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# Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile

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Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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20 Jun 2018, 06:30
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Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely failed—to define what it is that makes something a living thing. Organisms take in energy-providing materials and excrete waste products, but so do automobiles. Living things replicate and take part in evolution, but so do some computer programs. We must be open to the possibility that there are living things on other planets. Therefore, we will not be successful in defining what it is that makes something a living thing merely by examining living things on Earth—the only ones we know. Trying to do so is analogous to trying to specify _______.

Which of the following most logically completes the passage?

(A) the laws of physics by using pure mathematics

(B) what a fish is by listing its chemical components

(C) what an animal is by examining a plant

(D) what a machine is by examining a sketch of it

(E) what a mammal is by examining a zebra

NEW question from GMAT® Official Guide 2019

(CR07810)

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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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20 Jun 2018, 06:37
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The analogy that we are looking for from the question stem should be closest to " explaining the whole based on a part of it" as the author says living organisms cannot be fully explained by just looking at those on earth as there may be more "living things" on other planets.

The closest to above is option (E).

Explaining what a mammal is by only looking at a zebra ( a subset of mammals) is trying to explain the whole by looking at a part.

Hence (E).

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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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20 Jun 2018, 11:03
Must be (E), we can not define something by defining it in terms of its Original Species/constitent.
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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20 Jun 2018, 23:53
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Bunuel wrote:
Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely failed—to define what it is that makes something a living thing. Organisms take in energy-providing materials and excrete waste products, but so do automobiles. Living things replicate and take part in evolution, but so do some computer programs. We must be open to the possibility that there are living things on other planets. Therefore, we will not be successful in defining what it is that makes something a living thing merely by examining living things on Earth—the only ones we know. Trying to do so is analogous to trying to specify _______.

Which of the following most logically completes the passage?

A. the laws of physics by using pure mathematics

B. what a fish is by listing its chemical components

C. what an animal is by examining a plant

D. what a machine is by examining a sketch of it

E. what a mammal is by examining a zebra

NEW question from GMAT® Official Guide 2019

(CR07810)

Question Type: Complete the Argument/Similar Reasoning

Analysis: The argument is trying to explain that just by observing life on earth is not sufficient to recognize or judge a different life form from another part of the universe. The class of organisms we call as living may not be sufficiently big enough to recognize a different life form.

The argument is short says that life on earth is a Sub set of all life in the universe & hence we cannot judge based purely on observations of elements with one subset.
The correct answer has to provide an analogy of observation within a single set of elements with in a Subset.

A. the laws of physics by using pure mathematics - Incorrect. Not analogous as they both form different Sets

B. what a fish is by listing its chemical components. Incorrect. Same as A

C. what an animal is by examining a plant. Incorrect. Same as A

D. what a machine is by examining a sketch of it. Incorrect same as A.

E. what a mammal is by examining a zebra. Correct. As per analysis.

Thanks,
GyM
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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21 Jun 2018, 00:25
IMO E.

If we analyse only the way we know living beings to be, then we will be missing out on the living beings on other planets who might be very different from the ones known.
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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21 Jun 2018, 03:29
A. the laws of physics by using pure mathematics
- incorrect.

B. what a fish is by listing its chemical components - incorrect.

C. what an animal is by examining a plant
- incorrect.

D. what a machine is by examining a sketch of it - incorrect.

E. what a mammal is by examining a zebra- correct. Resembles the logic of concluding about a particular thing by examining only one variant of it.

Thus, E is best.

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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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23 Jun 2018, 01:15
Bunuel wrote:
Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely failed—to define what it is that makes something a living thing. Organisms take in energy-providing materials and excrete waste products, but so do automobiles. Living things replicate and take part in evolution, but so do some computer programs. We must be open to the possibility that there are living things on other planets. Therefore, we will not be successful in defining what it is that makes something a living thing merely by examining living things on Earth—the only ones we know. Trying to do so is analogous to trying to specify _______.

