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# When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some

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When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 27 Apr 2019, 07:35
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When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some combination of powerful mechanisms. An earthquake is traced to an immense instability along a fault line; a stock market crash is blamed on the destabilizing effect of computer trading. These explanations may well be correct. But systems as large and complicated as the Earth’s crust or the stock market can break down not only under the force of a mighty blow but also at the drop of a pin. In a large interactive system, a minor event can start a chain reaction that leads to a catastrophe.

Traditionally, investigators have analyzed large interactive systems in the same way they analyze small orderly systems, mainly because the methods developed for small systems have proved so successful. They believed they could predict the behavior of a large interactive system by studying its elements separately and by analyzing its component mechanisms individually. For lack of a better theory, they assumed that in large interactive systems the response to a disturbance is proportional to that disturbance.

During the past few decades, however, it has become increasingly apparent that many large complicated systems do not yield to traditional analysis. Consequently, theorists have proposed a “theory of self-organized criticality”: many large interactive systems evolve naturally to a critical state in which a minor event starts a chain reaction that can affect any number of elements in the system. Although such systems produce more minor events than catastrophes, the mechanism that leads to minor events is the same one that leads to major events.

A deceptively simple system serves as a paradigm for self-organized criticality: a pile of sand. As sand is poured one grain at a time onto a flat disk, the grains at first stay close to the position where they land. Soon they rest on top of one another, creating a pile that has a gentle slope. Now and then, when the slope becomes too steep, the grains slide down, causing a small avalanche. The system reaches its critical state when the amount of sand added is balanced, on average, by the amount falling off the edge of the disk.

Now when a grain of sand is added, it can start an avalanche of any size, including a “catastrophic” event. Most of the time the grain will fall so that no avalanche occurs. By studying a specific area of the pile, one can even predict whether avalanches will occur there in the near future. To such a local observer, however, large avalanches would remain unpredictable because they are a consequence of the total history of the entire pile. No matter what the local dynamics are, catastrophic avalanches would persist at a relative frequency that cannot be altered: Criticality is a global property of the sandpile.

souce: lsat old papers

1. The passage provides support for all of the following generalizations about large interactive systems EXCEPT:

(A) They can evolve to a critical state.
(B) They do not always yield to traditional analysis.
(C) They make it impossible for observers to make any predictions about them.
(D) They are subject to the effects of chain reactions.
(E) They are subject to more minor events than major events.
OA:C

2. According to the passage, the criticality of a sandpile is determined by the

(A) size of the grains of sand added to the sandpile
(B) number of grains of sand the sandpile contains
(C) rate at which sand is added to the sandpile
(D) shape of the surface on which the sandpile rests
(E) balance between the amount of sand added to and the amount lost from the sandpile
OA:E

3. It can be inferred from the passage that the theory employed by the investigators mentioned in the second paragraph would lead one to predict that which one of the following would result from the addition of a grain of sand to a sandpile?

(A) The grain of sand would never cause anything more than a minor disturbance.
(B) The grain of sand would usually cause a minor disturbance, but would occasionally cause a small avalanche.
(C) The grain of sand would usually cause either minor disturbance or a small avalanche, but would occasionally cause a catastrophic event.
(D) The grain of sand would usually cause a catastrophic event, but would occasionally cause only a small avalanche or an event more minor disturbance.
(E) The grain of sand would invariably cause a catastrophic event.
OA:A

4. Which one of the following best describes the organization of the passage?

(A) A traditional procedure is described and its application to common situations is endorsed: its shortcomings in certain rare but critical circumstances are then revealed.
(B) A common misconception is elaborated and its consequences are described a detailed example of one of these consequences is then given.
(C) A general principle is stated and supported by several examples; an exception to the rule is then considered and its importance evaluated.
(D) A number of seemingly unrelated events are categorized: the underlying processes that connect them are then detailed.
(E) A traditional method of analysis is discussed and the reasons for its adoption are explained; an alternative is then described and clarified by means of an example.
OA:E

5. Which one of the following is most analogous to the method of analysis employed by the investigators mentioned in the second paragraph?

