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Today, people might think that the most important thing in their life is science. However, if you
look at it closely, you will find that people are actually influenced by many superstitions.

Can the 'it' here work as the reference of 'their life'?
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Nona The BritNot really. It doesn't exactly directly refer to anything here. If you replace 'it' with 'things' you'll get the same meaning - a general look at 'something'.
So, it's close to 'things in general' or something?

I'm getting confused...
Well, there's an idiomatic use of "look at it" - and the "it" is NOT defined. As Nona says, "look at it" could be replaced by "look at things," which can also be thought of as "considering things in general."

It doesn't HAVE to read that way, but it's what we are likely to see first, without a different lead in. For example, if you say "The child was looking at the buttefly wing under his microscope. He realized that if you look at it closely, you are able to see..." - in that type of situation, you have no doubt that the "it" is the wing, because it was clearly stated earlier.

If you want to be specific about meaning "look at their lives," I think your suggestions before you replaced the phrasing with "it" are better.
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Grammar Geek"look at it" could be replaced by "look at things," which can also be thought of as "considering things in general."
If it's close to 'considering things in general', isn't it semantically almost the same with 'looking at the current situation' (i.e. looking at their life today/modern life)?
Close, but it would be more life in general, whereas you were hoping it would refer to 'their life' specifically.
OK. Thank you!
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Very interesting. I think 'it' here fits in perfectly and does not affect the meaning of the sentence very muchEmotion: big smile