Essay topics: The following appeared in a health newsletter.
"A ten-year nationwide study of the effectiveness of wearing a helmet while bicycling indicates that ten years ago, approximately 35 percent of all bicyclists reported wearing helmets, whereas today that number is nearly 80 percent. Another study, however, suggests that during the same ten-year period, the number of accidents caused by bicycling has increased 200 percent. These results demonstrate that bicyclists feel safer because they are wearing helmets, and they take more risks as a result. Thus there is clearly a call for the government to strive to reduce the number of serious injuries from bicycle accidents by launching an education program that concentrates on the factors other than helmet use that are necessary for bicycle safety."
Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.
The suggestion that government should concentrate more on educating people about bicycle safety rather than encouraging or requiring bicyclists to wear helmets is strengthened by several convincing evidences at the first glance, but further reflection reveals that these evidences cannot constitute a logical statement in support of its conclusion.
To begin with, the author asserts that the bicycle-related accidents has increased, so helmet must be blamed. The assumption is unwarranted in two aspects. First, is the bicycle-related accident means the bicycle-fault accident? Actually not. It is equally possible that cars run so fast and that leads to the accidents, and bicyclists a just the one who got hurt. Therefore, the fault is not the bicyclists', so does the helmet. And the author fails to give the information about the severity of the accidents. It is more possible that bicyclists who wore helmets just got slight injure in the accidents, and who did not have helmet during the accident got serious injure, or even died. Just numbers of the accident cannot prove anything. Until the author provides further clue to exclude all these possibilities, it is unfounded to reach the author’s conclusion straightly.
The speaker also believes that the disappointing traffic result is due to the helmet. Admittedly, helmet may be a probable reason because of the study. But there a huge amount of other reasons to be considered. For instance, what about the huge increase of the population in the country leads to more cars and bicycles on the road, so that accidents become more common. Or it would be also convincing that more accidents are caused by poor regulation of the government about traffic. Without ruling out this possibility, the conclusion is not defensible.
Additionally, the reliability of the study depends on the statistical integrity of the survey. However, the author fails to indicate what is the portion of the people surveyed actually responded; the smaller the portion, the less reliability the result. Nor does the argument indicate how many people are surveyed and can these people represent the country’s bicyclists. Why does the author choose specific "ten-year period" to study? Is the increase of accidents just normal fluctuation of the data? And the speaker just gives the percentage of the data. What is the actual number of the accidents? If the number is very small, the increase of 200 percent does not mean it is serious. So we need further information when judging the study.
In conclusion, the letter’s author fails to adequately support the suggestion. To strengthen the argument, the author must provide dear evidence about the situation of the accidents and the traffic. To better evaluate the argument, we need more information about the survey.
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