LSAT Reading : Inferences About the Opinions and Beliefs of Other People in Social Science Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #36 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

Adapted from The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature by William James (1902)

Most books on the philosophy of religion try to begin with a precise definition of what its essence consists of. Some of these would-be definitions may possibly come before us in later portions of this course, and I shall not be pedantic enough to enumerate any of them to you now. Meanwhile the very fact that they are so many and so different from one another is enough to prove that the word "religion" cannot stand for any single principle or essence, but is rather a collective name. The theorizing mind tends always to the oversimplification of its materials. This is the root of all that absolutism and one-sided dogmatism by which both philosophy and religion have been infested.

Let us not fall immediately into a one-sided view of our subject, but let us rather admit freely at the outset that we may very likely find no one essence, but many characters which may alternately be equally important to religion. If we should inquire for the essence of "government," for example, one man might tell us it was authority, another submission, another police, another an army, another an assembly, another a system of laws; yet all the while it would be true that no concrete government can exist without all these things, one of which is more important at one moment and others at another. The man who knows governments most completely is he who troubles himself least about a definition that shall give their essence. Enjoying an intimate acquaintance with all their particularities in turn, he would naturally regard an abstract conception in which these were unified as a thing more misleading than enlightening. And why may not religion be a conception equally complex?

The "absolutism and one-sided dogmatism" the author references in the second paragraph indicate that the author believes some people incorrectly view philosophy and religion as __________.

Possible Answers:

subjects not worthy of critical study

subjects with clear correct and incorrect answers to their inquiries

subjects that are not to be studied by people with rigid belief systems

subjects that can be studied easily and simply

subjects that are only of interest to specialists

Correct answer:

subjects with clear correct and incorrect answers to their inquiries

Explanation:

The author's argument in this passage is that religion is a multifaceted and complex subject that should be looked at in a new way. The "absolutism and one-sided dogmatism" he derides in the passage should be viewed as representing positions with which he disagrees. Additionally, the invocation of "absolutism and one-sided dogmatism" paints people who hold beliefs that fall into these categories as opposing the author's view of religion's definition.

Example Question #31 : Social Science

Adapted from Crime: Its Cause and Treatment by Clarence Darrow (1922)

The growth of the big cities has produced the child criminal. He is clearly marked and well-defined. He is always poor. Generally he has lost one or both parents in youth and has lived in the crowded districts where the home was congested. He has no adequate playground and he runs the streets or vacant, waste places. He associates and combines with others of his kind. He cannot or does not go to school. If he goes to school, he dreads to go and cannot learn the lessons in the books. He likes to loaf, just as all children like to play. He is often set to work. He has no trade and little capacity for skilled work that brings good wages and steady employment. He works no more than he needs to work. Every night and all the days that he can get are spent in idleness on the street with his "gang."

Many writers have classified the crimes that the boy commits. It is scarcely worth the while. He learns to steal or becomes a burglar largely for the love of adventure; he robs because it is exciting and may bring large returns. In his excursions to pilfer property he may kill, and then for the first time the State discovers that there is such a boy and sets in action the machinery to take his life. The city quite probably has given him a casual notice by arresting him a number of times and sending him to a juvenile prison, but it has rarely extended a hand to help him. Any man or woman who has fairly normal faculties, and can reason from cause to effect, knows that the crimes of children are really the crimes of the State and society which by neglect and active participation have made him what he is. When it is remembered that the man is the child grown up, it is equally easy to understand the adult prisoner.

From the information provided in the passage, the attitude of society towards juvenile crime is __________.

Possible Answers:

a non-issue that does not seriously affect most people

an issue that society is doing a good enough job addressing

a problem that has been best addressed through education and social services

a problem which should be adressed with serious force

a problem best left to the federal, rather than local, governments

Correct answer:

a problem which should be adressed with serious force

Explanation:

The author specifically notes in the second paragraph that most juvenile delinquents are left alone when they commit petty crimes, but then are handled quite harshly once they commit very serious crimes. While the author criticizes this phenomenon, this indicates that society as a whole tends to address the problem of juvenile delinquency with some force.

