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GRE Article of the Month – January 2014

What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement?

This Month’s Selection

A wealth of styles; a wealth of ideas—that’s how I would describe this article. Oops, wait! I left out a wealth of vocabulary.

It’s all here in this month’s Article of the Month. Sure, it’s not necessarily an article, but rather a collection of ideas from prominent thinkers—ideas in response to one question: What idea from science should we retire?

The thinkers range from Alan Alda, the American actor, to lesser-knowns (at least to layman and laywoman), such as animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg. Thus the responses form a salmagundi of wide-ranging topics, from cancer research to the overlap of science and art.

One approach to this month’s selection is to read a response at a time. Then, write a quick summary followed by your own response to what the person had to say. You should be able to do so without looking back at the piece, something that forces you to pay close attention as you read.

For instance, after reading the first article, I’ve come up with the following:


According to Azra, much of the cancer research since the 70’s, at least in leukemia, has been misguided. Instead of using a template or model that approximates the human genome better, cancer researches continue to rely on mice, whose genome often leads to wildly divergent results. In other words, what works in mice sometimes has the opposite effect in humans.

Whether other cancer researches subscribe to the above logic or persist in believing in the efficacy of mice models is in some ways moot. According to Azra, most of the eminent scientists responsible for cancer research have been using mice models their entire lives, and tend to only endorse research predicated on such models. While that may not be altogether surprising, considering that scientists who’ve devoted their entire lives to a way of thinking don’t want to become suddenly obsolete, the fact that Azra’s findings based on the human genome were summarily rejected because they were not based on mice models is shocking.


This is some heady stuff, and I wish I knew more about the field to mount a well-informed rebuttal. Yet, even if Azra is only half-right, cancer research is being stymied, costing millions their lives or at least better treatment.

Bonus Assignment

Then, at the very end, if you are up to it, you can write which idea from science you think should be retired. I won’t be that ambitious—at least for now—but, as a parting thought, will leave you with a slew of vocabulary lifted from the piece:

  • Eminent
  • Malignant
  • Archaic
  • Ethos
  • Repository
  • Sapience
  • Troglodytes (not likely to show up on the GRE—but oh, what a fun word!)
  • Festoon
  • Desultory
  • Granular


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8 Responses to GRE Article of the Month – January 2014

  1. pavan February 13, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Thanks Chris a very interesting article!

    Btw,I stumbled upon this article from, I could visualize all the magoosh flash cards while I was reading this article.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele February 13, 2014 at 10:58 am #


      Thanks so much for that recommendation! Just yesterday I had started whittling down my contends for “article of the month” — but it looks like this was is it! Utterly engrossing (why is this guy not more well known today?!?), syntactically formidable (hey, does this guy write GRE questions?), and lexically dense (there’s got to be a 100 high-frequency words in here), your article is the perfect recommendation.

      Thanks 🙂

      • pavan February 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm #


        Its fully loaded with High Frequency words, I was able to add like 30 new words to my “New Words” list. 🙂

        It was a very challenging article even from an RC perspective!

        I had a couple of queries about RC,I have a Magoosh GMAT subscription would you recommend I do RC’s from your GMAT set , I am adept with easy to Medium RC’s, So is it advisable to do GMAT RC’s or stick to GRE level material ?

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele February 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

          Hi Pavan,

          GMAT RC’s are often times easier than GRE RC’s. The language is a lot more straightforward. The GMAT passages can be factually dense. Overall, I’d say there is a strong overlap in terms of the science passages, in terms of difficulty, etc. The GMAT tends to have more business-related passages, and the GRE tends to have more literature-related ( type of stuff) passages.

          Thanks again for the article, and good luck!

  2. Dee January 24, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Another great article, Chris! This right here is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this blog even though I am done with my GRE (and drowning in college applications currently).

    I just finished reading “The Luminaries” and I have to say it is a wealth of GRE vocabulary. There was at least one word on almost every page that reminded me of Magoosh flash cards and Vocab Wednesday – incontrovertible, officious, dolorous, etc etc

    I did learn a new word that is oft repeated in the book – compunction 🙂


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele January 24, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      Hi Dee,

      That’s definitely a compliment–that you are still coming back to the blog :). I imagine some students removing anything GRE from their minds as soon as they submit their official scores. But improving vocabulary–as well as expanding one’s mind–is a(n) ongoing process. So the Luminaries…I randomly picked it up a few weeks ago while browsing at a bookstore. And from only the few pages I read, I could tell it was an intelligent, well-crafted novel. Now I’m really intrigued :).

      Good luck with the app. process!

  3. Ayodeji January 17, 2014 at 4:26 am #

    thank you Chris. The words are very useful. Would be writing my GRE on the 27th of this month.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele January 23, 2014 at 10:44 am #

      You are welcome! Good luck 🙂

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