recognized that most scientific discoveries resulted from the cooperative efforts of many individuals.
(B) Unlike many seventeenth-century scientists, Boyle maintained a deeply rooted and pervasive contempt for manual labor.
(C) Unlike many seventeenth-century scientists, Boyle was a member of the Royal Society of London.
(D) Boyle generously acknowledged the contribution of the technicians who worked in his laboratory.
(E) Boyle himself performed the actual labor of obtaining and recording experimental results.

3. According to the author, servants of seventeenth-century England were excluded from the franchised because of the belief that
(A) their interests were adequately represented by their employers
(B) their education was inadequate to make informed political decisions
(C) the independence of their political judgment would be compromised by their economic dependence on their employers
(D) their participation in the elections would be a polarizing influence on the political process
(E) the manual labor that they performed did not constitute a contribution to the society that was sufficient to justify their participation in elections

4. According to the author, the Royal Society of London insisted that scientists abandon the
(A) belief that the primary purpose of scientific discovery was to reveal the divine truth that could be found in nature
(B) view that scientific knowledge results largely from the insights of a few brilliant individuals rather than from the cooperative efforts of many workers
(C) seventeenth-century belief that servants should be denied the right to vote because they were dependent on wages paid to them by their employers
(D) traditional disdain for manual labor that was maintained by most members of the English upper class during the seventeenth-century
(E) idea that the search for scientific truth was a sign of piety

5. The author implies that which one of the following beliefs was held in both the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries?
(A) Individual insights rather than cooperative endeavors produce most scientific discoveries.
(B) How science is practiced is significantly influenced by the political beliefs and assumption of scientists.
(C) Scientific research undertaken for pay cannot be considered objective.
(D) Scientific discovery can reveal divine truth in nature.
(E) Scientific discovery often relies on the unacknowledged contributions of laboratory technicians.

6. Which one of the following best describes the organization of the last paragraph?
(A) Several alternative answers are presented to a question posed in the previous paragraph, and the last is adopted as the most plausible.
(B) A question regarding the cause of the phenomenon described in the previous paragraph is posed, two possible explanations are rejected, and evidence is provided in support of a third.
(C) A question regarding the phenomenon described in the previous paragraph is posed, and several incompatible views are presented.
(D) A question regarding the cause of the phenomenon described in the previous paragraph is posed, and several contributing factors are then discussed.
(E) Several answers to a question are evaluated in light of recent discoveries cited earlier in the passage.

7. The author’s discussion of the political significance of the “wage relationship” (line 48) serves to
(A) place the failure of seventeenth-century scientists to acknowledge the contributions of their technicians in the large context of relations between workers and their employers in seventeenth-century England
(B) provide evidence in support of the author’s more general thesis regarding the relationship of scientific discovery to the economic conditions of societies in which it takes place
(C) provide evidence in support of the author’s explanation of why scientists in seventeenth-century England were reluctant to rely on their technicians for the performance of anything but the most menial tasks
(D) illustrate political and economic changes in the society of seventeenth-century England that had a profound impact on how scientific research was conduced
(E) undermine the view that scientific discovery results from individual enterprise rather than from the collective endeavor of many workers

8. It can be inferred from the passage that “the clamor of seventeenth-century scientific rhetoric” (lines 39-40) refers to
(A) the claim that scientific discovery results largely from the insights of brilliant individuals working alone
(B) ridicule of scientists who were members of the English upper class and who were thought to demean themselves by engaging in the manual labor required by their experiments
(C) criticism of scientists who publicly acknowledged the contributions of their technicians
(D) assertions by members of the Royal Society of London that scientists themselves should be responsible for obtaining and recording experimental results
(E) the claim by Boyle and his colleagues that the primary reason for scientific research is to discover evidence of divine truth in the natural world
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 22 Sep 2009, 09:23
My answers :
D
E
C
D
A
D
A
A


Did not time this one.
Friends came over and I had to complete this exercise quickly....

But I found this passage exceptionally difficult.... :|
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2009, 07:52
Hi,

These are my responses:


1.C
2.E
3.C
4.D
5.D
6.E
7.A
8.D

What about the OA?

Cheers!

P.S: This is a tough RC Passage! Good Work!
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2009, 09:24
My answers:

C
E
C
D
A
D

Thanks for posting such toughies.. Really helpful in honing ones RC abilities..
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 01 Oct 2009, 20:50
D
E
C
B
C
D
A
A
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2009, 00:01
Can someone give perspective to the first question...

the choice C says 'social class distinctions' was a factor. However, the passage only talks about
scientists and technicians...no mention that those who belonged to a particular social class were technicians is made..
i must be missing something here.. :stupid
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 03 Oct 2009, 10:44
C
D
B
B
C
D
A
A
OA plzzz
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 03 Oct 2009, 10:46
Should tell very hard RC dint time this RC :shock:
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 09 Nov 2009, 00:48
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 12 Nov 2009, 10:03
My Answers are :

b
d
c
b
e
e
a
b

OA Please???
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2009, 08:51
My answers:

1. C
2. E
3. C
4. D
5. B
6. D
7. C
8. A

Can someone please post the OA?
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 02 Dec 2009, 03:54
C
E
C
D
C
D
D
A

Tough one.....
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 02 Dec 2009, 09:05
:shock: dat was real tuf , took me 15.59 minutes to finish this, and i am not confident about my answers :(
C
B
A
B
E
D
E
A

Answers please.
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist [#permalink] New post 03 Jan 2010, 11:08
16 mintues for that passage....
C
D
C
D
A
B
A
A
OA plz!!
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Re: RC : seventeenth-century chemist   [#permalink] 03 Jan 2010, 11:08
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