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《考研英语阅读理解100篇 基础版》第8章 学科类 Unit 96

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2019年01月24日

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Some people,notably Richard Dawkins,an evolutionary biologist at Oxford University,regard religion as a disease.It spreads,they suggest,like a virus,except that the“viruses” are similar to those infecting computers—bits of cultural software that take over the hardware of the brain and make it do irrational things. 
Corey Fincher,of the University of New Mexico,has a different hypothesis for the origin of religious diversity.He thinks not that religions are like disease but that they are responses to disease—or,rather,to the threat of disease.If he is right,then people who believe that their religion protects them from harm may be correct,although the protection is of a different sort from the supernatural one they perceive. 
Mr.Fincher is not arguing that disease-protection is religion's main function.Biologists have different hypotheses for that.Not all follow Dr Dawkins in thinking it pathological.Some see it either as a way of promoting group solidarity in a hostile world,or as an accidental consequence of the predisposition to such solidarity.This solidarity-promotion is one of Mr.Fincher's starting points.The other is that bacteria,viruses and other parasites are powerful drivers of evolution.Many biologists think that sex,for example,is a response to parasitism.The continual mixing of genes that it promotes means that at least some offspring of any pair of parents are likely to be immune to a given disease. 
Mr.Fincher and his colleague Randy Thornhill wondered if disease might be driving important aspects of human social behaviour,too.Their hypothesis is that in places where disease is rampant,it behoves groups not to mix with one another more than is strictly necessary,in order to reduce the risk of contagion.They therefore predict that patterns of behaviour which promote group exclusivity will be stronger in disease-ridden areas.Since religious differences are certainly in that category,they specifically predict that the number of different religions in a place will vary with the disease load. 
Proving the point involved collating a lot of previous research.Even defining what constitutes a religion is fraught with difficulty.But using accepted definitions of uniqueness,exclusivity,autonomy and superiority to other religions they calculated that the average number of religions per country is 31.The range,though,is enormous—from 3 to 643.C觝te d’lvoire,for example,has 76 while Norway has 13,and Brazil has 159 while Canada has 15.They then did the same thing for the number of parasitic diseases found in each country.The average here was 200,with a range from 178 to 248. 
Obviously,some of the differences between countries are caused by differences in their areas and populations.But these can be accounted for statistically.When they have been,the correlation between the number of religions in a place and how disease-ridden it is looks impressive.There is less than one chance in 10,000 that it has come about accidentally. 
The two researchers also looked at anthropological data on how much people in“traditional”(i.e.,non-urban)societies move around in different parts of the world.They found that in more religiously diverse(and more disease-ridden)places people move shorter distances than in healthier,religiously monotonous societies.The implication is that religious diversity causes people to keep themselves to themselves,and thus makes it harder for them to catch germs from infidels. 
Of course,correlation is not causation.But religion is not the only cultural phenomenon that stops groups of people from mixing.Language has the same effect,and in another,as yet unpublished study Mr.Fincher and Dr Thornhill found a similar relationship there too.Moreover,their search of the literature turned up work which suggests that xenophobia is linked psychologically with fear of disease (the dirty foreigner...).Perhaps,then,the underlying reason why there is so much hostility between ethnic groups is nothing to do with the groups themselves,but instead with the diseases they may bring. 
注(1):本文选自Economist; 
注(2):本文习题命题模仿对象:第1、2题分别模仿1998年真题Text 5第1题和Text 4第2题;第3题模仿1993年真题Text 2第1题;第4题模仿1999年真题Text 1第3题;第5题模仿1997年真题Text 4第4题。 
1.What can we know about the views of Richard Dawkins and Corey Fincher from the first two paragraphs? 
A) They disagree on which kind of mental disease religion belongs to. 
B) Fincher hypothesizes that religion results from how people react to disease. 
C) Fincher thinks it is inappropriate to compare religion with computer virus. 
D) Dawkins opposes the viewpoint that religion is a response to disease. 
2.Which of the following best describes the two starting points of Mr.Fincher's hypothesis? 
A) Group survival and immunity.B) Group solidarity and genetic mutation. 
C) Group connection and parasitism drive.D) Group hostility and parenting. 
3.By saying the areas are“disease-ridden”(Line 5,Paragraph 4),the author means those areas are ______. 
A) driven by diseases 
B) with relatively fewer diseases 
C) rife with various diseases 
D) featured with incurable diseases 
4.The anthropological data that they studied demonstrates that ______. 
A) the sanitation of an area is closely relevant to the number of its religions 
B) it is strongly convincing that religious diversity restricts people from traveling 
C) people who live in healthier areas are aware that religious diversity brings disease 
D) religious and language work together to cause xenophobia 
5.The best title for this passage could be ______. 
A) Religion as a Response to Disease 
B) Religion as a Disease 
C) Religion Diversity and Disease 
D) Religion and Biological Research 

