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  1. The following appeared as part of a letter to the editor of a scientific journal. "A recent study of eighteen rhesus monkeys provides clues as to the effects of birth order on an individual's levels of stimulation. The study showed that in stimulating situations (such as an encounter with an unfamiliar monkey), firstborn infant monkeys produce up to twice as much of the hormone cortisol, which primes the body for increased activity levels, as do their younger siblings. Firstborn humans also produce relatively high levels of cortisol in stimulating situations (such as the return of a parent after an absence). The study also found that during pregnancy, first-time mother monkeys had higher levels of cortisol than did those who had had several offspring." Write a response in which you discuss one or more alternative explanations that could rival the proposed explanation and explain how your explanation(s) can plausibly account for the facts presented in the argument. The argument tries to state the relation between “the birth order and its effect on one’s level of stimulation.” It stands weakened primarily on the assumptions of the number of monkeys or humans taken up by the study and some vague claims made. First, the author does not take into consideration if the number of subjects examined gives way to a generalised view. The study considered ‘eighteen’ monkeys and performed the study on them. It does not even talk of the effects possible due to regional differences. Also it does not clearly tell the group of humans or pregnant women picked up for the study. Just because the study worked on a certain group does not generalise it for the others. Second, the assumed cause and effect may not be the only such relation. The eighteen monkeys considered could belong to a certain area and probably the observations are a regional characteristic. Also the situations taken up as checks for level of stimulation in an individual may be limited and not accurate. Moreover there could have been other reasons behind increased cortisal levels and not just the birth order. Maybe the first-time pregnant mother could have other hormonal or individual reasons accounting for more cortisal or could have been observed at a certain time, other than the other mothers, at which the level was high which might be the general phenomena but not known. Furthermore the argument uses vague language and terms and does not throw clear light on them with definitive facts and figures. It says “stimulating situations” and gives an example. It is possible that different indivuals react differently according to what is more or less stimulationg to them. Were the situations which were picked up for the study accountable and been tested upon before or not? Such questions need to be answered disntinctly. Clearly the argument relies heavily on unwarranted assumptions and ignorance of any of these would lead to a weakened or even invalid argument. The conclusion may be true but can not be proven so with the premises stated and the assumptions made. To strengthen the argument, the author can explicitly address to the direct assumptions including definitive facts and figures and probably take up a larger and varied group of subjects for diverse and more genuine observations.
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