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PrepTest 73, Passage 1, Setup


Passage one, this is a hard science passage which just means that it involves biology or physics, one of the sciences that involves a lot of math, specifically about selection. The first paragraph introduces two sets of views, first there's Darwin and his views on evolution, which is that it doesn't just equal selection. On the other hand, we've got another group, the strict constructionists, and they say that evolution is just selection, Darwin doesn't want it to be seen that way but that's precisely what these folks say it should be seen as.

The author doesn't take a side here in this first paragraph, they just lay out what's going on. When we get to the second paragraph, the author still doesn't take a side at least not at first, the author just lays out what the strict constructionist view is, which is they believe that natural selection is all about maximizing reproductive success.

It's in the second half where the author steps in and attacks in a sly way, taking a side by saying if you guys are right, then all mutations, all changes would be adaptive but that's not the case. So in other words, you guys are wrong because if you were right, something would have to be true but that thing isn't right, so you're wrong. In logic, we call that a disjunctive proof, which is a fancy name that you don't need to know.

The third paragraph and the fourth paragraph, both give us examples that are used to support what the author just told us, the third paragraph is the example of non adaptive alterations. So mutations that produce features that stick around even though they don't have any adaptive benefit as the strict constructionists would say they would need to.

And then the fourth paragraph is the example of the Cretaceous extinction, which the author says also fail to support the strict constructionists views. Towards the end of this paragraph and thus at the end of the passage, the author again goes on the attack in a way that's probably more familiar to you from logical reasoning, attacking the assumptions of those who hold the second view of those strict constructionists.

So the author basically lays out the problems with the assumptions that the strict constructionist have. And that's the passage in the end would say the author identified two sides in a fight that's going on in biology, and basically picks one side over the other, goes on the attack against the strict constructionist. Once you understand the passage and you've got it mapped out, then you can go into the questions.

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