The following appeared in a health newsletter.
"Nosinia is an herb that many users report to be as effective as prescription medications at fighting allergy symptoms. Researchers recently compared Nosinia to a placebo in 95 men and women with seasonal allergies to ragweed pollen. Participants in the study reported that neither Nosinia nor the placebo offered significant relief. However, for the most severe allergy symptoms, the researchers reported that Nosinia was more effective than the placebo in providing relief. Furthermore, at the end of the study, participants given Nosinia were more likely than participants given a placebo to report feeling healthier.We therefore recommend using Nosinia to help with your severe allergy symptoms.
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.
In the newsletter, the author argues that Nosinia (N) can address severe allergy symptoms. To support this, the author cites an experiment in which N provided better relief from severe allergy symptoms than a placebo. At the end of the experiment, subjects who took N felt healthier than those who took the placebo. Despite the reasoning of the author's argument, some questions still need to be answered in order to adequately evaluate the author's conclusion.
First, we need to know whether the subjects' testimonies are credible. Specifically, while subjects claimed to have more significant relief of allergy symptoms after taking N than after taking a placebo and to feel healthier at the end of the experiment, how large is this difference? According to the article, there were only 95 people involved in the trial, which can be considered a relatively small group, so it is very likely that only a very small number of people actually felt relief from their symptoms. In this way, we cannot assume that N has a unique function in relieving allergy symptoms, and therefore the author's conclusion are weakened. In addition, we also need to determine whether the subjects in the trial who said they felt healthier at the end of the experiment did so because their allergy symptoms had improved. It is possible that N had a euphoric effect on the body, making the subjects feel more elated, which would have made the subjects feel healthier, but the allergy symptoms actually became worse. If this were true, the author's conclusion would be weakened. Otherwise, the author's conclusion would be strengthened.
Second, even if the subject's allergy symptoms could have improved after taking N, was the relief of symptoms due to taking N? The author does not tell us that all the subjects' allergy symptoms improved, so it is possible that only some of them did. In this way, we also need to know if there are some other commonalities between this group of subjects whose symptoms have improved. These commonalities, such as age, gender, and physical ability, may be the real causes of improvement. If this is true, then the author's conclusion is weakened. If not, the author's conclusion will be strengthened.
Third, even if N did cause the relief of symptoms stated in the article, would the efficacy of N be reflected in other allergy symptoms? It is likely that the mechanism of different allergies is not exactly the same and therefore N does not relieve other allergies. In this case, the author's conclusion is weakened. In addition, we need to consider carefully the recommendations given by the authors. Is everyone suitable for taking N to relieve their severe allergies? First of all, the article only mentions that neither N nor placebo has a significant positive effect on allergies, and that for severe allergies, N works better than placebo. So there is a possibility that N may actually have an exacerbating effect on non-severe allergies as well, and that means that even if N has a relieving effect on severe allergies, it may have an even more negative effect on non-severe allergies. In this case, people taking N must clearly determine whether or not they are severely allergic. Therefore, if patients cannot accurately decide whether or not they are severely allergic, the author's recommendation should not be advocated. Further, drug studies must report the side effects of the drug, so even if N relieves allergies, does it cause other serious problems? If there is any indication that N will have an adverse effect on patients, the author's recommendation should still not be promoted. However, if N is ultimately shown to have no side effects in allergic patients, the author's recommendation can be implemented.
In conclusion, the author's conclusion can only be effectively evaluated if we have answered the above questions.