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  1. #1
    Olympian is offline Member
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    Question Need help with question on reading comprehension

    Hello,

    I am not clear on which one is the correct answer after reading the following passages. I have attempted an answer. Could you please see if it is correct? (sorry about a long quote here, but I don't have a link for this, otherwise I would have included a link instead)
    Radiation occurs from three natural sources: radioactive material in the environment, such as in soil, rock, or building materials; cosmic rays; and substances in human body, such as radioactive potassium in bone and radioactive carbon in tissues. These natural sources account for an exposure of about 100 millirems a year for the average American.

    The largest single source of man-made radiation is medical x-rays, yet most scientists agree that hazards from this source are not as great as those from weapons-test fallout, since strontium-90 and carbon-14 become incorporated into the body, hence delivering radiation for an entire lifetime. The issue is, however, by no means uncontroversial; indeed, the last two decades have witnessed intensified examination and dispute about the effects of low-level radiation, beginning with UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, which reported in 1958: "Even the smallest amounts of radiation are liable to cause deleterious genetic and perhaps also somatic effects."

    A survey conducted in Britain confirmed that an abnormally high percentage of patients suffering from arthritis of the spine who had been treated with x-rays contracted cancer. Another study revealed a high incidence of childhood cancer in cases where the mother had been given prenatal pelvic x-rays. These studies have pointed to the need to re-examine the assumption that exposure to low linear energy transfer presented only a minor risk.

    Recently, examination of the death certificates of former employees of a West Coast plant which produces plutonium for nuclear weapons revealed marked higher rates for cancers of the pancreas, lung, bone marrow and lymph systems than would have been expected in a normal population.

    While the National Academy of Sciences committee attributes these differences to chemical or other environmental causes, rather than radiation, other scientists maintain that any radiation exposure, no matter how small, leads to an increase in cancer risk. It is believed by some that a dose of one rem, if sustained over many generations, would lead to an increase of one percent in the number of serious genetic defects at birth, a possible increase of 1000 disorders per million births.

    In the meantime, regulatory efforts have been disorganized, fragmented, and inconsistent, characterized by internecine strife and bureaucratic delays. A Senate report concluded that coordination of regulation among involved departments and agencies was not possible because of jurisdictional disputes and confusion. One Federal agency has been unsuccessful in its efforts to obtain sufficient funding and manpower for the enforcement of existing radiation laws, and the chairperson of a panel especially created to develop a coordinated Federal program has resigned.

    Question: It can be inferred from this passage that

    a. the causes of particular types of cancers can be readily ascertained by identifying the source of radiation.

    b. the amount of low-level radiation in the nation has increased measurably since 1958.

    c. scientists, by and large, are unconcerned about environmental aspects of cancer causation.

    d. the committees on radiation effects of the National Academy of Sciences and of the UN are in disagreement on the impact of low linear energy transfer.


    Although the passage says that the West Coast plant employees had lung, lymph , bone marrow and pancreatic cancers, (a) does not seem to be the answer.

    It does not say anywhere that since 1958 the low-level radiation has increase nationwide. (b)

    Similary, (d) cannot be concluded from the passage.

    That leaves (c) as the answer. Is it correct?


    Thank you

  2. #2
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    JohnParis is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Need help with question on reading comprehension

    Hello Olympian,
    Wow - this is not an easy one .
    I don't think that "C" is the correct answer.
    What can be inferred from the passage, given the four possibilities provided?
    While it may not implicitly
    say that something did or did not happen, common sense combined with an informed and educated guess may make it easier to find the answer.
    The survey conducted in Britain (paragraph 3) and the information gathered from death certificates of employees of the West Coast factory (
    paragraph 4) show that exposure to higher levels of radiation were connected to the apparition of certain cancers in numbers not normally seen. To say that "the causes of particular types of cancers can be readily ascertained by identifying the source of radiation" is not totally correct because no evidence (clinical trials, epidemiological analyses, etc.) have been cited and causes of most cancers can rarely be "readily ascertained". Yet, most readers could infer from the information given that exposure to certain types of radiation might increase the risk of contracting certain types of cancers.
    Therefore, my answer would be "A".

    Happy Holidays !
    John

  3. #3
    Olympian is offline Member
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    Default Re: Need help with question on reading comprehension

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnParis View Post
    Hello Olympian,
    Wow - this is not an easy one .
    I don't think that "C" is the correct answer.
    What can be inferred from the passage, given the four possibilities provided?
    While it may not implicitly
    say that something did or did not happen, common sense combined with an informed and educated guess may make it easier to find the answer.
    The survey conducted in Britain (paragraph 3) and the information gathered from death certificates of employees of the West Coast factory (
    paragraph 4) show that exposure to higher levels of radiation were connected to the apparition of certain cancers in numbers not normally seen. To say that "the causes of particular types of cancers can be readily ascertained by identifying the source of radiation" is not totally correct because no evidence (clinical trials, epidemiological analyses, etc.) have been cited and causes of most cancers can rarely be "readily ascertained". Yet, most readers could infer from the information given that exposure to certain types of radiation might increase the risk of contracting certain types of cancers.
    Therefore, my answer would be "A".

