How to get 7th graders to smoke

205 points by HR01 on 2024-05-15 | 252 comments

Automated Summary

The article discusses the challenges and potential harm of well-intended interventions designed to change human behavior. It cites various examples, including a study by Hansen et al., 1989, where an emotions-based anti-drug program for seventh-graders inadvertently led to increased smoking and alcohol consumption. The article underlines the complexity of human behavior and the need for a more nuanced understanding when designing interventions, suggesting that a simplistic approach can sometimes result in unintended consequences. The text also highlights the prevalence of such well-meaning but ultimately unsuccessful or even counterproductive initiatives across various fields, including education, social sciences, and public health.

Other submissions


patwolf on 2024-05-15

This brought back memories of the D.A.R.E. officer coming to my elementary classroom to give us the "don't do drugs" speech. At the end of the speech with feigning hesitation he'd pull out the drug briefcase to the cheers of the kids, like a band holding out their best song for the encore.

"This here is methamphetamine, aka crystal meth or speed. If you see a man running down the street with the strength of a bear, there's a good chance he's high on this. It's very bad. You don't want to get near this--it'll make your heart explode."

It's a wonder that didn't work.

flatline on 2024-05-15

I did not get the briefcase in my DARE education. What I did get is a cop telling me that my parents having a glass of wine with dinner or a cigarette after work was just as bad a them using cocaine, and that you could OD and die on weed. All drugs are equally bad.

A few years later when my friends were smoking weed and laughed at my concerns, and I realized I’d been lied to, I pretty much did everything under the sun.

An actual education would have let me make better choices about my recreational drug use as a young person.

vundercind on 2024-05-15

The realization that almost all illegal drugs (heroin, meth, a handful like that that feel too good—probably exceptions) aren’t really in some much worse category than alcohol and nicotine, and that some are surely less-bad, even, was quite a revelation. Must be a shared experience for a lot of the DARE generation.

Retric on 2024-05-15

I think people underestimate many illegal drugs because they don’t know long term users.

Alcohol and Tobacco have minimal short term health risks. Most people throw up rather than OD on Alcohol. Obviously driving while fucked us is dangerous, but the same is true of a lot of drugs. Driving stoned is an underappreciated risk.

LSD arguably the poster child for safe illegal drugs, but still physically risky due to people doing dangerous things in it and falling etc. However the mental risks with heavy use are significant much earlier. Luckily it’s not particularly addictive, but IMO it’s more dangerous than both Alcohol and Tobacco even as people claim otherwise.

Tobacco is seriously deadly long term, but the risks are low for the first 20 years. When you include risks from throwing up while unconscious etc, heavy use of many seemingly safe drugs end up risky on those timescales.

nicoburns on 2024-05-15

LSD is absolutely NOT the poster child for safe illegal drugs:

Something like cannabis, MDMA, or amphetamines would be. I think all of those have a decent claim to being safer than or comparably safe to alcohol.

Tobacco, as you say isn't particularly bad in the short term. But it is particularly addictive, so you end up with a large proportion of addicts / long term users for whom the longer term effects apply.

fho on 2024-05-16

With weed I am mostly concerned with the second order effects. I know a handful of long term users (mid-30s to mid-40s with decade long use) and the pattern that I see is that all of them just don't care about their life.

They just never really had the drive to improve their situation in life to the point where it often is easier to get high instead of confronting problems.

NoMoreNicksLeft on 2024-05-15

99% of what makes illegal drugs unsafe is caused by prohibition. Liquor store clerks aren't known to murder drinkers because the drinkers have been trying to pass fake twenties. The cops and beer dealers don't get in shootouts and kill each other or bystanders. Any time someone ODed, it was because the heroin was laced with fentanyl, or cut too much or not enough... none of which happens if heroin is regulated by the FDA, and doses are measured and unadulterated. With clean disposable needles in the box, no one gets AIDS or hepatitis. And you could probably train the junkies to use sharps containers and return them when full to get their deposit back.

Hell, even petty theft is caused by piss tests... if you truly believe that these people become addicted to badly that they'll do anything for a fix, hey guess what? That includes scrubbing toilets for minimum wage. So why do they steal copper wire out of foreclosed homes for scrap? Because piss tests disqualify them for the toilet scrubbing positions.

malfist on 2024-05-15

>Something like cannabis, MDMA, or amphetamines would be

Are you really arguing that meth is a poster child for safe illegal drugs?

mock-possum on 2024-05-15

Arguing for recreational ADHD meds more likely

cooolbear on 2024-05-15

false equivalency

Retric on 2024-05-15

Cannabis is linked to a significant number of traffic fatalities. Cancer risks are also meaningful with lifetime use so it’s a mix of Alcohol risk and Tobacco risk. Safe enough to be legal, but not really safe.

People have fatal overdoses on MDMA and hart attacks etc.