(A) A pollster gathers a sample of voter preferences and on the basis of this information makes a prediction about the outcome of an election.
(B) A historian examines the surviving documents detailing the history of a movement and from these documents reconstructs a chronology of the events that initiated the movement.
(C) A meteorologist measures the rainfall over a certain period of the year and from this data calculates the total annual rainfall for the region.
(D) A biologist observes the behavior of one species of insect and from these observations generalizes about the behavior of insects as a class.
(E) An engineer analyzes the stability of each structural element of a bridge and from these analyses draws a conclusion about the structural soundness of the bridge.
OA:E

6. In the passage, the author is primarily concerned with

(A) arguing against the abandonment of a traditional approach
(B) describing the evolution of a radical theory
(C) reconciling conflicting points of view
(D) illustrating the superiority of a new theoretical approach
(E) advocating the reconsideration of an unfashionable explanation.
OA:D

• Source: LSAT Official PrepTest 16 (September 1995)
• Difficulty Level: Will be updated after 30+ timers attempts

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Originally posted by nitya34 on 05 Jul 2009, 01:00.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 27 Apr 2019, 07:35, edited 1 time in total.
Updated.
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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05 Jul 2009, 17:24
1 C 08:22
2 E 02:52
3 A 01:38
4 E 01:21
5 D 01:10
6 E 00:31
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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06 Jul 2009, 20:52
I'll go with CEAEED. I think I took around 13mins to complete all questions

Cheers,
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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06 Jul 2009, 23:54
my take is
CECEEB

OAs are
CEAEED

if you need OEs of a particular Q, do ask

nitya34 wrote:

When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some combination of powerful mechanisms. An earthquake is traced to an immense instability along a fault line; a stock market crash is blamed on the destabilizing effect of computer trading. These explanations may well be correct. But systems as large and complicated as the Earth’s crust or the stock market can break down not only under the force of a mighty blow but also at the drop of a pin. In a large interactive system, a minor event can start a chain reaction that leads to a catastrophe.

Traditionally, investigators have analyzed large interactive systems in the same way they analyze small orderly systems, mainly because the methods developed for small systems have proved so successful. They believed they could predict the behavior of a large interactive system by studying its elements separately and by analyzing its component mechanisms individually. For lack of a better theory, they assumed that in large interactive systems the response to a disturbance is proportional to that disturbance.

During the past few decades, however, it has become increasingly apparent that many large complicated systems do not yield to traditional analysis. Consequently, theorists have proposed a “theory of self-organized criticality”: many large interactive systems evolve naturally to a critical state in which a minor event starts a chain reaction that can affect any number of elements in the system. Although such systems produce more minor events than catastrophes, the mechanism that leads to minor events is the same one that leads to major events.

A deceptively simple system serves as a paradigm for self-organized criticality: a pile of sand. As sand is poured one grain at a time onto a flat disk, the grains at first stay close to the position where they land. Soon they rest on top of one another, creating a pile that has a gentle slope. Now and then, when the slope becomes too steep, the grains slide down, causing a small avalanche. The system reaches its critical state when the amount of sand added is balanced, on average, by the amount falling off the edge of the disk.

Now when a grain of sand is added, it can start an avalanche of any size, including a “catastrophic” event. Most of the time the grain will fall so that no avalanche occurs. By studying a specific area of the pile, one can even predict whether avalanches will occur there in the near future. To such a local observer, however, large avalanches would remain unpredictable because they are a consequence of the total history of the entire pile. No matter what the local dynamics are, catastrophic avalanches would persist at a relative frequency that cannot be altered: Criticality is a global property of the sandpile.

16. The passage provides support for all of the following generalizations about large interactive systems EXCEPT:
(A) They can evolve to a critical state.
(B) They do not always yield to traditional analysis.
(C) They make it impossible for observers to make any predictions about them.
(D) They are subject to the effects of chain reactions.
(E) They are subject to more minor events than major events.

