TOPIC: ARGUMENT38 - The following memo 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 are the reason most frequently given 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."
WORDS: 538 TIME: 00:59:53 DATE: 2008-10-3 20:43:05
The author of the argument claims that people should take Ichthaid to lower the possibility of catching cold and therefore avoid absenteeism. To justify this claim, the arguer cites the fact that people live in East Meria eat a large amount of fish and thus scarcely suffer from cold, moreover, the author also points out that Ichthaid is a good choice to protect people from catching colds. This excerpt seems to be convincing and plausible; however, after close scrutiny, I find it contains logical flaws in several critical respects, as the following discussion shows.
First of all, the arguer assumes too hastily that the low frequency of visit doctors for colds indicates that East Meria people barely catching colds. However, it is not necessarily the case. Common sense informs me that many people do not go to hospital when they catch cold; instead they just take some medicine and rest in bed for one or more days. It is entirely possible that residents in East Meria are reluctant to pay the expensive bill from such an ailment; or perhaps the medical system of East Meria is not well developed and it is not able to serve so many people suffering from cold. Without ruling out these or other similar possibilities, the speaker cannot confidently claim that people in East Meria seldom catch cold.
Secondly, even I concede that residents in East Meria are less likely to catch cold than people live in other region; the speaker cannot confidently draw the conclusion. The argument relies on the unwarranted assumption that the resistance to cold of citizens from East Meria was attributable to the consuming of fish. It is entirely possible that other factors are instead reason for those people's resistance to cold. Perhaps the government of East Meria has carried out an education about how to avoid getting cold for tens of years; or perhaps those residents take part in sports regularly and therefore own a healthier body than people live in other cities. Since the author failed to eliminate these possible alternative explanations, his or her assertion cannot be taken seriously.
Finally, even if eating fish really have a positive impact on people's health, the author's recommendation of Ichthaid was also unsubstantiated. First, Ichthaid was made from fish oil; however, it is possible that the chemical that really benefit people's health is in other part of fish. Moreover, as we all know, the processing of deriving means remove a large portion of substances in fish oil; thus the real nutrition may be removed as well. In short, the author failed to prove that Ichthaid is also capable to reduce the possibility of suffering from cold.
To sum up, the arguer's recommendation of Ichthaid is not well reasoned. To bolster his or her argument, the speaker must prove that residents of East Meria scarcely suffer from cold and whenever they catch cold, they will visit doctors for help. To better support the conclusion, the author is expected to provide more information which can demonstrate the causal relation between eating fish and keeping away from cold. To make it logically acceptable, the arguer should also show that taking Ichthaid can perform as well as eating fish in preventing cold.