# Reading Comprehension Previous Year Questions (CAT) - Set 0003

• Previous years`s CAT questions: Reading Comprehension

• Question 1

(CAT 2006)

Our propensity to look out for regularities, and to impose laws upon nature, leads to the psychological phenomenon of dogmatic thinking or, more generally, dogmatic behaviour: we expect regularities everywhere and attempt to find them even where there are none; events which do not yield to these attempts we are inclined to treat as a kind of ‘background noise‘; and we stick to our expectations even when they are inadequate and we ought to accept defeat. This dogmatism is to some extent necessary. It is demanded by a situation which can only be dealt with by forcing our conjectures upon the world. Moreover, this dogmatism allows us to approach a good theory in stages, by way of approximations: if we accept defeat too easily, we may prevent ourselves from finding that we were very nearly right.

It is clear that this dogmatic attitude, which makes us stick to our first impressions, is indicative of a strong belief; while a critical attitude, which is ready to modify its tenets, which admits doubt and demands tests, is indicative of a weaker belief. Now according to Hume‘s theory, and to the popular theory, the strength of a belief should be a product of repetition; thus it should always grow with experience, and always be greater in less primitive persons. But dogmatic thinking, an uncontrolled wish to impose regularities, a manifest pleasure in rites and in repetition as such, is characteristic of primitives and children; and increasing experience and maturity sometimes create an attitude of caution and criticism rather than of dogmatism.

My logical criticism of Hume‘s psychological theory, and the considerations connected with it, may seem a little removed from the field of the philosophy of science. But the distinction between dogmatic and critical thinking, or the dogmatic and the critical attitude, brings us right back to our central problem. For the dogmatic attitude is clearly related to the tendency to verify our laws and schemata by seeking to apply them and to confirm them, even to the point of neglecting refutations, whereas the critical attitude is one of readiness to change them - to test them; to refute them; to falsify them, if possible. This suggests that we may identify the critical attitude with the scientific attitude, and the dogmatic attitude with the one which we have described as pseudo-scientific. It further suggests that genetically speaking the pseudo-scientific attitude is more primitive than, and prior to, the scientific attitude: that it is a pre-scientific attitude. And this primitivity or priority also has its logical aspect. For the critical attitude is not so much opposed to the dogmatic attitude as super-imposed upon it: criticism must be directed against existing and influential beliefs in need of critical revision - in other words, dogmatic beliefs. A critical attitude needs for its raw material, as it were, theories or beliefs which are held more or less dogmatically.

Thus, science must begin with myths, and with the criticism of myths; neither with the collection of observations, nor with the invention of experiments, but with the critical discussion of myths, and of magical techniques and practices. The scientific tradition is distinguished from the pre-scientific tradition in having two layers. Like the latter, it passes on its theories; but it also passes on a critical attitude towards them. The theories are passed on, not as dogmas, but rather with the challenge to discuss them and improve upon them.

The critical attitude, the tradition of free discussion of theories with the aim of discovering their weak spots so that they may be improved upon, is the attitude of reasonableness, of rationality. From the point of view here developed, all laws, all theories, remain essentially tentative, or conjectural, or hypothetical, even when we feel unable to doubt them any longer. Before a theory has been refuted we can never know in what way it may have to be modified.

1. In the context of science, according to the passage, the interaction of dogmatic beliefs and critical attitude can be best described as:

a. A duel between two warriors in which one has to die.
b. The effect of a chisel on a marble stone while making a sculpture.
c. The feedstock (natural gas) in fertilizer industry being transformed into fertilizers.
d. A predator killing its prey.
e. The effect of fertilizers on a sapling.

2. According to the passage, the role of a dogmatic attitude or dogmatic behaviour in the development of science is

a. critical and important, as, without it, initial hypotheses or conjectures can never be made.
b. positive, as conjectures arising out of our dogmatic attitude become science.
c. negative, as it leads to pseudo-science.
d. neutral, as the development of science is essentially because of our critical attitude.
e. inferior to critical attitude, as a critical attitude leads to the attitude of reasonableness and rationality.