17. According to the passage, the criticality of a sandpile is determined by the
(A) size of the grains of sand added to the sandpile
(B) number of grains of sand the sandpile contains
(C) rate at which sand is added to the sandpile
(D) shape of the surface on which the sandpile rests
(E) balance between the amount of sand added to and the amount lost from the sandpile

18. It can be inferred from the passage that the theory employed by the investigators mentioned in the second paragraph would lead one to predict that which one of the following would result from the addition of a grain of sand to a sandpile?
(A) The grain of sand would never cause anything more than a minor disturbance.
(B) The grain of sand would usually cause a minor disturbance, but would occasionally cause a small avalanche.
(C) The grain of sand would usually cause either minor disturbance or a small avalanche, but would occasionally cause a catastrophic event.
(D) The grain of sand would usually cause a catastrophic event, but would occasionally cause only a small avalanche or an event more minor disturbance.
(E) The grain of sand would invariably cause a catastrophic event.

19. Which one of the following best describes the organization of the passage?
(A) A traditional procedure is described and its application to common situations is endorsed: its shortcomings in certain rare but critical circumstances are then revealed.
(B) A common misconception is elaborated and its consequences are described a detailed example of one of these consequences is then given.
(C) A general principle is stated and supported by several examples; an exception to the rule is then considered and its importance evaluated.
(D) A number of seemingly unrelated events are categorized: the underlying processes that connect them are then detailed.
(E) A traditional method of analysis is discussed and the reasons for its adoption are explained; an alternative is then described and clarified by means of an example.

20. Which one of the following is most analogous to the method of analysis employed by the investigators mentioned in the second paragraph?
(A) A pollster gathers a sample of voter preferences and on the basis of this information makes a prediction about the outcome of an election.
(B) A historian examines the surviving documents detailing the history of a movement and from these documents reconstructs a chronology of the events that initiated the movement.
(C) A meteorologist measures the rainfall over a certain period of the year and from this data calculates the total annual rainfall for the region.
(D) A biologist observes the behavior of one species of insect and from these observations generalizes about the behavior of insects as a class.
(E) An engineer analyzes the stability of each structural element of a bridge and from these analyses draws a conclusion about the structural soundness of the bridge.

21. In the passage, the author is primarily concerned with
(A) arguing against the abandonment of a traditional approach
(B) describing the evolution of a radical theory
(C) reconciling conflicting points of view
(D) illustrating the superiority of a new theoretical approach
(E) advocating the reconsideration of an unfashionable explanation

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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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07 Jul 2009, 02:09
[quote="nitya34"]

OAs are CEAEED

[quote]

I hope you are not kidding

Bring on the next RC

Cheers,
Unplugged
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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07 Jul 2009, 04:16
you have got all correct

unplugged wrote:
nitya34 wrote:

OAs are CEAEED

Quote:

I hope you are not kidding

Bring on the next RC

Cheers,
Unplugged

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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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07 Jul 2009, 07:40
I got c e c b e d . So two wrong
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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07 Jul 2009, 07:42
Can somebody explain>
18. It can be inferred from the passage that the theory employed by the investigators mentioned in the second paragraph would lead one to predict that which one of the following would result from the addition of a grain of sand to a sandpile?
(A) The grain of sand would never cause anything more than a minor disturbance.
(B) The grain of sand would usually cause a minor disturbance, but would occasionally cause a small avalanche.
(C) The grain of sand would usually cause either minor disturbance or a small avalanche, but would occasionally cause a catastrophic event.
(D) The grain of sand would usually cause a catastrophic event, but would occasionally cause only a small avalanche or an event more minor disturbance.
(E) The grain of sand would invariably cause a catastrophic event.
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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07 Jul 2009, 08:43
1
Economist wrote:
Can somebody explain>
18. It can be inferred from the passage that the theory employed by the investigators mentioned in the second paragraph would lead one to predict that which one of the following would result from the addition of a grain of sand to a sandpile?
(A) The grain of sand would never cause anything more than a minor disturbance.
(B) The grain of sand would usually cause a minor disturbance, but would occasionally cause a small avalanche.
(C) The grain of sand would usually cause either minor disturbance or a small avalanche, but would occasionally cause a catastrophic event.
(D) The grain of sand would usually cause a catastrophic event, but would occasionally cause only a small avalanche or an event more minor disturbance.
(E) The grain of sand would invariably cause a catastrophic event.

