The following appeared in a letter to the editor of the Balmer Island Gazette.
"The population on Balmer Island increases to 100,000 during the summer months. T o
reduce the number of accidents involving mopeds and pedestrians, the town council of
Balmer Island plans to limit the number of mopeds rented by each of the island's six moped
rental companies from 50 per day to 30 per day during the summer season. Last year , the
neighboring island of Torseau enforced similar limits on moped rentals and saw a 50 percent
reduction in moped accidents. We predict that putting these limits into effect on Balmer
Island will result in the same reduction in moped accidents."
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order
to decide whether the prediction and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be
sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the prediction.
The letter makes an argument for enforcing the limits on moped rentals as proposed by the Town council of Balmer Island will result in reduction of moped accidents. He supports it with the help of evidence of 50% reduction in Moped accidents when similar limits were imposed last year in a neighbouring island of Torseau. He goes on to predict that similar reduction will occur in Balmer . However, the argument suffers from flaws like wrong causation from correlation, flawed analogy and lack of quantification of data. It is therefore necessary to answer a number of questions that arise to ensure it is reasonable.
Firstly, there is the question of whether the two islands are comparable in all respects and are in fact similar. Just because they are neighbouring islands does not mean they are similar. May be increase in population of Torseau is not as much as in Balmer. Furthermore, it is nowhere indicated in which part of last year the limits were imposed last year. It may be that it was imposed in winter months when there is more scope for improvement as there is much less rush, as compared to summer month when the proposal will be implemented in Balmer.
Secondly, there is a question regarding whether it is reduction in rentals that actually caused the reduction in accidents in Torseau. Just because both occur at same time does not mean one causes the other. There might be other reasons which have decreased the number of moped accidents like lack of demand for mopeds during that year due to reduced footfalls, limits were introduced during off-season, improved safety practices, etc. There is no evidence to preclude other reasons from causing the reduction. There appears to be misinterpretation of causation form a correlation.
Thirdly, there is question whether imposing similar limits will cause similar reduction in moped accidents in Balmer island. There is no adequate quantification of data to prove the same. The 50% reduction seen in Torseau may actually be a decrease from 2 accidents to 1 accident. On the other hand the amount of reduction that is needed in Balmer island is from 200 to 100. The second case is far less likely to occur than the case in Torseau. Moreover, there is no information in which season of the year the change was brought about in Torseau to make an accurate prediction for summer season in Balmer.
In conclusion, there are a number of questions that need to be answered to ensure that argument and prediction are reasonable. This requires additional information regarding the similarities between two islands, evidence that precludes other probable causes and proper quantification of data. Without them the argument remains suspect at best.
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argument 1 -- OK
argument 2 -- OK
argument 3 -- OK
Attribute Value Ideal
Score: 5.0 out of 6
Category: Very Good Excellent
No. of Grammatical Errors: 0 2
No. of Spelling Errors: 0 2
No. of Sentences: 23 15
No. of Words: 451 350
No. of Characters: 2212 1500
No. of Different Words: 194 200
Fourth Root of Number of Words: 4.608 4.7
Average Word Length: 4.905 4.6
Word Length SD: 2.727 2.4
No. of Words greater than 5 chars: 171 100
No. of Words greater than 6 chars: 126 80
No. of Words greater than 7 chars: 83 40
No. of Words greater than 8 chars: 53 20
Use of Passive Voice (%): 0 0
Avg. Sentence Length: 19.609 21.0
Sentence Length SD: 8.736 7.5
Use of Discourse Markers (%): 0.609 0.12
Sentence-Text Coherence: 0.289 0.35
Sentence-Para Coherence: 0.485 0.50
Sentence-Sentence Coherence: 0.063 0.07
Number of Paragraphs: 5 5