Amphetamines use is linked with cardiovascular issues and brain damage.

imchillyb on 2024-05-15

> …2019 on deaths in three areas that have previously been linked to cannabis use but are still poorly understood: motor vehicle accidents, suicide and opioid overdose.

For each cause of death, the researchers compared trends in deaths in states with legal markets with those in states that had comprehensive medical cannabis programs and similar trends in death rates prior to implementing markets…

The study did not link cannabis use with traffic fatalities.

The study linked trends.

Cannabis use was not a factor in those deaths. Not listed as a cause. Not listed as intoxicated at time of accident.

There is a significant difference between the narrative being schlepped versus what data was actually accumulated.

Retric on 2024-05-15

Findings show that meta-analyses and culpability studies consistently indicate a slightly but significantly increased risk of crashes after acute cannabis use. These risks vary across included study type, crash severity, and method of substance application and measurement. Some studies show a significant correlation between high THC blood concentrations and car crash risk. Most studies do not support this relationship at lower THC concentrations. However, no scientifically supported clear cut-off concentration can be derived from these results. Further research is needed to determine dose-response effects on driving skills combined with measures of neuropsychological functioning related to driving skills and crash risk.

Sirizarry on 2024-05-16

I’m understanding here that cannabis is linked to a higher RISK of crash fatalities not linked to crash fatalities themselves? That’s a very important distinction.

Retric on 2024-05-16

No it’s really not, the same thing is true of alcohol use and car crashes because sober people still crash or lung cancer from smoking etc.

Suppose you have a study of 10k people split 5k:5k between smokers and non smokers. In the non smokers group you get say 10 cases of lung cancer and the smokers group you get 200. It’s really tempting to say the individual smokers got long cancer from smoking, but the base rate isn’t 0 so you don’t know who was screwed either way. Perhaps if nobody smoked in that total population there would have been 19 cases of lung cancer or perhaps 22.

Thus only thing you can say is smoking increases RISK of lung cancer not link it to specific cases.

sophacles on 2024-05-15

So traffic deaths, heart attacks (and general cardio problems), and brain damage. Looks like a melange of cannabis, mdma and amphetamines is almost as dangerous as the standard american diet.

Retric on 2024-05-15

Ignore the rates and everything seems equally dangerous.

People OD and die from drinking water, that doesn’t make it as dangerous as heroin.

jwagenet on 2024-05-15

MDMA overdoses are almost certainly all cross-contamination with fentanyl.

Retric on 2024-05-15

Here’s 2 MDMA deaths that aren’t:

From one rave “Twelve patients with 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) toxicity from a single rave event presented to multiple San Francisco Bay area hospitals with various life-threatening complications including seizures and hyperthermia. Eight required emergent endotracheal intubation and six had hypotension. Hyperkalemia, acute kidney injury, and rhabdomyolysis were present in most of the patients. In all, 2 patients died, 4 survived with permanent neurologic, musculoskeletal, and/or renal sequelae, and 6 survived without any apparent lasting deficits. Hyperthermia was present in 10 patients and was severe (40.9-43° C) in 7. Using multiple cooling methods, the average time to achieve cooling was 2.7 hours. Serum drug analysis was performed on 3 patients, demonstrating toxic MDMA concentrations without the presence of other xenobiotics. Two capsules confiscated by police at the event contained 82% and 98% MDMA, respectively, without other pharmacologically active compounds. Capsule #2 contained 270 mg MDMA, which is more than twice the amount of MDMA usually contained in 1 dose. The MDMA-induced hyperthermia significantly contributed to the morbidity and mortality in this case series. Factors contributing to the severity of the hyperthermia include ingestion of large doses of MDMA, a warm ambient environment, and physical exertion.”

To be clear drug testing would have discovered fentanyl or other common drugs in their bloodstream, so it’s not just based on the pills recovered. Granted legalization would likely result in more consistent doses which would help, but the drug itself would still be risky if people just kept consuming more.

robocat on 2024-05-15

Equvalent to saying Alcohol is toxic amongst a sample of people that died due to drunk driving.

It appears thar heat stroke caused the problems not "toxic MDMA concentrations". The LD50 of MDMA is estimated to be 180mg/kg - Were those ravers taking tens of capsules? I presume there are toxicology reports from the deaths that estimated the dosages. But alcohol is poisonous if you have too much - we don't usually call it "toxic".

Weirdly they mention "a warm ambient environment" but what were the humidity levels? I presume there is good information on the underlying causes of death elsewhere? That summary is terribly uninformative.

"mortality from classic heat stroke approaches 80% and, for exertional heatstroke, 33% in the absence of prompt treatment" :

Disclaimer: personally I'm not a MDMA user. I'm a concerned citizen that thinks raves are generally healthier than bars. "sensible" MDMA usage anecdotally within those events seems safe to me (sample of thousands of people, zero deaths). Number of people I know dead from MDMA: zero. Number of people I personally know dead from alcohol: many (I am a middle aged guy so some were long term effects, one was in a house fire).

