Tag Archives: Drug Use

Debunked: study claiming shorter lifespans for gays caused by discrimination

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

In the New York Post, Naomi Schaefer Riley writes about a study used by gay activists to bully those who disagree with their agenda.

She writes:

The headlines were unsparing and unambiguous. “Anti-gay Stigma Shortens Lives,” wrote US News & World Report.

“Anti-Gay Communities Linked to Shorter Lives,” said Reuters. “LGB Individuals Living in Anti-Gay Communities Die Early,” according to Science Daily.

Two years ago, these stories were hard to ignore when Columbia professor Mark Hatzenbuehler found that gays and lesbians who faced prejudice in their communities had a life expectancy 12 years shorter than those who lived in more accepting areas. Just so we’re clear, that’s bigger than the lifespan gap between regular smokers and nonsmokers.

We always knew prejudice was bad, but an Ivy League researcher had found that there were significant effects on the physical health of those experiencing it.

But where, one might wonder, were the headlines when another researcher tried to replicate Hatzenbuehler’s effects and came up empty?

Last month, Mark Regnerus, a professor at UT Austin, published an article in the journal Social Science and Medicine that concluded that “ten different approaches to multiple imputation of missing data yielded none in which the effect of structural stigma on the mortality of sexual minorities was statistically significant.”

In other words, Regnerus tried seven — er, 10 — ways from Sunday to try to get the same results as Hatzenbuehler using the exact same data, but failed. Which means, he concluded, that “the original study’s . . . variable (and hence its key result) is so sensitive to subjective measurement decisions as to be rendered unreliable.”

This isn’t the first time that a study authored by a gay activist has run into evidential problems.

That story was reported in the far-left Politico.

They say:

One of the authors of a recent study that claimed that short conversations with gay people could change minds on same-sex marriage has retracted it.

Columbia University political science professor Donald Green’s retraction this week of a popular article published in the December issue of the academic journal Science follows revelations that his co-author allegedly faked data for the study, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support of gay marriage.”

[…]The study received widespread coverage from The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and others when it was released in December.

The equally leftist Washington Post is even more forceful – calling the data a complete fake.

Excerpt:

[…]…[W]hat really happened was that the data were faked by first author LaCour. Co-author Green (my colleague at Columbia) had taken his collaborator’s data on faith; once he found out, he firmly retracted the article.

Ironically, LaCour benefited (in the short term) by his strategy of completely faking it. If he’d done the usual strategy of taking real data and stretching out the interpretation, I and others would’ve been all over him for overinterpreting his results, garden of forking paths, etc. But, by doing the Big Lie, he bypassed all those statistical concerns.

But the real issue is whether the negative health (and mental health) outcomes of homosexuality can be attributed to the lifestyle itself. The gay activists want you to believe that disagreement with their choices causes the negative effects. But the science shows the opposite: even in countries where there is no “stigma” against homosexuality, the unhealthy physical and mental outcomes persist.

Life Site News reports.

Excerpt: (links removed)

While many assume that family rejection is the leading cause of depression among LBGTI individuals, a new study has found that in fact the problem appears to stem predominantly from the higher incidence of relationship problems among homosexuals.

Dr. Delaney Skerrett led a team of researchers from the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) in studying suicides in Queensland. He found that a leading cause of suicide among “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex” (LGBTI) people is stress from their romantic partners.

“We tend to assume that the psychological distress LGBTI people are often going through is due to family rejection. But it seems that’s not so much the case. The conflict seems to be largely related to relationship problems, with partners,” Dr. Skerrett said.

[…][T]he study, which was published on April 2 in Asia Pacific Psychiatry, found that “LGBT individuals experienced relationship problems more often” than heterosexuals, “with relationship conflict also being more frequent than in non‐LGBT cases.”

That confirms previous studies finding that homosexuals also face higher rates of intimate partner violence than heterosexuals. A 2007 study in the Journal of Urban Health, which is published by the New York Academy of Medicine, found that 32 percent of homosexuals have been abused by at least one partner during their lifetime.

The researchers with AISRAP also found that a higher percentage of homosexuals took their lives [out] of despondency, rather than other psychological illnesses. While one-eighth of all Queensland suicide victims had been diagnosed with a psychosis that impaired their judgment, Skerrett reports “there were no such diagnoses among LGBT individuals.” The conclusion adds to the consensus that depression disproportionately besets active homosexuals.

Maybe the problem is with the person who is making the bad decisions, and not with the people who disagree with the bad decisions?

New study: even casual use of marijuana / cannabis alters brain

Reported by the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Experimenting with cannabis on a casual basis damages the brain permanently, research has found.

It is far from being a “safe” drug and no one under the age of 30 should ever use it, experts said.

People who had only used cannabis once or twice a week for a matter of months were found to have changes in the brain that govern emotion, motivation and addiction.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School in America carried out detailed 3D scans on the brains of students who used cannabis casually and were not addicted and compared them with those who had never used it.

Two major sections of the brain were found to be affected.

The scientists found that the more cannabis the 40 subjects had used, the greater the abnormalities.

Around 10 million people in Britain, almost a third of the population, have used illegal drugs, with cannabis the most popular. The research author, Dr Hans Breiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said: “This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences. Some people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week.

“People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our data directly says this is not the case.

[…]Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “For too long cannabis has been seen as a safe drug, but as this study suggests, it can have a really serious impact on your mental health.