It is mentioned in the second paragraph that 'the investigators assumed that in larger interactive systems, the response to a disturbance is proportional to that disturbance'

So, the question asks you to predict what would happen if a grain of sand is dropped on a sandpile on the basis of above logic. Since the response is proportional to disturbance and since you can fairly assume that a grain of sand is minuscule, the effect would be minuscule, which is aptly stated in A

Cheers,
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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07 Jul 2009, 14:11
unplugged wrote:
Economist wrote:
Can somebody explain>
18. It can be inferred from the passage that the theory employed by the investigators mentioned in the second paragraph would lead one to predict that which one of the following would result from the addition of a grain of sand to a sandpile?
(A) The grain of sand would never cause anything more than a minor disturbance.
(B) The grain of sand would usually cause a minor disturbance, but would occasionally cause a small avalanche.
(C) The grain of sand would usually cause either minor disturbance or a small avalanche, but would occasionally cause a catastrophic event.
(D) The grain of sand would usually cause a catastrophic event, but would occasionally cause only a small avalanche or an event more minor disturbance.
(E) The grain of sand would invariably cause a catastrophic event.

It is mentioned in the second paragraph that 'the investigators assumed that in larger interactive systems, the response to a disturbance is proportional to that disturbance'

So, the question asks you to predict what would happen if a grain of sand is dropped on a sandpile on the basis of above logic. Since the response is proportional to disturbance and since you can fairly assume that a grain of sand is minuscule, the effect would be minuscule, which is aptly stated in A

Cheers,
Unplugged

Ok, I got CEBCED. Two wrong.

Only reason I chose B for this(Q18) was because Choice A had "never". My take from this is that sometimes answers with extremes are also correct.
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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12 Jul 2009, 10:53
CAn somebody explain Q21. The passage does not talk about the superiority of the new theory. I got only this one wrong. Waiting for reply. Thanks
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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19 Nov 2009, 09:03
Could you give OE for question 20, because I don't agree with the answer E.
IMO it should be A because the para mentions that:
"They believed they could predict the behavior of a large interactive system by studying its elements separately and by analyzing its component mechanisms individually"

This means they could predict the outcome of the whole by studying its element separately.
(A) is similar in that the outcome of the election can be predicted based on the information of the pollers.
(E) draws a conclusion (which is a fact, not a prediction) based on the analysis.

Thus IMO, A is better than E.
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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19 Nov 2009, 10:12
fall2009 wrote:
Could you give OE for question 20, because I don't agree with the answer E.
IMO it should be A because the para mentions that:
"They believed they could predict the behavior of a large interactive system by studying its elements separately and by analyzing its component mechanisms individually"

This means they could predict the outcome of the whole by studying its element separately.
(A) is similar in that the outcome of the election can be predicted based on the information of the pollers.
(E) draws a conclusion (which is a fact, not a prediction) based on the analysis.

Thus IMO, A is better than E.

These two phrases are very important:
1. studying its elements separately
2. analyzing its component mechanisms

So when we compare A and E:
(A) A pollster gathers a sample of voter preferences and on the basis of this information makes a prediction about the outcome of an election.
(E) An engineer analyzes the stability of each structural element of a bridge and from these analyses draws a conclusion about the structural soundness of the bridge.

We can see a big difference... namely, the pollster has not broken down the population into its components and tested each separately, while the engineer has.

If the pollster had taken everyone in the population and grouped them into different groups based on gender, class, or race and then polled the groups, (A) would be a good choice. But he didn't.