3. Dogmatic behaviour, in this passage, has been associated with primitives and children. Which of the following best describes the reason why the author compares primitives with children?

a. Primitives are people who are not educated, and hence can be compared with children, who have not yet been through school.
b. Primitives are people who, though not modern, are as innocent as children.
c. Primitives are people without a critical attitude, just as children are.
d. Primitives are people in the early stages of human evolution; similarly, children are in the early stages of their lives.
e. Primitives are people who are not civilized enough, just as children are not.

4. Which of the following statements best supports the argument in the passage that a critical attitude leads to a weaker belief than a dogmatic attitude does?

a. A critical attitude implies endless questioning, and, therefore, it cannot lead to strong beliefs.
b. A critical attitude, by definition, is centred on an analysis of anomalies and “noise”.
c. A critical attitude leads to questioning everything, and in the process generates “noise” without any conviction.
d. A critical attitude is antithetical to conviction, which is required for strong beliefs.
e. A critical attitude leads to questioning and to tentative hypotheses.

5. According to the passage, which of the following statements best describes the difference between science and pseudo-science?

a. Scientific theories or hypothesis are tentatively true whereas pseudo-sciences are always true.
b. Scientific laws and theories are permanent and immutable whereas pseudosciences are contingent on the prevalent mode of thinking in a society.
c. Science always allows the possibility of rejecting a theory or hypothesis, whereas pseudo-sciences seek to validate their ideas or theories.
d. Science focuses on anomalies and exceptions so that fundamental truths can be uncovered, whereas pseudo-sciences focus mainly on general truths.
e. Science progresses by collection of observations or by experimentation, whereas pseudo-sciences do not worry about observations and experiments.

• Answer: 1. B 2. A 3. D 4. E 5. C

• Question 2

(CAT 2005)

A game of strategy, as currently conceived in game theory, is a situation in which two or more "players" make choices among available alternatives (moves). The totality of choices determines the outcomes of the game, and it is assumed that the rank order of preferences for the outcomes is different for different players. Thus the "interests" of the players are generally in conflict. Whether these interests are diametrically opposed or only partially opposed depends on the type of game.

Psychologically, most interesting situations arise when the interests of the players are partly coincident and partly opposed, because then one can postulate not only a conflict among the players but also inner conflicts within the players. Each is torn between a tendency to cooperate, so as to promote the common interests, and a tendency to compete, so as to enhance his own individual interests.

Internal conflicts are always psychologically interesting. What we vaguely call "interesting" psychology is in very great measure the psychology of inner conflict. Inner conflict is also held to be an important component of serious literature as distinguished from less serious genres. The classical tragedy, as well as the serious novel, reveals the inner conflict of central figures. The superficial adventure story, on the other hand, depicts only external conflict; that is, the threats to the person with whom the reader (or viewer) identifies stem in these stories exclusively from external obstacles and from the adversaries who create them. On the most primitive level this sort of external conflict is psychologically empty. In the fisticuffs between the protagonists of good and evil, no psychological problems are involved or, at any rate, none are depicted in juvenile representations of conflict.

The detective story, the "adult" analogue of a juvenile adventure tale, has at times been described as a glorification of intellectualized conflict. However, a great deal of the interest in the plots of these stories is sustained by withholding the unraveling of a solution to a problem. The effort of solving the problem is in itself not a conflict if the adversary (the unknown criminal) remains passive, like Nature, whose secrets the scientist supposedly unravels by deduction. If the adversary actively puts obstacles in the detective's path toward the solution, there is genuine conflict. But the conflict is psychologically interesting only to the extent that it contains irrational components such as a tactical error on the criminal's part or the detective's insight into some psychological quirk of the criminal or something of this sort. Conflict conducted in a perfectly rational manner is psychologically no more interesting than a standard Western. For example, Tic-tac-toe, played perfectly by both players, is completely devoid of psychological interest. Chess may be psychologically interesting but only to the extent that it is played not quite rationally. Played completely rationally, chess would not be different from Tic-tac-toe. In short, a pure conflict of interest (what is called a zero-sum game) although it offers a wealth of interesting conceptual problems, is not interesting psychologically, except to the extent that its conduct departs from rational norms.

