The following appeared as a letter to the editor from a Central Plaza store owner.
"Over the past two years, the number of shoppers in Central Plaza has been steadily decreasing while the popularity of skateboarding has increased dramatically. Many Central Plaza store owners believe that the decrease in their business is due to the number of skateboard users in the plaza. There has also been a dramatic increase in the amount of litter and vandalism throughout the plaza. Thus, we recommend that the city prohibit skateboarding in Central Plaza. If skateboarding is prohibited here, we predict that business in Central Plaza will return to its previously high levels."
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.
Although the argument appears valid at first glance, it does not hold its ground on further close scrutiny. The author makes claims based on many unwarranted assumptions and also fails to address other equally likely possibilities.
Firstly, the letter, being from just a single owner in Central Plaza does not vouch for the opinions of other owners. Do all other owners agree with the suggestions made in the letter?
Secondly, the owner fails to provide any statistics regarding the decreasing number of shoppers in Central Plaza and also that showing increase in popularity of skateboarding. Also, can the decrease in the business of the shopkeepers solely be attributed to increase in skateboarding users. There may be other factors like decrease in quality, lax service, etc. that may have driven down the clientele of these shops. Also, it may be possible that the increasing number of people going for skateboarding may not be locals at all, but tourists. The author fails to mention what kind of shops he is talking about. Would a flower shop be really affected by increase in skateboarding?
The owner further complains about the dramatic increase in litter and vandalism throughout the plaza. However, is he justified in linking this to skateboarding? Do only people who come for skateboarding cause litter or vandalism around? Assuming skateboarding is prohibited in the plaza, will this also guarantee no such further actions?
The owner suggests prohibiting of skateboarding in order to restore business in shops of central plaza to the previous high levels. However, if skateboarding is not at all the reason for the decrease in business, will this move benefit the shopkeepers? In fact, the plaza may lose out on a large number of customers by prohibiting skateboarding.
In conclusion, the owner's claims and suggestions are based on various unjustified assumptions. Further, if any of the assumptions made by him were to be wrong, the argument proves to be fallacious. In order to support his argument, the author must substantiate it with required commensurate statistics.