Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Deception

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) asserts that the highly effective social norms marketing approach to reducing alcohol abuse “skirts problems associated with heavy drinking, ignores underage drinking, and sets a drinking norm that perpetuates high-risk drinking.”

It’s unclear how anyone could ever honestly make such clearly false assertions.

First the social norms approach doesn’t skirt problems associated with heavy drinking. To the contrary, it effectively reduces both heavy drinking and the problems associated with it. This has repeatedly been demonstrated by peer-reviewed scientific research

Second, the approach doesn’t ignore underage drinking. To the contrary, it has repeatedly proven effective in reducing underage drinking. No other technique has ever proven so effective.

Third, the social norms approach doesn’t set a drinking norm that perpetuates high-risk drinking. In reality, it doesn’t set any norm at all; it simply measures and truthfully reports the actual norms in a group. Because those norms are invariably much lower than most students originally believed, they no longer feel the need to drink or to drink heavily in order to “fit in.” This technique has repeatedly demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing all levels of drinking, including high-risk drinking. And this fact is proven by the scientific research.

For more on social norms marketing, visit A Proven Way to Reduce Alcohol Abuse.

Apparently not content with this deception, the Center for Science in the Public Interest also asserts that “A recent report from the Harvard College Alcohol Study found that social norms programs do not significantly reduce college alcohol use.”

That much is true. But CSPI had to be aware of the widely publicized fact that the College Alcohol Study was so fatally flawed that its conclusion about the social norms approach simply can’t be believed. To present the clearly faulty assertion as fact is to be disingenuous. That’s a polite way of saying that the Center for Science in the Public Interest knew that it was engaging in deception.

For more on the defective study of social norms, visit Study of Social Norms Deserves “F“ Grade.

For more on CSPI, visit The Center for Science in the Public Interest.

 

Reference:

  • Alcohol Policies Project, Center for Science in the Public Interest. Big Booze on Campus. Washington Report, March, 2003.

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