1. According to the passage, internal conflicts are psychologically more interesting than external conflicts because

a. internal conflicts, rather than external conflicts, form an important component of serious literature as distinguished from less serious genres.
b. only juveniles or very few "adults" actually experience external conflict, while internal conflict is more widely prevalent in society.
c. in situations of internal conflict, individuals experience a dilemma in resolving their own preferences for different outcomes.
d. there are no threats to the reader (or viewer) in case of external conflicts.

2. Which, according to the author, would qualify as interesting psychology?

a.  A statistician's dilemma over choosing the best method to solve an optimisation problem.
b. A chess player's predicament over adopting a defensive strategy against an aggressive opponent.
c.  A mountaineer's choice of the best path to Mt. Everest from the base camp.
d.  A finance manager's quandary over the best way of raising money from the market.

3. According to the passage, which of the following options about the application of game theory to a conflict-of-interest situation is true?

a. Assuming that the rank order of preferences for options is different for different players.
b. Accepting that the interests of different players are often in conflict.
c. Not assuming that the interests are in complete disagreement.
d.  All of the above

4. The problem solving process of a scientist is different from that of a detective because

a. scientists study inanimate objects, while detectives deal with living criminals or law offenders.
b. scientists study known objects, while detectives have to deal with unknown criminals or law offenders.
c. scientists study phenomena that are not actively altered, while detectives deal with phenomena that have been deliberately influenced to mislead.
d. scientists study psychologically interesting phenomena, while detectives deal with "adult" analogues of juvenile adventure tales.

• Answer: 1. C 2. B 3. D 4. C

• Question 3

(CAT 2005)

Crinoline and croquet are out. As yet, no political activists have thrown themselves in front of the royal horse on Derby Day. Even so, some historians canspot the parallels. It is a time of rapid technological change. It is a period when the dominance of the world's superpower is coming under threat. It is an epoch when prosperity masks underlying economic strain. And, crucially, it is a time when policy-makers are confident that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Welcome to the Edwardian Summer of the second age of globalisation.

Spare a moment to take stock of what's been happening in the past few months. Let's start with the oil price, which has rocketed to more than $65 a barrel, more than double its level 18 months ago. The accepted wisdom is that we shouldn't worry our little heads about that, because the incentives are there for business to build new production and refining capacity, which will effortlessly bring demand and supply back into balance and bring crude prices back to$25 a barrel. As Tommy Cooper used to say, 'just like that'.

Then there is the result of the French referendum on the European Constitution, seen as thick-headed luddites railing vainly against the modern world. What the French needed to realise, the argument went, was that there was no alternative to the reforms that would make the country more flexible, more competitive, more dynamic. Just the sort of reforms that allowed Gate Gourmet to sack hundreds of its staff at Heathrow after the sort of ultimatum that used to be handed out by Victorian mill owners. An alternative way of looking at the French "non" is that our neighbours translate "flexibility" as "you're fired".

Finally, take a squint at the United States. Just like Britain a century ago, a period of unquestioned superiority is drawing to a close. China is still a long way from matching America's wealth, but it is growing at a stupendous rate and economic strength brings geopolitical clout. Already, there is evidence of a new scramble for Africa as Washington and Beijing compete for oil stocks. Moreover, beneath the surface of the US economy, all is not well. Growth looks healthy enough, but the competition from China and elsewhere has meant the world's biggest economy now imports far more than it exports. The US is living beyond its means, but in this time of studied complacency a current account deficit worth 6 percent of gross domestic product is seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.

In this new Edwardian summer, comfort is taken from the fact that dearer oil has not had the savage inflationary consequences of 1973-74, when a fourfold increase in the cost of crude brought an abrupt end to a postwar boom that had gone on uninterrupted for a quarter of a century. True, the cost of living has been affected by higher transport costs, but we are talking of inflation at 2.3 per cent and not 27 per cent. Yet the idea that higher oil prices are of little consequence is fanciful. If people are paying more to fill up their cars it leaves them with less to spend on everything else, but there is a reluctance to consume less. In the 1970s unions were strong and able to negotiate large, compensatory pay deals that served to intensify inflationary pressure. In 2005, that avenue is pretty much closed off, but the abolition of all the controls on credit that existed in the 1970s means that households are invited to borrow more rather than consume less. The knock-on effects of higher oil prices are thus felt in different ways - through high levels of indebtedness, in inflated asset prices, and in balance of payments deficits.

