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Argument 51

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TOPIC: ARGUMENT51 - The following appeared in a medical newsletter.

“Doctors have long suspected that secondary infections may keep some patients from healing quickly after severe muscle strain. This hypothesis has now been proved by preliminary results of a study of two groups of patients. The first group of patients, all being treated for muscle injuries by Dr. Newland, a doctor who specializes in sports medicine, took antibiotics regularly throughout their treatment. Their recuperation time was, on average, 40 percent quicker than typically expected. Patients in the second group, all being treated by Dr. Alton, a general physician, were given sugar pills, although the patients believed they were taking antibiotics. Their average recuperation time was not significantly reduced. Therefore, all patients who are diagnosed with muscle strain would be well advised to take antibiotics as part of their treatment.”

WORDS: 405 TIME: 01:02:43 DATE: 2008/7/9 21:57:07

The medical newsletter claims that all patients who are diagnosed with muscle strain would be well advised to take antibiotics as part of their treatment, and it also provides the experiments conducted by Dr. Newland and Dr. Alton to support this theory. However, this theory has some appreciate logical fallacious.

First, the experiment is not credible in both statistic and scientific. There are two groups of patients who have participated in the experiment and each quantity of the group is not informed, thus we cannot certain if the two group is equal in participants, therefore the percentage in the results is not statistically reliable. Moreover, the experiment itself has some flaws. It is doubtful that whatever the sugar pills or antibiotics, which Dr. Alton and Dr. Newland had given to their patients, may have some negative effect just on the muscle strain. Assuming the pills have negative effects, the comparison of recuperation time of the two groups is invalid.

On the second hand, the medical newsletter cannot guarantee that the two doctors have the same ability in treating muscle strain. As the information provided above, it is reasonable to believe that Dr. Newland, a doctor who specializes in sports medicine, may or apparently has some advantages in treating such muscle strains while Dr. Alton may not have those advantages. The ability of doctors is different, let alone to comparing their patients’ recuperation.

Then, the results of both Dr. Newland and Dr. Alton are too vague to be informative. The newsletter provided only a percentage comparison to prove that Dr. Newland’s treatment can significantly reduce the recuperation time while Dr. Alton cannot. The percentage comparison can be convincible just under the circumstance that we have informed the total figure of these percentages before, and without that, the results are inconvincible.

Fourth, the medical newsletter also provides insufficient information on the details of muscle injuries and the age of the two groups. As we know, both types of muscle injuries and ages can have variety impacts on the experiment results. Maybe the first group is younger and they also have light muscle injuries while the second group is elder and have critical injuries, therefore the first group can recuperating faster than the second group.

In sum, the experiment’s results are inconvincible due to these logical flaws listed above. To make the results reliable, the newsletter may have to reconsider the scientifically and statistically fallacious on their experiment.