The following appeared in a science magazine:
“The “Space Race” of the 1960’s between the USA and Russia was very expensive but it yielded a tremendous number of technological advances. These advances have provided many economic and humanitarian benefits. The benefits have more than paid for the effort and money spent during the Space Race and therefore the government should make allowances within the budget to pay for a manned Mars landing by 2020.”
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.
The argument states that the "Space Race" that happened between USA and Russia in the 60's, although expensive, yielded a high number of technological advances that led to economic and humanitarian benefits. It then goes on to comment that these benefits have intangibly paid for the effort and the money that was spent by the respective governments. The author, on the basis of these premises, recommends the government to make allowances within their budgets to pay for a manned mars landing by 2020, indirectly stating that the technological advances that will result from this undertaking will contribute to the humanitarian and economical well being of the society as a whole.
First, the argument clearly assumes that the outcome of the mars landing program will be successful in yielding technological advances just like the program from the 60's did. It fails to consider that there is a possibility that a similar combination of factors - Talented scientists, unhindered supply of requisite raw materials, requisite international collaboration between think tanks etc - that contributed to the success of the program in 60's might just not be as easily put together in this era, resulting in highly variable levels of success, that may not yield the desired results for the benefits that is being yearned for.
Second, the argument, once the assumption the project will yield the necessary technological advancements is made, readily assumes that these advancements will invariably result in economic and humanitarian benefits. The argument seems inconclusive since it fails to take into account the necessary data points required to state this with certainty. No allusion is made to the fact that it might be possible that a space program, right now, would not have the same impact on humanity and economy as it had in 60's. The argument hereby fails to draw the necessary parallels between the economic and the social climates from the 60's with that from today.
In short, the argument falls flat since it inconclusively states that since the benefits paid for the effort an the money during the "Space Race", the benefits, which are not assured, from a manned mars landing mission will result in similar economic and humanitarian benefits on a similar scale to that of the 60's. If the argument called into evidence factual data and scientific predictions on what kind of results such a program could generate, and then used this data to actually showcase the technological advances that would results from these results, it would have looked stronger. The argument could have further strengthened its position by doing a generic analysis of the prevailing economic and humanitarian conditions and explained how these advances could alleviate some, if not more, issues that mankind faces.
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