According to the author, which one of the following is the primary cause of the existing separation between science a... on March 15, 2020

B vs C

So I was between b and c. I chose reductionism because they say it outright in the second paragraph, and heavily imply it in the third. While they also discuss misunderstanding, because I thought the author noted that there was indeed of the approach of the two, i thought reductionism was more on target. I understand why I was wrong, but I guess my larger question is how to avoid making a mistake like this when I can see a case for either answer. Thanks!

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Skylar on March 15, 2020

@Chris11, happy to help.

We are asked to identify "the primary cause of the existing separation between science and the humanities." The two answer choices you were deciding between are:
(B) misunderstandings of the philosophical foundations of each by the other
(C) the excessive influence of reductionism on both

The second sentence of the first paragraph of the passage states, "the separation is primarily the result of a basic misunderstanding of the philosophical foundations of both science and the humanities." This sentence explicitly points us to the correct answer - (B).

Although you are correct that the second sentence mentions reductionism, this is not enough to make it the "primary" cause. We should turn our attention to the most prevalent themes. Oftentimes these themes will be mentioned in the introduction/conclusion of the passage (as opposed to only in the body paragraphs), and they will encompass other minor themes.

In terms of additional tips, I would recommend coming up with an answer to the question before reading the answer choices. If I take a few seconds to think about what I would identify as the primary cause, this can often help me to eliminate incorrect answers and avoid getting stuck between two options. Again, I would also recommend focusing on large themes as opposed to words that were only mentioned once. These themes will often be both implied and explicitly stated, as we see here in the first paragraph. Lastly, I would recommend being cautious of extreme language. For example, (C) uses the word "excessive" and clarifies that the concept applies to "both." Although this in no way automatically makes an answer incorrect, being cognizant of strong or otherwise charged language can be helpful when deciding between two options.

Does that help? Please let us know if you have any other questions!