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CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 60

When machines are invented and technologies are developed, they alter the range of choices open to us. The clock, for example, made possible the synchronization of human affairs, which resulted in an increase in productivity. At the same time that the clock opened up some avenues, it closed others. It has become harder and harder to live except by the clock, so that now people have no choice in the matter at all.

Which one of the following propositions is best illustrated by the example presented in the passage?

[A]. New machines and technologies can enslave as well as liberate us.
[B]. People should make a concerted effort to free themselves from the clock.
[C]. Some new machines and technologies bring no improvement to our lives.
[D]. The increase in productivity was not worth our dependence on the clock.
[E]. Most new machines and technologies make our lives more synchronized and productive.
Answer: A

The sentence “at the same time that the clock opened up some avenues, it closed others” gives it away; it introduces the notion of something having both a liberating and a restricting effect. Since we’re looking for a proposition (a generality) illustrated by this example, (A) fits the bill by expanding the author’s observation about the double effect of clocks and applying it to new machines in general.

(B) is never suggested, and besides, we’re looking for a general concept that can be illustrated by the clock example, not a recommendation of what to do.

(C) The clock example doesn’t match this at all, as it illustrates that new technologies can improve our lives, even those that also have a restricting effect.

(D) The author does not offer a final judgment about clocks, and once again, since we’re looking for a generally-stated proposition based on the clocks example, any choice containing only a clocks-related soundbite must be wrong.

(E) mistakenly takes a specific attribute of clocks, the fact that they increase synchronization and productivity, and attributes it to most machines. The actual functioning of the clock, and the specific effects it has (like adding synchronization), cannot be generalized and applied to other machines, which may, after all, have entirely different functions and effects.

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