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Analysis of Argument # 4


ESSAY QUESTION:
The following appeared in a print advertisement for a dietary supplement:“According to a recent study, professional bodybuilders who used Train & Gain, a new protein supplement, over the course of three months experienced an increase in measured strength of up to 20%. Since Train & Gain is now available without prescription at all major pharmacies, superior results are no longer limited to professional athletes. Try Train & Gain today and you too can boost your strength and achieve professional-level performance in just a few months.”

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Point out flaws in the argument’s logic and analyze the argument’s underlying assumptions. In addition, evaluate how supporting evidence is used and what evidence might counter the argument’s conclusion. You may also discuss what additional evidence could be used to strengthen the argument or what changes would make the argument more logically sound.

YOUR RESPONSE:
The argument states that professional bodybuilders who used Train & Gain, a new protein supplement, over the course of three months experienced an increase in measured strength of up to 20 percent. The argument goes on to say that since Train & Gain is now available without prescription even people who are not professional athletes can boost their strength and achieve professional-level performance in just a few months. When put forward like this, the argument seems flawed. It fails to mention several key criteria on the basis on which it could be evaluated.First, based on the argument we only know that professional bodybuilders who used Train and Gain over the course of three months, experienced an increase in measured strength of up to 20 percent. This could simply mean that only one bodybuilder experienced this increase in strength, but the others only experienced a small or no increase in strength. The phrase ‘up to’ in this case is misleading. It would be better if the argument mentions what the average increase in strength was across the sample set of professional bodybuilders. This would help the potential consumers to gauge the effectiveness of the protein supplement.

Second, the argument does not mention the circumstances under which this increase in strength was achieved. We do not know if there were any other contributing factors to the increase in strength. For example, the three month period might have coincided with a period of increased gym workouts by the bodybuilders, aimed at increasing body strength. In the absence of this information we can not properly judge if Train & Gain really helps to increase body strength.

Finally, is increase in body strength the only criteria on which the performance of professional level athletes in judged ? Not everybody might be looking for increased strength while opting to take a protein supplement. People might take up protein supplements to boost stamina, or increase muscle mass. The argument does not provide us any data to evaluate Train & Gain’s effectiveness in these circumstances.

Thus it is clear that the argument is misleading since it only highlights the maximum performance gain achieved, does not evaluate the factors other than Train & Gain which could have led to the increase in strength, and gives no information on the effectiveness of the protein supplement in cases other than those where increased strength is required. The argument could be strengthened further by giving the average increase in strength for all the body-builders using Train and Gain, describing the conditions in which this increase was achieved and the effect of the protein supplement on other criteria such as muscle gain or stamina increase. In the absence of this evidence, the argument is flawed and seems to be a case of wishful thinking.

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