    Happy Holidays !
    John
    @JohnParis, I see. Thank you. Perhaps my thinking is not right, but I thought that lung and other cancers can be caused by other things (for example, smoking), so how can we ascertain that it has been caused by working with Plutonium.

    Now I am not sure about my other answers. Could you please see if the answers to other questions are correct?

    Question 1: The primary purpose of the passage is to

    a. explain the difference between natural and man-made radiation

    b. arouse concern about the risks connected with the use of producers of radiation, such as medical x-rays.

    c. criticize the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation

    d. advocate limiting the use of atomic-weapons testing since the fallout is extremely hazardous

    My answer: B


    Question 2: It can be inferred that the chairperson, mentioned in the last paragraph, who resigned from the panel to develop a coordinated federal program for radiation regulation probably did so because

    a. he disagreed with the findings of the Senate committee

    b. regulatory efforts have been balked by disputes, confusion, and bureaucratic delays

    c. his agency could not obtain funding or manpower for implementation of existing laws

    d. he supported the position of the National Academy of Sciences Committee and opposed regulation of radiation exposure

    My answer: C

    Question 3: Which of the following are not supported by the passage?

    a. The average American receives an exposure to radiation of 100 millirems a year

    b. Higher rates of cancer of the pancreas, lung, and bone marrow and lymph systems were found among employees in a West Coast plutonium producing plant.

    c. Even a relatively small dose of radiation, sustained over a number of generations, could lead to an increased number of serious genetic defects.

    d. The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation seems to disagree with most scientists on the hazards involved in the use of low-level radiation

    My answer: D


    Thank you

    Happy Holidays!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Need help with question on reading comprehension

    Whoever wrote that first question should be shot.A is the least wrong answer, in my opinion, but that's all I can say for it.

    I agree with your answers to the questions in post #3 , Olympian
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  5. #5
    Olympian is offline Member
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    Default Re: Need help with question on reading comprehension

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Whoever wrote that first question should be shot.A is the least wrong answer, in my opinion, but that's all I can say for it.

    I agree with your answers to the questions in post #3 , Olympian

    @5jj, thank you very much.

    (Let no one be shot on my account, especially during the holiday season.
    )
    Last edited by Olympian; 22-Dec-2011 at 14:03. Reason: font change

  6. #6
    JohnParis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help with question on reading comprehension

    Olympian,
    Please read my original post again. You may have missed that I said that "...causes of most cancers can rarely be "readily ascertained".
    It is important to understand that if we knew what caused cancer, we could then cure it. People are fond of saying that exposure to plutonium, tobacco, asbestos, etc. causes cancer, but the fact is they are only contributing factors. A scientist cannot say something is certain until he has proven it. Smoking certainly increases the chance that you will develop lung cancer, but there are people living without cancer that have been 2-pack-a-day smokers for 50 years or more. If smoking causes cancer, these people would have to develop tumors as well. Yet, they do not. Therein lies the fight we have been waging for 50 years. Enormous progress has been made in treating some cancers, but we have no idea what causes others. We cannot say for certain.
    5jj is quite good at detecting poorly constructed questions and I'm glad he agrees with me about your first answer. As for the others, I see no errors either.
    John

  7. #7
    Olympian is offline Member
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    Default Re: Need help with question on reading comprehension

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnParis View Post
    Olympian,
    Please read my original post again. You may have missed that I said that "...causes of most cancers can rarely be "readily ascertained".
    It is important to understand that if we knew what caused cancer, we could then cure it. People are fond of saying that exposure to plutonium, tobacco, asbestos, etc. causes cancer, but the fact is they are only contributing factors. A scientist cannot say something is certain until he has proven it. Smoking certainly increases the chance that you will develop lung cancer, but there are people living without cancer that have been 2-pack-a-day smokers for 50 years or more. If smoking causes cancer, these people would have to develop tumors as well. Yet, they do not. Therein lies the fight we have been waging for 50 years. Enormous progress has been made in treating some cancers, but we have no idea what causes others. We cannot say for certain.
    5jj is quite good at detecting poorly constructed questions and I'm glad he agrees with me about your first answer. As for the others, I see no errors either.
    John
    @JohnParis, thank you. I see your point now. I am one of those people who say such things from reading. But I had not paid attention to the subtle point you mentioned - namely, that they (e.g. smoking, chewing tobacco) are only contributing factors, and that that is different from saying that they cause cancer.

    I realize that this is not the right forum, so I apologize in advance, but I can't help but mention that Buddhist philosophy views reality as consisting of dependently originated phenomena, thus avoiding the two extremes of reification and nihilism. In other words, all reality is dependent on a bunch of contributing factors and none of them (factors) are a 'solid' cause by themselves.

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