Example Question #32 : Social Science

Adapted from “The Hypocrisy of Puritanism” in Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman (1910)

Puritanism celebrated its reign of terror in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, destroying and crushing every manifestation of art and culture. It was the spirit of Puritanism which robbed Shelley of his children, because he would not bow to the dicta of religion. It was the same narrow spirit which alienated Byron from his native land, because that great genius rebelled against the monotony, dullness, and pettiness of his country. It was Puritanism, too, that forced some of England's freest women into the conventional lie of marriage: Mary Wollstonecraft and, later, George Eliot. And recently Puritanism has demanded another toll—the life of Oscar Wilde. In fact, Puritanism has never ceased to be the most pernicious factor in the domain of John Bull, acting as censor of the artistic expression of his people, and stamping its approval only on the dullness of middle-class respectability.

It is therefore sheer British jingoism that points to America as the country of Puritanic provincialism. It is quite true that our life is stunted by Puritanism, and that the latter is killing what is natural and healthy in our impulses. But it is equally true that it is to England that we are indebted for transplanting this spirit on American soil. It was bequeathed to us by the Pilgrim fathers. Fleeing from persecution and oppression, the Pilgrims of Mayflower fame established in the New World a reign of Puritanic tyranny and crime. The history of New England, and especially of Massachusetts, is full of the horrors that have turned life into gloom, joy into despair, naturalness into disease, honesty and truth into hideous lies and hypocrisies. The ducking-stool and whipping post, as well as numerous other devices of torture, were the favorite English methods for American purification.

Boston, the city of culture, has gone down in the annals of Puritanism as the "Bloody Town." It rivaled Salem, even, in her cruel persecution of unauthorized religious opinions. On the now famous Common a half-naked woman, with a baby in her arms, was publicly whipped for the crime of free speech; and on the same spot Mary Dyer, another Quaker woman, was hanged in 1659. In fact, Boston has been the scene of more than one wanton crime committed by Puritanism. Salem, in the summer of 1692, killed eighteen people for witchcraft. Nor was Massachusetts alone in driving out the devil by fire and brimstone. As Canning justly said: "The Pilgrim fathers infested the New World to redress the balance of the Old." The horrors of that period have found their most supreme expression in the American classic, The Scarlet Letter.

It can be inferred from the passage that most British people view Puritanism as __________.

Possible Answers:

a problem mostly belonging to the United States

characteristic of a cherished historical golden era

a vital element of British culture

an obnoxious imposition on their culture

a deeply problematic element of their culture

Correct answer:

a problem mostly belonging to the United States

Explanation:

The author does list a host of problems Britain has had with dismissing artists out of a Puritan sensibility. The author then specifically criticizes "British jingoism" for throwing Puritanism onto Americans as their cultural problem. This indicates that the British largely ignore the Puritan elements of their own culture and see it as predominantly an American phenomenon.

Example Question #3 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Social Science Passages

Adapted from The Elementary Forms of Religious Life by Émile Durkheim (trans. Joseph Ward Swain) (1915)

For a long time it has been known that the first systems of representations with which men have pictured to themselves the world and themselves were of religious origin. There is no religion that is not a cosmology at the same time that it is a speculation — upon divine things. If philosophy and the sciences were born of religion, it is because religion began by taking the place of the sciences and philosophy. But it has been less frequently- noticed that religion has not confined itself to enriching the human intellect, formed beforehand, with a certain number of ideas; it has contributed to forming the intellect itself. Men owe to it not only a good part of the substance of their knowledge, but also the form in which this knowledge has been elaborated.

