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GRE Issue 4 - Scandals Are Useful - With A Free Essay Review

Prompt: “Scandals are useful because they focus our attention on problems in ways that no speaker or reformer ever could.” Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

The statement simply claims that scandals are beneficial to society since they focus our attention on problems in ways that no speaker or reformer ever could. Admittedly, scandals are useful. However, the usefulness of scandals varies depending on different situations.

It is an indisputable fact that scandals, especially those concerning food safety, benefit our society because they help people know some wrongdoings concealed by famous food companies. One of the most well known Chinese dairy companies, San Lu, is an excellent example of this point. Before being exposed by journalists about adulteration, products of San Lu were considered the healthiest as well as the most nutritious. However, scandals disclosed that their products, baby milk, had some toxic chemicals. This toxic baby milk had already caused three babies’ death and made thousands ill. Worse still, later the customers were shocked when they heard the scandals that other famous companies’ products, including Yi Li and Meng Niu, were also contaminated by toxic chemicals. Due to these scandals, people in China began to realize that a large number of companies had a lack of responsibility and honesty and government also enacted severe laws and regulations in order to prevent food safety from deteriorating further. Therefore, scandals are useful to some extent.

However, in some cases, in order to attract public attention to make profits, some newspapers deliberately exaggerate the seriousness of some scandals. As a result, it not only ruins one’s deserved reputation but also is detrimental to victim’s mental health. Take the scandal about the renowned physicist Marie Pierre for example. About four years after her husband died, Marie had a love affair with Paul Langevin. After this lover affair was exposed, most of journalists strived to scoop latest information and intentionally overemphasized its seriousness by defaming Marie as a dissolute widow and a coquette alluring other’s husband shamelessly. Under this influence, even the Swedish Academy of Science tried to dissuade Marie from coming to receive the Nobel Prize so as to avoid embarrassment, which obviously negated her contributions to physical field. So in this case, overemphasized reports and malicious criticisms surely misguided public to notice and remember only the dark side of an eminent scientist and discount her achievements carelessly.

All the evidence put forward above support an unshakable conclusion that the usefulness of scandals depends on different situations. On one hand, scandals with respect to food safety, moral corruption or dishonest event benefit our society a lot as these scandals can sever as a catalyst to reform and ameliorate bad phenomena existing insidiously in our society. On the other hand, scandals which overstate personal affairs will lead public to form an incomplete and biased view of one person.



Aside from your first sentence, which repeats the statement from the prompt, your essay does not say anything about speakers or reformers. Up to a point, you are right to focus on the question of the usefulness of scandals, and what you say in that respect is not bad, although you do tend to rely on your examples to carry the force of the argument. The second example (I take it you mean Marie Curie), however, only focuses on demonstrating that a scandal can have a negative impact, which is only tangentially related to the prompt. (If one wanted to argue that scandals often focus our attention on the wrong problems, and that therefore the statement is only partially true, then the example might be more directly relevant). But it is probably not a good idea to exclude from consideration any part of the prompt that might be relevant to your discussion. You’re being asked, in effect, to assess whether scandals are a better way of getting people to attend to problems than the efforts of speakers or reformers. There ought to be some element of comparison or contrast in your essay: E.g., "While reformers are useful for analyzing problems and proposing solutions, they do not attract a lot of attention. Scandals, however, etc...."

The other part of the prompt that you ought to address (since the instructions say "be sure to address" it!) is possible challenges to your position. To do that, you need to establish a clear position. Your essay argues that scandals are sometimes useful and sometimes not useful. That's a clear enough position, but again it's not a clear position in relation to the reason advanced for the claim. And it's not really a position that a reasonable person would argue with. (It would certainly be difficult to argue that scandals are never useful.) So, again, the debate that you need to enter here concerns the efficacy of scandals precisely as a means of drawing attention to problems relative to the efforts of reformers. And in that debate you need to adopt a position with which reasonable people might disagree, and explain why you think those who disagree are wrong.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: hahaxiao66

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