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GRE Essay On Decreasing Number Of Shoppers In Central Plaza - With A Free Essay Review
The following appeared as a letter to the editor from a Central Plaza store owner.
"Over the past two years, the number of shoppers in Central Plaza has been steadily decreasing while the popularity of skateboarding has increased dramatically. Many Central Plaza store owners believe that the decrease in their business is due to the number of skateboard users in the plaza. There has also been a dramatic increase in the amount of litter and vandalism throughout the plaza. Thus, we recommend that the city prohibit skateboarding in Central Plaza. If skateboarding is prohibited here, we predict that business in Central Plaza will return to its previously high levels."
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.
Witnessing the number of shoppers in Central Plaza decrease simultaneously with the increase of the popularity of skateboarding, the author comes to the recommendation that skateboarding should be prohibited so as to refresh the business in Central Plaza. To substantiate the conclusion, the arguer also provides evidence concerning the increasing amount of litter and vandalism throughout the plaza. However, this alone neither constitutes a logical argument in favor of the conclusion nor provides compelling support making the argument sound. The prohibition seems at first glance reasonable, but a careful examination would reveal the Achilles' heel of the article, which can be listed as follow.
First and for most, Why it is skateboard users that keeps customers from shopping the Central Plaza? The author just lists two facts, but provides no interpretation reasoning the link between them. It is ridiculous to assume that it is due to skateboarding that more litter and vandalism is found in the Plaza. Are there any evidence showing that it is skateboard users that pollute the environment and damage the facilities? Perhaps it has something to do with the special activities or exhibitions hold in the plaza.
What's more, the author only provides information concerning the opinion of these shoppers who blame the poor business to these skateboard users without taking some interior factors into account. I doubt if the price of these products increase drastically during the past two years. Price is the major concerning for customers, even nuance may result in the great in behavior. Is service as good as they used to? Do they hold activity or advertise as they used to? As their income cut, it is not likely to be the case.
Last but not least, the author also fails to offer data concerning the outside atmosphere. Are there any new plazas nearby? Perhaps a large shopping mall opened two years ago providing all kinds of product with high cost effective. What if the number of habitants living nearby falls as more people enjoy living in suburban area away from air pollution? It is hasty to arrive to the conclusion without taking these exterior factors into account.
In summary, though the conclusion seems to be plausible, in fact, it lacks credibility because the evidence cited in the analysis does not lend strong support to what the arguer maintains. The author fails to establish a causal relationship between falls in sales in Central Plaza with the increasing popularity of skateboarding. To make it logically acceptable, the author would have to provide more evidence concerning the interior and exterior factors as well as overall survey result about attitudes towards the problem.
The phenomenon of skateboarding in the Plaza is a possible cause of the decline in the number of shoppers in the Plaza. Another possible and possibly related cause is the increase in the amount of litter and vandalism. The recommendation is that skateboarding be prohibited. The prediction is that this prohibition will result in business returning to its previously high levels.
Your task here is not primarily to criticize the recommendation, the prediction, or even the reasoning behind it. Your primary task is the one stated in the prompt: to _discuss_ what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result and to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation. Your essay doesn't do this, however. You do identify some relevant questions, but your focus is not on discussing these questions or explaining how the answers would help evaluate the recommendation. Your focus is on critiquing the assumptions behind, and the logic implied by, the recommendation. Again, your task is not to find "the Achilles' heel of the article" but rather to determine what one would need to know in order to assess whether the recommendation is a good one.
To get an idea of what you actually need to do here, lets look at one of the question you identify: “Is [note correction] there any evidence showing that it is skateboard users that pollute the environment and damage the facilities?”
Note that that's a good question to ask only on the assumption that vandalism and littering is a cause of the decline in business. This is the kind of thing you ought to note explicitly in the essay. It would be part of the "discussion' of the question. Your task, of course, is not just to discuss this question but also to explain the significance of its possible answer. Your essay doesn't yet do this. So let's assume (as one possible answer) that there is no evidence showing that skateboard users are responsible for the litter and the vandalism, what then? If there is no evidence, and we don't know who is responsible, then we might still think that the skateboarders are responsible, but we could come to no reliable conclusion about whether they are responsible, and so we would not have grounds for believing the prediction that banning the skateboarders would improve the appearance of the plaza and, under the assumption that if they are responsible for the decline in business only if they are responsible for the vandalism, we would not have grounds for believing the prediction that banning the skateboarders would improve business.
Now the other possible answer to your question is that there is evidence linking the skateboarders to vandalism and littering. In that case, what follows? Well it doesn't immediately follow that banning the skateboarders would lead to an improvement in business because we don't know, as we noted above, that the decline in business was caused by the vandalism and littering. So we would then need to ask another question: is there any evidence linking the decline in business to vandalism and littering? If the answer to that question is “no,” then it may still be the case that vandalism and littering is responsible (we just don't know) but we cannot come to any certain conclusion about the possible value to business of banning skateboarding. But if there is reliable evidence linking the decline in business to vandalism and littering, and there is reliable evidence linking the skateboards to vandalism and littering, then we can come to the conclusion that the increase in skateboard users contributed to the decline in business.
What then should we say about the recommendation? Would it follow that banning skateboarding will lead to business returning to its previous levels? Not necessarily. It may be that lost customers will not return even if the skateboarders are banned. So another question needs to be answered: Are customers who were disinclined to shop at the plaza because of either the presence of skateboarders or the vandalism and litter likely to return to shopping at the plaza once those issues are dealt with? Obviously that question would need to be answered in order to determine if the prediction is correct, but it would be very difficult to answer, and perhaps impossible. If it cannot be answered, then no conclusion can be made about the value of the recommendation.
Let's stop here with this thread of speculation, but obviously one could go on and on identifying questions whose answers could contribute to a greater understanding of the likely impact of banning skateboarding. My point here has only been to show what it might look like to discuss questions and the implications of possible answers. Note that I have not bothered to criticize the proponents of the ban for faulty reasoning or ridiculous assumptions. The prompt did not ask me to do that. Note also that one could have proceeded in a completely different direction, asking questions aimed at determining whether there might be some other explanation for the decline in business. You raise a number of possible questions of that type, but again you don't really discuss them or explain their implications.
The take home message, then, is that you should read the question very carefully and make sure, before anything else, that you are answering that specific question.