Fishy figures

nutt letter to times

Professor David Nutt writes to the Times to make a point about the importance of survey design.

As you can see he is pointing out that the way that the study that was reported recruited participants was likely to lead to over reporting of drug use.

When the Home Office last reported on drug use by adults they were able to show prevalence levels by various occupations including those who were full-time students.

What that data shows us is that while full-time students were the most likely to say that they have used drugs compared to other occupations it remains the case that 83.9% don’t report using drugs.

student drug use 2012

This is important as Professor Nutt says because giving the impression that drug use is rife amongst student populations sets a social norm that may be self-fulling in that it sets expectations for future generations of university students.


One thought on “Fishy figures

  1. Is it that journalists are lazy or they don’t understand quantitative research or that they are highly selective in what they choose to report so it confirms their beliefs? I suspect all three with a few well-known journalists prone to the “confirming” explanation. Thanks to Prof. Nutt for pointing out this methodological flaw.

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