Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reason speaks truth to power about beer and STDs

"Beer Raped Your Daughter and Gave Her Gonorrhea. Again" is the provocative title of Reason's latest post about the junk science that goes on in the fight against booze. Briefly? The booze-haters are trying to tell us that a 3 cent tax increase per bottle of beer would cause 'youth gonorrhea' to drop by 9%, something that a Washington Post story picked up from a 2000 study done by the CDC that's been widely criticized -- actually 'laughed at' would be better than 'criticized.' Reason points out that this is ridiculous, quoting the Post from a story they ran back in 2000 making fun of this very study!
The Post had the good sense to ask David Murray of the Statistical Assessment Service, a non-profit think tank in D.C., about the study. STATS does yeoman's work pointing out the junk reasoning at the root of so much junk science. This one was a high, hanging curve for Murray, who said the CDC's thinking was on the level of "the sun goes down because we turn on the street lights."
I love that phrase. As someone pointed out in the comments, how is it that a tax can be both inconsequential -- "We're only going to increase the price by three cents! You can afford that!" -- and amazingly effective against 'youth gonorrhea' at the same time? How? I think we already know that.

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