At the roots of all our judgments there are a certain number of essential ideas which dominate all our intellectual life; they are what philosophers since Aristotle have called the categories of the understanding: ideas of time, space, class, number, cause, substance, personality, etc. They correspond to the most universal properties of things. They are like the solid frame which encloses all thought; this does not seem to be able to liberate itself from them without destroying itself, for it seems that we cannot think of objects that are not in time and space, which have no number, etc. Other ideas are contingent and unsteady; we can conceive of their being unknown to a man, a society or an epoch; but these others appear to be nearly inseparable from the normal working of the intellect. They are like the frame-work of the intelligence. Now when primitive religious beliefs are systematically analysed, the principal categories are naturally found. They are born in religion and of religion; they are a product of religious thought.

It can be inferred from the passage that most people view "primitive religions" as __________.

Possible Answers:

significantly different from other kinds of religion

able to develop more powerful answers to questions of philosophy and morality

religions that largely ignore questions of philosophy

kinds of religion that only address cosmology but not philosophy

largely similar to other kinds of religion

Correct answer:

significantly different from other kinds of religion

Explanation:

The author describes "primitive religions" in the next to last sentence as holding the same principal categories described earlier. This indicates that the author views primitive religions as operating as all religions do, which indicates that most people view primitive religions as something quite different from other religions. That the author feels the need to specifically include "primitive" religious thinking with other kinds of religious thinking indicates that many people would find something new or informative in their being included in the categorization.

Example Question #1 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from Leon Gambetta's Educating the Peasantry (1869)

(1) We have received a classical or scientific education— even the imperfect one of our day. (3) We have learned to read our history, to speak our language, while (a cruel thing to say) so many of our countrymen can only babble! Ah! (4) That peasant, bound as he is to the tillage of the soil, who bravely carries the burden of his day, with no other consolation than that of leaving to his children the paternal fields, perhaps increased an acre in extent; all his passions, joys, and fears concentrated in the fate of his patrimony. (5) Of the external world, of the society in which he lives, he apprehends only legends and rumors. (6) He is the prey of the cunning and fraudulent. (7) He strikes, without knowing it, the bosom of the revolution, his benefactress… (8) It is to the peasantry, then, that we must address ourselves. (9) We must raise and instruct them… Enlightened and free peasants who are able to represent themselves… should be a tribute rendered to the progress of the civilization of the masses.

(10) …Progress will be denied us as long as the French democracy fail to demonstrate that if we would remake our country, if we would bring back her grandeur, her power, and her genius it is of vital interest to her superior classes to elevate and emancipate this people of workers, who hold in reserve a force still virgin but able to develop inexhaustible treasures of activity and aptitude. (11) We must learn and then teach the peasant what he owes to Society and what he has the right to ask of her.

(12) On the day when it shall be well understood that we have no grander or more pressing work; that we should put aside and postpone all other reforms: that we have but one task— the Instruction of the people, the diffusion of education, the encouragement of science— on that day a great step will have been taken in your regeneration. (13) But our action needs to be a double one, that it may bear upon the body as well as the wind. (14) To be exact, each man should be intelligent, trained not only to think, read, and reason, but made able to act and fight. (15) Everywhere beside the teacher we should place the gymnast and the soldier, to the end that our children, our soldiers, our fellow citizens, may be able to hold a sword, to carry a gun on a long march, to sleep under the canopy of the stars, to support valiantly all the hardships demanded of a patriot. (16) We must push to the front education. (17) Otherwise we only make a success of letters, but do not create a bulwark of patriots...

Which of the following most closely matches the author's beliefs regarding education?