There are those who point out, rightly, that modern industrial capitalism has proved mightily resilient these past 250 years, and that a sign of the enduring strength of the system has been the way it apparently shrugged off everything - a stock market crash, 9/11, rising oil prices - that have been thrown at it in the half decade since the millennium. Even so, there are at least three reasons for concern. First, we have been here before. In terms of political economy, the first era of globalisation mirrored our own. There was a belief in unfettered capital flows, in free trade, and in the power of the market. It was a time of massive income inequality and unprecedented migration. Eventually, though, there was a backlash, manifested in a struggle between free traders and protectionists, and in rising labour militancy.

Second, the world is traditionally at its most fragile at times when the global balance of power is in flux. By the end of the nineteenth century, Britain's role as the hegemonic power was being challenged by the rise of the United States, Germany, and Japan while the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires were clearly in rapid decline, Looking ahead from 2005, it is clear that over the next two or three decades, both China and India - which together account for half the world's population - will flex their muscles.

Finally, there is the question of what rising oil prices tell us. The emergence of China and India means global demand for crude is likely to remain high at a time when experts say production is about to top out. If supply constraints start to bite, any declines in the price are likely to be short-term cyclical affairs punctuating a long upward trend.

1. By the expression 'Edwardian Summer', the author refers to a period in which there is:

a. unparalleled luxury and opulence.
b. a sense of complacency among people because of all-round prosperity.
c. a culmination of all-round economic prosperity.
d. an imminent danger lurking behind economic prosperity.

2. What, according to the author, has resulted in a widespread belief in the resilience of modern
capitalism?

a. Growth in the economies of Western countries despite shocks in the form of increase in levels of indebtedness and inflated asset prices.
b. Increase in the prosperity of Western countries and China despite rising oil prices.
c. Continued growth of Western economies despite a rise in terrorism, an increase in oil prices and other similar shocks.
d. The success of continued reforms aimed at making Western economies more dynamic, competitive and efficient.

3. Which of the following best represents the key argument made by the author?

a. The rise in oil prices, the flux in the global balance of power and historical precedents should make us question our belief that the global economic prosperity would continue.
b. The belief that modern industrial capitalism is highly resilient and capable of overcoming shocks will be belied soon.
c. Widespread prosperity leads to neglect of early signs of underlying economic weakness, manifested in higher oil prices and a flux in the global balance of power.
d.Â  A crisis is imminent in the West given the growth of countries like China and India and the increase in oil prices.

4. What can be inferred about the author's view when he states, 'As Tommy Cooper used to say "just like that"'?

a. Industry has incentive to build new production and refining capacity and therefore oil prices would reduce.
b. There would be a correction in the price levels of oil once new production capacity is added.
c. The decline in oil prices is likely to be shortterm in nature.
d. It is not necessary that oil prices would go down to earlier levels.

• Answer: 1. B 2. C 3. A 4. D

• Question 4

(CAT 2005)

While complex in the extreme, Derrida's work has proven to be a particularly influential approach to the analysis of the ways in which language structures our understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit, an approach he termed deconstruction. In its simplest formulation, deconstruction can be taken to refer to a methodological strategy which seeks to uncover layers of hidden meaning in a text that have been denied or suppressed. The term ‘text’, in this respect, does not refer simply to a written form of communication, however. Rather, texts are something we all produce and reproduce constantly in our everyday social relations, be they spoken, written or embedded in the construction of material artifacts. At the heart of Derrida's deconstructive approach is his critique of what he perceives to be the totalitarian impulse of the Enlightenment pursuit to bring all that exists in the world under the domain of a representative language, a pursuit he refers to as logocentrism. Logocentrism is the search for a rational language that is able to know and represent the world and all its aspects perfectly and accurately. Its totalitarian dimension, for Derrida at least, lies primarily in its tendency to marginalize or dismiss all that does not neatly comply with its particular linguistic representations, a tendency that, throughout history, has all too frequently been manifested in the form of authoritarian institutions. Thus logocentrism has, in its search for the truth of absolute representation, subsumed difference and oppressed that which it designates as its alien ‘other’. For Derrida, western civilization has been built upon such a systematic assault on alien cultures and ways of life, typically in the name of reason and progress.