有些人认为宗教是一种疾病,牛津大学进化生物学家理查德·道金斯就是这一观点的代表。持这一观点的人认为,宗教像病毒一样到处传播,只不过这种“病毒”更像是计算机病毒——一些文化软件被恶意植入人们的大脑硬件中,从而控制大脑硬件,使其做出各种不理性的事情。 
关于宗教多样性问题的起源,新墨西哥大学的科里·芬彻则有不同的假设。他认为宗教并不像疾病,而是对疾病的反应——或者说是对疾病威胁的反应。如果他的假设成立,那些相信宗教可以保佑自己免受伤害的人们或许是有道理的,尽管这种保护并非来自他们所信奉的超自然的力量。 
芬彻教授的观点并不是说宗教的主要功能是防御疾病。关于这一点生物学家提出了诸多假设,而并不是所有人都接受道金斯先生关于宗教是一种疾病的假设。一些人将宗教视为乱世之中促进群体团结的途径,抑或是追求团结过程中的一个意外结果。这种团结促进说正是芬彻教授的理论起点之一。另一个理论起点是,细菌、病毒及其他一些寄生物是推动进化的强大动力。比如,许多生物学家认为性是对寄生病菌的一种反应。其后的基因结合意味着任何父母至少有某一子女很可能对某一特定疾病免疫。 
芬彻教授和他的同事兰迪·桑希尔的研究问题是:疾病是否同样也是引起人类社会行为的重要诱因?他们假定在疾病泛滥的地区,为了降低传染风险,各个群体除了在非常必要的情况下有责任避免彼此接触。因此他们推断,在多病地区排他的行为模式将更加明显。宗教当然属于排他行为,他们还具体地预测出随着疾病数量不同,某一地区不同宗教的数量也会不同。 
证实这一观点需要对大量以往的研究进行整理。甚至定义什么组成了宗教都十分困难。但根据一些公认的定义,如独特性、排他性、自治及相对其他宗教的优越性,芬彻和他的同事计算出平均每个国家的宗教数量为31个,不过跨度范围很大,从3个到643个不等。例如,科特迪瓦有76个不同的宗教,而挪威有13个;巴西有159个,而加拿大有15个。他们又同样统计了各国寄生性疾病的数量,平均值为200,跨度为178到248。 
显然,国家间的某些不同是由地理位置和人口数量的不同造成的。但宗教数量及疾病数量的不同是可以由统计数据解释的。芬彻及其同事这样做了,他们得出的宗教数量与疾病泛滥情况相关的结论让人印象深刻。仅仅由于偶然得出这一结论的几率小于万分之一。 
两位专家也参阅了人类学的某些数据,了解“传统”社会(也就是城市出现之前)人们在世界各地迁徙的情况。他们发现,在宗教更为多样的(以及疾病更泛滥)的地方,人们迁徙的路途要短于那些生活较为健康、宗教单一的人群。这意味着宗教多样性减少了人们与他族的接触,因而这使他们不易受到异族病菌的侵染。 
当然,相关关系并不是因果关系。宗教也不是唯一一个阻止人们接触的文化现象。语言也有相同的效果,在另外一篇由芬彻先生和桑希尔博士撰写但尚未发表的论文中,他们也发现了类似的相关关系。此外,通过对文学作品的研究,他们发现对外国人的憎恶感也与心理上恐惧疾病有关(肮脏的外国人…)。那么,或许少数民族之间充满敌意背后的原因与民族本身无关,而是因为对异族可能带来疾病的憎恶。 
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