GRE Essay Topic 949 - The following appeared in the summary of a study on headaches suffered by the residents of Mentia. "Salicylates are members of the same chemical family as aspirin, a medicine used to treat headaches. Although many foods are naturally rich in salicylates, for the past several decades food-processing companies have also been adding salicylates to foods as preservatives. This rise in the commercial use of salicylates has been found to correlate with a steady decline in the average number of headaches reported by participants in our twenty-year study. Recently, food-processing companies have found that salicylates can also be used as flavor additives for foods. With this new use for salicylates, we can expect a continued steady decline in the number of headaches suffered by the average citizen of Mentia. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.
The argument believes that the large dosage of salicylates found in foods in Mentia will decline the number of headaches suffered by Mentia’s citizen. With the reasoning and the data provided in the study, it seems that the argument is logical. However, the argument is based on several assumptions that have to be proved in order to ensure its validity.
First, the argument assumes that the headaches suffered by Mentia’s citizen are the headaches that can be cured by salicylates. There are many kinds of headaches, and not all of them can be cured by salicylates. If the assumption about the headaches is not true, then the statement about the various use of salicylates in Mentia curing headaches cannot be considered valid, since the declined amount of headaches does not consist entirely of the headache that can be cured with salicylates.
The second assumption made by the argument is that the participant of the study did not take any medication to treat their headaches: the participant treated their headache using only commercial salicylates produced in Mentia. If the participants actually resorted other mean to subside their headache during the twenty years study period, then the assumption is not correct. Therefore, the argument made about headache decline in Mentia cannot be considered strong.
To evaluate the argument further, the next assumption that needs to be examined is that the long term dosage of salicylate is harmless for human. Being used as preservatives for decades, being recently added as additives, and being naturally available made salicylates highly consumed by the citizen of Mentia for at least several decades. The argument expect that in the future, the number of headaches suffered by the citizen of Mentia will decrease. However, if the assumption that salicylates is harmless for long term and large dosage is wrong, then the citizen of Mentia may suffer from disease that is caused by salicylates. The diseases themselves could induce headache to the citizen, making the argument’s claim false.
While it is true that salicylates can subside headache, further examination about their commercial usage being able to decrease the number of headache in Mentia should be investigated further. In addition, the author of the study should consider the implications if his/her assumptions about the argument are not true, since it may bring the opposite effect from what is stated in the argument.
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