This just out:
"Using figures from government databases and national surveys on alcohol use, researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that drinking-related accidental deaths among 18- to 24-year-old students have been creeping upward -- from 1,440 in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005."
Before you shriek in horror, consider this truly frightening fact: 1,825 deaths is exactly five a day. What are the odds? Probably exactly the same that the number given for 1998, 1,440 deaths, is exactly one hundred and twenty a month.
Someone needs to say it, and I will: The NIAAA's Ralph Hingson* is pulling these numbers right out of his ass. College drinking deaths are an excruciatingly painful loss -- as the parent of two teenagers, it's starting to prey on my mind -- but this kind of ridiculous exaggeration is an offensive travesty. Take a look at this fact-based perspective on the issue.
* Heard of this guy? Here's some info from Behind the Neo-Prohibition Campaign: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, by Dan Mindus, an analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom**
Boston University sociologist Ralph Hingson runs the RWJF-funded “Join Together Online” program, which serves as a clearinghouse of information for the anti-alcohol movement. He is also one of the most careless--and frequently cited— researchers around. Hingson produced a study declaring that a national .08 BAC law would save “500 to 600 lives a year.” But to come up with that number, Hingson went cherry-picking, carefully selecting only certain .08 states so that the results would align with his prejudices. Perhaps the most highly respected auditor in the world, the GAO, calls Hingson’s study “unfounded.” Nevertheless, it is still cited by MADD and other neo-prohibitionist groups.
• In 2002, Hingson authored a headline-grabbing study that blamed alcohol for 1,400 fatalities among college students each year. Aside from stretching the definition of “alcohol-related fatality” to ridiculous lengths, Hingson did no research whatsoever with college students. Instead, he simply took statistics about alcohol-related fatalities among 18 to 24 year-olds and multiplied by their percentage of the general population. Unfortunately, this blunder didn’t stop The New York Times from beginning its coverage by reporting: “On an average day, according to a new study, four college students die in accidents involving alcohol.”
**Who are hardly lily-white themselves...though please note that this source, "Sourcewatch," practically gives the ridiculously anti-alcohol-biased Robert Wood Johnson Foundation a free pass...so I question their impartiality, as should you. Far as that goes, you should question mine. Hell, I do.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
This just out: