A recently issued twenty-year study on headaches suffered by the residents of Mentia investigated the possible therapeutic effect of consuming salicylates. Salicylates are members of the same chemical family as aspirin, a medicine used to treat headaches.

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A recently issued twenty-year study on headaches suffered by the residents of Mentia investigated the possible therapeutic effect of consuming salicylates. Salicylates are members of the same chemical family as aspirin, a medicine used to treat headaches. Although many foods are naturally rich in salicylates, food-processing companies also add salicylates to foods as preservatives. The twenty-year study found a correlation between the rise in the commercial use of salicylates and a steady decline in the average number of headaches reported by study participants. At the time when the study concluded, food-processing companies had just discovered that salicylates can also be used as flavor additives for foods, and, as a result, many companies plan to do so. Based on these study results, some health experts predict that residents of Mentia will suffer even fewer headaches in the future.
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.

Some health experts contend that residnets of Mentia will experience fewer headaches in the future. They support this assertion on the results of a study which found an inverse correlation between salicylate use and headaches. Furthermore, processing companies are planning to use more salicylates in their products. Whilst this argument may seem plausible at first glance, closer inspection reveals that it relies on assumptions which do not have sufficient evidence upon which to stand. As a result there are many questions that must be answered.

Firstly, the experts assume that a correlation between increased salicylates and decreased headaches implies causation. Just because two things are correlated does not mean that one caused the other as a third variable may infact be the cause of the observed phenomena. Where are the statistics of the twenty year study? It is widely known that longitudinal studies suffer from attrition as many participants of the study may die before it is completed or find it difficult to continue participation. Thus, the decrease in headaches may have resulted from a decrease in participants over the twenty years as opposed to a rise in salicylates. Thus to strengthen their argument the experts must provide information about the study’s sample size at the beginning and end of the experiment. Furhtermore, this information must show that there has been relatively few attrition within the study.

Another reason why sample size is important is in determining whether the study can be used to generalize its findings to a wider population. How many people were studied? If there were not a sufficient number of participants in the study, one cannot make accurate predictions about the effects of salicylates on Mentian residents (as a whole). Furthermore, did these participants experience proper experimental procedures? Was there a control group which showed that persons who did not ingest salicylates had more headaches than those who did? Thus once again it is imperative that information about the study’s sample size is provided as well as what procedure those participants were made to follow.

Finally, the experts fall pray to the cognitive bias of fortune telling as they assume that food companies will increase the use of salicylate in their foods. Regardless of whatever was stated by these companies, there is no guarantee as to what they will and won’t actually do. Companies operate for their own interests regardless of whether or not their products are beneficial for their consumers or not. If these companies decide that it is more cost effective to reduce salicylate use from their products they will do so at moments notice. Thus one cannot predict with certainty what their products will contain.

In conclusion, there is not enough evidence to make a claim as bold as that of the author’s as key elements of the discussion have been left out. One must have knowledge of all aspects of a situation before statements can be made. Thus until key issues are addressed the argument resembles one of wishful thinking and as such cannot instill confidence in Mentian residents.

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argument 1 -- OK

argument 2 -- not OK

argument 3 -- not OK
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Let's analyze the structure of the statement and argue accordingly:

condition 1:
The twenty-year study found a correlation between the rise in the commercial use of salicylates and a steady decline in the average number of headaches reported by study participants.

condition 2:
At the time when the study concluded, food-processing companies had just discovered that salicylates can also be used as flavor additives for foods, and, as a result, many companies plan to do so.

conclusion:
Based on these study results, some health experts predict that residents of Mentia will suffer even fewer headaches in the future.

then here goes the argument:

argument 1:
Your argument 1 is OK.

argument 2:
It is not 'the more, the better'. It is maybe harmful with more salicylates in food.

argument 3:
Suppose salicylates can cure headache, but it doesn't mean it can prevent headaches.
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