Retric on 2024-05-15

MDMA is one of many drugs that interferes with temperature regulation. It’s a direct contributing factor and they wouldn’t have had severe medical issues without taking it.

Drunk driving is a more indirect risk, but I am also including that as one of the risks of Alcohol consumption elsewhere in the thread. If you’re objecting to the name fine, but the risk still exists as MDMA consumption regularly kills people due to this and other risks.

PS: Water toxicity is a similar situation. It’s not just the amount of water alone that’s a problem instead the amount they’ve been sweating is often a contributing factor. Oddly, they also mention MDMA as a risk:

evanelias on 2024-05-15

"Large dose" doesn't mean the same thing as "overdose". For context, the LD50 for MDMA is 160 mg/kg for rats.

MDMA screws up the body's ability to regulate temperature. But without the warm environment and physical activity leading to hyperthermia, I can't imagine any of those people would have even needed medical attention.

That said, personally I would never call MDMA "the poster child for safe illegal drugs". Just because it won't kill you, doesn't mean it is safe or risk-free.

Retric on 2024-05-15

If you’re suffering significant medical issues from taking excessive amounts of a drug, that’s called an overdose.

More broadly, I’m including traffic fatalities as a risk from alcohol and falls under LSD, so having deadly issues regulating body temperature definitely qualifies in an apples to apples comparison here.

evanelias on 2024-05-15

> If you’re suffering significant medical issues from taking excessive amounts of a drug, that’s called an overdose.

Again, no, that San Francisco situation is strictly not describing an overdose. From the comfort of your living room, you can consume a massively higher amount of MDMA than what was described in that paper, and won't suffer significant medical issues.

> I’m including traffic fatalities as a risk from alcohol

OK, but that doesn't mean a drunk-driving fatality is an overdose on alcohol.

Retric on 2024-05-15

What defines an overdose is the impact it has on your body not the specific quantity consumed. Thus you can OD on insulin even if the amount is needed at other times.

If they had taken that much at home it may not have resulted in an overdose, but in this situation it did.

evanelias on 2024-05-15

Well, by that logic, if someone has a panic attack from consuming cannabis, you'd view them as "overdosing" on weed.

I suppose you're free to say that, and everyone else is free to ignore this as ridiculous nonsense which is completely out-of-step with the widely-used definition of "overdose".

You're completely ignoring the context of the event. Have you ever been to a rave? Some promoters are good and understand the importance of providing free/inexpensive water, proper ventilation, and security who are able to spot attendees requiring medical intervention. Other promoters are shady AF and do none of those things. In the latter case, if someone consumes MDMA and also dances for hours without hydration and the venue is way too hot / oversold, yes that person is at risk of hyperthermia.

That can also happen even to sober people, I've literally seen it.

Retric on 2024-05-15

It’s a definition used by doctors not just me.

Try asking your GP about what it an insulin OD entails and they will refer to the results not the specific dose. Though obviously there’s a dose large enough it’s never appropriate.

nicoburns on 2024-05-15

> Some promoters are good and understand the importance of providing free/inexpensive water

And indeed some countries legally require it.

evilsnoopi3 on 2024-05-15

Literally only one of the drugs you mentioned can kill you due to withdrawal. Hint: it's not LSD or tobacco.

Alcohol is an _extremely_ harmful drug.

Retric on 2024-05-15

Harm is based on all risks not just the metrics that make what you care about look better. 60% of American adults drink regularly so extreme edge cases happen, but they aren’t anywhere close to the risks from car accidents etc.

Risk of death is significant, but we’re talking under 0.1% per year.

red-iron-pine on 2024-05-16

Some absurd number, like 70% of domestic violence, 25% of sexual assaults, 30% of regular assaults, around ~40% of murders, ~15% of robberies, and ~50% of injurious or fatal car accidents occur when people are under the influence of alcohol.

that very few are overdosing isn't the issue.

Retric on 2024-05-16

True, social harm is definitely high, on the other hand ~62% of US adults drink. The expected rates of all of those things aren’t 0.

margalabargala on 2024-05-15

See, this is where LSD gets interesting.

No, LSD won't kill your body. But what are you? You aren't just your body, you are your mind and mental state and the consistency of that.

Do enough LSD, especially consistent high doses, and the "you" you know will die and be permanently replaced by something else.

I of course agree that LSD won't put you in a coffin. But there are more axes upon which a drug's danger should be evaluated than "what percentage of users are put in coffins?"

Atotalnoob on 2024-05-15

I really hate the “LSD is safe” mantra people have.

I had a college roommate who did a shit ton of LSD one night and I woke up to the fire alarm having been pulled and him punching holes in the wall.

The police (fire department called the police) dragged him off and the hospital had to give him a bunch of antidepressants to short circuit the LSD.

He was literally not the same person ever again. That is terrifying, even more so than chemical dependency, to me.

margalabargala on 2024-05-15

In defense of LSD, your roommate did "a shit ton of LSD". Keeping dosage under ~300ug radically decreases the likelihood of any sort of permanent personality shift like that.

