GMAT : Analysis of An Argument

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An Argument

69. The following appeared in a memorandum from the president of a company that makes shampoo.

A widely publicized study claims that HR2, a chemical compound in our shampoo, can contribute to hair loss after prolonged use. This study, however, involved only 500 subjects. Furthermore, we have received no complaints from our customers during the past year and some of our competitors actually use more HR2 per bottle of shampoo than we do. Therefore, we do not need to consider replacing the HR2 in our shampoo with a more expensive alternative.


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.


The president of the company that produces Glabrous Shampoo is not removing the ingredient HR2 from the shampoo even though a scientific study claims that prolonged use of HR2 can contribute to hair loss.

Three reasons are cited as the basis for this decision.

First, it is argued that since the scientific study involved only 500 subjects, it can be disregarded. Second, none of the customers have complained of problems during the past year. And, Glabrous’ competitors use more HR2 per bottle than Glabrous.

The recommendation is problematic in several respects.

To begin with, the fact that the scientific study on HR2 involved only insufficient grounds to dismiss the results of that study. If the subjects were randomly chosen and represent a diverse cross section of the shampoo users, the results will be reliable regardless of the number of participants.

Next, the scientific study determined that prolonged use could contribute to hair loss. While prolonged use was not defined in the memorandum, the fact that none of Glabrous' customers have complained of problems during the past year is not reliable reason to believe that problems will not arise in the future.

Finally, the fact that Glabrous' competitors use more HR2 in their product than Glabrous uses is irrelevant to the question of whether Glabrous should remove HR2 from its product. Moreover, rather than providing a reason for not removing the compound, this fact serves better as a reason for doing so. By removing HR2 from its product Glabrous could gain an edge over its competitors.

In conclusion, the reasoning in this argument is not convincing. To strengthen the argument the author will have to show that the study was biased on too small a sample to yield reliable results.

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