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STATS is a resource you should know about.

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
I want to bring to your attention a great resource for debunking bad science posing as policy analysis. The Statistical Assesment Service (STATS) at George Mason University says its mission is "correcting scientific misinformation in the media resulting from bad science, politics, or a simple lack of information or knowledge; and to act as a resource for journalists and policy makers on major scientific issues and controversies." And it is very good at what it does. STATS got on my radar again this week with a nice report on the British "skunk" controversy, the dispute in the British press over just how much stronger skunk is than regular weed and whether skunk is causing teens to turn into schizophrenics. "Do Skunk Stats Stink? examines the controversy and the often overheated claims swirling around it. Check it out. The skunk article was written by Trevor Butterworth, but much of the examination of statistical claims related to drug policy is done by Maia Szalavitz, an uncommonly gifted and acute observer of the statistical drug wars. This month, Szalavitz has gone after Joe Califano's National Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse, which recently raised alarms over college student drinking and drugging. "Is There a College Substance Abuse Crisis?" Szalavitz asks, or is this yet another example of CASA's manipulating the numbers? Read it and find out. She also blogged on the Huffington Post on the Richard Paey case. Paey is the Florida pain patient doing a 25-year sentence as a drug dealer for trying to obtain sufficient pain meds. And Szalavitz took on CNN's Lou Dobbs, who has lately been on a crusade to revitalize the drug war. In addition to gallantly appearing with the populist poseur, she took him to task in print with "Lou Dobbs on Drugs. Check out any or all of these pieces to see how statistical analysis and careful argumentation is done right. STATS is a valuable resource for all of us.

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