Comment Key for 1st graded reconstruction

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Numbered Comments

  1. How many rationales did you find?
  2. Make it clear that this is an explanation of the data in the Lancet study.
  3. You should put this in the context of a "response to a counter argument".
  4. I considered following this passage where Noah clarifies or interprets McCaughey's argument, but after checking her article, I decided it was no big deal. Noah really is just clarifying her conclusion.


Reading notes from Alfino on the Noah article

Would Universal Health Care Wreck Cancer Treatment? Timothy Noah

Reading Notes:

  • responding to editorials in WSJ arguing that socialized medicine would worsen cancer survival rates.
  • Acknowledges (presupposition in discussion) that U.S. is ahead on cancer survival rate.
  • opening argument (Just introductory? Or part of main rationes?): Just because the U.S. is superior in this area (cancer survival), it doesn’t follow that universal care would ruin that advantage. (par 4)
  • McCaughy’s

Conclusion: Universal health care worsens cancer survival rates. Premise: Lancet survey data suggest U.S. is highest in cancer survival as measure by percent living 5 years after diagnosis.

  • Noah’s response to her argument:

P: Survey data don’t imply that (RES #2). You would expect a general difference between socialized and U.S., but its gradual. Evidence: Iceland, Sweden, etc. Also, Britain is unusual for being so low.

  • Noah’s positive argument: Lancet study suggests that national wealth explains differences in cancer survival rate. This would lead you to predict that U.S. would have the highest survival rate.
  • Conclusion: It’s unlikely that moving to universal health care would worsen U.S. cancer survival rates.


  1. Rationale 1 is a response to the counter argument from McCaughey.
  2. Rationale 2 is an explanation of the reason for U.S. survival rates. (Its ‘cause we’re rich that we survive cancer better!)
  • some students made credible use of the introductory information to reconstruction this subargument: Because universal health care is a funding mechanism rather than a research program, it follows that the change to universal coverage will not diminish US advantages in health care. (I treated this as outside the scope of the conclusion.)
  • some students “unraveled” the whole counter argument structure. Not my choice, and there are reasons for avoiding this, but in a couple of cases it was done really well. Generally, I like to preserve the counterargument structure.