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GRE Argument Essay: A Recently Issued Twenty-year Study On Headaches - With A Free Essay Review

A recently issued twenty-year study on headaches suffered by the residents of Mentia investigated the possible therapeutic effect of consuming salicylates. Salicylates are members of the same chemical family as aspirin, a medicine used to treat headaches. Although many foods are naturally rich in salicylates, food-processing companies also add salicylates to foods as preservatives. The twenty-year study found a correlation between the rise in the commercial use of salicylates and a steady decline in the average number of headaches reported by study participants. At the time when the study concluded, food-processing companies had just discovered that salicylates can also be used as flavor additives for foods, and, as a result, many companies plan to do so. Based on these study results, some health experts predict that residents of Mentia will suffer even fewer headaches in the future. Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the prediction and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the prediction.

In the argument, the author mentions that some health experts predict that residents of Mentia will suffer fewer headaches, because many food-processing companies plan to use salicylates as flavor additives for foods. However, in order to evaluate the prediction, several questions need to be addressed.

First all of, the prediction is built on that assumption that salicylates can help relieve or reduce headaches. Therefore, the essential question the argument needs to answer is that whether salicylates can indeed treat or relieve headaches. Although it is mentioned the argument that saylicylates are member of the same chimical family as aspirin, which is a medicine used to treat headaches, this does not mean salicylates can be used to treat headaches. Chemical members in the same family can have quite different chemical properties. In addition, only one study provided in the argument is not convincing enough. If many other studies find out that salicylates does not help relieve or cure headaches, then, the prediction would be invalid because salicylates might not contribute to relieving headaches. If this is the case, then, no matter how much more salicylates are added, it would not warrantee that residents of Mentia will suffer fewer headaches in the future.

Then, another question the author needs to address in order to bolster the predication is that if the more salicylates people consume, the fewer people suffer from headaches, and if it is possible that there are some side-effects of overusing salicylates that can make headaches worse. If studies find out that it is true that people would suffer fewer from headaches by increasing the amount of salicylates people consume, then, the prediction would be reasonable. However, if we eventually find out that once the dosage of salicylates a person taking exceeds a certain thresould, then salicylates would have adverse effect on the person, such as noxious, sleep, or even more severe headaches, then, it would not be reasonable to introduce more salicylates to people’s diet.

Overall, the prediction is only reasonable if the author can address that salicylate can actually relieve headaches, and the more salicylate a person consume, the less likely that person will suffer from headache.



Since the implicit argument is that salicylates have reduced the number of headaches, it seems a bit disingenous to say that "the essential question the argument needs to answer is whether salicylates can indeed treat or relieve headaches" or even to say that "one study ... is not convincing enough." Obviously if there were studies that showed there was no effect then the prediction would be false. You are really being asked to come up with the questions that need to be asked to determine whether the conclusion drawn from the study that does exist are correct. In other words, you need to think of the questions that will allow you to rule out possible other explanations for the correlation noted. So far, after all, the study only indicates a correlation. Salicylates positively reducing headaches could explain that correlation, or the correlation might be a coincidence and the reduction in headaches caused by something else (reduction in alcohol consumption, increased consumption of actual aspirin, removal of toxins from the water supply, eradication of the wild dog problem - who knows?). The question that needs to be answered, in any case, is whether there are other possible causes of the observed phenomenon (reduction in number of headaches). Of course, as your next paragraph argues, even if the existence of salicylates is the most plausible explanation for the reduction in headaches, that doesn't mean that increasing the amount of salicylates would cause further reductions. The questions you identify in this paragraph are more reasonable.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: uofr6460

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