“Research also shows that when people smoke cannabis before the age of 15, it quadruples their chance of developing psychosis. But very few people are aware of the risks involved.”

I troubled by this study because I know people who act as if smoking marijuana were as much a right as free speech.

What I would really like to see is that people who insist on engaging in irresponsible behaviors then go on bear the consequences of that behavior. The problem is that it’s not only these people who are affected, it’s the innocent people around them. There are the innocent victims of car accidents or theft or the children who suffer because their parents want to “alter their brains”. Those are the people I am worried about.

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New study: teen pot use could hurt brain and memory

NBC News reports.

Excerpt:

Teenage pot smokers could be damaging brain structures critical to memory and reasoning, according to new research that found changes in the brains of heavy users.

Research released Monday in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin showed the brains of young heavy marijuana users were altered in so-called sub-cortical regions — primitive structures that are part of the memory and reasoning circuits. And young people with such alterations performed worse on memory tests than non-using controls, despite the fact that the heavy users had not indulged for more than two years, on average, before the testing.

“We see that adolescents are at a very vulnerable stage neurodevelopmentally,” said Matthew Smith, who led the research team at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “And if you throw stuff into the brain that’s not supposed to be there, there are long-term implications for their development.”

The portion of people ages 12 to 17 who used marijuana during the past month fell to 9.5 percent last year from almost 12 percent in 2002, according to the latest figures from the government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. But that still represents millions of adolescents and teenagers — and the legalization of marijuana has raised the specter that underage people will have easier access.

Adults who smoked pot regularly as teens were shown to have “neuropsychological decline” and “more cognitive problems” than non-users in a study last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). This was true even if users stopped using long before the study.

I think these papers are useful when talking to young people about drugs. You don’t want it to be a situation where you are ordering them around based on nothing more than YOUR needs and YOUR beliefs. Then it turns into a head-butting contest, and you can’t watch them all the time. A better alternative is to produce the studies that show the real effects and then ask them what they have on their side. If they are going to rebel anyway, at least you have tried to persuade them rather than control them, and that’s good parenting.

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New study finds connection between early use of marijuana and mental illness

The Wall Street Journal reports.

Excerpt:

There is a significant and consistent relationship between marijuana use and the development of schizophrenia and related disorders. Schizophrenia is considered by psychiatrists to be the most devastating of mental illnesses. Patients who suffer from it often experience auditory or visual hallucinations, severe social withdrawal and cognitive impairment. Many require frequent and prolonged hospitalization in psychiatric wards.

Schizophrenia affects almost three million Americans—more than six times the number of people with multiple sclerosis, two and a half times the number of people with Parkinson’s disease, and more than twice the number of people with HIV/AIDS. Less than one-third of patients with schizophrenia can hold a steady job or live independently. A large portion (about one-third) of homeless people in the U.S. suffer from the disease.

Though they receive little attention in the legalization debate, the scientific studies showing an association between marijuana use and schizophrenia and other disorders are alarming. A 2004 article in the highly respected British Journal of Psychiatry reviewed four large studies, all of which showed a significant and consistent association between consumption of marijuana (mostly during teenage years or early 20s) and the later development of schizophrenia. The review concluded that marijuana is a “causal component,” among others, in the development of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

A 2007 study in the Lancet, a British medical journal, concludes that using marijuana increases the risk of young people developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia. This risk is greatest—up to a 200% increase—among those who use marijuana heavily and who start using at a younger age.

I thought this article was useful for parents who need some ammunition when talking to their children about drugs. Children can be pretty irrational. You show them studies, and they say “that will never happen to me”. That’s just how they are. But at least when you show them the evidence, it might stick in their mind a little more. It’s all in the way you present it, I think. The idea is to be truth-focused and authentic, rather than confrontational. Maybe discuss it as a policy issue rather than a parenting issue.

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Vancouver, BC handing out free crack pipes and drug needles

Map of Canada
Map of Canada

From the Vancouver Sun. (H/T The Michael Medved Show)

Excerpt:

Vancouver health officials will distribute new crack pipes to drug users this fall as part of a pilot project aimed at reducing the transmission of diseases such as hepatitis C.

The program, part of Vancouver’s harm-reduction strategy, is expected to start in October and run for six months to a year, said Dr. Reka Gustafson, a medical health officer with the Vancouver Coastal Health authority.

[…]While heroin users can get clean needles from needle-exchange programs or the city’s safe-injection site, new pipes aren’t as easily accessible.

Across Canada, only a handful of cities, including Calgary and Winnipeg, hand out crack pipes.

A kit with a clean, unused pipe, mouthpiece, filter and condoms will be handed out to the participants, Gustafson said. It’s not known at this time how many drug users will take part in the pilot, which will have an estimated cost of between $50,000 and $60,000.

[…]Transmission rates for disease, particularly for hepatitis C, continue to rise in Vancouver. About 60 per cent to 80 per cent of drug users in Vancouver have the disease or are at risk of getting it, said B.C. medical health officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

“There’s good reason that hepatitis C and HIV can be transmitted on the mouth piece of pipes. It’s not as clear as with needle-sharing but it’s pretty persuasive,” Kendall said. “This pilot will tell us if we should be doing more.”

I can’t believe that this is happening in conservative cities like CALGARY, ALBERTA. It’s craziness. When you lower the cost barrier and risks of drug use, you get MORE drug use, not less. Lowering the cost of any choice or behavior will, all other factors being equal, create more of that choice or behavior.