The 2005 Dubious Data Awards

A list of the Year’s Biggest Science Reporting Flubs by the media. Compiled by STATS at George Mason University. There’s dieting to death, the epidemic that isn’t, and a fistful of hokum scares. medrx-one.com

These kind of ‘mistakes’ would be malpractice in any professional industry, but it’s just good headlines for the fact-checking news media.



  1. Kevin said,

    January 13, 2006 @ 10:01 am

    Hyperbole rules again!
    However Meth is scarier than crack for a couple of generally agreed upon reasons.
    1 Easier to find supplies
    You need cocaine to make crack, which is fairly difficult and illegal to get in most places. You need lots of LEGAL chemicals to make meth and check the web to see if you’re doing it right. I myself found instructions for the college so they could watch the chemical storage room a little better.

    2 Making meth is physically dangerous before, during, and after production of the desired product.
    A lot of solvents used to make meth explode very well and are quite acidic.
    I seminar I went to hosted by the clackamas county fire chief informed us that making meth lowers the ph of the surrounding 10 ft (radial) to 2. He also informed us that making meth generally covers your house in meth, which is unhealthy.
    After meth has been produced your supplies aren’t gone, just unusable. This usually means dump it down a drain to the river, or in the backyard.

  2. Dave said,

    January 13, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

    Kevin, you’re right about the scary part. If this wasn’t about media hype, I’d talk about whether the hazards you bring up are primarily caused by people taking meth or by the laws against meth. But the issue today is that our media acts as if a dwindling number of users, about as many as take crack, constitutes an epidemic. Or that deep-fried foods are carcinogens. Or …

    The biggest problem with this kind of hysteria is that it makes it impossible to have a rational discussion, let alone a useful cost/benefit analysis. Instead we get shouted slogans, and zero-thought zero-tolerance policies as a result.

  3. Kevin said,

    January 14, 2006 @ 7:40 am

    The things being told to the public are being dumbed down to the point that, on average the evening news isnt reliable.
    However, dramatic pause, I think the meth issue is an epidemic not directly tied to an across the board user count, because the stuff is much worse than most drugs as a danger to the public. I don’t think “slowly going away” is satisfactory, and I think most (I didn’t ask them, but I might) public safety workers would love to focus a little harder on getting rid of it.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment

Your first comment is human moderated to reduce spam. It can take us a while (hours) to do that. Subsequent comments will appear much faster. We greatly sympathize with any frustration this causes, but given the amount of spam we have to deal with already we're not likely to change things soon.

You must be logged in to post a comment.