That said things can still happen on a bad trip. I posted my own personal experience downthread.

BeFlatXIII on 2024-05-15

Literally not the same as in personality change or as in unable to stick to reality after?

Atotalnoob on 2024-05-15

Huge personality shift

BeFlatXIII on 2024-05-16

For better, worse, or just plain different?

throwaway22032 on 2024-05-15

I don't understand how anyone who has ever taken LSD can say that it's safe. Maybe at low doses.

Once you can't seperate fantasy from reality you're just one bad trip from falling out of a window you thought was a door.

edit: The responses here just seem like denialism from people who got lucky to be honest.

You can be aware that you are tripping and still imagine that something is something else.

Roads looked like footpaths to me, windows looked like doors, knives looked like forks, and so on and so forth. I was aware that it wasn't real but couldn't be sure of the safety of existing in the world.

I basically had to sit in a corner for 10 hours, hope that the corner was actually the one I thought it was and that I wasn't going to fall down a staircase instead.

It was great fun but felt like russian roulette.

Nursie on 2024-05-15

Have you ever done it?

Because what you’re describing doesn’t resemble LSD at all. You’re describing deleriants like datura if anything.

jandrese on 2024-05-15

One rumor I've seen is that dealers have been replacing LSD with NBOM which has a significantly higher chance of causing a psychotic break and is harder to safely dose. This gets back to the big problem with illegal drugs isn't the drugs, it the illegal.

quickthrowman on 2024-05-15

Ehrlich’s reagent can be used to test for the presence of an income, NBOMe, 25I, and related compounds will not show up as an indole.

Dylan16807 on 2024-05-15

And if I try to change your mind about how much it matters to get a new perspective and new evaluation on some things, I might murder you.

A conundrum.

margalabargala on 2024-05-15

Personal anecdote: I used to do a decent amount of LSD (~150ug every 4-5 months for ~3 years), until one time I had an extremely bad trip. Ever since that bad trip, I've found that every time I get high (from LSD, mushrooms, or even marijuana) I start having extreme anxiety to the point where I can't enjoy it anymore and am just waiting for it to end. The bad trip was now 8 years ago and to this day I've not had a great experience on any of the above drugs since then.

I consider myself lucky that the anxiety only shows up when on drugs, which is pretty easy to avoid by, y'know, not doing drugs. But clearly something permanently shifted inside my brain.

The inability to experience something I used to enjoy without a near-panic-attack is a bit more of an effect than a conversation might have.

Retric on 2024-05-15

Magnitude matters. A full frontal lobotomy counts as personality death even if a conversation doesn’t.

Dylan16807 on 2024-05-15

Do you think LSD is comparable to a lobotomy?

And critically, lobotomy isn't a change from one set of mental states to another. That big chunk of brain doesn't grow back.

Retric on 2024-05-15

Memories once missing don’t grow back either. The most extreme cases of LSD use have impacted such basic functions as limiting people’s ability to communicate.

Post lobotomy people generally weren’t brain dead, even if diminished. So for extreme cases, yes it’s a solid comparison.

lelanthran on 2024-05-15

> Alcohol is an _extremely_ harmful drug.

Yeah. If alcohol was discovered only today, there wouldn't be a government in the world that would legalise it.

It's legal because its grandfathered in, from the time before humans developed society and civilisation.

pxc on 2024-05-15

> Most people throw up rather than OD on Alcohol.

If you take enough of a drug that it makes you throw up, you did overdose. 'Overdose' doesn't mean you died. Fatal overdoses just get talked about more than other overdoses because they're the most harmful kind of overdose.

vkou on 2024-05-15

If people regularly 'overdosed' on heroin by throwing up and feeling like shit for a day, with the same kind of survival rate that drinkers 'overdose' at, opioids wouldn't be killing tens of thousands of people a year.

Alcohol abuse either kills people in the long term, or combined with automobiles. Very few people have a bit too much to drink some night and actually die from it. You'll generally black out long before you get a lethal dose.

With opioids, you can trivially take a lethal dose.

pxc on 2024-05-15

Yes, heroin overdose is much more often fatal than alcohol overdose.

(That doesn't change what the word 'overdose' means. If you want to be more specific than the word is, feel free to use adjectives, e.g., 'fatal overdose', 'deadly overdose', etc.)

Dylan16807 on 2024-05-15

In common practice, people use 'overdose' to mean life-threatening overdose.

Retric on 2024-05-15

I’m referring to throwing up preventing negative health outcomes rather than death. You can throw up from excessive smoking, but it’s not going to help for inhaled or injected drugs.

OD refers to excessive consumption or negative heath outcomes, so yes and sort of. With alcohol people will sometimes throw up before all that much alcohol enters the bloodstream, throwing up may qualify on its own but may prevent things like liver damage but throwing up itself could qualify as a negative health impact.

nimajneb on 2024-05-15

The first sentence is ignoring the affect alcohol has on the liver.