Possible Answers:

Education is necessary to make peasants engaged with political society 

Military training is necessary to defend the French government 

Scientific education is necessary to improve the living conditions of peasant farmers 

Education of peasants will enable France to gain imperial glory 

Correct answer:

Education is necessary to make peasants engaged with political society 

Explanation:

The author sees a connection between the effectiveness of a revolution and the education of the peasantry, but he also views education as a means to create an engaged peasantry. We see evidence of this in Sentence 11, "We must learn and then teach the peasant what he owes to Society and what he has the right to ask of her." The author makes no reference to imperial glory. While he does reference an "ability to act and fight," he uses an analogy of military training to underscore the importance of education and further does not advocate defending the French government. The final incorrect answer, "scientific education is necessary to improve the living conditions of peasant farmers", is incorrect because the author, while referencing the deplorable conditions of the peasantry in the first paragraph, advocates for education as a means to change society rather than improve the lives of peasant farmers. 

Example Question #32 : Extrapolating From Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

A species originates, and a type becomes established and strong in the long struggle with essentially constant unfavourable conditions. On the other hand, it is known by the experience of breeders that species which receive superabundant nourishment, and in general a surplus of protection and care, immediately tend in the most marked way to develop variations... Now look at an aristocratic commonwealth, say an ancient Greek polis, or Venice, as a voluntary or involuntary contrivance for the purpose of rearing human beings; there are there men beside one another thrown upon their own resources, who want to make their species prevail, chiefly because they must prevail, or else run the terrible danger of being exterminated. The favour, the superabundance, the protection are there lacking under which variations are fostered; the species needs itself as species, as something which, precisely by virtue of its hardness, its uniformity, and simplicity of structure, can in general prevail and make itself permanent in constant struggle with its neighbors, or with rebellious or rebellion-threatening vassals. The most varied experience teaches it what are the qualities to which it principally owes the fact that it still exists, in spite of all Gods and men, and has hitherto been victorious: these qualities it calls virtues, and these virtues alone it develops to maturity. It does so with severity, indeed it desires severity; every aristocratic morality is intolerant in the education of youth, in the control of women, in the marriage customs, in the relations of old and young, in the penal laws (which have an eye only for the degenerating): it counts intolerance itself among the virtues, under the name of “justice.” A type with few, but very marked features, a species of severe, warlike, wisely silent, reserved and reticent men… is thus established, unaffected by the vicissitudes of generations; the constant struggle with uniform unfavourable conditions is, as already remarked, the cause of a type becoming stable and hard. Finally, however, a happy state of things results, the enormous tension is relaxed; there are perhaps no more enemies among the neighboring peoples, and the means of life, even of the enjoyment of life, are preset in superabundance. With one stroke the bond and constraint of the old discipline severs: it is no longer regarded as necessary, as a condition of existence— if it would continue, it can only do so as a form of luxury, as an archaising taste. Variations, whether they be deviations (into the higher, finer, and rarer), or deterioration and  monstrosities, appear suddenly on the scene in the greatest exuberance and splendor; the individual dares to be individual and detach himself. At this turning-point of history there manifest themselves, side by side, and often mixed and entangled together, a magnificent, manifold, virgin-forest-like up-growth and up-striving, a kind of tropical tempo in the rivalry of growth, and an extraordinary decay and self-destruction, owing to the savagery opposing and seemingly exploding egoisms, which strive with one another “for sun and light,” and can no longer assign any limit, restraint, or forebearance for themselves by means of the hitherto existing morality…

What argument is Nietzsche making about the residents of an aristocratic commonwealth? 

Possible Answers:

They will be exterminated

They are all rebellious 

They lack "variations" because they prioritize survival

They receive a surplus of protection and care

They do not, in reality, exist

Correct answer:

They lack "variations" because they prioritize survival

Explanation:

Nietzsche begins this passage with a description of species variation to set the scene for his analysis of aristocratic commonwealths. Unlike species which receive the care and protection in order to form variations, Nietzsche argues that in "ancient Greek polis, or Venice... the protection are there lacking under which variations are fostered." In these aristocratic commonwealths, the need of the species to prevail and survive takes priority. Nietzsche notes that mankind in these commonwealths would run the risk of being exterminated if they didn't value prevailing over variation, but does not cite extermination as an immediate reality. The final option, which references "rebellious or rebellion-threatening vassals" refers to a threat to the commonwealth, not a behavior trait of members of the commonwealth.

