The Politics of Pessimism Reading Questions and Answers

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  • IELTS Reading Sentence completion

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IELTS Reading Passage: The Politics of Pessimism

The politics of pessimism

A new era, the Age of Cassandra, has supposedly arrived, according to newspaper and broadcast news headlines. Prophecies of future disasters are added to the constant barrage of present and historical predictions of doom. The start of the new millennium has come and gone, and the world is still here. The end-of-the-century Jeremiahs have moved on to setting a new date for the end of the world.

I think it’s safe to say that pessimists will always have an audience. Pessimism and worry are part of human nature, and every generation has its share of “demagogues” who herald the end of times or usher it in behind them. Modern calamities, however, are more “in your face,” their assault on our senses constant and unrelenting. Political leaders are aware of this, whether consciously or not. They use people’s natural tendency toward anxiety as a political weapon.The public is being given a phoney sense of safety.

When politicians attempt to make a change, they frequently play on people’s apprehension about the future and their lack of clarity about the state of the world. Information regarding a new policy could, for instance, be leaked to the media. Naturally, the worst-case scenario is laid out in all its gloomy specifics. The public outcry often causes the government to back down. Finally, ministers compromise by taking some of the advice of their detractors. In this way, the government can achieve its goals while giving the impression of success to the general people. Not to mention the fact that they actually have a voice in the policymaking process.

Several general rules are at work. The first is to make people uncomfortable and then capitalise on their anxiety; the second is to offer them a chance to feel like they made some sort of contribution, no matter how small, otherwise they will grow dissatisfied and angry.

An identical hoax carried out on a smaller scale would show how easily people’s primal concerns can be exploited. In home developments, for example, it’s normal practice to provide residents a range of design choices, from doing nothing to completely overhauling the neighbourhood. Goal is to get people to consent to major changes that could be inconvenient and expensive for them. People avoid the extremes out of fear of what could go wrong, so they choose an intermediate option. This is also the route that the government typically goes for. It’s all done in the name of market research, but it’s clearly an experiment in playing on people’s worst fears.Anxiety and avoiding certain death

Until the end of time, we will be impacted by worry and apprehension. Humans suffer from crippling levels of self-doubt and low self-esteem. An endless series of stupid problems must be solved in order to survive and progress in life, making every success appear miraculous by comparison. The feeling of doubt follows people even when they achieve their goals.

It’s no surprise that people who have failed often experience negative emotions like uncertainty, dread, anxiety, and pessimism. However, when channelled effectively, they are the source of all innovation and creativity.

When things go as planned for a while, it’s natural to worry that something will eventually go wrong. When things don’t go as planned, people often resort to rituals in an effort to appease the gods, such as avoiding certain colours or not walking in certain patterns on the sidewalk.

And yet, surely the scariest thing of all is when success lasts so long without interruption that we forget what defeat is like I

There has been a rise in the popularity of horror and disaster films, which play on our insatiable need for fear and our constant exposure to stories of tragedy and destruction. Occasionally, Nostradamus will rear his head, and other would-be prophets will briefly appear, all of whom foretell the end of humanity. Maybe it’s all a relic from when life was tougher for early humans, an attempt to relive those days even as we enjoy more ease and convenience in the present.

Contentment is not the only thing humans cannot survive without. As a result, awash a word has become synonymous with anxiety and pessimism. It’s difficult to keep a positive attitude. However, humanity remains optimistic in the face of survival.

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The Politics of Pessimism Reading Questions

Questions     1- 4

Choose the appropriate letters A-D and write them in boxes 6-9 on your answer sheet.

1. People’s behaviour in housing developments demonstrates that____.

A are not easily deceived.
B enjoy market research
C let their fears lead them 
D are easily duped

2. Considering the text, which of the following claims is more accurate?

A Market research exploits people’s fears for their own benefit 
B People are scared of market research techniques 
C Market research techniques are used to exploit people’s fears.
D People enjoy market research.

3. The sources of creative energy are____.

A properly harnessed 
B the driving force behind success 
C motivated by emotions such as fear 
D usually associated with failure

4. Consistent achievement_____.

A makes people arrogant; 
B causes people to be concerned.
C has no negative effects on people 
D boosts people’s self-esteem

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Questions     5-8

Do the statements below agree with the information in Reading Passage 1?
In Boxes 5-8, write:

YES              if the statement agrees with the information in the passage
NO                if the statement contradicts the information in the passage
NOT GIVEN if there is no information about the statement in the passage

Example: Politicians pretend things are worse than they are.

Answer: YES.

5.   People go through certain rituals in order to avoid failure.
6.  The complicated relationship between failure and success must be addressed with care.
7.  The author believes that Nostradamus and other prophets were correct in their predictions of the end of the human race.
8.  We want anxiety in our daily lives.

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Questions 9-13

Choose one phrase (A-K) from the List of phrases to complete each Key point below. Write the appropriate letters (A-K) in Boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet.

The information in the completed sentences should be an accurate summary of the points made by the writer.

NB. There are more phrases (A-K) than sentences, so you won’t need to use them all. You may use each phrase once only.Key points

9.   Newspaper and television or radio news headlines
10. The popularity of doomsayers can be attributed to the fact that individuals are susceptible to their messages.
11. Today, catastrophes occur.
12. To politicians, people’s propensity for dread is a source of concern
13. The administration 

List of phrases

A  is something they can use 
B  calm people down 
C  are natural pessimists and worrisome 
D  tell the truth 
E  try to mislead us into thinking we are In a new era, 
F  are more immediate 
G  blame them
H  get what they want by deceiving the public
,I  are less at ease.
J  are concerned about the future, 
K  are not as dangerous as in the past.

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The Politics of Pessimism Reading Answers

1.  A
2. C
3. C
4. B
5. Yes
6. Not given
7. Not given
8. Yes
9. E
10. C
11. F
12. A
13. H


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