There’s a strawman-tilting screed up over at from my current favorite anti-drug-war-warrior Maia Szalavitz. She’s trying to assert that Trying to Scare Teens Away From Drugs Doesn’t Work.

In this she cites a few outcome studies of interventions that last over relatively short periods of time and address relatively small populations. I think the most truthful thing in her article is probably contained in this quote:

Another study, which used more reliable state data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, concluded that “When accounting for a preexisting downward trend in meth use, effects [of the Montana Meth Project] on meth use are statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

This points out the difficulty in determining broad, population based outcomes from either personal introspection (where a lot of the suspicion about anti-drug messaging comes from, let’s face it) or rather limited interventions. Our public policy goals are broad- we want to affect entire national populations…or at least state populations. In my view, we need to examine when broad national popular behavior shifted, if it did, if we want to understand how to affect it in the future.

The following originally appeared 21 July 2008.

If you are a reader of my posts on drug abuse science you will have noticed that it rarely takes long for a commenter or three to opine some version of “The (US) War on Drugs is a complete and utter failure”. Similarly, while Big Eddie mostly comments on the liberty aspects (rather than the effectiveness) of the WoD himself, a commenter to his posts will usually weigh in, commenting to a similar effect.

Now I’m open to all the arguments about personal liberty trade offs, economic costs, sentencing disparities, violations of other sovereign nations and the like. Nevertheless, I’m most interested in the fundamental question of whether the War on Drugs worked. That is, to reduce drug use in the US. For those who believe it has not worked, I have a few figures I would like explained to me.

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I use the phrase “credible application” a lot when I talk about grant submission.

It holds true for manuscript submission as well.

I suspect some people may think that what they perceive as a “dump journal” of last resort will not require the most polished of manuscripts. This isn’t true in my experience. Dump journal papers may be limited in scope but it is a mistake to think the journal will take nonsensical crap which has been prepared without much care.

If nothing else, in your snobbery, consider that the reviewers are going to be more likely to think that Acta Bunnica Hoppica Scandinavica Part C is a respectable journal and less likely to think it is a dumping ground. So if you send up something that has been only cursorily prepared, this is going to be an insult to them personally.

This can be the difference between “Major Revisions, resend for review” and “Minor Revisions”. This can be the difference between “Reject” and something less final.