The following appeared as part of a business plan created by the management of the Take Heart Fitness Center.
“After opening the new swimming pool early last summer, Take Heart saw a 12 percent increase in the use of the center by members. Therefore, in order to increase the number of our members and thus our revenues, which depend on membership fees, we should continue to add new recreational facilities in subsequent years: for example, a multipurpose game room, a tennis court, and a miniature golf course. Being the only center in the area offering this range of activities would give us a competitive advantage in the health and recreation market.”
1. causal oversimplification
2. a benefit-cost analysis should be given
3. Whether the proposed recreational facilities are popular among the people of this area is unknown.
Because Take Heart Fitness Center experienced a 12 percent increase in member usage as a result of opening a new swimming pool last summer, the author recommends the addition of new recreational facilities in subsequent years as a means of increasing membership in Take Heart. The author’s recommendation is problematic for several reasons.
First, and foremost, the author assumes that an increase in member usage portends an increase in membership. This assumption may hold true in some cases. However, it is unlikely to hold true in the case at hand, because it is reasonable to expect that members would visit the fitness center to inspect and try out the new swimming pool. This would account for the increase in usage. However, since the author provides no evidence that this new rate of usage was sustained, the abrupt increase in usage provides little evidence that the addition of facilities such as the pool will attract new members.
Second, the author assumes that the addition of the swimming pool was responsible for the increase in member usage. However, the only evidence for this claim is insufficient to establish the causal claim in question. While temporal precedence is one of the conditions required to establish a causal relationship between two events, by itself it is not a sufficient condition. Consequently, it is possible that the addition of the pool was unrelated to the increase in usage in the manner required by the author’s argument.
Finally, the author has provided no evidence to support the contention that Take Heart will be the only center in the area to offer a wide range of activities to its members and thus have a competitive advantage in the fitness market.
In conclusion, the author’s belief that adding additional recreational facilities will increase Take Heart’s membership is ill-founded. To strengthen the argument the author would have to provide evidence that member usage is reliable indicator of new membership. Additionally, it would be necessary to show that the cause of the increase in usage was the opening of the new pool.