In response to logocentrism, deconstruction posits the idea that the mechanism by which this process of marginalization and the ordering of truth occurs is through establishing systems of binary opposition. Oppositional linguistic dualisms, such as rational/irrational, culture/nature and good/bad are not, however, construed as equal partners as they are in, say, the semiological structuralism of Saussure. Rather, they exist, for Derrida, in a series of hierarchical relationships with the first term normally occupying a superior position. Derrida defines the relationship between such oppositional terms using the neologism différance. This refers to the realization that in any statement, oppositional terms differ from each other (for instance, the difference between rationality and irrationality is constructed through oppositional usage), and at the same time, a hierarchical relationship is maintained by the deference of one term to the other (in the positing of rationality over irrationality, for instance). It is this latter point which is perhaps the key to understanding Derrida's approach to deconstruction.

For the fact that at any given time one term must defer to its oppositional 'other', means that the two terms are constantly in a state of interdependence. The presence of one is dependent upon the absence or 'absent-presence' of the 'other', such as in the case of good and evil, whereby to understand the nature of one, we must constantly relate it to the absent term in order to grasp its meaning. That is, to do good, we must understand that our act is not evil for without that comparison the term becomes meaningless. Put simply, deconstruction represents an attempt to demonstrate the absent-presence of this oppositional 'other', to show that what we say or write is in itself not expressive simply of what is present, but also of what is absent. Thus, deconstruction seeks to reveal the interdependence of apparently dichotomous terms and their meanings relative to their textual context; that is, within the linguistic power relations which structure dichotomous terms hierarchically. In Derrida's own words, a deconstructive reading "must always aim at a certain relationship, unperceived by the writer, between what he commands and what he does not command of the patterns of a language that he uses. . . .[It] attempts to make the not-seen accessible to sight."

Meaning, then, is never fixed or stable, whatever the intention of the author of a text. For Derrida, language is a system of relations that are dynamic, in that all meanings we ascribe to the world are dependent not only on what we believe to be present but also on what is absent. Thus, any act of interpretation must refer not only to what the author of a text intends, but also to what is absent from his or her intention. This insight leads, once again, to Derrida's further rejection of the idea of the definitive authority of the intentional agent or subject. The subject is decentred; it is conceived as the outcome of relations of différance. As author of its own biography, the subject thus becomes the ideological fiction of modernity and its logocentric philosophy, one that depends upon the formation of hierarchical dualisms, which repress and deny the presence of the absent ‘other’. No meaning can, therefore, ever be definitive, but is merely an outcome of a particular interpretation.

1. According to the passage, Derrida believes that:

a. Reality can be construed only through the use of rational analysis.
b. Language limits our construction of reality.
c. A universal language will facilitate a common understanding of reality.
d. We need to uncover the hidden meaning in a system of relations expressed by language.

2. To Derrida, 'logocentrism' does not imply:

a. A totalitarian impulse.
b. A domain of representative language.
c. Interdependence of the meanings of dichotomous terms.
d. A strategy that seeks to suppress hidden meanings in a text.

3. According to the passage, Derrida believes that the system of binary opposition

a. represents a prioritization or hierarchy.
c. weakens the process of marginalization and ordering of truth.
d. deconstructs reality.

4. Derrida rejects the idea of 'definitive authority of the subject' because

a. interpretation of the text may not make the unseen visible.
b. the meaning of the text is based on binaryopposites.
c. the implicit power relationship is often ignored.
d. any act of interpretation must refer to what the author intends.

• Answer: 1. D 2. C 3. A 4. A

• Question 5

(CAT 2004)

Recently I spent several hours sitting under a tree in my garden with the social anthropologist William Ury, a Harvard University professor who specializes in the art of negotiation and wrote the bestselling book, Getting to Yes. He captivated me with his theory that tribalism protects people from their fear of rapid change. He explained that the pillars of tribalism that humans rely on for security would always counter any significant cultural or social change. In this way, he said, change is never allowed to happen too fast. Technology, for example, is a pillar of society. Ury believes that every time technology moves in a new or radical direction, another pillar such as religion or nationalism will grow stronger - in effect, the traditional and familiar will assume greater importance to compensate for the new and untested. In this manner, human tribes avoid rapid change that leaves people insecure and frightened.

