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GRE ARGUMENT 234. Health And Longevity In Leeville - With A Free Essay Review

TOPIC: ARGUMENT 234 - 'The following appeared in a newspaper feature story. "There is now evidence that the relaxed manner of living in small towns promotes better health and greater longevity than does the hectic pace of life in big cities. Businesses in the small town of Leeville report fewer days of sick leave taken by individual workers than do businesses in the nearby large city of Mason City. Furthermore, Leeville has only one physician for its one thousand residents, but in Mason City the proportion of physicians to residents is five times as high. And the average age of Leeville residents is significantly higher than that of Mason City residents. These findings suggest that people seeking longer and healthier lives should consider moving to small communities. - Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted."

In this argument, the author claims that people should move to small cities rather than big cities for longer and healthier lives. To support the suggestion, the argument is based on the comparison of two selected examples, the smaller Leevile City (LC) and the bigger Mason City (MC), and the author cited the following facts: (1) Businesses in LC report fewer days of sick leave than those in MC; (2) the rate of physicians in the total population of MC is five times of that of LC; (3) The average age of LC residents is significantly higher than that of MC residents. It seems quite reasonable at the first glance, and after all it is for the good of those who want to select a settlement for better life. However, serious scrutiny into the explanations the author made of the fact tells me the argument is somewhat fallacious and should be required to provide more information to support the explanation.

Firstly, more frequent sick leaves is not a necessary indication of poor health but a good indication that people in MC pay more attention to their health conditions. Common sense tells us that different people ask for sick leaves for different reasons, some will ask for leaves just for a slight cold, while others ask for leave only after they are diagnosed with serious cancer and have to stay in hospitals for operation. It is quite possible, at least before the author provides sufficient information to rule it out, that people in small cities pay less attention to their health conditions so they do not ask for leave until they got seriously sick. Or it is equally possible that the employers in LC are so strict that they do not allow their employers to ask for leaves until they can not carry on working. In both situations, LC is not a good place for people to settle down.

Secondly, a smaller rate of physicians in total populations is not a good indication of the healthier condition of the residents, but an adverse indication of poor and undeveloped medical condition, which will impede people to move there. There are not so many doctors in small cities, so when one gets sick, he has walked very far to find doctors and life is threatened in this case. This is very crucial for the elderly to consider.

Thirdly, the author mentions the average age of LC is "significantly" higher than that of Mason City. Yet the word "significantly" is too ambiguous and the author is suspicious of exaggerating the fact. Common sense tells us that there is no very obvious difference of the average age between the best and the worst place. We call for the exact data of the average ages of the two cities but not a vague description like "significantly greater than". Granted that the average age of the residents in MC is lower than that of LC, the author fails to perform a thorough investigation into the reason, which is quite essential and necessary to locate the reason of the lower average age in bigger cities and give clear explanations and better suggestions to be readers. It is quite possible that it is because of a earthquake last year in MC that claimed more than 1000 lives that the average age of MC fell temporarily while in fact the average age of MC used to be higher than LC.

Last but not least, the author provides no information about other big cities and small cities, thus we are not aware whether or not the examples of LC and MC are sufficiently representative of the whole situations of our country. It is quite possible the author coincidently selects a pair of example that is opposite to the general situation. So we call for a statistical data of the cities in the whole nation to rule out this possibility. Besides, people care about not only the average age and sick leaves of a city when deciding whether or not to move their, but a series of factors like the transportation, the safety, the opportunities of work, the price level of daily expenses and education if they have school children. Yet the author groundlessly judge that people should move to small cities, ignoring all the other factors.

In short, the author fails to persuade me and the readers to move to live in small cities for longer lives. To strengthen the argument, the author is suggested to provide information about the following: 1) The reason for lower sick leaves in LC; 2) Accurate information that there is less physicians in LC for people are healthy enough that they need not to see doctors but not for the bad medical conditions; 3) The accurate average ages of the two cities; 4) National data that could show us the two cities are representative of the whole nation; 5) Small cities are advantageous in other related aspects that people care about when deciding if they will move there.


Essay Review

Your first paragraph is largely unnecessary. You can demonstrate that you have understood the argument in the course of analysing the arguments assumptions, so there is no need to waste time summarizing the argument. Also, lots of students write some version of "At first glance X; at second sharper glance, Not X"; but that's a trite formula and in this case doubly unnecessary since your task is not to discuss whether the argument is fallacious or not, but simply to analyse its assumption. You may as well begin, then, with the second paragraph.

When you come to discuss the assumptions of the argument, the discussion ought to be explicit: "The argument assumes that X is the case. This is an assumption because etc. If this assumption should prove unwarranted, it would have such and such an impact on the argument." Your first argument, if it were articulated explicitly, would be reasonable except for its conclusion. The argument you are evaluating claims that Leeville is a good town for those "seeking longer and healthier lives." Your conclusion ought to concern that specific claim.

Your second argument also does not explicitly analyse the assumptions of the argument (and it also makes its own assumptions, such as assumptions of how people get to their doctor, which you should try to avoid doing). It may be that there are few doctors in Leeville because the citizens are healthier, or that fact might be explained by any number of other reasons. The argument assumes that the number of doctors in a town reflects the health of those that live there. That is all you need to say about the assumption. Then you need to explain why it is an assumption and what the implications would be if it were not the case that the number of physicians in Leeville were a reliable measure of the health of the townsfolk. Do the latter (make an explicit argument) instead of making a true but banal (and for the purposes of analysis, irrelevant) claim: "This is very crucial etc."

The next argument has similar problems and as a whole is largely not responsive to the prompt. You have no need (nor any good reason) to question factual claims in the given argument; again, just analyse the argument's assumptions. The assumption here is that there is a correlation between health and average age. You can demonstrate that that is an assumption by pointing out other possible explanations for the higher average age of Leeville dwellers. Then, as before, explain the significance of the assumption for the argument.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: jack

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