Retric on 2024-05-15

Liver damage requires alcohol in the bloodstream at extreme levels or very long term habitual use.

So for a collage kid throwing up really does provide meaningful protection for their liver. Though obviously it comes with its own risks of asphyxiation etc.

arrowsmith on 2024-05-15

> Alcohol [has] minimal short term health risks.

What on earth are you talking about? Alcohol can kill you in a single evening if you drink enough of it. How much shorter-term could its health risks be?

Retric on 2024-05-15

Risk is severity of harm * probably of harm.

Of the ~3 million Americans that tried Alcohol for the first time in 2023 how many exactly died from an overdose that night? That’s what low risk looks like.

nathan_douglas on 2024-05-15

According to the CDC, it seems about 6 people die per day of alcohol poisoning, or ~2,191 per year, so about .07%. Nearly 3/4 are men, which doesn't particularly surprise me, but what does surprise me is that the average age was 49 years, and only 5% were aged 18-24. I would've expected the numbers to be shifted left far more than that. Also interesting was that the overwhelming majority (71%) had a long history of alcohol use problems. In 58%, death was attributed solely to acute alcohol toxicity, but in 42% there was an underlying disease present as well. Huh.

Retric on 2024-05-15

~3 million is number of first time drinkers not the total number of people drinking alcohol in the US. ~180 million people drink alcohol one or more times a year so 2,191 per year is ~0.0012% per year.

The risk on the first time they consumed alcohol is probably 1/100th of that due to younger ages etc.

whatevaa on 2024-05-15

You can die from water if you drink enough of it. Some people actually did.

arrowsmith on 2024-05-15

Yes, you're very clever, congratulations.

Nursie on 2024-05-15

Your ideas about LSD being more dangerous than alcohol are not backed up by decent evidence.

Alcohol use kills both acutely and chronically. Alcohol is addictive. Long term use cause mental health issues.

LSD does not have the same health impacts and its lack of addiction potential gives it a significantly lower harm profile.

Do yourself a favour and read some material published by domain experts (may I recommend “Drugs Without the Hot Air” by David Nutt).

Retric on 2024-05-16

I absolutely agree that on a per user basis Alcohol is more risky especially if you’re considering bystanders due to addiction and ease of access.

However, I’m looking at things from a per use basis because I’m not really attracted to drinking. So for me it’s about what risks are associated with drinking a beer vs dropping a tab vs smoking 1 more cigarette. Because people like me can choose to do some, all, or none of those things and it’s worth considering the risks on a per event basis.

Very few deaths are associated with LSD, but harm isn’t so binary. You can reasonably safely consume a lot of alcohol without issue, as in 1-3 beers a night for a decade, but daily LSD use at that level is another story.

Nursie on 2024-05-16

> However, I’m looking at things from a per use basis because I’m not really attracted to drinking. So for me it’s about what risks are associated with drinking a beer vs dropping a tab vs smoking 1 more cigarette.

This is not a useful metric at all, and is incredibly naive. Each of those activities carries with it the relative risks of addiction and long term harms. Your metric can lead to absurd conclusion that cigarettes are perfectly fine because nobody ever got cancer from having just one. The danger in tobacco is that people don't stop at just one.

> You can reasonably safely consume a lot of alcohol without issue, as in 1-3 beers a night for a decade

Some people can, but a significant minority of the people that try that will run into trouble and find their habit escalating. Even people like you who seem to think they are above addiction. And those who don't suffer addiction from that pattern will have increased their risk of cancer and various other diseases.

> but daily LSD use

Is so rare as to effectively constitute a complete fallacy of argument. That's the point, virtually nobody wants to use LSD on a daily basis, even amongst people who like and use LSD. Its risk profile is significantly lower than alcohol or tobacco as a result of that.

Seriously, go read up on this stuff, it's fascinating as well as enlightening.

Retric on 2024-05-16

> Even people like you who seem to think they are above addiction.

Personal experience but Alcohol, Tobacco, opioids etc and never felt the pull. I tried smoking for a little under a year but didn’t really care for it. Used to drink fairly regularly but just kind of got bored with it to the point a found out beer eventually goes bad in your fridge.

> Is rare

Ok that may be personal bias in terms of use. I remember one guy saying enough LSD could replace sleep and things didn’t go well for him or a lot of other people.

So yes, I knew quite a few people that used it daily, but though none were able to function long term like that. Dad and various friends were connected to Timothy Leary and that’s about as much as I am comfortable sharing.

Nursie on 2024-05-16

> Personal experience but ..

Sure, and that's your personal experience. If we were going by my personal experience we would get a different picture - that tobacco was highly addictive (though easy enough to quit in the end) but there was no issue at all with cocaine. Yet when we look at the harm profile of cocaine, we can see it's comparatively pretty bad and pulls people into spirals of addiction and self-destruction.

