Archive for the ‘Famous people’ Category

Real World Graduation, #93: Actors and Dictators

RealWorldGraduation_Question_93_Actors_and_Dictators   <– PDF

A wealthy American-born celebrity Hollywood actor routinely visits a nation that is ruled by a ruthless dictator.  Although the dictator uses populist rhetoric, the economy and political system is actually run as a closely-held corrupt oligarchy, and the poor continue to be worse off each year.  Also, the people have no civil liberties to speak of (and in fact are prohibited from immigrating out of the nation).  However, the actor consistently praises the dictator as a man of the people, a champion of the poor, a defender of the rights of the common man, and as a model of what every government leader should be.  The actor and dictator are not related by blood or marriage, nor does the actor have business or family ties to this nation.  Why would a famous American actor bother to make any comments about the internal politics and economics of a nation run by a dictator?

a) The actor recognizes that poverty can only be alleviated if the government steps in and guides each persons work, ensuring that each person is assigned the work for which he is best suited.

b) The actor thinks it important to give dictators some positive publicity in the interest of fairness; the actor knows how it feels to be rejected since he had many unsuccessful auditions early in his career

c) The actor wants to help the poor people of the foreign nation by giving the dictator sufficient publicity so that the people can understand why the dictator’s programs are good for them

d) The actor admires the orderliness of the dictator’s nation, in contrast to the usual chaos on a movie set

e) Some combination of the above

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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RealWorldGraduation_Question_70_CharitableFoundations   <– PDF

A famous person decides to set up a tax-exempt Foundation. He names the Foundation after himself (like the Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations), files all the necessary paperwork, and begins to solicit tax-deductible contributions from the public.  Although the Foundation has zero assets at the beginning, the Foundation receives a great deal of money from the public owing to the founder’s personal popularity.  After withholding a small percentage for administrative costs, he bundles all the contributions received from the public into large amounts and gives the money away to various causes, such as AIDS research, literacy, etc.  All of the donations are made in the name of the Foundation.  What is the main benefit of this arrangement?

a) People get to take a tax deduction for their contributions.

b) The money contributed, except for administrative costs, goes to good causes that help the less fortunate.

c) Enough money can be concentrated in each of the charitable areas to make a real difference.

d) People feel better about themselves by helping others.

e) All of the above.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, Question 67: Actors’ Causes

RealWorldGraduation_Question_67_ActorsCauses   <– PDF

An actor is anyone who pretends to be someone they’re not. If an actor works hard and persistently studies to become skillful at his profession, he can sometimes achieve great fame and earn a lot of money (that is, he becomes a celebrity, which is defined as being someone who is famous for being famous).  When such an actor subsequently endorses a political proposition or supports some cause, he is often able to persuade many other people to adopt his views.  Why are actors so successful in political causes?

a) Acting skill is extremely rare, and those who have been blessed with it generally have a higher intellectual capacity. The general public is smart enough to recognize superior intellect, and is therefore inclined to trust the opinions of actors.

b) Acting skill requires an unusual amount of insight into the character of people, which enables the actor to acquire a very keen sense of morality. The general public is smart enough to recognize superior moral perception, and is therefore inclined to imitate the actor and adopt his views.

c) Achieving success as an actor requires an inordinate amount of hard work that most people cannot even imagine. Those who have put in this kind of effort demonstrate their total commitment to something; therefore, their endorsement of a political cause indicates a true level of commitment not observed among ordinary people.  The general public is smart enough to recognize the virtue of sincere commitment, and is therefore inclined to imitate the actor.

d) Being a famous and wealthy actor affords him the luxury of leisure time which he can use to increase his knowledge on subjects of interest to society. This is aided by his access to people of greater knowledge and he is then able to acquire true wisdom on issues important to society.  The general public is smart enough to recognize true wisdom, and is therefore inclined to defer to the actor for guidance.

