GRE Argument Essay 140
The following appeared in an article in the health section of a newspaper.
“According to the available medical records, the six worst worldwide flu epidemics during the past 300 years occurred in 1729, 1830, 1918, 1957, 1968, and 1977. These were all years with heavy sunspot activity – that is, years when the Earth received significantly more solar energy than in normal years. People at particular risk for the flu should therefore avoid prolonged exposure to the Sun.”
In the article of the health section of the newspaper it is advised that people who have a higher risk of catching flu should avoid prolonged exposure to the Sun. This is concluded from the fact that in the past 300 years, the six worst worldwide flu epidemics occurred in the years with heavy sunspot activity. However, the article leaves scope for doubt and thus can be criticized for being faulty and forming irrelevant conclusions.
The argument is based on the available medical records that are mentioned in the argument. It is only the available medical records of the past 300 years that have indicated the given results. However, there could be a large number of medical facts that do not have a mention in these records. Whether these available records were detailed analysis and comprehensive accounts of the situation or just a superficial study of the given years is not known. Moreover, it does not extend to the period beyond 300 years. However, there could have been even worse flu epidemics before the given 300 years. Since there is no record for these epidemics, it is possible that those years did not observe any significant sunspot activity, as did the years mentioned in the argument. Hence, the conclusion of the argument is restricted to the available records and does not take into consideration the time before it.
The argument mentions that the years that saw the worst flu epidemics had heavy sunspot activity. This forms the basis for relating the epidemic to the amount of sunlight that the earth receives. However, in the past 300 years there could have been more years than those mentioned in the argument that had observed high sunspot activity. Nevertheless, there is no mention of flu or the risk of catching flu in these years. It is therefore possible that there were many years that had observed heavy sunspot activity, out of which only six years reported the epidemic.
There could be many other possible factors that could have contributed to the outbreak and spread of the epidemic. Flu can be contracted in areas with poor hygiene. It is possible that the water supplied in a large area was contaminated and resulted in widespread flu. There could be limited medical facilities to treat the disease that contributed in making it an epidemic. Flu could also have been a result of weather change or change in the living conditions of the society. The writer ignores these factors and only correlates the epidemic with high sunspot activity.
Similarly, the writer seems to ignore that flu could be prevented with taking proper care and avoiding all the factors responsible for flu. The writer only concentrates on avoiding prolonged exposure to Sun in order to prevent flu. However, those who are at a risk of getting flu should keep in mind all factors that could result in their contracting the disease. People should keep their surroundings hygienic and clean. Those who are allergic to certain things should avoid the source of allergy. There should be proper medical facilities to fight the disease and its causes. All these things should be taken care of in order to prevent the spread of flu.
There is not enough evidence provided in the argument that prolonged exposure to Sun could result in flu. After a detailed analysis of the argument, it seems that the conclusion is reached in haste by simply putting two and two together. It is possible that the two facts of flu epidemic and sunspot activity are completely independent of each other. However, the coincidence of their occurrence at the same time has forced the writer to come to this conclusion. Therefore, the argument can be criticized for being formulated on weak evidence and having a narrow scope.