You can't really say "LSD is worse than booze" as a sweeping statement that you consider applies to everyone, and then use as justification your personal lack of issues with alcohol.

> I knew quite a few people that used it daily

No offence, but this is why the plural of anecdote is not data. Your sample bias here is extreme - people who were idealogically inclined to take acid daily as an almost pseudo-religious sacrament are not a representative sample.

Retric on 2024-05-16

> No offence, but this is why the plural of anecdote is not data. Your sample bias here is extreme - people who were idealogically inclined to take acid daily as an almost pseudo-religious sacrament are not a representative sample.

Case studies are a major source of data in science. People exposed to extreme radiation doses from accidents play a significant role in our understanding of the consequences of said exposure and ways to treat it.

If the people I knew were able to handle that kind of LSD use then I would have a different opinion because LSD would be safer. Is 1% the use 1% as dangerous? Now that’s where you need controlled studies because the effect size diminishes, but feed 50 rats 1 gram of substance Y and they all die and that’s strong evidence on it’s own no need for statistical analysis.

Nursie on 2024-05-17

> feed 50 rats 1 gram of substance Y and they all die and that’s strong evidence on it’s own no need for statistical analysis.

Your theoretical study there tells you about substance toxicity, but it tells you very little about the real-world dangers of substance Y to rats.

Would rats choose to consume substance Y at all? How often and how compulsively? What are the effects on rats at the levels they choose to consume, rather than the effects on them at levels the scientists chose to dose them with? If most rats would choose to eat 1mg of Y, at most once a year, and that level doesn't seem to harm them, then that 50mg test has shown you nothing at all.

Substance Z doesn't kill at 50mg, in fact it's safe up to 1000mg, is it less harmful? Well that depends. If the rats compulsively gobble every bit of it they can find and then drop dead after a month, we can say that Z is much worse.

Imagine you worked in an alcoholic rehab centre. You have first hand evidence all around you of the horrific damage alcohol wreaks on its users. Many of them have liver problems, are aged by the booze and their tough lives. Some are battling cancers caused by the drink, others have severe mental impairments. Your impression of drinkers is likely very skewed.

That's what you're doing with your sample of LSD users. With alcohol you're explicitly excluding the equivalent group in your assessment - "You can reasonably safely consume a lot of alcohol without issue, as in 1-3 beers a night for a decade" - when we can be confident that the group of alcohol addicts is larger as a proportion and suffers from all sorts of issues you're happy to ignore.

This way of thinking is so common I'm considering naming it the "it's just a beer" fallacy. Most people who have a beer or two don't become alcoholics. Most people who drop acid once or twice don't become your dads friends. To gauge relative harm we need to figure out what 'most' means and what the consequences are across users. You don't get to select a moderate drinker and an extreme outlier acid-head and say "see! this one is worse!". That's not a valid comparison.

rqtwteye on 2024-05-15

"but IMO it’s more dangerous than both Alcohol and Tobacco even as people claim otherwise."

I could agree with tobacco but I don't believe LSD is more dangerous than alcohol. Most domestic violence, most fatal traffic accidents are under the influence of alcohol. It destroys families and communities. I don't see how LSD could be that damaging.

normaler on 2024-05-15

Long term use aside, the amount of life changing (mostly in the bad sense) interactions I had while using alcohol are in a class in its own. Prison statistics reflect that especially in violent crime.

vundercind on 2024-05-15

Messing you up really bad if you use way too much or use way too frequently is also a property of alcohol, is the thing. And lots of them aren’t any more habit-forming than alcohol (less, in several cases).

Like yeah if you take way too much lsd or take a tab a day it might fuck you up, but so will drinking a fifth of whiskey inside an hour, or having two or three cocktails every evening. Or take like double the top-end therapeutic dose of tylenol.

I’m not claiming most of them are strictly safe, just that most aren’t obviously in a whole different risk category from a couple of our legal drugs. Shit, I’ve given myself heart palpitations as a teen because nobody stopped me from getting a second triple-shot cappuccino.

esaym on 2024-05-15

We didn't get the briefcase either. But one officer did bring his K9. Which then tried to bite my classmate during the "come up here and pet it" session.

darkclouds on 2024-05-15


sandworm101 on 2024-05-15

>> What I did get is a cop telling me that my parents having a glass of wine with dinner or a cigarette after work was just as bad a them using cocaine

That cop came to my school too. On a bicycle. He also told us that 50% of us would die in any car accident over 50mph. It was really hard to not laugh at him given the number of us who participated in the local streetracing scene. In a room full of students in jackets and ties, he stood there spouting lies in his spandex bike shorts.

delichon on 2024-05-15

In high school around 1976 we got a talk by the swim team coach, telling us the horrors of various drugs, going into his wide personal experience with them and why we shouldn't follow his example. He told us that if we ever had any questions he was there for us, and gave us all his personal phone number.

