LSAT® Reading Comprehension Practice Questions
Read the passage below and answer the related questions. Then Download practice question answers as part of your Free LSAT Resources.
In recent years biology has undergone a revolution that has attracted wide attention. Controversy centered initially on whether genetic cloning techniques could create new, possibly dangerous forms of life. Attention next focused on the power of genetic engineering to produce valuable new medical and agricultural products. Largely overlooked, however are developments that will ultimately have far greater social impact: the ability to analyze genetic information will allow the prediction of human traits.
While some fear that by analyzing the entire library of human gene sequences we will discover the essence of humanity, this is unlikely. Our bodies are complex networks of interacting components, influenced by a variable environment. Nevertheless, genes do help determine aspects of human form and function. Herein lie the seeds of future problems.
By about the year 2010, barring unforeseen technical obstacles, scientists will have fully mapped the complex human genetic terrain. Before this, however, new information will make possible techniques that will engender a host of ethical issues. Imagine that investors could predict with some accuracy such aspectso f human behavior or functioning as intelligence, shyness, aggressiveness, or heat tolerance. Consider the power this would give to some – and the vulnerable position in which it would put others.
Even if society can anticipate and control most misuse of genetic data, we face a more insidious problem: a rising ethic of genetic determinism. For the past century, ideological currents have closely affected the nature versus nurture debate. Widespread rejection of social Darwinism and institutionalized racism has buoyed the strong nurturist sentiments of the past half century, but a growing proportion of the public, impressed by the successes of genetics, is likely to come to view genes as determinants of the human condition. Such an uncritical embrace of genetics is likely to come to view genes as determinants of the human condition. Such an uncritical embrace of genetics will not be deterred by scientists’ reminders that the powers of genetic predictions are limited. Environmental variations can cause genetically similar individuals to develop in dramatically different ways, and genetics will at best suggest only a probability of development for complex traits, such as those involved in behavior and cognition. Those overlooking this will disastrously misjudge individual ability.
What a tragedy this would be. We Americans have viewed our roots as interesting historical relics, hardly as rigid molds dictating all that we are and will be. Moreover, a belief that each of us is responsible for our own behavior has woven our social fabric. Yet in coming years we will hear increasingly from those attributing “bad” behavior to inexorable biological forces. As a biologists, I find this a bitter prospect. The biological revolution of the past decades will spawn enormous benefit, but we will pay a price unless we craft an ethic that cherishes our spontaneity, unpredictability, and individual uniqueness.
The author suggests that an “uncritical embrace” (line 42) of advances in genetics will tend to
A. Obscure the degree of complexity of many human traits
B. Diminish the public’s ability to halt illicit use of genetic data
C. Further the chance that genetic cloning may lead to hazardous life forms
D. Enlarge the magnitude of technical problems occurring in genetic studies
E. Increase the potential for negligence on the part of genetics
Which one of the following predictions about the biological revolution discussed in the passage would the author be most likely to agree?
A. The revolution will lead to gross injustices in society
B. The revolution will bring greater good than harm to society
C. The revolution will not be as far-reaching as some believe
D. The revolution will lead to needless anxiety on the part of the public
E. The revolution will be problematic as well as beneficial
The author mentions the nature versus nurture debate primarily in order to
A. Demonstrate the difficultly of predicting and preventing misuse of scientific data
B. Supply a point of reference for an assessment of the validity of recent advances in genetics
C. Cast doubt on the moral integrity of society
D. Illustrate that political interests have largely determined public interpretations of scientific issues
E. Point out a distinction between scientific conclusions based on facts and those based on assumptions