GRE Argument Essay 162
Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to certain stimuli. One view is that allergies can develop as the result of childhood exposure to certain irritants, such as dust or animal dander, while the immune system is not yet mature. Another view is that exposure to particular bacteria early in childhood actually triggers the proper development of the immune system, and that limiting exposure to these bacteria through excessive hygiene can cause children’s immune systems to overreact to certain irritants later on. A new study supports the second view: children who are washed especially frequently and whose parents clean their homes especially frequently are more likely to develop allergies than are other children. So in order to reduce the incidence of allergies in children and adults, parents should not limit children’s exposure to irritants or bacteria.
The given argument discusses two views related to the development of allergies. The first is that exposure to certain irritants like dust or animal dander during childhood can lead to allergies since the body’s immune system is not fully developed in children. The second view is that the development of the immune system is activated by exposure to certain types of bacteria in childhood. The arguer cites the results of a new study and claims that they support the second view. The study has concluded that being excessively hygiene conscious can have side effects like the children’s immune system overreacting to certain irritants later on in life. Therefore, the arguer recommends that parents should not be overtly conscious about cleanliness because it is not necessary to limit exposing their children to irritants or bacteria. Despite the evidence provided in its support, the argument fails to sound convincing enough.
The entire argument rests on the results of a new study, but the arguer has unfairly linked the results of the study with the second view related to allergies. The study mentions that people who clean their homes more frequently have children who are more susceptible to allergies. However, the arguer does not provide critical evidence which can convince the reader that the results of the study actually support the second view related to allergies.
Firstly, there is no mention of the demographic cross-section of people that were a part of this study. It is possible that the study was conducted among people who belonged to the lower rung of society and their food habits were such that their children developed allergies despite the fact that the people kept their homes clean and they washed their children frequently. Moreover, it is likely that their homes were situated in surroundings that were unhygienic and therefore, cleanliness of either their children or their homes could not save their children from developing allergies.
Secondly, the argument does not shed light on the types of allergies that were developed by the children whose parents were conscious about their hygiene. It is likely that the allergies were hereditary and these children would have greater chances of developing the allergies as compared to the children whose houses were not clean but probably their parents never had these allergies themselves. It is likely that the allergies contracted were diagnosed to have been transmitted by eating certain types of food or using certain types of cosmetics or soaps. Such an allergy would have little to do with bacteria that can be washed away.
Thirdly, washing the children or cleaning the home does not necessarily mean that all the bacteria and irritants have been washed away. Even if children are being washed more frequently, it is likely that they are still being exposed to bacteria as they were not washed with soap and warm water. Homes cannot be rid of bacteria and other allergy irritants unless they are cleaned with disinfectants. It is likely that the homes were cleaned frequently, but the doors and windows were generally left open and the bacteria found its way back into the homes. Therefore, it is not necessary that frequent cleaning and washing had got rid of the bacteria and the children actually developed allergies because of exposure to bacteria and irritants which were present despite the frequent cleaning.
Lastly, the study cannot hold true for the general population as there is no evidence that proves that the results of the study will hold true for the entire populace. There is no indication of the state or country where the study was conducted, but the arguer makes a sweeping recommendation for everybody. Unless the arguer provides information related to the area where the study was carried out, the recommendation made by him cannot hold true for all parents and children across the globe. Moreover, there is a need to provide evidence that links the results of the study to the second view related to allergies. In the absence of such crucial evidence, the argument has been rendered indefensible in several respects.