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GRE Argument Essay: Arctic Deer - With A Free Essay Review

"Arctic deer live on islands in Canada's arctic regions. They search for food by moving over ice from island to island during the course of the year. Their habitat is limited to areas warm enough to sustain the plants on which they feed and cold enough, at least some of the year, for the ice to cover the sea separating the islands, allowing the deer to travel over it. Unfortunately, according to reports from local hunters, the deer populations are declining. Since these reports coincide with recent global warming trends that have caused the sea ice to melt, we can conclude that the purported decline in deer populations is the result of the deer's being unable to follow their age-old migration patterns across the frozen sea." Instructions: "Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument."

The statement draws a conclusion that the decline in deer population results from the situation that the old migration routes of deer have been influenced by the melting of ice bridges. To substantiate the conclusion, the arguer offers us the evidence that local hunters reported a decline in the deer population. In addition, the author points out that population decrease and melting of sea ice caused by global warming occurred at the same time. At the first glance, the author’s argument seems convincing, but actually it is rife with flaws.

To begin with, the author accepts the report of local hunters as unassailable evidence, and establishes his argument on the base of this evidence. However, I think the report is not certainly accurate. Local hunters reported the decline of deer because they spotted less deer. But less observed deer are not necessarily begot by the melting of sea ice. Perhaps these deer are browsing on some other islands where few hunters have been. Perhaps deer have learnt to survive by avoiding hunters or even human race. So many alternative explanations existing, it is not reasonable to treat the reports as solid evidence to believe that the population of deer decreases. The author needs to offer readers evidence to investigate that all the possible situations above have already been considered and can be eliminated.

Second, the author puts forward a correlation between the decline of deer population and the melting of sea ice resulting from global warming, and correspondingly invites us to conclude that the latter is the cause of the former. However, even if the decline of deer certainly is fact, concurrence does not necessarily lead to a causal relation and perhaps much of the connection can be explained by other evidence lurking in the background. For example, perhaps it is the excessive hunting activities that largely make the population of deer go down. Perhaps it is the deterioration of habitats that largely causes the decrease of the amount of deer. Perhaps it is the increase of the population of predators that largely leads to the decline. If the author does not offer enough detailed evidence to rule out all the possible explanations, I will still be skeptic about the conclusion that decline in deer population is the result of the deer's being unable to follow their age-old migration patterns across the frozen sea.

Furthermore, the author should provide detailed information about whether these deer could find other alternative migration routes to reach their anterior browse land. If the author can come up with solid evidence to corroborate that no other way is accessible to their crucial browse land, I think the statement of author is acceptable. If he can not, his argument proves untenable.

In conclusion, in order to enhance the argument, first of all, the author needs to supply evidence to prove whether the report of local hunters are accurate, and additionally to prove that the decline of population of deer is not caused by other reasons, such as human activities, predator activities, or environmental changes. Finally, he should prove no other approaches are available.


Essay Review

I have just reviewed another version of this essay, one that has similar problems to this, and you might find it helpful to refer to the earlier review (

Your essay is a bit more sharply focused on the question of evidence needed to evaluate the argument, but you don't clearly specify what evidence would be needed to evaluate the argument. For instance, you conclude your first argument with the claim that "the author needs to offer readers evidence to investigate that all the possible situations above have already been considered and can be eliminated." The focus here is slightly off. You don't need to discuss what the author needs to do, just what specific evidence would be useful for the purpose of evaluating the author's argument. Here, you need to specify what evidence would help one "investigate that all the possible situations" that you reference, and then explain how that evidence would help you evaluate the argument.

Your next paragraph has a similar problem. That paragraph could be taken to identify implicitly the kind of evidence that would help evaluate the argument, but you should identify it explicitly. You need sentences that would look something like the following: "Evidence that would allow us to compare the intensity of recent hunting activities with hunting activities in previous years would help us evaluate the argument. Specifically, such evidence might include reports of the number of deer killed annually or reports of the number of hunting licences granted each year. That evidence would be helpful because if it showed etc."

The importance of specifying the evidence you want is underscored by your third argument, where you speculate vaguely on the possibility that deer have found alternate ways of reaching grazing lands. It's hard to imagine what you have in mind here, unless you are imagining deer being transported from one island to another on boats. This final argument, however, at least has the merit of clarifying how the evidence mentioned would help evaluate the argument, which is what you must do in every case.

Best, EJ

P.S. I am now asking students to limit submissions to one essay per day.
Submitted by: yahoochao

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