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9 - A recent survey of dental patients showed that people...

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A recent survey of dental patients showed that people who use Smile-Bright toothpaste are most likely to have capped teeth -- artificial but natural-looking protective coverings placed by dentists on individual teeth. Those people who had begun using Smile-Bright toothpaste early in life were more likely to have capped teeth than were people who had begun using Smile-Bright later in life. In addition, those who reported brushing their teeth more than twice a day with Smile-Bright toothpaste were more likely to have caps on their teeth than were those who reported brushing with Smile-Bright less frequently. Therefore, people wishing to avoid having their teeth capped should not use Smile- Bright toothpaste. Sample-1 (Score 6) The argument contains several facets that are questionable. First, the reliability and generalizability of the survey are open to quesiton. In addition, the argument assumes a correlation amounts to a causal relationship. The argument also fails to examine alternative explanations. I will discuss each of these facets in turn. In evaluating the evidence of the survey, one must consider how the survey was conducted. If the questions were leading or if the survey relied on self reports, the results might be unreliable -- people might just respond with the expected answer. One must also consider how broad the survey was. If the survey was limited to a few patients of a certain dentist, the results might be attributable to those particular individuals and that particular dentist. Hence, the generalization drawn might not apply to most people. In addition, even if the survey was broader, one must consider whether it was limited in certain ways. For example, were the survey respondents old people? Was the survey limited to a certain city or geographic region? Factors such as these could explain the survey results and could undermine the generalizability of the survey results. Even if one accepts the survey results, the argument remains questionable. The argument assumes that the correlation between the use of SMILEBRIGHT and capped teeth means that SMILE BRIGHT causes the need for capped teeth. But the argument fails to provide sufficient evidence to support the conclusion. In addition, the argument fails to consider the possibility that people who already have capped teeth might prefer SMILEBRIGHT as a toothpaste because it works better on capped teeth. Finally, the argument's author fails to rule out alternative explanations. For instance, people who brush their teeth more than twice a day might be those who are prone to the need to have their teeth capped. It might also be the case that starting with SMILEBRIGHT early in life damages the teeth so that capped teeth will be needed later. It also might be the case that SMILEBRIGHT users tend to be the kind of people who are excessively concerned with the appearance of their teeth, perhaps theyre actors, and so are the kind of people who might, sooner or later, want to have their teeth capped anyway.
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