What is the primary function of the last paragraph in the structure of the passage as a whole?

Jeremy on May 3, 2019

Why is E the correct answer?

The question regarding this final paragraph is whether its purpose is to present objections to the Neo-Lamarckian views of Steele and his colleagues or whether it is to highlight the evidence given by them for those views. My assumption was that this paragraph was intended to cast doubt on Steele's work and as such end the passage on an incredulous note. This would lend support to A or perhaps B. Their similarity may be a clue that neither is the correct answer in this case. Could you explain how we can know that E is definitively the right answer choice, though?

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Ravi on May 3, 2019


Great question. Let's take a look at (A), (B), and (E).

The question says, "What is the primary function of the last paragraph
in the structure of the passage as a whole?"

(A) says, "to present various objections that have been raised against
the neo-Lamarckian theory outlined in the preceding paragraphs"

Looking at the last paragraph, it looks like there is one potential
objection at the very end in lines 56-58 when the author writes,
"there may be other, less radical explanations for the pattern of
mutations that Steele cites." However, the problem is that the passage
as a whole isn't a display of many different objections. Rather, the
objection at the end of the final paragraph simply emphasizes the
point made throughout the whole paragraph about Steele's evidence.
Thus, we can get rid of this answer choice.

(B) says, "to dismiss the neo-Lamarckian theory outlined in the
preceding paragraphs as not being supported by evidence"

It's true that the evidence that's used to support the neo-Lamarckian
theory is not optimal. However, the passage's author never states that
the theory is totally unsupported by any evidence. As a result, (B) is
too strong of an answer choice, so it doesn't describe the purpose of
the passage. We can get rid of this choice.

(E) says, "to indicate the nature of the evidence for the
neo-Lamarckian theory outlined in the preceding paragraphs"

In looking at the last paragraph, we see how there is pretty weak
evidence for the evolutionary theory, as it's circumstantial, and that
"Steele and his colleagues claim that a distinct pattern of mutations
concentrated in particular areas of these genes 'strongly suggests'
that, in the past, information has been transferred into DNA in the
reproductive organs" (lines 48-55). Given the knowledge we have about
the author's attitude toward Steele's theory, this paragraph's
discussion of the weak evidence for the theory looks to be there in
order to strongly emphasize that the neo-Lamarckian theory remains far
from being proven. Therefore, showing how weak the evidence for the
neo-Lamarckian theory is just what this passage does, so (E) is the
correct answer choice.

Does this make sense? Let us know if you have any more questions!

Jeremy on May 5, 2019

Got it, thank you.

Ravi on May 5, 2019

@JeremyG, great! Happy to help!