Peter: Recent evidence suggests that moderate alcohol consumption has certain beneficial effects on health. In partic...

Kathleen on March 24, 2020

Why is E incorrect?

I narrowed down to D and E, but wasn't sure how to eliminate E. Thank you!

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Shunhe on March 24, 2020

Hi @Kathleen,

Thanks for the question! Answer choice (E) is certainly true in that it might be true that alcohol might have no effect on certain bacteria that cause illness in human beings. However, take a careful look at the claim being made by Peter. Peter states that alcohol creates an inhospitable environment in the human body for certain bacteria that can cause illness, and so therefore, alcohol consumption on balance is beneficial. This is a claim that is perfectly consistent with alcohol not having an effect on many bacteria that do cause illness in human beings. Let’s say that there are 100 species of “bad bacteria” and that alcohol creates an inhospitable environment for 49 of them, and doesn’t affect the others. Well, then we’d still say that alcohol consumption in that case would be beneficial, holding everything else equal. We don’t need alcohol to be 100% effective, just as we don’t expect hand sanitizer to be 100% effective for it to be beneficial. Something can have generally positive effects without being perfect at doing what it does. As such, (E) doesn’t really point out a flaw in the reasoning of Peter’s argument.

(D), on the other hand, does point out a flaw in the reasoning. The studies that Peter cites investigate moderate alcohol consumption, but Peter draws a conclusion about general alcohol consumption, which is extrapolating the results of the studies too far.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions that you might have.