Please evaluate. Analysis of argument

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Please evaluate. Analysis of argument

by gmatbschool » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:57 pm
The argument was something like this (from GMATPrep):

People in general do not care as much about regulating intake of red meat and fatty cheeses. Heart's delight started selling organic stuff in 1960s and now stocks fatty cheeses. Next door, vegetarian cafe is doing modestly well, but across the street owners of House of Beef are millionaires.


My response:

Essay: The conclusion of the argument is that people, in general, are less concerned about their intake of unhealthy foods, namely red meat and fatty cheeses. To support this statement, the arguement  draws on a specific example of three stores and restaurant The goods on sale at the store, and the difference in revenue between two restaurants - one that provides vegetarian fare, and another that presumably serves a lot of red meat - form the primary basis for this conclusion.
However there is a weak link between the evidence and the conclusion. A number of faulty assumptions are in play, and these are listed below.

Firstly, the argument is using a small, seemingly random, selection to present its case. The three vendors appear to be local, relatively small shops. It is a mistake to assume, without more evidence, that these three locations are representative of a trend. It is entirely possible that the situation described above is really an anomaly when viewed against the national trends for food intake. One might argue that the anecdotal evidence provided is based on the preferences of a small neighborhood or community that perhaps prefer red meat and fatty cheeses for social or even religious reasons. Essentially, the argument is using anecdotal evidence based on a small sample data to jump to a highly generalized conclusion.

Second, the first premise that provides the example of Heart's Delight's food selection, is actually very weak. The store started selling organic fare in the 1960's, but it does not specify that the store stopped selling the same. This leads one to infer that the store might actually still be selling the same fare. This further implies that the selection of store was merely expanded. Simply because a store previously specialized in healthy foods that has expanded its selection to include fatty cheeses does not lead to the conclusion that people today care less about regulating intake of fatty cheeses. The customers may be buying and consuming fatty cheeses only on occasion thus still regulating their intake. Also, the argument does not conclusively prove with this premise that customers in the past were not consuming the same amount of fatty cheese and perhaps just purchasing it elsewhere.

Third, the second premise of comparision of revenue between the vegetaring cafe and the House of Beef also does not hold water on closer examination. Consumer trends cannot be inferred simply from difference in sales. One must examine each restaurant more closely. For example, the cafe perhaps is a smaller restaurant and cannot handle large sales volumes. On the other hand House of Beef may have been set up with large volume catering orders in mind and that is why it is more succesful. Additionally, price differences between the menu items could also explain the discrepancy. House of Beef perhaps caters to a more bargain minded clientele while the cafe menu items are more pricey and hence do not sell as well. Moreover, the argument does not specify that this is a recent reversal in trends. Perhaps the same revenue difference existed in the past as well and hence cannot explain a change in consumer trends.

In conclusion, the argument does not adequately refute other plausible conclusions. The sample data is small and might not be representative of larger national trends. For these reasons, this is a weak argument.

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by kanha81 » Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:20 pm
I like your assertive style of writing. I will try to incorporate and use it in the next practice exam. Again, you dissected the issue quite nicely, poking holes, and making a mockery out of the statement.

Thanks.
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