GMAT : Analysis of An Argument

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An Argument


51. The following appeared in a magazine article on trends and lifestyles.

In general, people are not as concerned as they were a decade ago about regulating their intake of red meat and fatty cheeses. Walk into the Heart's Delight, a store that started selling organic fruits and vegetables and whole-grain flours in the 1960's, and you will also find a wide selection of cheeses made with high butterfat content. Next door, the owners of the Good Earth Cafe, an old vegetarian restaurant, are still making a modest living, but the owners of the new House of Beef across the street are millionaires.


Question


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 underline 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 in conclusion.


Analysis


The author of an article about lifestyle trends concludes that, in general, people are not as concerned as they were a decade ago with regulating their intake of red meat and fatty cheeses. As evidence, the author cites the fact that a wide selection of high-fat cheeses is now available at a long-established grocery store Heart's Delight which specializes in organic fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

The author further points out that the owners of the vegetarian restaurant next door, Good Earth Cafe, now make only a modest living while the owners of the new House of Beef across the street are millionaires.

This argument is unconvincing.

To begin with, the argument relies on the assumption that the dietary habits and attitudes of customers at these three businesses reflect those of people generally. But the three businesses, all located in the same area of a single community, just might serve a clientele whose diets differ greatly from the diets of people in other areas often community or in other communities. The generalization that the author draws from a possibly biased sample cannot be considered reliable.

In addition, trends at these three businesses do not necessarily reflect the dietary habits and attitudes of their customers in the way the author claims. For example, we are not informed about how well the high-fat cheeses at Heart's Delight are selling relative to low fat and non-fat alternatives. Similarly, it is possible that at House of Beef menu items other than red meat-such as chicken, fish or salad bar are just as popular as red meat among the restaurant's patrons.

Finally, the author assumes that the financial conditions of the owners of the two restaurants were caused by a general lack of concern with regulating red meat and fatty-cheese intake. However, it is equally possible that the lacklustre financial success of Good Earth was caused by mismanagement or increasing overhead cost. Furthermore, it is possible that House of Beef is generating little business, but its owners were already millionaires before they opened this restaurant or are making their money in other concurrent business endeavours.

In conclusion, the author's evidence is too weak to support any conclusion about general dietary trends.

Before we can accept the conclusion, the author must provide evidence from a representative sample of foodservice businesses and must clearly show that sales of red meat and fatty cheeses are increasing relative to sales of low fat alternatives. The author must also provide evidence that the financial conditions of the owners of the two restaurants were actually caused by a general waning concern with regulating fat intake.

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