Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bad Science for the masses

So the SMH, in all its scientific integrity, reported on pot smokers being not so mellow. The venerable Kate Benson, medical reporter, writes:

More than a third of people who present at Sydney emergency departments after smoking cannabis are violent and half have mental health problems such as severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts, shattering the image that dope smokers are relaxed and sleepy, researchers have found.

Wow, my impressions are certainly shattered. Who would have thought that out of the (no doubt) hundreds of thousands of pot smokers in my country alone, that the ones who ended up in an emergency room were representative of all of them? And further, that the pot smokers who ended up in emergency were likely to be somewhat distressed? I mean, its not like from my visits to emergency (not many of them involving me as a patient, thankfully) I don't see angry, upset or violent people in emergency. This presentation of the study reeks of, among other things, a massive problem with their attribution of causation, and a sampling problem. But, I'm sure that the SMH hoped they could pass it off on the unwitting masses and "do some good"

If the levels of THC in hydroponic gardens are that high, that's a danger, and it may be leading to an increase in psychotic drug users. But I don't think any myths have been shattered here.

I'm wondering if this is the University of New South Wales' bad science, or the SMH's lousy reporting. I'm hoping it is the latter.

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