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Joined: 31 Dec 1969
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15 Jun 2011, 16:48
AWA ESSAYS: Analyze Argument
ESSAY QUESTION:
The following appeared in a trade publication for the insurance industry:

“Each generation of Americans has lived longer that the ones preceding it, as the national life expectancy has approached 80 years old in recent years. The progress of medical technology shows no sign of abating. Therefore, we can confidently predict that most children born in America in the next decade will live past the age of ninety.”

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.

The writer has confidently predicted that most children born in America in the next decade will live past the age of ninety. This conclusion is invalid because the evidence is very weak. By exploring two aspects, readers will see the flaws presented.
Firstly, the writer has ruled out other possibilities before making his or her sweeping generalization. The increase in age over the years can be attributed to the improved access to existing information. The information builds awareness and better living habits may be practiced. For instance, MSN News announced, in June 2011, that certain fruits, such as the American apple, are filled with so much chemicals to preserve it, that it is hard to consider the fruits healthy. Similar scenarios have led many consumers to buy more organic or healthier products. Life expectancy can be extended because of this.
Secondly, an epidemic can falsify the prediction. Medical technology can continue to progress and help people live longer, however it cannot stop major life changing events from taking place. For example, Japan faced a major earthquake this year and many are now dead, injured or ill. This makes a great environment for diseases to spread via bacteria and other germs. A war could be unleased on America and may last for more than a year. The population and mortality rate would have drastic changes which medical technology cannot control.
Conclusively, the stimulus needs to prove that medical technology is the sole reason for the increase and if not, what are the other factors to be considered. In addition, there are many environmental variables that can change the outcome of the prediction even though there is constant progress in the field. Once these have been addressed, readers will be able to better assess whether or not the argument is strong or not.
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