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# Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,

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Updated on: 17 Aug 2019, 21:50
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Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory, developed in the mid-1960's, the holds that the major features of Earth's surface are created by the horizontal motions of Earth's outer shell, or lithosphere―a similar theory was rejected by the geological community. In 1912, Alfred Wegener proposed, in a widely debated theory that came to be called continental drift, that Earth's continents were mobile. To most geologists today, Wegener's The origin of Continents and Oceans appears an impressive and prescient document, containing several of the essential presumptions underlying plate tectonics theory: the horizontal mobility of pieces of Earth's crust; the essential difference between oceanic and continental crust; and a causal connection between horizontal displacements and the formation of mountain chains. Yet despite the considerable overlap between Wegener's concepts and the later widely embraced plate tectonics theory, and despite the fact that continental drift theory presented a possible solution to the problem of the origin of mountains at a time when existing explanations were seriously in doubt, in its day Wegener's theory was rejected by the vast majority of geologists.

Most geologists and many historians today believe that Wegener's theory was rejected because of its lack of an adequate mechanical basis. Stephen Jay Gould, for example, argues that continental drift theory was rejected because it did not explain how continents could move through an apparently solid oceanic floor. However, as Anthony Hallam has pointed out, many scientific phenomena, such as the ice ages, have been accepted before they could be fully explained. The most likely cause for the rejection of continental drift―a cause that has been largely ignored because we consider Wegener's theory to have been validated by the theory of plate tectonics―is the nature of the evidence that was put forward to support it. Most of Wegener's evidence consisted of homologies―similarities of patterns and forms based on direct observations of rocks in the field, supported by the use of hammers, hand lenses, and field notebooks. In contrast, the data supporting plate tectonics were impressively geophysical―instrumental determinations of the physical properties of Earth garnered through the use of seismographs, magnetometers, and computers.

VRC00416-04
Q1: The author cites Hallam on the ice ages primarily in order to

(A) provide an example of a geologic phenomenon whose precise causes are not fully understood by geologists today

(B) criticize the geological community for an apparent lack of consistency in its responses to new theories

(C) offer evidence held to undermine a common view of why Wegener’s theory was not accepted in its day

(D) give an example of a modern scientist who believes that Wegener’s theory was rejected because it failed to adequately explain the mechanical basis of continental drift

(E) support Gould’s rationale for why Wegener’s theory was rejected by most geologists in the early twentieth century

VRC00416-03
Q2: The author of the passage refers to the "considerable overlap" between continental drift theory and plate tectonics theory most probably in order to

(A) suggest that plate tectonics theory is derived from Wegener’s work

(B) introduce a discussion comparing the elements of the two theories

(C) examine the question of whether continental drift theory was innovative in its time

(D) provide a reason why it might seem surprising that continental drift theory was not more widely embraced by geologists

(E) cite an explanation that has been frequently offered for Wegener’s high standing among geologists today

VRC000416-02
Q3: The author of the passage suggests that the most likely explanation for the geological community’s response to continental drift theory in its day was that the theory

(A) was in conflict with certain aspects of plate tectonics theory

(B) failed to account for how mountains were formed

(C) did not adequately explain how continents moved through the ocean floor

(D) was contradicted by the geophysical data of the time

(E) was based on a kind of evidence that was considered insufficiently convincing

VRC00416-01
Q4: It can be inferred from the passage that geologists today would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements about Wegener’s The Origin of Continents and Oceans?

(A) It was a worthy scientific effort that was ahead of its time.

(B) It was based on evidence that was later disproved.

(C) It was directly responsible for the acceptance of the theory of plate tectonics.

(D) It has been disproved by continental drift theory.

(E) It misrepresented how horizontal displacements cause the formation of mountain chains.

VRC00416-05
Q5: The author of the passage discusses the “essential presumptions” (see highlighted text) of The Origin of Continents and Oceans most in order to

(A) indicate features of Wegener's theory that caused it to be doubted in its day

(B) show why Wegener's theory is now regarded as prescient

(C) indicate differences between plate tectonics and the theory of continental drift

(D) cite features of the theory of continental drift for which no evidence was available in Wegener’s day

(E) point out aspects of Wegener's theory that were accepted well before the advent of platetectonics

Originally posted by bupbebeo on 02 Sep 2010, 08:15.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 17 Aug 2019, 21:50, edited 8 times in total.
Updated - Complete topic (187).
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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14 Mar 2015, 17:22
5
My take on question 4 is that the key phrase in the question stem is the title of the book "The Origin of Continents and Oceans" so look for it in the passage. There's only one reference to the book title, which is in the first paragraph, being: To most geologists today, Wegener's The origin of Continents and Oceans appears an impressive and prescient document...