e) Is generally one of the above, although it may vary from person to person and may be dependent on the importance of the political cause.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, Question 66: Charles Darwin

RealWorldGraduation_Question_66_CharlesDarwin   <– PDF

Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) was an English “naturalist”, that is, a scientist who studies nature and the workings of nature. He is highly regarded as an honest, patient worker who sifted through the facts available to him, testing various hypotheses per the scientific method, until he obtained some measure of consistency that allowed him to propose theories.  His most famous theories have been combined under a general concept of “the theory of evolution”.   He presented his work on “evolution” in two books, The Origin of the Species By Means of Natural Selection (1859) and The Descent of Man and Selection In Relation to Sex (1871).  Consider the following passages from Charles Darwin’s original work; the portions in square brackets are explanatory notes that I have added.

“As species have generally diverged in character during their long course of descent and modification, we can understand why it is that the more ancient forms, or early progenitors of each group, so often occupy a position in some degree intermediate between existing groups. Recent forms are generally looked upon as being, on the whole, higher in the scale of organization than ancient forms; and they must be higher in so far as the later and more improved forms have conquered the older and less improved forms in the struggle for life; they have also generally had their organs more specialized for different functions.  This fact is perfectly compatible with numerous beings still retaining simple and but little improved structures, fitted for simple conditions of life; it is likewise compatible with some forms having retrograded in organization, by having at each stage of descent better fitted for new and degraded habits of life.” [1]

“The similar framework of bones in the hand of a man, wing of a bat, fin of a porpoise, and leg of the horse, — the same number of vertebrae forming the neck of the giraffe and of the elephant, — and innumerable other such facts, at once explain themselves on the theory of descent with slow and slight successive modifications. …  On the principle of successive variations not always supervening at an early age, and being inherited at a corresponding not early period of life, we clearly see why the embryos of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes should be so closely similar, and so unlike the adult forms.” [2]

“Throughout whole classes various structures are formed on the same pattern, and at a very early age the embryos closely resemble each other. Therefore I cannot doubt that the theory of descent with modifications embraces all the members of the same great class or kingdom.  I believe that animals are descended from at most only four or five progenitors [ancestors], and plants from an equal or lesser number.” [3]

[Note: Apparently “class” and “kingdom” in this context are synonymous, and refer to mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and insects. I have inferred this from two sources.  The first is a glossary in The Origin of the Species, in which “mammalia” are called the “highest class of animals”. The second is a section in Chapter 21 of The Descent of Man (paragraph 19) in which Darwin states: “In the several great classes of the animal kingdom,–in mammals, birds, reptiles, fishes, insects, and even crustaceans…”] 

“The main conclusion here arrived at, and now held by many naturalists who are well competent to form a sound judgment is that man is descended from some less highly organized form. The grounds upon which this conclusion rests will never be shaken, for the close similarity between man and the lower animals in embryonic development, as well as in innumerable points of structure and constitution, both of high and of the most trifling importance,–the rudiments which he retains, and the abnormal reversions to which he is occasionally liable, — are facts which cannot be disputed.” [4]

From the preceding statements, which is most likely within the kingdom of mammals, considered over the entire course of earth’s history?

a) That birds are descended from dinosaurs

b) That humans are descended from monkeys

c) That monkeys are descended from tigers

d) That elephants are descended from rabbits

e) That cats are descended from dogs

[1]     Charles Darwin, The Origin of the Species By Means of Natural Selection, Chapter 15 “Recapitulation and Conclusion”, paragraph 30.

[2]     Charles Darwin, The Origin of the Species By Means of Natural Selection, Chapter 15 “Recapitulation and Conclusion”, paragraph 35.

[3]     Charles Darwin, The Origin of the Species By Means of Natural Selection, Chapter 15 “Recapitulation and Conclusion”, paragraph 46.

[4]     Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection In Relation to Sex, Chapter 21 “General Summary and Conclusion”, paragraph 2

(The answer is on p. 3 of the PDF.)

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