Example Question #2 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

A species originates, and a type becomes established and strong in the long struggle with essentially constant unfavourable conditions. On the other hand, it is known by the experience of breeders that species which receive superabundant nourishment, and in general a surplus of protection and care, immediately tend in the most marked way to develop variations... Now look at an aristocratic commonwealth, say an ancient Greek polis, or Venice, as a voluntary or involuntary contrivance for the purpose of rearing human beings; there are there men beside one another thrown upon their own resources, who want to make their species prevail, chiefly because they must prevail, or else run the terrible danger of being exterminated. The favour, the superabundance, the protection are there lacking under which variations are fostered; the species needs itself as species, as something which, precisely by virtue of its hardness, its uniformity, and simplicity of structure, can in general prevail and make itself permanent in constant struggle with its neighbors, or with rebellious or rebellion-threatening vassals. The most varied experience teaches it what are the qualities to which it principally owes the fact that it still exists, in spite of all Gods and men, and has hitherto been victorious: these qualities it calls virtues, and these virtues alone it develops to maturity. It does so with severity, indeed it desires severity; every aristocratic morality is intolerant in the education of youth, in the control of women, in the marriage customs, in the relations of old and young, in the penal laws (which have an eye only for the degenerating): it counts intolerance itself among the virtues, under the name of “justice.” A type with few, but very marked features, a species of severe, warlike, wisely silent, reserved and reticent men… is thus established, unaffected by the vicissitudes of generations; the constant struggle with uniform unfavourable conditions is, as already remarked, the cause of a type becoming stable and hard. Finally, however, a happy state of things results, the enormous tension is relaxed; there are perhaps no more enemies among the neighboring peoples, and the means of life, even of the enjoyment of life, are preset in superabundance. With one stroke the bond and constraint of the old discipline severs: it is no longer regarded as necessary, as a condition of existence— if it would continue, it can only do so as a form of luxury, as an archaising taste. Variations, whether they be deviations (into the higher, finer, and rarer), or deterioration and  monstrosities, appear suddenly on the scene in the greatest exuberance and splendor; the individual dares to be individual and detach himself. At this turning-point of history there manifest themselves, side by side, and often mixed and entangled together, a magnificent, manifold, virgin-forest-like up-growth and up-striving, a kind of tropical tempo in the rivalry of growth, and an extraordinary decay and self-destruction, owing to the savagery opposing and seemingly exploding egoisms, which strive with one another “for sun and light,” and can no longer assign any limit, restraint, or forebearance for themselves by means of the hitherto existing morality…

Which of the following describes the set of things which an aristocratic society views as virtues, according to the author?

Possible Answers:

The qualities that encourage rebellion

The qualities that the society finds morally upstanding

The qualities that enable species variation

The qualities that have encouraged conformity to the dominant ideologies

The qualities which have furthered the species' survival

Correct answer:

The qualities which have furthered the species' survival

Explanation:

Nietzsche emphasizes that 'virtues' are considered those qualities which have furthered a species' survival, as evidenced by his comment that "The most varied experience teaches it what are the qualities to which it principally owes the fact that it still exists, in spite of all Gods and men, and has hitherto been victorious: these qualities it calls virtues." The author does not make a reference to things which are "morally upstanding." Although he speaks about species variation, he explicitly argues that variation occurs when a species has experienced a "superabundance of protection," not when it is struggling to survive. The final incorrect answer choice, "the qualities which encourage rebellion," is incorrect because Nietzsche emphasizes the need of a species to protect itself from " rebellious or rebellion-threatening vassals."

Example Question #3 : Inferences About The Opinions And Beliefs Of Other People In Social Science Passages

Passage adapted from The Untroubled Mind (1915) by Herbert J. Hall.

