Sample Response to Real GRE Issue Questions
Issue # 10: "Humanity has
made little real progress over the past century or so. Technological
innovations have taken place, but the overall condition of humanity is no
better. War, violence and poverty are still with us. Technology cannot
change the condition of humanity."
The discussion of this statement turns on what is meant by "little real
progress" from the first sentence, "the overall condition of humanity" in
the second sentence, and "the condition of humanity" from the third
sentence. To be sure, war, violence and poverty are still with us and we
as mankind are probably more aware of these problems worldwide than ever
before thanks to advances in technology and communication. But depending
upon the definition of progress and the condition of humanity, this would
appear to be an incorrect statement.
First of all, the phrase "little real progress" from the first sentence
must be defined. If the author defines progress as elimination of death,
war, violence and poverty, then perhaps it could be stated that humankind
has not made much improvement over the past one hundred years. People are
still dying, wars are still being fought, violence is present almost
everywhere and there are most likely people in every country in the world
living in poverty. However, if the term "progress" is defined not as
elimination of these problems but rather a reduction in them, then great
progress has been made over the past century. Life expectancies are up in
nearly every country of the world due to improvements in medicine and the
scientific study of the human body. War and violence, although still
present, has been reduced and to a large part confined to certain areas of
the world rather than the global wars of the past such was World Wars I
and II. Poverty has also been reduced as international trade has lead to
economic improvements in many formerly impoverished nations. Very real
progress has been made in these areas over the past one hundred years.
Secondly, the phrases "the overall condition of humanity" and "the
condition of humanity" must be defined. If the terms mean that we are all
still born into pain, suffer many tragedies during our lives, and still
die in the end, then of course the overall condition of humanity is no
better than it was one hundred or even one hundred thousand years ago.
Life is still life, and no matter what technological innovations come
along, it is unlikely that the basic facts of living as a member of the
human race will ever change. However, if the term means how we are able to
live our lives during the time that we are given, then again tremendous
progress has been made during the past century. Cures have been found for
many diseases, some of which have officially been completely eliminated.
Medical treatments for other diseases have made them less deadly or less
debilitating. For example, many cancer victims that would have died in the
past can now go on living comfortably and cancer-free after treatment.
Diabetics who would have died in the past can now live nearly normal
lives. Even poor eyesight can be effectively eliminated through laser
surgery. It would seem to be beyond argument that overall, the condition
of humanity is much better now than it was one century ago.
If one takes a very narrow definition of "progress" and "the condition of
humanity", it could be fairly stated that mankind has made little in the
way of advancement over the past century. Millions of people worldwide
still live in poverty. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is
killing millions of people with no cure in sight. War and violence
continues in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan. But to take this
narrow point of view would be to ignore the obvious tremendous advances
that have been made over the past one hundred years by the human race. As
mankind continues on into the twenty-first century, it would be preferable
to consider all that has been accomplished over the past one hundred years
and to look ahead to future advances over the next century instead of
ignoring mankind's obviously improved circumstances today.