Another Bogus Academic Study Creates Bogus Headlines

Colin Flaherty, American Thinker, February 2, 2015

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This latest headline from the Washington Post tells a shocking story: “Black teens who commit a few crimes go to jail as often as white teens who commit dozens.”

Or it would be shocking if it were true. But it is not.

This headline, of course, flies in the face of numbers that show violent crime for black people is astronomically out of proportion: 5, 10, 50 times greater than crime rates for white people. Throw Asians into the mix, and you can multiply that by 10 times more.

Turns out, they are also in on The Big Fix: “Although there were negligible differences among the racial groups in how frequently boys committed crimes, white boys were less likely to spend time in a facility than black and Hispanic boys who said they’d committed crimes just as frequently, as shown in the chart above,” quoth the Post.

“Negligible differences among the racial groups?” What? Where did that come from?

That gem of disbelief is contained in a study from Tia Stevens Andersen of the University of South Carolina and Michigan State University’s Merry Morash.

And where did they get it? “Surveyors (from the Department of Labor) asked youth whether they had stolen, destroyed property, attacked someone or sold drugs in the last year.”

In for a dime, in for a dollar: In another study quoted in the Post, “An annual survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health continues to find lower rates of drug use among blacks than whites, with rates for Hispanics in the middle.”

Both studies rely on self-reporting, which itself is the subject of a lot of research. And a lot of scientists have found that asking people whether they broke the law is notoriously unreliable. Especially for one racial group: African Americans.

Yes, they say that.

Some doctors at Johns Hopkins University found out what happens when you test the reliability of self-reporting of marijuana and other drug use among black people.

A study of 290 African American men in Baltimore, Maryland undergoing treatment for hypertension showed that self-reporting of illicit drug use is unreliable. Only 48 of the participants reported drug use but urine drug tests revealed that 131 had used drugs.

With self-reporting, drug use among black people was 16 percent.

With testing, 45 percent.

Ooops–there’s more. Different study, different journal.

According to the medical journal Addictive Behaviors, “underreporting of cocaine was documented with urine testing validation as well where African Americans in comparison to Caucasians who were urine positive were about 6 times less likely to report cocaine use when other factors are controlled for.”

Translation: When you ask, white people and black people report using cocaine in about the same amount. But when you test, black people are six times more likely to use cocaine. And lie about it.

More from the same journal for you science junkies:

The present study also identified predictors of discrepancies between self-report and hair testing. Race was the most salient predictor of cocaine disagreement.

Even when other factors were controlled for, the self-report and hair test results for African Americans were more discrepant than for non-African Americans, a finding consistent with past studies (Fendrich, et al., 1999; Feucht, Stephens, & Walker, 1994).

In a large study of youth (9−20), underreporting of cocaine was documented with urine testing validation as well (Fendrich & Yanchun, 1994) where African Americans in comparison to Caucasians who were urine positive were about 6 times less likely to report cocaine use when other factors are controlled for.

Our study extends this finding to a middle-aged sample of male African American Vietnam veterans and non-veteran community controls.

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