But we have all heard that nothing is as permanent as change. Nothing is guaranteed. Pithy expressions, to be sure, but no more than clichés. As Ury says, people don’t live that way from day-to-day. On the contrary, they actively seek certainty and stability. They want to know they will be safe.

Even so; we scare ourselves constantly with the idea of change. An IBM CEO once said: ‘We only restructure for a good reason, and if we haven’t restructured in a while, that’s a good reason.’ We are scared that competitors, technology and the consumer will put us out of business – so we have to change all the time just to stay alive. But if we asked our fathers and grandfathers, would they have said that they lived in a period of little change? Structure may not have changed much. It may just be the speed with which we do things.

Change is over-rated, anyway. Consider the automobile. It’s an especially valuable example, because the auto industry has spent tens of billions of dollars on research and product development in the last 100 years. Henry Ford’s first car had a metal chassis with an internal combustion, gasolinepowered engine, four wheels with rubber tyres, a foot operated clutch assembly and brake system, a steering wheel, and four seats, and it could safely do 18 miles per hour. A hundred years and tens of thousands of research hours later, we drive cars with a metal chassis with an internal combustion, gasolinepowered engine, four wheels with rubber tyres, a foot operated clutch assembly and brake system, a steering wheel, four seats – and the average speed in London in 2001 was 17.5 miles per hour!

That’s not a hell of a lot of return for the money. Ford evidently doesn’t have much to teach us about change. The fact that they’re still manufacturing cars is not proof that Ford Motor Co. is a sound organization, just proof that it takes very large companies to make cars in great quantities – making for an almost impregnable entry barrier. Fifty years after the development of the jet engine, planes are also little changed. They've grown bigger, wider and can carry more people. But those are incremental, largely cosmetic changes.

Taken together, this lack of real change has come to mean that in travel – whether driving or flying – time and technology have not combined to make things much better. The safety and design have of course accompanied the times and the new volume of cars and flights, but nothing of any significance has changed in the basic assumptions of the final product.

At the same time, moving around in cars or aeroplanes becomes less and less efficient all the time. Not only has there been no great change, but also both forms of transport have deteriorated as more people clamour to use them. The same is true for telephones, which took over hundred years to become mobile, or photographic film, which also required an entire century to change.

The only explanation for this is anthropological. Once established in calcified organizations, humans do two things: sabotage changes that might render people dispensable, and ensure industry-wide emulation. In the 1960s, German auto companies developed plans to scrap the entire combustion engine for an electrical design. (The same existed in the 1970s in Japan, andin the 1980s in France.) So for 40 years we might have been free of the wasteful and ludicrous dependence on fossil fuels. Why didn't it go anywhere? Because auto executives understood pistons and carburettors, and would be loath to cannibalize their expertise, along with most of their factories.

1. According to the passage, which of the following statements is true?

a. Executives of automobile companies are inefficient and ludicrous.
b. The speed at which an automobile is driven in a city has not changed much in a century.
c. Anthropological factors have fostered innovation in automobiles by promoting use of new technologies.
d. Further innovation in jet engines has been more than incremental.

2.  Which of the following views does the author fully support in the passage?

a. Nothing is as permanent as change.
b. Change is always rapid.
c. More money spent on innovation leads to more rapid change.
d. Over decades, structural change has been incremental.

3. Which of the following best describes one of the main ideas discussed in the passage?

a. Rapid change is usually welcomed in society.
b. Industry is not as innovative as it is made out to be.
c. We should have less change than what we have now.
d. Competition spurs companies into radical innovation.

4. According to the passage, the reason why we continued to be dependent on fossil fuels is that:

a. Auto executives did not wish to change.
b. No alternative fuels were discovered.
c. Change in technology was not easily possible.
d. German, Japanese and French companies could not come up with new technologies.

• Answer: 1. B 2. D 3. B 4. A

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