Monday, March 26, 2012

the GRE

Last week I started studying for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) with the hope of getting into grad school.  I took a practice test the other day.  I did okay overall, but I had a little trouble with the writing section.  I love to express myself through writing, but I don’t do particularly well with pressurized, time oriented writing.  It’s just not my style.  I’m just going to have to get better at it.  I must!

Here’s the practice prompt I used…

“Scientific theories, which most people consider as ‘fact,’ almost invariably prove to be inaccurate.  Thus, one should look upon any information described as ‘factual’ with skepticism since it may well be proven false in the future.”

Write an essay in which you take a position on the statement above.  In developing and supporting your viewpoint, consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true.

Here’s what I wrote after 30 minutes (most of which were used in paralyzed thoughtlessness)…

Science and skepticism are relatable, interwoven entities.  It was out of skepticism that science was born, thus any true science embraces skepticism.

Science is the foundation of thought trying to understand physical phenomena, trying to understand the world around us.  It is an accumulation of theories and breakthroughs that build with ideas of past, present, and future.  Galileo, Newton, Einstein – all scientists, all skeptics.  They each in their own way questioned the world they inhabited.  They each in their own way questioned the teachings of their predecessors.  They each in their own way were truth seekers, using skepticism to light their path in the darkness of the unknown.  They traveled through mental odysseys, and whether or not they found what they were looking for, their efforts have illuminated the path for others to walk down the road of truth.

And so anybody who endeavors to be a scientist, anybody who endeavors to find the facts regarding this world, must possess a certain amount of skepticism just like the great scientific minds of the past.


  1. I took it last summer :)

    Good insights.

    1. oh cool! if you have any advice, please share!

  2. Being a skeptic may also have disastrous consequences as the following story illustrates.

    During the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, one morning's executions began with three men: a rabbi, a Catholic priest, and a rationalist skeptic.

    The rabbi was marched up onto the platform first. There, facing the guillotine, he was asked if he had any last words. And the rabbi cried out, "I believe in the one and only true God, and He shall save me." The executioner then positioned the rabbi below the blade, set the block above his neck, and pulled the cord to set the terrible instrument in motion. The heavy cleaver plunged downward, searing the air. But then, abruptly, it stopped with a crack just a few inches above the would-be victim's neck. To which the rabbi said, "I told you so."
    "It's a miracle!" gasped the crowd. And the executioner had to agree, letting the rabbi go.

    Next in line was the priest. Asked for his final words, he declared, "I believe in Jesus Christ the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost who will rescue me in my hour of need." The executioner then positioned this man beneath the blade. And he pulled the cord. Again the blade flew downward thump! creak! ...stopping just short of its mark once more.
    "Another miracle!" sighed the disappointed crowd. And the executioner for the second time had no choice but to let the condemned go free.

    Now it was the skeptic's turn. "What final words have you to say?" he was asked. But the skeptic didn't hear. Staring intently at the ominous engine of death, he seemed lost. Not until the executioner poked him in the ribs and the question was asked again did he reply.

    "Oh, I see your problem," the skeptic said pointing. "You've got a blockage in the gear assembly, right there!"

    1. haha...great story! thanks for sharing!

  3. I Liked your answer, I think it shows an original, questing mind. good luck with your return to studying.