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Sunday, January 7, 2007

With Facts Like These, Who Needs Fiction?

posted by on January 7 at 14:21 PM

Marijuana, known for making people catatonic and hungry, is actually a gateway to violence - according to a brochure (.pdf here) from the Office of National Drug Control Policy

Marijuana use is associated with violent behavior. Kids who use marijuana weekly are four times more likely to engage in violent behavior than those who don’t.

Um, how did they get this statistic? Since they don’t cite the source, I assume they got the figure by drug testing the people arrested for violent activity and discovering that some of them tested positive for pot - America’s most popular illicit drug.

By applying this backward logic, other popular activities, such as drinking milk, could also be associated with violent behavior. You see, most people who commit acts of violence have drunk milk, meaning that here it is - drinking milk leads to being violent. And pot leads to violence, too. Obviously.

Does it not occur to these propagandists that if they repeatedly say things that fly in the face of common knowledge, even if there is some convoluted statistic to back it up, people will eventually conclude they’re full of crap and ignore everything they say? Well, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report on federal drug advertising, that’s exactly what is happening.

RSS icon Comments

1

Actually, they do cite the source.

Greenblat, J. Self-reported behaviors and their association with marijuana use. SAMHSA, Based on data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse 1994–1996, 1998.

I haven't read it, but it's there.

Posted by Gabriel | January 7, 2007 3:00 PM
2

Post hoc ergo propter hoc rears its ugly head once again.

Posted by Ryan | January 7, 2007 3:17 PM
3

Thanks for the research, Gabriel. Unfortunately, they don't list any sources on the printable .pdf brochure I read. Also disappointing, the source appears to be a self-reporting survey, which, according to this researcher, is a faulty instrument for gathering drug data.

Thanks again!

Posted by Dominic | January 7, 2007 3:23 PM
4

Actually, goverment propaganda insisting that smoking is not cool or hip has been quite succesful in reducing teen smoking rates. This, even when, everyone knows that any individual from any section of society looks so much cooler when they smoke ciggerettes.

Posted by Matt | January 7, 2007 3:33 PM
5

Ryan's point is correct, correlation does not imply causation. The only reason the ONDCP would push this association in a brochure would be if they were trying to get the reader to imply that marijuana use CAUSES increased violent behavior, which they can't prove because it's not true. Proving causation is a LOT harder than proving correlation. Like how people with big feet have big socks and big shoes, but big socks don't CAUSE big shoes, there are many factors that might cause both increased violent behavior AND drug use in kids and young adults, none of those are addressed in this brochure. Instead they stick with the implication of causation, knowing that the implication is far more powerful than the proving anyway.


Posted by Nathan | January 7, 2007 5:06 PM
6

I spent several years doing volunteer at a youth drop-in center. Almost universally, those street kids came from very fucked up households. Some of the youth were a bit more violent than others their age, which did not surprise any of us working there, and a lot of the kids buried their troubles in drug use, also not a surprise. Based on my experience, I'd say a shitty childhood is more likely to influence both higher drug use and higher incidences of violence. But that is much more complicated to understand and try to deal with than simply saying "pot is BAD" and causes violence (a patent absurdity).

Oh, and with very few exceptions, nearly every one of those kids would have laughed their asses off at this brochure. I'd suggest the government might have more success with their anti-drug programs if they didn't completely gut their own credibility with ridiculous claims like this. Those street kids had amazing bullshit detectors.

Posted by SDA in SEA | January 7, 2007 5:33 PM
7

I've spent several years smoking pot and never once has it made me violent. Hungry? Yes, but not violent. Giggly? Yes, but not violent. Horney? Yes, but not violent.

Posted by monkey | January 7, 2007 5:41 PM
8

I'm impressed by fact that Slog readers submit their comments in Latin. Because we know that Latinos are prone to using drugs more frequently than Anglos. Not to mention when standing upright.

Posted by Ronald Holden | January 7, 2007 8:54 PM
9

The argument reminds of the baby soy formula makes people gay reasoning.

Posted by Papayas | January 7, 2007 9:19 PM
10

Government drug education is always completely rediculous. It's like getting sex-ed from a fleet of virgins.

Posted by longball | January 8, 2007 11:34 AM
11

Eating ice cream also relates to an increase in violence/violent behavior. The months with the highest ice cream sales also have the highest crime rates, must be the sugar, right? What else could it be?...oh, wait, heat? Greater population proximity? Increased opportunity?

Posted by DEWsterling | January 8, 2007 12:03 PM

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