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Xin Chao Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
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Post Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:18 am
“In a recent citywide poll, fifteen percent more residents said that they watch television programs about the visual arts than was the case in a poll conducted five years ago. During these past five years, the number of people visiting our city’s arts museums has increased by similar percentage. Since the corporate funding that supports public television, where most of visual arts programs appear, is now being threatened with severe cuts, we can expect that attendance at our city’s museums will also start to decrease. Thus some of the city’s funds supporting arts should be reallocated to public television.”

The argument claims that the threats of severe cuts to public television, where majority of visual arts programs are available, justify the allocation of a portion of the city’s funding for arts to the public television. The conclusion is also built on a premise that the above mentioned cuts will negatively affect the attendance of arts museums. Stated in this way the argument reveals examples of inappropriate comparison, errors in causality and possibly incorrect usage sampling techniques. The conclusion of the argument relies on assumptions for which there is no clear evidence. Hence, the argument is weak and has several flaws.

First, the argument readily assumes that increase in the number of visiting city’s arts museums is correlated to the similar increase in viewers who watch visual arts programs on television. Frankly, the argument does not provide any supporting evidence to provide such claim. It is not unreasonable to imagine that the visitors of arts museums may also include foreigners. This would imply that the increase in attendance of museums is perhaps due to powerful marketing in government’s tourism office. Perhaps, the attendance increase is due to special type of exhibition, which is available for the first time in the city. The argument could have been much clearer if it explicitly stated the link between the two groups or at least indicate what is the overlap between the consumers of public television arts programs and local arts museums.

For second, it is not clear at all whether the poll conducted five years ago is the same poll or entirely different. The argument uses comparison of recent poll to poll conducted 5 years ago. However, it is not clear a reasonable comparison can be made between the two. To illustrate, if the recent poll used different sample and different type of sampling technique (probability vs. non-probability sampling techniques) then any conclusions drawn from such juxtaposing would be misleading. If the argument had provided reason to believe that the polls are identical then the argument would have been stronger.

Lastly, the arguments makes errors in causality which render the argument useless. It is stated that there is a possibility of severe cuts to public television with the focus on visual arts. However, the argument does not explain why such cuts would imply a reduction in the attendance of arts museum. The author somehow seems to link the two groups together by mentioning that they both increased by similar percentage. Therefore, the reader is tempted to believe that the groups are essentially identical. Due to this a reasonable investor would assume that a reduction in supply of one channel would be compensated by the increase in the other channel. In other words, if television arts has its fund cut the audience is more likely to visit the arts museum to satisfy their demand.

In conclusion, the argument is flawed for the above-mentioned reasons and is therefore unconvincing. It could be considerably strengthened if the author clearly mentioned all the relevant facts. In order to assess the merits of a certain situation, it is essential to have full knowledge of all contributing factors. In this particular case the supporting evidence is not provided thus leading to leaps of faith. Without the relationship between the groups and correlation between museum and television, the argument remains unsubstantiated and open to debate.

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