GRE Argument Essay 186

The following appeared in a health newsletter.

“According to a recent study, people with many social ties report catching colds less often than do people with few social ties. Consequently, researchers conclude that having an active social life probably helps strengthen the immune system. The researchers note that catching a cold – one of a family of highly contagious viruses – gives the cold-sufferer temporary immunity to that virus in the future, but not to the many other related viruses. Merely being exposed to a new cold virus, however, is not enough for a person to catch a cold, since a strong immune system can successfully fight off some new viruses. Thus, in order to prevent catching a cold, people should strengthen their immune systems by becoming more active socially.”

The given argument is written by the writer to put forward his view that in order to prevent colds people should become more socially active. He supports this view by a recent study in which researchers concluded that people with many social ties had a strong immune system since they caught cold fewer times than those who had few social ties. However, the writer does not give logical reasoning and evidence to prove his point. Therefore, his argument can be called weak and insufficient to convince the reader.

First of all, the writer says that people with many social ties reported catching cold lesser times than those with fewer social ties. It is thus concluded that social activity helps in improving immune system. However, the writer does not explain how many social ties are enough to help prevent colds. The reader is left to wonder what the writer means by ‘many’ social ties and ‘few’ social ties since he does not define it well. It is not known as to how many people a person should be interacting with in order to be called socially active. Therefore, this idea of the writer remains confusing and weakly explained. Further, the study can be criticized to be lacking of statistical data. It is only when there is enough statistical data to prove its conclusion that its result can be considered reliable.

The writer mentions that the researchers have concluded that more social activity probably strengthens immune systems. The use of the word ‘probably’ makes the reader believe that the researchers are doubtful and are only guessing by what is observed generally. Therefore, the writer does not affirm that the immune system gets strengthened for sure due to active social ties. This leaves a place of doubt in the minds of the readers as well and therefore the argument does not seem convincing.

The writer ignores other reasons that result in catching colds as well as preventing them. Immunity gained by people meeting many others could be just one of those reasons. However, other causes of colds and their effects on people with more social ties should be studied before coming to any conclusion. First of all, it is possible that those who are socially active are in contact with those people who do not carry any viruses of colds, whereas those meeting fewer people are in contact with people suffering from colds. Therefore, the results of the study are doubtful. Further, a person could be naturally allergic to colds, and it is possible that an active social life makes no difference to his immunity. The environment also makes a lot of difference since a dusty and unhygienic environment would breed more viruses. Therefore, if people frequented this areas it is possible that they catch cold more often. Colds are also affected by weather changes. It has been seen that in rainy season or in winters, people are more prone to colds despite their social inactivity. However, the writer does not mention any of these factors and their effect on the people in the study.

The writer says that catching colds helps in building up a temporary immunity to the virus. However, he does not mention how long this immunity can last. Therefore, the reader is left to believe that it could be a short-term immunity after which the immune system cannot fight the virus anymore to prevent colds. Moreover, if the immune system is not able to fight an old virus, its ability to fight a new virus will be even lesser, which increases the chances of catching colds by being exposed to a new virus.

The writer simply proves his lack of judgment in his argument. Moreover, he ignores other factors causing colds and thus it can be said that he presents an insufficient and unconvincing argument.