When I go about among my patients, most of them, as it happens, “nervously” sick, I sometimes stop to consider why it is they are ill. I know that some are so because of physical weakness over which they have no control, that some are suffering from the effects of carelessness, some from willfulness, and more from simple ignorance of the rules of the game. There are so many rules that no one will ever know them‌ all, but it seems that we live in a world of laws, and that if we transgress those laws by ever so little, we must suffer equally, whether our transgression is a mistake or not, and whether we happen to be saints or sinners. There are laws also which have to do with the recovery of poise and balance when these have been lost. These laws are less well observed and understood than those which determine our downfall.

The more gross illnesses, from accident, contagion, and malignancy, we need not consider here, but only those intangible injuries that disable people who are relatively sound in the physical sense. It is true that nervous troubles may cause physical complications and that physical disease very often coexists with nervous illness, but it is better for us now to make an artificial separation. Just what happens in the human economy when a “nervous breakdown” comes, nobody seems to know, but mind and body cooperate to make the‌ patient miserable and helpless. It may be nature’s way of holding us up and preventing further injury. The hold-up is severe, usually, and becomes in itself a thing to be managed.

The rules we have wittingly or unwittingly broken are often unknown to us, but they exist in the All-Wise Providence, and we may guess by our own suffering how far we have overstepped them. If a man runs into a door in the dark, we know all about that,—the case is simple,—but if he runs overtime at his office and hastens to be rich with the result of a nervous dyspepsia—that is a mystery. Here is a girl who “came out” last year. She was apparently strong and her mother was ambitious for her social progress. That meant four nights a week for several months at dances and dinners, getting home at 3 a.m. or later. It was gay and delightful while it lasted, but it could not last, and the girl went to pieces suddenly; her back gave out because it was not strong enough to stand the dancing and the long-continued physical strain. The nerves gave out because she did not give her faculties time to rest, and perhaps because of a love affair that supervened. The result was a year of invalidism, and then, because the rules of recovery were not understood, several years more of convalescence. Such common rules should be well enough understood, but they are broken everywhere by the wisest people.

Based on the information provided in the passage, medical professionals most likely view mental and physical health as ______________.

Possible Answers:

both being relatively inconsequential

able to be cured using similar methods of treatment

afflicting patients in roughly equal measure

extremely different aspects of health

needing to be treated in exactly the same way

Correct answer:

extremely different aspects of health

Explanation:

The author discusses the immense challenges facing medical professionals in addressing mental health problems. These challenges are compared only obliquely to the challenges of physical health treatment, but such references show that many medical professionals view physical and mental health treatment as extremely different from each other.

Example Question #36 : Social Science

The desire for a good meal is a near universal fact of human existence. Yet precisely what makes a meal “good” is highly dependent on personal preferences, cultural traditions, and the particular circumstances surrounding the search for a satisfying dining experience. The quality of the food being eaten might not even be the number one criteria in making a diner find a meal enjoyable, although it would be the main driving force in choosing what to eat and why. Certainly, the environment plays a large part in creating feelings of satisfaction during a meal, as no one has ever enjoyed a meal in a mood of anxiety and stress or in a setting which was uncomfortable. Even the most basic meals are enhanced when they are served by beloved family members in a festive setting. Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners are always well remembered, even when the turkey and dressing are premade, reheated items. The principle of dining environment also extends to eating out, as a restaurant can serve mediocre food in a pleasant environment with tremendous service and do quite well for itself. Of course, the restaurant with remarkable service in an enjoyable setting that also has high quality food will beat everything. Well flavored and perfectly cooked food hits the basic pleasure centers of the brain in a straightforward way, and any good tasting food will make a person much happier and satisfied. If it comes from a roadside shack, a family diner, or a three star Michelin restaurant can make no difference to the tastebuds. The overall atmosphere and experience is what makes good food into a great meal, and what causes this transformation depends on the background of the individual doing the eating. A person born and raised in Alabama who grew up regularly going to a shack serving excellent barbecue in its back yard will consider this the ideal dining experience. A native Osakan who once a week went to a ramen shop will find slurping noodles to be impossible to surpass as a meal. Meanwhile, a native Lyonnais will desire the finest gastronomic creations served in the fanciest restaurants to be the only acceptable good dining experience. The beauty of human interaction with food is that it is both one of the most elementary and universal experiences of the human condition, while also being absolutely particular to an individual’s culture, experience, and desires.