Which of the following most logically completes the passage?

A. the laws of physics by using pure mathematics

B. what a fish is by listing its chemical components

C. what an animal is by examining a plant

D. what a machine is by examining a sketch of it

E. what a mammal is by examining a zebra

NEW question from GMAT® Official Guide 2019

(CR07810)

The analogy here is trying to define X is having seen just one variant of X. That's same as trying to define what a mammal is having seen just one variant of it i.e. zebra. So (E) is the correct choice
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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23 Jun 2018, 23:28
1
Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely failed—to define what it is that makes something a living thing. Organisms take in energy-providing materials and excrete waste products, but so do automobiles. Living things replicate and take part in evolution, but so do some computer programs. We must be open to the possibility that there are living things on other planets. Therefore, we will not be successful in defining what it is that makes something a living thing merely by examining living things on Earth—the only ones we know. Trying to do so is analogous to trying to specify _______.

Boil it down - We can't define an entire set based on the characteristics of a single element.

Which of the following most logically completes the passage?

A. the laws of physics by using pure mathematics -- Incorrect -- physics and pure mathematics are different branches of science

B. what a fish is by listing its chemical components -- Incorrect

C. what an animal is by examining a plant -- Incorrect

D. what a machine is by examining a sketch of it -- Incorrect

E. what a mammal is by examining a zebra -- Correct -- here Zebra can be analogous to living organisms on earth and mammal is all living organisms
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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14 Aug 2018, 07:46
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Is my below understanding of argument correct:

Quote:
Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely failed—to define what it is that makes something a living thing. Organisms take in energy-providing materials and excrete waste products, but so do automobiles. Living things replicate and take part in evolution, but so do some computer programs. We must be open to the possibility that there are living things on other planets. Therefore, we will not be successful in defining what it is that makes something a living thing merely by examining living things on Earth—the only ones we know. Trying to do so is analogous to trying to specify _______.

Conclusion: defining x (how living things work) by narrowing our scope on our studies on things on earth shall not be successful.
This is similar* to

Quote:
what a mammal is by examining a zebra

Correct: Mammal is bigger set resembling earth
Zebra: smaller sub-set of mammals resembling living thing in the argument.

None of other answer options match above reasoning.

* generis , I almost recalled learning figures of speech such as as simile and metaphor in my school days
in an attempt to understand analogy. To recall x is similar to y is a simile and x = y is a metaphor, right ?

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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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14 Aug 2018, 08:28

Is my below understanding of argument correct:

Quote:
Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely failed—to define what it is that makes something a living thing. Organisms take in energy-providing materials and excrete waste products, but so do automobiles. Living things replicate and take part in evolution, but so do some computer programs. We must be open to the possibility that there are living things on other planets. Therefore, we will not be successful in defining what it is that makes something a living thing merely by examining living things on Earth—the only ones we know. Trying to do so is analogous to trying to specify _______.

Conclusion: defining x (how living things work) by narrowing our scope on our studies on things on earth shall not be successful.
This is similar* to

Quote:
what a mammal is by examining a zebra

Correct: Mammal is bigger set resembling earth
Zebra: smaller sub-set of mammals resembling living thing in the argument.

None of other answer options match above reasoning.

* generis , I almost recalled learning figures of speech such as as simile and metaphor in my school days
in an attempt to understand analogy. To recall x is similar to y is a simile and x = y is a metaphor, right ?

Your line of thinking is correct.
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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14 Aug 2018, 10:40

Is my below understanding of argument correct:

Quote:
Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely failed—to define what it is that makes something a living thing. Organisms take in energy-providing materials and excrete waste products, but so do automobiles. Living things replicate and take part in evolution, but so do some computer programs. We must be open to the possibility that there are living things on other planets. Therefore, we will not be successful in defining what it is that makes something a living thing merely by examining living things on Earth—the only ones we know. Trying to do so is analogous to trying to specify _______.

