GRE Argument Essay 196
The following appeared in a clothing industry trade journal in the country of Sartoria.
“A popular fashion magazine recently conducted a survey of consumers’ opinions about clothing prices, using prepaid mailing envelopes. Eighty-nine percent of the approximately 20,000 respondents reported that they were either ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with current clothing prices. The large number of responses indicates that the Sartorian clothing industry is at risk. Given the survey results, clothing manufacturers must find a way to reduce prices in order to keep their existing customers and maintain their businesses.”
The given argument is based on a recently conducted survey that required consumers to express their opinion on clothing prices. The arguer uses the results of the survey to conclude that clothing manufacturers need to emphasize on reducing clothing prices if they wish to maintain reaping profits in their businesses. A cursory reading makes the recommendation made by the arguer sound convincing, but an in-depth analysis of the evidence provided makes it evident that the argument is flawed in several respects and the recommendation made is not justified at all.
The argument provides scant information about the details of the survey which forms the backbone of the given argument. The reader would like to know the details of the survey pertaining to its content and the people who actually participated in the survey. As the survey has been conducted by a popular fashion magazine, it is likely that the survey asked the consumers their opinion about the prices of clothing marketed by well-known brands. It is likely that the prices of the clothing manufactured by these brands are beyond the reach of the common man and hence, a majority of the respondents expressed their dissatisfaction with the clothing prices. However, this does not mean that they are dissatisfied with all the clothing brands that are available in the market. Their opinion might be restricted to only those specific brands which were mentioned in the survey. Therefore, unless the arguer specifically mentions that the survey was conducted for all the clothing brands, the contention that the consumers are dissatisfied with the clothing prices offered by all clothing manufacturers is not warranted.
There is no mention of the method that was employed to contact the consumers for their opinion. If the prepaid mailing envelopes were provided along with the magazine, then the respondents would be limited to the subscribers of the magazine. In such a case, considering the opinion of the respondents to be an indication of the opinion of the entire populace is highly questionable. Therefore, unless the arguer clearly outlines the cross section of the people who were contacted for providing their opinion, the opinion of the respondents cannot be considered as valid evidence in support of the recommendation that has been made by the arguer.
Even if one does assume that the people who were contacted for their opinion on the clothing prices represent the entire populace, what is the surety that they are the ones who have actually replied to the questions in the survey? As the opinion was to be mailed, there is no check on the age or the experience of the people who responded to the survey. It is likely that as the answers to the survey were to be written down, people did not spend much time on contemplating what the answers should be. Moreover, it is likely that the survey was answered by people, like children and teenagers, who have little or no experience with respect to buying clothes. They would have answered whatever came to their mind or they replied after being influenced by the opinions of others. It is likely that people are actually happy with the prices of the clothes that they buy, but they chose to answer the survey differently either because of the influence of others or because they did not have the time to spend on thinking what the actual answer should be.
The argument could have been substantiated to an extent if the arguer had provided evidence that clearly mentioned the cross-section of the people who participated in the survey. Moreover, there is a need to provide details of the survey like the specific questions that were asked with respect to the prices of the clothing being marketed by all the clothing manufacturers. Therefore, in the absence of crucial evidence, the given argument has been rendered fallacious as it is difficult to be convinced that all clothing manufacturers must reduce prices in order to maintain their businesses.