The following appeared as a letter to the editor from a Central Plaza store owner.
"Over the past two years, the number of shoppers in Central Plaza has been steadily decreasing while the popularity of skateboarding has increased dramatically. Many Central Plaza store owners believe that the decrease in their business is due to the number of skateboard users in the plaza. There has also been a dramatic increase in the amount of litter and vandalism throughout the plaza. Thus, we recommend that the city prohibit skateboarding in Central Plaza. If skateboarding is prohibited here, we predict that business in Central Plaza will return to its previously high levels."
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.
While it may seem obvious at first glance that the increase in skateboarding in the Central Plaza is the main reason why the number of shoppers there as well as the whole business decreased, a more thoroughgoing examination should be conducted. General rule of thumb says that there is usually more than only one cause for a situation, not so many things are definite and happen in one to one ratio. There are always more variables involved and more influences. It demonstrates a classical case of improper causation.
Firstly, a situation in the whole district, especially in places that are located near to the Central Plaza, should be taken into account. Chances are that the whole area experience similar problems and it is not only a case for the Central Plaza. Proper inquiries should be made into the matter. Maybe, the municipal government stopped investing funds in the district and as a result the whole area suffers the aforementioned situation. Possibly, the inhabitants of this place became poorer due to inflation and stopped buying in the shops or it might be the case that the Central Plaza became an expensive shopping place with respect to other alternatives.
Secondly, a survey should be carried out amidst the shoppers to reveal the main explanation for their actions. The survey should contain questions about their main goal in changing the location along with a new place of destination. It can occur that the shopkeepers found a better place to run their business, for example, a new shopping mall was built in a posh or more prominent part of the city which offered keenly priced shopping area for rent. The general economic situation of the country could have influenced them and they found a better job or simply discovered a better profession that was paid much better.
Thirdly, the skateboard users should be asked why they altered their previous location. It should be made sure that this is the group that causes the vandalism and is belligerent overall. Do they really litter the Central Plaza? Are there sufficient number of baskets? Is the Police active enough in the area? Did the Police take responsibility for the violence in the Central Plaza? Perhaps, more policemen should visit the Central Plaza frequently. Another way to prevent the vandalism is to set up a camera system (CCTV) or video surveillance. Probably, a good solution would be to provide the skateboard users with other places to do their sport, for instance, the municipality government could build the required facilities in parks or in special zones in the city.
In conclusion, in my opinion this problem can be resolved and the current situation can be explained. The municipal government together with shoppers would take concerted action and at least alleviate or mollify the issue. The skateboard users should be granted with a new place, the police may control the Central Plaza regularly and shoppers shall advertise their place extensively. Finally, the writer could have supported his argument with more substantial evidence and render stronger reasons to clarify why there was correlation between increasing the rate of crimes and the number of skateboarding users.