The following report appeared in the newsletter of the West Meria Public Health Council.
"An innovative treatment has come to our attention that promises to significantly reduce absenteeism in our schools and workplaces. A study reports that in nearby East Meria, where fish consumption is very high, people visit the doctor only once or twice per year for the treatment of colds. Clearly, eating a substantial amount of fish can prevent colds. Since colds represent the most frequently given reason for absences from school and work, we recommend the daily use of Ichthaid—a nutritional supplement derived from fish oil—as a good way to prevent colds and lower absenteeism."
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 argument in the report suggests introducing a treatment involving fish nutrients to prevent Colds in West Meria. It bases its conclusion on the premise that the treatment was successful in East Meria where fish consumption is extremely high. Moreover, rare visits to the doctor for treatment of colds which seem to be the major disease is also quoted as another reason. At first sight, this argument seems coherent and plausible. On careful scrutiny, it is found to be rife with holes and assumptions. A clear stand can be taken only after a thorough analysis of the required evidence.
Firstly, the argument states, one of the innovative treatments is found to greatly bring down the level of absenteeism. However, the exact relation of how the treatment works out and is helping to decrease the occurrence of colds has to be brought into limelight. Additionally, the author just mentions that some 'study' reported about the new treatment. Information like: the method in which study was conducted, the authority of the agency conducting the study, population surveyed for the study and their composition, etc... - must be furnished in order for the study to hold weight. In case it is found that the study is conducted in an erroneous manner, then the ultimate aim of putting forward this suggestion will go vague. Therefore, insufficient data regarding the study and the description of the new treatment invokes suspicion.
Secondly, the author commits the error of correlation-causation. Just because the fish consumption is extremely high and people rarely visit the doctor, it cannot be right away concluded that the colds have been cured due to fish consumption. It might be the case that people turned out to self-medication or they might be of the notion that cold is not a serious disorder to require medical treatment. Also, the period during which fish is highly consumed is also not known. For instance, it might also be the scenario that people visit the doctor only during specific months during which fishes are consumed in abundance. In this case, fish consumption seems to be the sole cause of colds. Consequently, the reasoning of the author is ambivalent and prone to multifarious interpretations. Therefore, the author hastily concludes that eating good amount of fish can keep colds at bay which seems not to be convincing.
Thirdly, the author commits faulty analogy by stating that the method which worked out successfully in East Meria will do so in West Meria too. He does not take into account the population of both the places and their tastes, preferences, eating habits etc... If the people of West Meria are vegetarians, then this method has zero possibility of implementation. One more possibility might be that the West Merian people are allergic to the kind of fish quoted to prevent cold. The types of fish that are actually quoted to prevent cold and whether these fishes can be made readily available for consumption in West Meria are other factors to be taken into consideration. Though the author seems to be theoretically correct, he does not take into consideration the impending pragmatic factors and consequences of implementing this innovative treatment.
Fourthly, the author blatantly states that the 'most frequently' given reason for absenteeism is cold. Whether these reasons are valid holding verity and the population surveyed to arrive at this conclusion must be examined and verified. If the case at hand is that only 100 out of 1000 people were surveyed and 90 out of those 100 answer in affirmative for cold to be the sole reason, then this survey does not reflect the real majority. It is an 'ad-populum' fallacy where in percentages are mistaken for the real numbers. Therefore, further details about how the reasons were collected and compiled should be furnished. The author claims 'Icthyaid' - nutritional supplement from fish oil is claimed to prevent colds and hence bring down absenteeism. The possible side-effects of this nutritional supplement and the practicability and cost of extracting this supplement from fish oil, etc... ought to be known for the claim to be persuasive.
Thus, the argument presented in the newsletter of the West Meria Public Health Council is prone to lots of misinterpretations and is unconvincing without the backup of required evidence. Therefore, the following evidence needs to be furnished by the author: details of the innovative treatment; suitability of the fish type to the people of West Meria,; a convincing relation between fish consumption and reduction of absenteeism by bringing down the occurrence of colds; practical aspects of implementing the proposed treatment; more explanation regarding the survey conducted and comprehensive details about the nutritional supplement. Without these kinds of evidence, the argument will remain erroneous and ineffective, ultimately serving ineligible for immediate implementation.
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Three reasons are enough.
Attribute Value Ideal
Score: 4.5 out of 6
Category: Good Excellent
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