Reefer Madness Badness

There’s been a story making the media rounds lately about a link between weed and schizophrenia. A careful reading of the story sets off alarms about bad journalism and bad science with an agenda, but I’ve been too busy and frazzled to write about it.

Here’s an example from the article linked above….

They said the results mean an estimated 800 cases of
schizophrenia in the United Kingdom could be prevented each year
by ending marijuana consumption.

“We therefore agree with the authors’ conclusion that there
is now sufficient evidence to warn young people that cannabis
use will increase their risk of psychosis later in life,” they
wrote.

The team did not look directly at people who used marijuana
but instead conducted what is called a meta-analysis by
reviewing 35 studies in search of a potential connection between
psychotic illness and using marijuana

They reviewed evidence from studies ranging from one year to
27 years and only looked at research that did not include people
already showing signs of psychotic illness.

Lots of problems there – it’s a meta-study that ignored important aspects and then pulls the ‘800’ number of their ass.

Here’s a great look from Maia Szalavitz…

Watching the media cover marijuana is fascinating, offering deep insight into conventional wisdom, bias and failure to properly place science in context. The coverage of a new study claiming that marijuana increases the risk of later psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia by 40% displays many of these flaws.

What are the key questions reporters writing about such a study needs to ask? First, can the research prove causality? Most of the reporting here, to its credit, establishes at some point that it cannot, though you have to read pretty far down in some of it to understand this.Second — and this is where virtually all of the coverage falls flat — if marijuana produces what seems like such a large jump in risk for schizophrenia, have schizophrenia rates increased in line with marijuana use rates? A quick search of Medline shows that this is not the case — in fact, as I noted here earlier, some experts think they may actually have fallen. Around the world, roughly 1% of the population has schizophrenia (and another 2% or so have other psychotic disorders), and this proportion doesn’t seem to change much. It is not correlated with population use rates of marijuana.

Since marijuana use rates have skyrocketed since the 1940’s and 50’s, going from single digit percentages of the population trying it to a peak of some 60% of high school seniors trying it in 1979 (stabilizing thereafter at roughly 50% of each high school class), we would expect to see this trend have some visible effect on the prevalence of schizophrenia and other psychoses.

Maia Szalavitz: Reefer Inanity: Never Trust the Media on Pot – Media on The Huffington Post

Inherent Contempt

Cenk Uygur was interviewing Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff and talking about the Harriet Meyers contempt situation, and Isikoff who brought up a concept that been thrown around by bloggers for a couple of weeks now – inherent contempt. Maybe the idea is hitting the mainstream now. Bring it on.

As most people already know, they could hold Harriet Miers, Josh Bolten, Karl Rove and Scott Jennings in contempt of Congress for not testifying about what they know in regards to the US attorney firings. Then they would take it to the courts and wait for the judiciary to resolve executive privilege claims. But that process would drag out for a long time and might not have a practical effect.

But there is another option. They could order the Sergeant at Arms to arrest Harriet Miers and bring her in. I want to be absolutely clear here, Isikoff is a reporter and he is not suggesting that they carry this option out. He is simply pointing out that it is possible.

Here’s the relevant part of the transcript:

Michael Isikoff: There is, very quickly, another option. There’s something called inherent contempt where they can enforce contempt themselves. They can have the Sergeant at Arms arrest Harriet Miers in the state of Texas and bring her to Washington for trial before the House, and incarcerate her. That’s an option that hasn’t been used for years. But it is a Constitutional option.

Cenk Uygur: Michael Isikoff: Congress Could Arrest Harriet Miers – Politics on The Huffington Post

Pssst, Kid….Want $40,000? Sign Here…

The Army is offering seasonal enlistment bonuses of up to $20,000 for various categories of recruits who agree to enter active duty by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The seasonal bonuses may be combined with the regular enlistment incentives announced in May that range from $1,000 to $25,000, depending on specialty and length of enlistment.

The total bonus amount may not exceed $20,000 for a two-year enlistment, $25,000 for a three-year hitch and $40,000 for enlistments of four, five and six years.

The special bonuses took effect July 25 as part of an aggressive recruiting and re-enlistment campaign designed to bolster end strength for fiscal 2007.

Some recruits could get $40,000 to sign up – Army Times

This may help with recruitment because $40,000 is a lot of money to wave in front of an 18 year old but I wonder how it will effect morale of the people currently serving who didn’t get the bonus.

Some Hope…

As depressing as recent events have become, Brue Fein points out some facts that do give me some hope.

…the Cheney doctrine of an unchecked presidency is now unravelling. The Supreme Court has rebuked the executive branch over military commissions and its unfettered authority to detain citizens as enemy combatants. A federal appeals court has held that resident aliens may not be detained indefinitely as enemy combatants without accusation or trial. On Capitol Hill, Congress is demanding White House documents and witnesses pertinent to the firing of US attorneys and the legal rationale for the NSA’s spying on Americans. A popular and congressional crescendo is growing against keeping US troops in Iraq. Some Republicans are scheming to remove Mr Cheney from office prior to the November 2008 elections. And the vice-president’s approval rating is minuscule and plunging.

The Belgravia Dispatch: Sane Conservatives: They Still Exist

Cheney doesn’t care about any of this, though. My question is whether Bush and Cheney have some big up their sleeves to try and stop the unraveling or whether they will just run out the clock.

Bush v. Moore

On The Tonight Show With Jay Leno tonight, Michael Moore announced that the Bush administration had issued a subpoena for him after he brought 9/11 responders to Cuba for medical care for his movie Sicko. Priorities.