So me and some buddies got a hold of some peyote and were more than a little afraid of it. We probably would have tossed it but we had a better idea. We called Coach and asked his advice. He gave us detailed preparation instructions. We followed them and got a bit sick, but not altered. Maybe it wasn't even peyote.

I'm not sure that this approach was just more nuanced than "just say no" or closer to "just do it".

cess11 on 2024-05-15

Did the proposed preparation entail heating? Might have described a process that destroyed most of the mescaline to spare you the experience, which can be quite frightening and/or debilitating.

I've never come across someone that does more preparation than drying, so to me it seems suspicious to suggest anything else. Mescaline is water soluble so one can make infusions, but it takes a fair bit of plant material to get dosed so there isn't much practical use in doing so.

delichon on 2024-05-15

No heating. I was just along for the ride, but I think it was something to do with removing hairs, and to make it less bitter.

cess11 on 2024-05-15

Reducing bitterness likely reduces potency as well. Mescaline itself is quite bitter and whatever solvent is used to flush out other less tasty substances will likely solve mescaline as well.

Drying slightly improves the taste but not by much.

13of40 on 2024-05-15

I never attended a DARE class, but in the early 90s the t-shirts were everywhere so my memory of it was people wearing the shirts "ironically".

marcodiego on 2024-05-15

In Brazil, in the 90's there was a campaign called "Drogas nem morto" (drugs not even dead). I heard about a guy who used a t-shirt of the campaign to sell drugs.

Izkata on 2024-05-15

> so my memory of it was people wearing the shirts "ironically".

Drugs Are Really Enjoyable/Excellent

buildsjets on 2024-05-15

Still have one, vintage '91 to '93 or so. I wear it to Phish shows.

gwbas1c on 2024-05-15

DARE to resist drugs.

I don't do dares. (joke)

InitialLastName on 2024-05-15

We had the county sheriff come to an assembly, show us pictures of a local "drug den" they had busted, bring out a body bag and tell us "it breaks my heart when I pick up a body bag and the weight shifts to one end, because that means there's a kid in it", and conclude with "If you ever touch drugs you'll end up living here until I drag you out in a bag".

YesBox on 2024-05-15

I had the briefcase experience (except it was a portable glass display case with every drug under the sun). Looked like a bunch of candy to me as a kid. I think they even had a fake version placed next to the real thing?

One thing they did that has stuck with me though was this plastic bag contraption with some material inside to represent the human lungs. There was a hole at the top which the DARE officer placed a lit cigarette, then began (somehow) pumping air from the hole down into the lung material. I remember watching the material quickly go from white to brown and tarry. By the time the cigarette was out, she looked us all in the eyes and said "this is what smoking does to your lungs"

fatnoah on 2024-05-15

I've probably said this in other posts, but the best "don't do drugs" education my child got was living in a city. It's one thing to hear about drugs, it's another to watch your dad call 911 for a man collapsed with a needle still in his arm in a subway headhouse doorway.

nonameiguess on 2024-05-15

This seems to be the overwhelming majority sentiment of the Internet or at least of what gets upvoted, but I think DARE at least worked on me. I wanna say it was probably 2nd grade, which would have been 1987 or 1988, and I don't remember the briefcase, but I do remember a plastic lung. It filled up and blackened with tar after only a few puffs from a cigarette and I remember being so viscerally disgusted and disturbed by that, I resolved to never smoke and I never did, in spite of a lot of peer pressure. I was largely friends with goths and art kids and nearly all of my friends smoked, some as early as 4th grade, but I never did.

bko on 2024-05-15

Do you feel the same way about sex ed? In other words, is exposing children to sexual education actually encouraging them to have premarital or unsafe sex?

xboxnolifes on 2024-05-15

DARE is the equivalent of telling kids that if they have sex, they will get an STD and ruin their life forever with a painful, annoying, lifelong illness.

Interpret outcomes from that as you will.

blessedwhiskers on 2024-05-15

I'd argue DARE is more akin to abstinence only sex ed than an actual sex ed curriculum. Or at least my DARE experience was much closer to a Mr. Mackey "Drugs are bad, m'kay" than a measured instruction of various drugs and the kinds of harms they posed.

jandrese on 2024-05-15

The problem with DARE is that the message was "all drugs will kill you and your family if you so much as look in their direction, call the cops anytime you see anyone who looks even a bit drugged out".

Then some kids try some pot and discover that DARE was full of shit and they disregard the entire message or even rebel against it. Education programs are counterproductive when they are loaded with misinformation.

rabbits_2002 on 2024-05-15

The sole take away I got from DARE when I was a kid is “LSD sounds really cool, gotta try that someday”

Log_out_ on 2024-05-15

The rootcause is the hyper competitiveness od us society. There are only winners and loosees, and loosers do drugs.. So every economic downturn people do what they were told, if success does not happen and self destruct to keep life bearable.

User23 on 2024-05-15

It was nice of them to teach kids how to identify real marijuana.