Hope that helps.
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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15 Dec 2009, 13:29
CEAEED

For questions 18, it was a tough call between A and B. I ended up going with A because of the last sentence in the second paragraph. It's stated that, "in large interactive systems the response to a disturbance is proportional to that disturbance." Since the falling grains of sand would be small disturbances, the investigators would assume that the response would be minor.
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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03 Aug 2015, 07:14
hello is there any explanations for the answers above?
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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03 Aug 2015, 08:34
karthickhari wrote:
hello is there any explanations for the answers above?

Kindly let me know for which question do you need an explanation.
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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23 Dec 2018, 20:00

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

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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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24 Dec 2018, 08:56
experts, please explain q3 and q5.
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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24 Dec 2018, 21:39
1
prototypevenom wrote:
experts, please explain q3 and q5.

I hope my reasoning is correct.

Q3
Theory : they assumed that in large interactive systems the response to a disturbance is proportional to that disturbance.
Question : which one of the following would result from the addition of a grain of sand to a sand pile

Sand Pile = large interactive system.
Grain of sand = minor disturbance on a pile of sand.
This can only lead to a minor disturbance.

Q5
Method of analysis : They believed they could predict the behavior of a large interactive system by studying its elements separately and by analyzing its component mechanisms individually

Option D and E are close but in option D , you're studying only one element and making generalization about the rest. That's why D is wrong.
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Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some  [#permalink]

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16 Jun 2019, 07:41
1. The passage provides support for all of the following generalizations about large interactive systems EXCEPT:
Relevant text: <...> increasingly apparent that many large complicated systems do not yield to traditional analysis. <...>: many large interactive systems evolve naturally to a critical state in which a minor event starts a chain reaction that can affect any number of elements in the system. Although such systems produce more minor events than catastrophes, the mechanism that leads to minor events is the same one that leads to major events.
(A) They can evolve to a critical state. para 3
(B) They do not always yield to traditional analysis. para 3
(C) They make it impossible for observers to make any predictions about them. the author agrees that traditional theory has worked in some cases, so that's unjustified language - correct
(D) They are subject to the effects of chain reactions. para 3
(E) They are subject to more minor events than major events. para 3

5. Which one of the following is most analogous to the method of analysis employed by the investigators mentioned in the second paragraph?
Relevant text: They believed they could predict the behavior of a large interactive system by studying its elements separately and by analyzing its component mechanisms individually.
(A) A pollster gathers a sample of voter preferences and on the basis of this information makes a prediction about the outcome of an election. seems to refer just to individual elements
(B) A historian examines the surviving documents detailing the history of a movement and from these documents reconstructs a chronology of the events that initiated the movement. the same as in A
(C) A meteorologist measures the rainfall over a certain period of the year and from this data calculates the total annual rainfall for the region. seems to refer just to an individual component
(D) A biologist observes the behavior of one species of insect and from these observations generalizes about the behavior of insects as a class. the same as in C
(E) An engineer analyzes the stability of each structural element of a bridge and from these analyses draws a conclusion about the structural soundness of the bridge. seems to refer just to an individual component, but the only one that talks in the context of stability, which is part of the topic in the passage

6. In the passage, the author is primarily concerned with
(A) arguing against the abandonment of a traditional approach nobody proposes to abandon the traditional theory; the author argues that itis not always reliable
(B) describing the evolution of a radical theory shays far away from the central idea
(C) reconciling conflicting points of view reconciliation is not given, but two different theories are indeed discussed
(D) illustrating the superiority of a new theoretical approach correct: the traditional is not always reliable (para 3)
(E) advocating the reconsideration of an unfashionable explanation. "unfashionable" is unjustified; in fact, one may argue that "traditional" and "unfashionable" can contradict each other in a way; moreover, "reconsideration" of neither theory is not proposed
Re: When catastrophe strikes, analysts typically blame some   [#permalink] 16 Jun 2019, 07:41
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