In a study of the reading habits of Waymarsh citizens conducted by the University of Waymarsh, most respondents said they preferred literary classics as reading material. However, a second study conducted by the same researchers found that the type of book most frequently checked out of each of the public libraries in Waymarsh was the mystery novel. Therefore, it can be concluded that the respondents in the first study had misrepresented their reading preferences.
Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.
In this argument, the author concludes that there is a discrepancy between two studies concerning the reading habits of Waymarsh citizens. In the first study, respondents exhibited a great interest in literary classics as reading material; however, the second study revealed that mystery novels were most frequently checked out in public libraries. Consequently, the writer attributes the inconsistency to a misrepresentation of reading habits by respondents in the first study. However, I remain doubtful of this conclusion and require more evidence to substantiate it.
First of all, despite the presence of these two studies, we need more evidence to demonstrate their validity. That is to say, additional evidence is required to determine whether such two studies accurately reflect readers’ reading habits. For the first study, the author would benefit from ruling out the possibility that the questions were biased and therefore induced the respondents to give answers in ways that did not accurately reveal their true reading habits. More specifically, we need to know what aspects of books they assign most significance to: contents, designs of covers or prices, for example. If new evidence helps to preclude such a probability that the interviewed citizens in the first study were biased, then the author’s conclusion is strengthened; otherwise the argument is undermined.
What is more, the author should provide evidence to confirm the validity of the second study. First, the mere fact that mystery novels are most frequently checked out of the public libraries does not necessarily serve as an indicator of people’s reading interests. Thus, we need to know whether people borrowed books from public libraries for other reasons, such as assisting with school assignments. If specific evidence shows us that reading interests did not even play a significant, if not unique, role in influencing people’s checking out behavior in libraries, then the argument is weakened and the respondents in the first study were truthful. Second, as a matter of fact, people who are fans of a certain book genre do not always need to check out those books but can instead read them in the library. If evidence proves this scenario true, then the argument is seriously questioned; in other circumstances, however, the argument is lent great support to. Third, while the first study focused on Waymarsh citizens, the second study apparently narrowed its focus to those who borrowed books from the public libraries. Therefore, it is likely that people who enjoy literary classics could borrow books from private libraries or buy ones directly from bookstores. If new evidence is provided to exclude such a possibility, then I would be inclined to believe the author’s conclusion; otherwise I remain unconvinced of the argument.
Even if the results from the two studies accurately reveal the readers’ authentic reading habits and these two results are inconsistent, we need further evidence to demonstrate that this inconsistency is a direct result of respondents deliberately misrepresenting their reading habits. Since we are not informed with the length of time between the two studies, we cannot be sure that people’s reading habits did not change during this period. If new evidence shows that literary classics lost their dominance during this period, then the respondents in the first study were actually telling the truth when they stated that they preferred literary classics, which does not contradict the second survey’s subsequent results that mystery novels were borrowed from public libraries more than literary classics were.
To draw a conclusion, we need further proof to form a better evaluation of the argument. Only after weighing all of the evidence which serve to weaken the conclusion as well as those supporting the argument, can we come to a decision about the soundness of this argument.