Impressive = worthy scientific effort
Prescient = ahead of its time

That should be enough to point to A. I didn't look at the other answer choices because A directly answered the question, but you can't make the same inference as to what geologists think about the book from the other options (if anything, they refer to other parts of the passage).

Hope that helps!
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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18 Apr 2016, 22:08
2
prasannajeet wrote:
1.D 2.D 3.A 4.B

The author cites Hallam on the ice ages primarily in order to
A. provide an example of a geologic phenomenon whose precise causes are not fully understood by geologists today
B. criticize the geological community for an apparent lack of consistency in its responses to new theories
C. offer evidence held to undermine a common view of why Wegener’s theory was not accepted in its day
D. give an example of a modern scientist who believes that Wegener’s theory was rejected because it failed to adequately explain the mechanical basis of continental drift
E. support Gould’s rationale for why Wegener’s theory was rejected by most geologists in the early twentieth century.

D here is a trap. D is obviously in the passage but not associated with ice age. The author uses ice age to explain that some phenomenons have been accepted without being proved 100% scientifically. So the theory that Wegner's theory was not accepted because of a lack of 100% proof is unfounded. And hence C.

Q3:The author of the passage suggests that the most likely explanation for the geological community’s response to continental drift theory in its day was that the theory
A. was in conflict with certain aspects of plate tectonics theory
B. failed to account for how mountains were formed
C. did not adequately explain how continents moved through the ocean floor
D. was contradicted by the geophysical data of the time
E. was based on a kind of evidence that was considered insufficiently convincing

From the last passage;

Wagner's theory was based on observations in contrast to tectonic plate theory which was based on scientific models and tectonic research. We can infer that the theory was rejected because the nature of evidence Wagner used was not very convincing.

Q4:It can be inferred from the passage that geologists today would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements about Wegener’s The Origin of Continents and Oceans?
A. It was a worthy scientific effort that was ahead of its time.
B. It was based on evidence that was later disproved.
C. It was directly responsible for the acceptance of the theory of plate tectonics.
D. It has been disproved by continental drift theory.
E. It misrepresented how horizontal displacements cause the formation of mountain chains.

Here the best way to go would be elimination :

A: Hmmm, yeah, it was proved to be true later, lets just hold on to it for a second.
B: Nien, it was proved to be true later. So B out.
C: Nien, the reverse is true. plate tectonics made scientists realise the veracity of Wagner
D: Straightforward nien
E: Scientists believed it then. (CLASSIC GMAT trap) Not NOW!

So from here, 4. A
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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08 Apr 2019, 07:46
2
4. The Progression of the last paragraph is as follows:

1.Most geologists and historians believe that Wegener's theory was rejected because there is no mechanical basis to prove his theory. Author gives an example of Gould to prove this point.
2. But in the next line, he counters this view by saying that, lack of adequate proof is not the reason because during the same time several other scientific phenomena without adequate proof were accepted and gives an example of Ice ages.

So, in short he quotes Hallam as an instance to contradict the fact that lack of adequate proof is not the real reason.

Coming to option B:
Quote:
criticize the geological community for an apparent lack of consistency in its responses to new theories

This option means that scientific community sometimes accepts new theories with no adequate proof and sometimes does not accept new theories with no adequate proof. There is no enough information in the passage for us to make such geneneralizations. Only two instances of Ice age and Continent drift are presented.
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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06 Dec 2017, 10:16
1
1
arvind910619 wrote:

Hi arvind910619,

Q5: The author of the passage discusses the “essential presumptions” (see highlighted text) of The Origin of Continents and Oceans most in order to

The origin of Continents and Oceans appears an impressive and prescient document, containing several of the essential presumptions underlying plate tectonics theory: the horizontal mobility of pieces of Earth's crust; the essential difference between oceanic and continental crust; and a causal connection between horizontal displacements and the formation of mountain chains. --> Wegener's theory was far ahead of its time

Yet despite the considerable overlap between Wegener's concepts and the later widely embraced plate tectonics theory, and despite the fact that continental drift theory presented a possible solution to the problem of the origin of mountains at a time when existing explanations were seriously in doubt, in its day Wegener's theory was rejected by the vast majority of geologists.

