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The following appeared in a memorandum written by the assistant manager of
a store that sells gourmet food items from various countries.
ďA local wine store made an interesting discovery last month: it sold more French
than Italian wine on days when it played recordings of French accordion music, but
it sold more Italian than French wine on days when Italian songs were played.
Therefore, I recommend that we put food specialties from one particular country on
sale for a week at a time and play only music from that country while the sale is
going on. By this means we will increase our profits in the same way that the wine
store did, and we will be able to predict more precisely what items we should stock
at any given time.Ē
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
As a means of increasing profits and more accurately predicting what items should be stocked, the assistant manager of a gourmet
food store proposes that only music from a particular country be played during the period food items from that country are on sale.
The basis for this proposal is the discovery by a wine store that sales of wine from a country increased when music from that country
was played. The managerís proposal is questionable for several reasons.
First, the manager assumes that the sequence of sales experienced by the wine store reflects a general causal pattern. However, there
is little evidence to support this assumption. While perhaps indicative of such a pattern, the wine store sales merely demonstrate a
correlation between sales of wine from a country and the playing of music from that country. To establish a causal connection between
these events it would be necessary to examine and eliminate other possible factors that might account for this phenomenon. In any
case, it is highly questionable whether evidence gathered over a one-month period is sufficient to establish the general claim in question.
Second, the manager assumes that the wine store increased its profits by playing the appropriate music. However, this is not
necessarily the case. It is consistent with the statement that the wine store sold more French than Italian wine on days when French
music was played and vice versa when Italian music was played that no net increase in sales, and thus profit, was realized by this
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method. For example, it is possible that on days when French music was played seven bottles of French wine were sold and three
bottles of Italian (were sold) whereas the reverse was the case when Italian music was played, and that in both instances only 10 bottles
In conclusion, the managerís recommendation is based on two dubious assumptions. To strengthen the argument it would be necessary
to provide additional evidence to support the claim that sales of an item are influenced by the type of music played. Additionally, the
manager would have to provide evidence that the wine store increased its profits by playing the appropriate music.