Based on the information presented in the passage, it can be assumed that most people view dining in a restaurant as __________.

Possible Answers:

only worthwhile if it is at fine dining establishment

an enjoyable and desirable way to dine

only enjoyable if it is done in a casual and quick atmosphere

something that should only be done while traveling

far inferior to having a home cooked meal

Correct answer:

an enjoyable and desirable way to dine

Explanation:

While the author notes that a restaurant is not a requirement for having an enjoyable dining experience, specifically noting Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, there is also a recurrent theme in the passage that a variety of restaurants are both desired and enjoyable. This indicates that many people enjoy going to restaurants and that the kind of dining establishment makes little difference to a diner's basic enjoyment.

Example Question #37 : Social Science

"Team Sports" (2016)

Sports may seem to rule the world. The World Cup for association football, better known as soccer in North America and simply football in Britain, is the most watched event across the globe every four years. The Super Bowl, the championship for American football’s National Football League, has become a topic of conversation internationally, despite the localized reach of its parent league. The Indian Premier League tapped into a cricket mad population of over one billion, giving India a new national obsession in the twenty-first century.

Despite their ubiquity in our modern society, organized team sports are largely the invention of, to borrow from Sir Winston Churchill’s history writing, English speaking peoples during the nineteenth century. This is not to say that certain kinds of large scale games were never played, but they were seen primarily as children’s diversions. When played by adults, they took an informal, chaotic nature. “Football” often merely described a game played on foot rather than horseback, and it often had a simple target of one group of men attempting to get a ball past a parish or county boundary, with their opposition able to stop them anyway they saw fit. Cricket, the game of the upper classes that could play on days other than Sunday, was early developed compared to other sports, but it only had set numbers of players and regular length of games beginning in the mid-eighteenth century.

The nineteenth century saw a positive flood of rules for what were previously considered ways to keep kids amused during an afternoon. In New York, a men’s society calling themselves the Knickerbocker Club set down a firm set of rules for baseball, so that they could play it among themselves and against other teams. At England’s Cambridge University in 1848, a large group of students put together their different forms of football to create a more universal set of rules. The Melbourne Football Club from Victoria, Australia officially set down their own rules for their particular form of football in 1859, giving rise to the game now known as “Australian football.” The late nineteenth century saw the holdouts against the original Cambridge rules develop Rugby football on the principle that the ball should be handled occasionally, which would be modified into Rugby Union in the south of England, Rugby League in the north of England, and American and Canadian football in North America.

This obsession with rules might seem like a particularly Victorian pastime, making sure everything had its place and never allowing anything to get out of order. Yet it was also borne out of the fact that railroads meant that what used to be county pastimes could now be played at a national and even international level and newspapers allowed the stories of far away games to be transmitted almost instantaneously. The extra component that made organized team sports come into being would appear to be the will of the British and their former and current colonies to exert control and authority over every element of life.

Based on the information provided in the passage, it can be inferred that nineteenth century people viewed sports as _______________.

Possible Answers:

activities which needed to be left to children and never participated in by adults

a detrimental part of many deficient educational programs

something that should only be enjoyed by a small minority of people

a strong component of a healthy culture

elements of rural life which were not central to life in new, larger cities

Correct answer:

a strong component of a healthy culture

Explanation:

The passage details the way in which team sports went from children's pastimes and occasional recreations to central elements of life in the nineteenth century. In particular, the author highlights how people took the initiative to strengthen the role of sports. This means that it is key that people in the nineteenth century saw sports as being part of a healthy culture.

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