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GRE_Argument - Flagged
The following appeared as part of an article in a business magazine.
"A recent study rating 300 male and female advertising executives according to the average number of hours they sleep per night showed an association between the amount of sleep the executives need and the success of their firms. Of the advertising firms studied those whose executives reported needing no more than six hours of sleep per night had higher profit margins and faster growth. On the basis of this study, we recommend that businesses hire only people who need less than six hours of sleep per night."
Based on a recent study which reveals in the advertising business, firms whose executives needs less than 6 hours of sleep per night have higher margins and faster growth, the author asserts that if a business want to prosper, it should hire only people who sleep less than six hours a day. It seems reasonable at the first glance; after all it is for the good of the business' profits and growth. But a serious scrutinize into the evidence shows that the argument is, in fact based on some groundless assumptions and thus is not substantial and even misleading.
First, the author mentions that there are totally 300 respondents in this survey, assuming that this small crowd of executives is fully representative of the advertising firms. Yet, we are not informed of how many firms do these executives come from and if they are selected randomly. It is possible that they are from more than 20 companies and each company owns only 15 on average. But I do not think the 15 executives can not fully represent the situations of the in a company. Worse, it is equally possible, at least before the author rule out with sufficient evidence, that all the respondents are the managers or the supervisors of each company, thus they have to work over time, while other employees go back home very early every day.
Granted that the sample is full representative, the author fallaciously assumes that the executives sleep less than 6 hours for they spend the time on working. Maybe they sleep for they go out for dinner and try all kind of entertainment, or they live in the center of the town, where most people sleep little and entertain themselves until midnight. And those who sleep more than 6 hours because they live in the very quite sub-town, where most people go to sleep very early. Anyway, common sense tells me that to guarantee the efficiency of work, one have to make sure they have enough rest.
Granted, again, that the executives sleep less for they spend more time working, the author unfairly assumes that the less sleep and more time on working is the only attribute to the faster growth and more margins. The author may have made a mistake here that he treats the synchronism as the relationship of cause and effect. But, other factors are also equally attributable. For example, it is quite possible that the companies may have just performed a reform after which the division of labor is much clearer and the staff could focus on their own work and save the time of discussing with other partners. Or it is also possible the companies brought in new software on which the staff could design their work at twice the speed as they used to do. Anyway, before the author could present us accurate information to rule out these possibilities, we could not fully embrace the assumption that less sleep is the only attribute to more profits, let alone the conclusion.
In short, there are mainly three fallacious assumptions in this argument. To improve it, the author is suggested to solve the following problems: 1) the structure of the 300 respondents and show us that they are representative enough; 2) Why do those sleep less than 6 hours sleep less, do they spend time on working? 3) A thorough investigation should be carried out to reveal the real reason of the companies who have higher margins and faster growth.
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