Scratching The Surface Answers and Questions

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  • IELTS Reading Notes completion
  • IELTS Reading True/False/Not given
  • IELTS Reading Matching Features

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IELTS Scratching the Surface Reading Passage

 Scratching the surface

They induce untreatable itching, prickling, and crawling sensations in the skin. Although these creatures only exist in the imagination, their effects are real and contagious. 

In 1996, the typical example occurred in an American laboratory. After the installation of the new equipment, workers began to experience itching and the sensation of insects crawling over them. Complaints escalated, and the condition, which was attributed to “cable mites,” began to spread to the sufferers’ family. Utilising DDT, mothballs, pesticide, and rat poison, a concerted effort was made to eradicate the mites.

It didn’t work. Scientists did a thorough check, but they couldn’t find any pests or even signs of real parasite attacks. Small pieces of Rockwool insulation were found in the air, which could irritate the skin. The problem was fixed by putting in place a cleaning programme, and the staff was told that the problem had been solved. The infestation of cable mites went away.

Another incident occurred at a textile business in the 1990s, when workers complained of being bitten by insects smuggled into the factory in imported cloth. Dermatitis swept through the workforce, but in an unusual fashion. Instead of impacting people in a specific area of the factory, the bugs appeared to be spread among employees’ social groupings. There were no parasites discovered. A third infestation grew among office workers who were poring through dusty records that had been sitting unused for decades. They blamed their skin problems on ‘paper mites,’ yet the source was irritation from paper splinters.

These are all instances of parasitosis illusions, in which anything in the environment is mistakenly identified as an insect or other problem. Everyone has heard of delirium tremens, in which alcoholics and amphetamine addicts have the sensation of insects crawling over their skin. However, this hallucination can also be caused by other circumstances. Static electricity, dust, fibres, and chemical solvents are all capable of spawning fictitious insects. The most intriguing aspect is that they spread. This illusion’s contagious nature appears to be a form of reflex contagion. When you yawn, others yawn as well. If everyone around you is laughing, so are you. If you itch, your coworkers will scratch as well.

Dr. Paul Marsden is the managing editor of the Journal of Memetics, a publication devoted to the study of infectious ideas. He hypothesised that this type of collective engagement may have contributed to human evolution. In the distant past, the scratching of a single individual scratching would have alerted others of the presence of insects or parasites that bite. This would encourage them to itch themselves. Anyone who has been repeatedly bitten by mosquitoes without realising it will recognise the evolutionary significance of this form of warning. The outbreak of mass scratching may also promote mutual grooming, which is essential for bonding of primary groups.

The issue occurs when the reflex contagion has nothing to do with a true threat. People may exaggerate symptoms to gain attention or to escape an unpleasant job. Scanners spent the entire day laboriously evaluating the results of bubble-chamber testing. Textile workers and administrative personnel reviewing data would have found the task to be similarly arduous. Considering that skin illnesses are notoriously susceptible to psychological effects, it is easy to understand how a group dynamic could support the perceived parasites.

Few individuals recognise that their misinterpretation of symptoms is the result of what psychologists refer to as a hysterical condition, making treatment difficult. Previously, removing irritants and receiving expert assurances were sufficient. Today, however, there is a rising mistrust of conventional treatment and increased access to support groups. Patients can promote other other’s delusions by discussing Internet-based accounts of elusive mites that perplex scientists. This might cause a pandemic of unknown parasites that spread from mind to mind like a super virus. Only knowledge of the illusion’s potency can destroy it. You may now cease your scratching.

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Scratching the Surface Reading Questions

Questions 1-3

Complete the notes below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer 

Evolutionary purpose theory

Parasite/Insect bite
Benefit to group
In the presence of pets
Group scratching
Group grooming
Benefit to group
3. __________.

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Questions 4-8

Do the following statements agree with the writer’s views in the Reading Passage ? Write,

  • TRUE if the statement is true according to the passage
  • FALSE if the statement is false according to the passage
  • NOT GIVEN if the statement is not given in the passage

4. Some continue to scratch because they know it will allow them to stop working.
5. The staff in the laboratory, factory, and office had monotonous employment.
6. The skin of humans is highly sensitive to irritants.
7. In many instances, individuals no longer believe medical professionals’ claims.
8. It is impossible to prevent the illness from spreading via the Internet.

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Questions 9-13

Classify statements 1-5 according to whether they apply to the following:-

A. the laboratory
B. the factory
C. the office

9. One symptom of the illness was distress among coworkers who socialised together.
10. Second, each victim was using an out-of-date file.
11. Third, they made an effort to eliminate the insects they had pinpointed as the cause.
12. They said the animals had brought in foreign materials with them.|
13. Fifth, the employees’ loved ones were impacted by the illness.

Improve your performance in Matching Features questions by clicking here to access our comprehensive guide. Learn how to match specific features or characteristics with the options provided in the IELTS Reading section.

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Recommended Questions:

Renewable Energy IELTS Reading Question with Answer

Scratching the Surface Reading Answers

1. Individual Scratching
2. Altered others
3. Bonding
4. False
5. True
6. Not given
7. True
8. False
9. B
10. C
11. A
12. B
13. A


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