(A) indicate features of Wegener's theory that caused it to be doubted in its day -- Incorrect

(B) show why Wegener's theory is now regarded as prescient - Correct --

(C) indicate differences between plate tectonics and the theory of continental drift -- Incorrect -- it's the opposite -The origin of Continents and Oceans appears an impressive and prescient document, containing several of the essential presumptions underlying plate tectonics theory .

(D) cite features of the theory of continental drift for which no evidence was available in Wegener’s day - Incorrect

(E) point out aspects of Wegener's theory that were accepted well before the advent of platetectonics - Incorrect -- nowhere does the passage talks about parts of WT being accepted before Plate techtonics' advent
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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14 Apr 2019, 08:37
1
Ritwick91 wrote:
HI Experts,

Can you please explain why option B is wrong for Q-1 ?

The stem for question #1 is: "The author cites Hallam on the ice ages primarily in order to..."

Let's take a look at the relevant piece of the passage:
Quote:
Most geologists and many historians today believe that Wegener's theory was rejected because of its lack of an adequate mechanical basis... However, as Anthony Hallam has pointed out, many scientific phenomena, such as the ice ages, have been accepted before they could be fully explained. The most likely cause for the rejection of continental drift―a cause that has been largely ignored because we consider Wegener's theory to have been validated by the theory of plate tectonics―is the nature of the evidence that was put forward to support it.

To understand the author's intent, let's look at each piece of this section:

• The author introduces a commonly held belief (that "Wegener's theory was rejected because of its lack of an adequate mechanical basis").
• Then, he/she cites an example that contradicts this commonly held belief (Anthony Hallam's observation that people accepted phenomena such as ice ages "before they could be fully explained").
• Finally, the author offers an alternative reason for the rejection of Wegener's theory ("the nature of the evidence that was put forward to support it").

From this break down, we can see that the author cites Hallam in order to undermine a commonly held belief.

Take another look at (B):
Quote:
(B) criticize the geological community for an apparent lack of consistency in its responses to new theories

The author definitely points out the lack of consistency in responses to new theories, but does he/she criticize the geological community for this inconsistency?

Not really -- the author is concerned with explaining why the community responded differently to different theories, but does not imply that these different responses are necessarily bad or worthy of criticism. He/she cites Hallam in order to cast doubt on a certain view, not to criticize the geologic community. For this reason, (B) is out.

I hope that helps!
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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18 Apr 2016, 22:15
i dont understand Q4. It has to be wrong. Please someone explain.

In 1913 The theory was rejected.

But in 1960, a theory which overlapped Wagner's in many aspects was accepted based on proofs ( models and structures ) that we can infer, were not available during Wagner's time. Hence we can conclude that the theory was ahead of its time.
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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19 Sep 2016, 11:32
Additional question for the passage :

The author of the passage discusses the “essential presumptions” (see highlighted text) of
The Origin of Continents and Oceans most in order to
A. indicate features of Wegener's theory that caused it to be doubted in its day
B. show why Wegener's theory is now regarded as prescient
C. indicate differences between plate tectonics and the theory of continental drift
D. cite features of the theory of continental drift for which no evidence was available in
Wegener’s day
E. point out aspects of Wegener's theory that were accepted well before the advent of plate
tectonics

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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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13 Jul 2017, 09:41
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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01 Apr 2019, 20:59
Ritwick91 wrote:
HI Experts,

Can you please explain why option B is wrong for Q-1 ?

Ritwick91
passage :
Yet despite the considerable overlap between Wegener's concepts and the later widely embraced plate tectonics theory, and despite the fact that continental drift theory presented a possible solution to the problem of the origin of mountains at a time when existing explanations were seriously in doubt, in its day Wegener's theory was rejected by the vast majority of geologists.

explanation : here we are told that even though there were really important conjectures and convinving points in Wegner's theory , it was still doubted by mosy geologists

"Most geologists and many historians today believe that Wegener's theory was rejected because of its lack of an adequate mechanical basis."
- this in continuation of the last lone of 1st para : providing us the reasoning behind the doubts of most geo;losgists : inadequate mechanical basis

Stephen Jay Gould, for example, argues that continental drift theory was rejected because it did not explain how continents could move through an apparently solid oceanic floor.
- here we are given an example of a geologist who think the same as most geologist

However, as Anthony Hallam has pointed out, many scientific phenomena, such as the ice ages, have been accepted before they could be fully explained.
- "hpowever" means contrast : Hallam says we accept many scientifiv phenomena even before they are completely proved ... this implies that if geos can accept many phenomena without its complete approval why do you reject this???

