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 Post subject: GMAT Verbal
PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 1:50 am 
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In the early stages of genetic research, a genetics company established a plan to sequence the genomes of every citizen within a certain 5-mile radius with the goal of curing a certain hereditary disease common to that area. The operation was far too ambitious; critics argue that this is a result of the company's lack of scientific foresight.

Which of the following, if true, provides the strongest support for the conclusion of the argument?
A. funds allocated for the project were sufficient to cover only a small percentage of the planned sequencings
B. the company based their plan on models that eventually proved ineffective for other companies
C. to date, only fifty genomes have been successfully sequenced
D. other genetics companies have managed to identify the genes responsible for certain illnesses
E. the hereditary disease being researched is caused by a combination of inherited genetics and environment

(E) This question asks you to find the answer choice that, when added to the passage, lends the greatest support to the conclusion. The first step is to find the conclusion. The first sentence of the passage establishes what the company's plans were. The second sentence contains the conclusion. Often the conclusion follows the evidence, but in this case, the conclusion is presented first ("the operation was too ambitious"), followed by evidence intended to support that conclusion ("critics argue"). Choice (E) succeeds in explaining how the company's project was too ambitious and how a lack of scientific foresight contributed to this result. If they had known that illnesses are caused by a combination of both genetics and environment, the company's plan to cure the illness by addressing only genetic causes would not have been effective. Given this premise, the company's scientists should have anticipated that the experiment would not be successful. No other answer choice so effectively supports the conclusion. Choice (A) explains how the operation was financially too ambitious; however, since the author supports his claim with the statement that the charge of excessive ambition resulted from the company's lack of sufficient scientific foresight, the answer choice needs to explain how the project's excessive ambition was the result of a lack of scientific foresight. It is possible that you could argue that "scientific foresight" might have prevented cost overruns, but this is an extreme stretch and hardly the "strongest" support. Choice (B) shows another way in which the project may have been poorly planned, but again neglects to explain how the charge of excessive ambition is related to a lack of scientific foresight. Choice (C) appears to suggest one way in which the project may have been too ambitious, possibly because of a lack of scientific foresight; it tells us that only 50 genomes have been sequenced to date. However, since we do not know how many people the company was intending to include in the study (it may have been 5, or 20, or 25, or 5,000), we cannot conclude that the company had excessively ambitious plans (so it cannot be said either that the company exhibited a lack of scientific foresight). Is the 5-mile radius in Antarctica? Vague answer choices are weak answer choices and we are looking for the "strongest" choice. Choice (D) provides irrelevant information; the successes experienced by other companies tell us nothing about what was wrong with this company's plans.

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How can a failure to consider another possible cause for a a disease be evidence that a plan was too ambitious? If anything, this fact suggests that the scope of the project was INSUFFICIENTLY AMBITIOUS, given that genetics DO IN FACT operate as a cause of the disease.

So, the scientists considered ONLY ONE-HALF OF THE PUZZLE. How can considering half a puzzle be overly ambitious?

Conversely, if the funds allocated for the project WERE INSUFFICIENT TO COVER THE TOTAL COST OF THE PROJECT, this NECESSARILY means that the scientists ENGAGED IN A PROJECT THE SCOPE OF WHICH EXCEEDED THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THEY WERE WILLING TO PUT TOWARD THAT PROJECT = TOO AMBITIOUS.

Next, consider that "foresight" is a measure of one's ability to PREDICT A FUTURE OCCURRENCE. If, AT THE TIME THE PROJECT BEGAN, it was a widely known fact that environmental factors help (note the present tense here) cause the disease, then WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT "FORESIGHT," but rather about "KNOWLEDGE." Answer (E) is phrased in the PRESENT TENSE, meaning that the question MUST ALSO NECESSARILY be referring to "KNOWLEDGE" ONLY AND NOT TO "FORESIGHT."

If, however, AT THE TIME THE PROJECT BEGAN, it was NOT a widely known fact that environmental factors help cause the disease, THEN "FORESIGHT" would necessarily come into play. However, answer (E) is worded in a way that PRECLUDES THIS POSSIBILITY.

Therefore, (A) seems like the BEST possible answer.


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 Post subject: Re: GMAT Verbal
PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 1:51 am 
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The goal was to cure the disease, not to find the cause of it. Therefore attempting to cure it by combating only half the cause is overly ambitious.

As for the the present/future tense implication of "foresight": Whether the environmental cause is presently widely known or not, the fact is these scientists did not consider this possibility in developing their plan to cure the disease, which shows a lack of foresight. Again, the goal was to cure the disease, not just to explain its cause.


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 Post subject: Re: GMAT Verbal
PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 1:52 am 
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Quote:
The goal was to cure the disease, not to find the cause of it. Therefore attempting to cure it by combating only half the cause is overly ambitious.

As for the the present/future tense implication of "foresight": Whether the environmental cause is presently widely known or not, the fact is these scientists did not consider this possibility in developing their plan to cure the disease, which shows a lack of foresight. Again, the goal was to cure the disease, not just to explain its cause.


Can you detail on the reasons for not considering "choice A" as a correct answer?


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 Post subject: Re: GMAT Verbal
PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 1:53 am 
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Choice (A) is incorrect because it brings in the aspect of the project's financial planning, while the author's conclusion is based on the scientific planning. In short, the author says the project was too ambitious because of a lack of scientific foresight, not a lack of financial foresight. While there may be a connection between scientific and financial planning on this project, that is a stretch. Choice (E) speaks directly to the author's conclusion regarding scientific foresight, so it is a better answer.


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