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Those amused by all the evidence of gullibility should remember the Ca

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Those amused by all the evidence of gullibility should remember the Ca  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2018, 00:39
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Those amused by all the evidence of gullibility should remember the Cardiff Giant. In 1868, in upstate New York, what seemed to be the remnants of a gigantic human being were unearthed. Thousands came to see it at a dollar a view. The director of the New York State Museum called it ―the most remarkable object yet brought to light in this country.‖ The first human had been found and was American. The Giant was in fact a badly made gypsum statue, aged with ink, sand, and acid.

Britain has just completed a Research Assessment Exercise in which ten thousand scientists were graded by their supposed peers. A low score means no more money, a high one an extra slice of cake. Its results were predictable. Those who have get more; those who have not get nothing. Expect a wave of fraud inquiries the next time the government inspectors come round. The deceits will be less fun to unravel than was Piltdown since those who commit them are making pathetic efforts to save a career rather than grandiose attempts at fame. There is, certainly, some dishonesty. Perhaps there is more than there was. It can be blamed on the intrusion into the laboratory of the moral of the marketplace.

What to accept about the past is, too often, a matter of the spirit of the time. The first human fossil, Neanderthal Man, was, in 1856, dismissed as the remains of a soldier who had crept into a cave and died during Napoleon‘s retreat from Moscow. A society later entranced by evolution was not yet ready to believe even genuine evidence. As soon as it was, though, the bones brought a political message.

The delighted Germans upon whose territory Neanderthal Man was found ascribed his prominent brow ridges to a habit of frowning while deep in Teutonic thought. Science is the easiest place for a villain to make a living. It is not at all like working in a bank: far from the meticulous process of cross–checking that is its public image, science is a profession that depends uniquely on faith. Nearly all results are accepted and the question of audit scarcely arises. Usually a fraud is safe enough. More than half of all scientific papers are never referred to again, even by their authors.

No doubt there lurk in that academic undergrowth great monsters of deceit. Most, though, have done no harm apart from unmerited tenure for their begetters. Why bother to transplant skin from a black to a white mouse when you can get the same effect with a felt-tip pen? Why not claim that intestinal worms cause cancer (a Nobel Prize was won for that)or that water retains a memory of the substances once dissolved in it even when diluted a billion times? Checking the scientific books is a task as joyless as accountancy. Nowadays, though, the clerks have taken over. There is a new demand for double–entry bookkeeping.

Some years ago the U.S. Congress set up the Office of Research Integrity to check a supposed crisis of scientific cheating. Its credentials were dubious, but the inquisitors entangled many scientists in a web of innuendo. More than a hundred fell into its clutches. Nearly all were found innocent but many had their careers damaged. Scientific fraud is quite extraordinarily rare. The reason is simple. Science is a card game against Nature, the ultimate opponent. The hope is to deduce the hand she holds from the few clues she is willing to disclose. It is possible to win every time by faking one‘s own cards, but that removes the whole point of playing the game.

1. Through his repeated references to banking and accountancy, the author of this passage demonstrates his belief that:

A. scientists are becoming more like accountants.
B. scientists are too eager for government grants.
C. science thrives where there is mutual trust.
D. science thrives with constant external scrutiny.
E. banking and accountancy are the only noble professions


2. Several years ago two professors from Utah claimed to have fused atomic nuclei in a test–tube. They received worldwide attention for a few weeks. According to the author, all of the following may have motivated their cold fusion lie EXCEPT:

A. their need for grant money
B. their contempt for oversight bureaucracies
C. their desire for international recognition
D. their attempt to protect their job security
E. their lack of finances


3. Which of the following statements is best inferred from the author‘s observation that one should expect a wave of fraud inquiries the next time the government inspectors come round ?

A. Government inspectors tend to be like inquisitors and entangle scientists in a web of suspicion.
B. A new oversight policy is likely to reduce the amount of scientific fraud in Britain.
C. Scientists who receive low scores in the Research Assessment Exercise are no less competent than those who receive high scores.
D. Scientists who receive low scores in the Research Assessment Exercise are under pressure to produce interesting research.
E. Government inspectors are corrupt and can be handled by offering a bribe


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Re: Those amused by all the evidence of gullibility should remember the Ca  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2018, 00:40
1

Topic and Scope

- The author discusses the motivations for scientific fraud and its
implications.

Mapping the Passage


¶1 discusses the example of a large fraud: the Cardiff Giant.
¶2 provides an example of a British scientific award structure that encourages fraud,
and states that fraud is a result of pressures similar to those in economic situations.
¶3 describes initial reactions to the Neanderthal Man, arguing that society more
readily believed the discovery when cultural beliefs changed.
¶4 argues that fraud is relatively easy to get away with in science.
¶5 points out that the biggest frauds are often the most successful.
¶6 provides an example of newly increased scrutiny in scientific research, and states
that fraud is self-defeating.
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Re: Those amused by all the evidence of gullibility should remember the Ca  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Oct 2018, 00:41

Answers and Explanations


1)

Why does the author bring up accounting and banking? To give examples of
situations in which, due to constant oversight, fraud is rare. By contrast, the author
says in ¶4, science depends on "faith." ¶2 provides an example of how an attempt
to systematize science like accounting can backfire. Choice (C) most closely
summarizes the overall range of references.
(A): Distortion. Though the author mentions accounting and states in ¶4 that there
have been attempts made to evaluate science in an accountant-like fashion,
there‘s no evidence that scientists are becoming more like accountants.
(B): Out of Scope. There‘s no evidence from the passage that this is the case, and
it has nothing to do with the accounting references.
(C): The correct answer
(D): Opposite. The author uses ¶s3 and 6 to provide examples of science not
thriving under scrutiny.
(E): Out of scope, as described above.

2)

The question provides an example of scientific fraud and asks what could have
motivated it. This is essentially a scattered-detail question in disguise: eliminate
answer choices that the author cites as causes for scientific fraud. Only (B) is
excluded: the author never cites contempt for oversight committees in the
passage.
(A): Opposite. The author raises this possibility in the last paragraph.
(B): The correct answer(C): Opposite. This would be consistent with the Nobel Prize-winning motives of ¶2.
(D): Opposite. The author argues in ¶2 that scientists may engage in fraud to
protect their career.
(E): Opposite. The author raises this possibility in the last paragraph.

3)

Why does the author think that one should expect a wave of fraud inquiries? Look
at the context and the purpose of the paragraph. The author argues that the
pressure to produce research in order to get grant money will foster an atmosphere
that encourages cheating. (D) summarizes this.
(A): Distortion. This is a distortion of the point made in ¶6 that a specific
organization did this at a specific time.
(B): Opposite. The author is arguing that fraud will increase under the British
system.
(C): Out of Scope. Though the author might not like the British method, there‘s no
evidence that he thinks scientists are of equal calibre regardless of their score.
(D): The correct answer
(E): Out of scope.

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Re: Those amused by all the evidence of gullibility should remember the Ca  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jan 2019, 21:23

+1 kudos to the posts containing answer explanations of all questions


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Those amused by all the evidence of gullibility should remember the Ca  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Mar 2019, 06:24
Slightly long passage. Took 9 min in total including 6 min to read.

Passage Map:


1) evidence of gullibility in US
2) UK research
3) Neanderthal
4) fraud is safe enough
5) deceit
6) Office of Research Integrity
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Those amused by all the evidence of gullibility should remember the Ca   [#permalink] 13 Mar 2019, 06:24
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