Though the subject of the museum exhibit had been an astute politician and strategist in his day, not even his most vociferous apologists could drum up interest among a modern public for a retrospective of a career so marked by _________ views on social issues.
Passé, archaic. Apologists are defenders—in this case, people who are trying to make the politician and strategist seem like a good guy. However, the clues “in his day” and the lack of interest among a “modern public” indicate that the politician’s views are outdated. Only passé and archaic match. (The accent mark on passé exists because the word came into English from French.) Note that trap answer erroneous just means wrong and doesn’t really fit the clues, nor is it appropriate for discussing matters of culture and opinion.
Although the system’s _________ is not currently in dispute at the national level, increasing local allegations of preferential treatment are threatening to change the situation.
Probity, equity. There are allegations of preferential treatment or unfairness at the local level, and these are threatening to spill over into criticisms that the system is unfair or partial at the national level. But we are told that the system’s fairness is not currently in dispute at that level, so we are looking for synonyms for fairness or impartiality. The correct answers are equity and probity.
In the early 1920’s, Paul Cassirer, a Berlin art dealer, was famous not only for his clients, such as Renoir, but also for _________ a credulous art world by correctly exposing several purported Van Gogh works as forgeries.
Apprising, counseling. Cassirer “correctly” exposed forgeries to a credulous (that is, gullible) art world. Thus, he was helping or advising the art world. Only apprising and counseling match.
The phrase “gilding the lily” is a late 19th century expression that sneered at the ostentatious gestures of some of the newly rich – such as applying gold gilt to the carved lilies on the entrances of their Beaux Arts homes; for decades, it then served as a shorthand for any _________ behavior.
Gauche, uncouth. The two words must match ostentatious. Both gauche and uncouth get aross the idea of showing off in a low-class way (as is often associated with the “newly rich”). Remember not to insert your own opinions eccentric and idiosyncratic are near-synonyms, but are a trap.
Given the influx of information via social media, the only way that a person can function effectively is to _________ , to metaphorically separate the wheat from the chaff.
Triage, prioritize. We need two words that match the clue “to metaphorically separate the wheat from the chaff.” (Chaff is the inedible part of wheat that is discarded before the wheat can be made into flour.) We can also use the clues regarding “the only way that a person can function” given an “influx of information.” Delete and eliminate are attractive traps, but doesn’t match the idea of separating “the wheat from the chaff.” Only triage (think of what emergency room physicians do) and prioritize match.
Geneticists find Iceland a living laboratory for the study of _________ because virtually all of its current 300,000 citizens descend from less than a thousand Icelanders who survived the medieval Black Death.
Diversity, mutation. The geneticists mentioned are studying a population descended from a rather small number of people a rather long time ago. Geneticists—who study genes, of course—would be interested in how this population changed over time (or, mutated) and became different from one another (diversity). Note that none of the other answers are logical at all.
Only by ignoring Afghanistan’s long history as a military quagmire could pundits pontificate that fresh infusions of men and material would lead to _________ victory.
Expeditious, swift. The pivot indicates that the answers will oppose the clue quagmire—that is, Afghanistan’s problems are messy and entrenched. So, what kind of victory is not likely? A fast or easy one.
For most of the 20th century, American political contentions reflected pragmatic rather than ideological differences; candidate debates centered around whether programs were _________ .
Feasible, viable. We need two words that are like pragmatic, which means practical. Feasible and viable relate to the practical considerations of whether the plan is workable or likely to succeed. The only other pair of similar words, partisan and prejudiced, have the exact incorrect meaning—they are more similar to ideological than pragmatic.
Unlike the politician’s earlier evasions and equivocations, this latest statement is a _________ lie.
Bald, overt. The earlier “evasions and equivocations” are ways to avoid a question or “flip-flop” on an issue. This “latest statement” is “unlike” the evasions and equivocations because it is an explicit, clear, or obvious lie. Bald and overt are the only matches. Note the trap answers tacit and implicit, which are synonyms that mean the exact opposite (hinted at, unspoken) of what we need.
The exhibit is not so much a retrospective as a _________ ; the artist’s weaker early work is glossed over and any evidence of his ultimate dissolution is absent entirely.
Paean, eulogy. A retrospective would be an exhibit that shows the history and progression of the artist’s work, but this exhibit only shows the good parts (it “glosses over” the weaker work and omits the artist’s “dissolution”). Thus, we need a word that has something to do with praising. Paean and eulogy are the only matches. Note that a paean is generally a song or speech of praise and is being used a bit metaphorically here. Many people only know eulogy as a speech given at a funeral, but can actually refer to any speech (or in this case, art exhibit) of praise.