Conclusion: defining x (how living things work) by narrowing our scope on our studies on things on earth shall not be successful.
This is similar* to

Quote:
what a mammal is by examining a zebra

Correct: Mammal is bigger set resembling earth
Zebra: smaller sub-set of mammals resembling living thing in the argument.

None of other answer options match above reasoning.

* generis , I almost recalled learning figures of speech such as as simile and metaphor in my school days
in an attempt to understand analogy. To recall x is similar to y is a simile and x = y is a metaphor, right ?

E. what a mammal is by examining a zebra -- here a mammal is analogous to all living things and zebra is analogous to living things on Earth.

Hope this helps!
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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06 Nov 2018, 04:37
1
Bunuel wrote:
Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely failed—to define what it is that makes something a living thing. Organisms take in energy-providing materials and excrete waste products, but so do automobiles. Living things replicate and take part in evolution, but so do some computer programs. We must be open to the possibility that there are living things on other planets. Therefore, we will not be successful in defining what it is that makes something a living thing merely by examining living things on Earth—the only ones we know. Trying to do so is analogous to trying to specify _______.

Which of the following most logically completes the passage?

A. the laws of physics by using pure mathematics

B. what a fish is by listing its chemical components

C. what an animal is by examining a plant

D. what a machine is by examining a sketch of it

E. what a mammal is by examining a zebra

NEW question from GMAT® Official Guide 2019

(CR07810)

The author discusses some salient features of "living things" and then goes on to show how some non living things exhibit the same features.
Then he goes on to say that there must be living things on other planets.

Conclusion: We cannot define what living things are by examining just the Earth's living beings. Living beings at other planets may be different.

If we do, it will be analogous to ...

What the author is doing in the previous sentence is saying that we cannot define a generic concept such as "living things" by taking very specific example of "life on Earth". Life may have different form on other planets.

This is same as defining what a mammal (generic) is by examining a zebra (specific).

None of the other options talk about defining generic concepts using specific examples.

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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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12 Nov 2018, 21:41
I narrowed down to (b) and (e) but chose (b) as I thought we were comparing the mechanics of something to that thing itself.

I can see now that the logic is analogous to defining a broader group based on a smaller sub-set of the group.
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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16 Jan 2019, 22:32
Why is D incorrect? So the gist of question is to answer a question by just looking at part of the picture. Its consistent with the reasoning that one cannot tell what a machine does, just by looking at its picture. Can someone explain. Although, i agree that reasoning in E is little more consistent with the question.
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile  [#permalink]

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03 Feb 2019, 09:37
Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely failed—to define what it is that makes something a living thing. Organisms take in energy-providing materials and excrete waste products, but so do automobiles. Living things replicate and take part in evolution, but so do some computer programs. We must be open to the possibility that there are living things on other planets. Therefore, we will not be successful in defining what it is that makes something a living thing merely by examining living things on Earth—the only ones we know. Trying to do so is analogous to trying to specify _______.

Hey everyone! I am quite interested by this question. This is an excellent question to learn the techniques of GMAT.

First: The first part of the paragraphe tells us that by examine a being with current criteria we can not define if it’s a living being precisely. This is contradictory to the answer E. Because we need to add more advanced criteria or input to get the right result in an scientific point of view.

This is the biggest logical défaut of this question. But it is actually a distraction.

Let’s see the second part of the question. We must be open to the possibility of extraterrestrial beings. This could be telling us that life can not be defined by narrowed criteria. We need to broad it. Quite confusing right?

Now let’s use the sentence correction technique to solve this question:
the only ones we know. Trying to do so ......
Trying to do so: “so” is to say “trying to define living things by examine the only criteria we know”. Then E makes sense.

Well, I guess I’m not good at GMAT. But this question really got me confused.
Good luck guys.
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Re: Biologists with a predilection for theory have tried—and largely faile   [#permalink] 03 Feb 2019, 09:37
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