GMAT Practice: Logic and Boston Market Casseroles

The GMATs are fast approaching, so I thought I’d hit two birds with one stone and practice the writing portion with a blog post.   For one of the essays, you’re asked to analyze the validity of an argument, so why not analyze the validity of an advertisement?  It took me about 30 seconds of browsing through the grocery section of walmart.com to have this beauty pop up:

Here goes.

The argument that the high-quality, real ingredients of Boston Market Hearty Casseroles give the flavor expected of Boston Market omits some important concerns that must be addressed for its substantiation.  Though one element of the Hearty Casseroles’ flavor – it’s being delicious – is taken as fact in the advertisement, other assumptions of flavor causation are misguided and misleading.

The first weakness in logic is the failure to qualify the specific use of the term “flavor”.  As the advertisement uses the singular form of the noun, it can be assumed that the same definition pertains to each of the different Hearty Casseroles.  While this points towards an interpretation concerned with only a single property of “flavor” (i.e. it’s intensity, it’s quality, etc.), the value of that property is left undefined.

Most conspicuously, the advertisement assumes that this vague concept of flavor is directly proportional to “high-quality, real ingredients”.  In reality, the presence and quality of ingredients may be a factor in defining flavor, but it’s one of many.  The assumption by the advertisement that all other flavor-defining factors (such as the quality of the recipes, the skill of the cooks, etc.) have been accounted for is logically irresponsible.

Even if we concede to this misguided relationship between flavor and ingredients, the advertisement still neglects to define the degree to which these “high-quality, real ingredients” are present.  Though Boston Market would probably like us to infer that the entrees are comprised entirely of these ingredients, nothing in the advertisement suggests this.  And while it may be that a Hearty Casserole made with 5% high quality ingredients would have the same flavor composition as one made with 100% high quality ingredients – making the presence of ingredients the sole determining factor – the advertisement is misleading in assuming this to be true.

Lastly, the advertisement’s final clause hinges on an impossible premise: that all readers of the advertisement have the same expectations of Boston Market with regards to flavor.  It would have been much more logically sound to suggest that some, or even many, of the advertisement’s readers can have their flavor expectations met by the Hearty Casseroles.  The idea that a finite number of casseroles could meet all possible expectations of flavor isn’t just misguided – it’s reckless.

Because the advertisement leaves out several key issues, it is logically unsound and unpersuasive.  If it more responsibly defined its interpretation of flavor as well as the specific relationship between that interpretation and the presence of “high-quality, real ingredients”, the advertisement would have been more thorough and convincing.

There you have it.  Logically sound argument?  Check.  Over-the-top, pretentious tone? Check.  I’m starting to feel good about Monday.

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