POV of most geologists : lack of adequate mechanincal basis
POV of hallam : there are many scientifc things which are not adequately proved yet we accept them ... so basically the author mentions "HALLAM" to doubt the claim of most grologists

author in his next line says that : "The most likely cause for the rejection of continental drift―a cause that has been largely ignored because we consider Wegener's theory to have been validated by the theory of plate tectonics―is the nature of the evidence that was put forward to support it."

so he thinks that a plausible expkanation is something else and not what most geologists claim to be

Q1: The author cites Hallam on the ice ages primarily in order to

(A) provide an example of a geologic phenomenon whose precise causes are not fully understood by geologists today
- THIS IS AN EXPLANATION OF THE SENTENCE . IT DOES NOT TELL US "WHY THE AUTHOR HAS INTRODUCED THIS SNETECE"

(B) criticize the geological community for an apparent lack of consistency in its responses to new theories
- OPPOSITE ... we are actually told that "most geologists and hitorians" think about the same response...there is no "lack of consistency"....instead they are very much "CONSISTENT"

(C) offer evidence held to undermine a common view of why Wegener’s theory was not accepted in its day
- CORRECT ... please read explanation ... "common view" = what "most geologists" think

(D) give an example of a modern scientist who believes that Wegener’s theory was rejected because it failed to adequately explain the mechanical basis of continental drift
- OPPOSITE... this is the pirpose of "GOULD"

(E) support Gould’s rationale for why Wegener’s theory was rejected by most geologists in the early twentieth century
- OPPOSITE
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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24 Apr 2019, 04:47
Ritwick91 wrote:
HI Experts,

Can you please explain why option B is wrong for Q-1 ?

geological community's consistency in decisions is not even discussed.

Geological Comunity is giving opinions on the base of evidence presents
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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01 Jan 2020, 20:40
Does any one help me explain Q2?
I don't think that "Considerable overlap" is the reason?
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,  [#permalink]

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22 Jan 2020, 06:47
DavidDinh wrote:
Does any one help me explain Q2?
I don't think that "Considerable overlap" is the reason?

I don't quite follow your question, but I'm happy to explain the whole question.

Question 2

Quote:
The author of the passage refers to the "considerable overlap" between continental drift theory and plate tectonics theory most probably in order to

OK, so why did the author bring up the fact that Wegener's continental drift theory has "considerable overlap" with plate tectonics theory?

The phrase "considerable overlap" shows up in paragraph 1. The point of this paragraph is to present an apparent contradiction: Wegener's theory included "several of the essential presumptions underlying plate tectonics theory" (which is now widely accepted); yet, Wegener's theory was "rejected by the vast majority of geologists" when it was proposed.

Then, in Paragraph 2, the author identifies the most likely cause for that rejection.

Here's the precise portion of paragraph 1 where the author mentions "considerable overlap":

Quote:
To most geologists today, Wegener's The origin of Continents and Oceans appears an impressive and prescient document...Yet despite the considerable overlap between Wegener's concepts and the later widely embraced plate tectonics theory, and despite the fact that continental drift theory presented a possible solution to the problem of the origin of mountains at a time when existing explanations were seriously in doubt, in its day Wegener's theory was rejected by the vast majority of geologists.

So, "despite considerable overlap between" Wegener's theory and plate tectonics theory, Wegener's theory was rejected.

Here, in support of the paragraph's larger purpose, the author uses "considerable overlap" in order to emphasize the contradiction. After all, since Wegener's theory and plate tectonics theory had so much in common, we should expect that Wegener's theory was accepted! Yet, despite that expectation, we know that Wegener's theory was rejected by the vast majority of geologists in his time.

Choice (D) captures this purpose most clearly, while every other answer choice drifts away from the purpose of paragraph 1 and how the reference to "considerable overlap" fits into that paragraph.

I hope this helps!
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Re: Years before the advent of plate tectonics―the widely accepted theory,   [#permalink] 22 Jan 2020, 06:47
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