BeFlatXIII on 2024-05-15

Drugs Are Really Excellent

aeonik on 2024-05-15

It's pretty funny in a sad way to me that this article talks about how little we know about human behavior and struggling to find answers about why the kids had a backfire effect.

I remember these programs, and I remember how they made me and my friends feel. But nobody asked us, lol.

I'd even try to tell people I thought, but instead of listening to us, we were admonished.

The problem is that these programs are full of bull shit, bad information, bad science, and lies designed to scare.

Kids pick up on this quickly, and you now have lost all trust with this cohort, permanently.

It's the exact same reason abstinence only education fails.

Humans want to feel good, that's okay, we also don't want to die or ruin our lives (assuming we aren't living in a hell). Basic facts here.

pjc50 on 2024-05-15

Indeed. People want "reproducible" campaigns, but that necessitates being entirely one-way. As soon as you start having a real connection with other humans it's non-reproducible.

lrivers on 2024-05-15

One way to ruin kids desire to drink is to offer them tastes of what you’re drinking from a relatively young age.

Whatcha drinking daddy?

A beer! Want to try it?


This removes the rebellion portion from drinking to a degree.

xboxnolifes on 2024-05-15

Unless they end up liking it, which I know some that applies to. Though, they did end up fine.

csours on 2024-05-21

"I am not a fish" - Seth Godin

As the author of the post says in a reply to a comment:

> ' This is a common outcome for programs like this: "It doesn't work, but the adults like it!" '

nobleach on 2024-05-15

Show them a Quentin Tarantino film? ...or any film for that matter where the main characters seem so "cool, unfazed and untouchable". To a young (mostly male) mind, that's the ultimate goal; to be in charge. For most beginning smokers, it's not about the inhalation of tobacco, but the subversive "screw the rules, those don't apply to me" façade. This might sound obvious but, if we want 7th graders not to glorify smoking, we quit glorifying it in our media. Make the stupid guy in the movie the one that's dumb enough to smoke. Make everyone laugh at him every time he tries to look cool.

mrob on 2024-05-15

This has been tried before. In Waterworld, the bad guys are literally called the "Smokers" and smoking is a big part of their culture. It's so over the top it seems more like a parody of anti-smoking campaigns. I doubt it ever convinced anybody not to smoke, and I think any similar attempt is doomed to fail in the same way. Kids are good at detecting when you're trying to manipulate them, and it doesn't matter if you have good intentions.

emchammer on 2024-05-15

I thought it referred to the smoke from their engines? They were the only ones in that world who used internal combustion engines?

rdtsc on 2024-05-15

It's kind of both. For some strange reason I watched that movie again recently. I guess they were supposed to be the distilled version of whatever was considered bad in society in the 90s: hyper-masculinity, smoking, oil tankers, guns, religion (they went on "crusades", the leader was "The Deacon") etc.

ido on 2024-05-15

Aren't all these things ± still what's considered bad in 2024?

rdtsc on 2024-05-17

Pretty much. But the giant oil tanker full of "meanies" was a nod to Exxon Valdez which was fresh in memory then.

vundercind on 2024-05-15

Yeah I think I’ve seen that movie three or four times and I never made the connection between the name and smoking cigarettes. Figured it was all the oil they had, and engines they could run with it.

jandrese on 2024-05-15

The only thing I remember is they made some old dude row around the oil tank on a tiny boat because they had apparently forgotten how fuel gauges and dip sticks work.

Thinking back on it, were they powering their pirate jetskis with heavy crude? Was there a distillation column set up on the oil tanker? I probably shouldn't think too hard about Wet Mad Max because I bet a lot of that movie doesn't really make sense on closer inspection.

vundercind on 2024-05-15

Yeah the lack of a refinery does seem like a problem. Maybe they were making something close-enough to diesel out of it with some crude process? No way they were making gasoline, nor most other petroleum fuels.

toxik on 2024-05-15

Kids want to do what they see, if they see people smoke, they want to smoke. If mommy and daddy drink coffee in the morning, it doesn't matter that it tastes like ass, a literal 3-year-old will just by sheer force of will drink that bitter nectar just to feel like they belong.

pwg on 2024-05-15

> If mommy and daddy drink coffee in the morning, it doesn't matter that it tastes like ass, a literal 3-year-old will just by sheer force of will drink that bitter nectar just to feel like they belong

Then I must be quite different from that "literal 3 year old". Mom and Dad both drank coffee, and around the 3-year point I did want to try it, for the reason you say, because it was something "they" were doing. And, yes, that sip did taste like ass. So much like ass that to this day 54 years later, I do not and will not drink coffee.

bryanlarsen on 2024-05-15

Most adults claim that they're not influenced by advertising, yet studies show they are. I'm quite confident the same effect would be found in teens.

throwaway22032 on 2024-05-15

Negative advertising and positive advertising are quite different.

I'm definitely affected by both, but generally if I feel I'm being nannied my instinct is to go the other way. People don't need to be "convinced" to do things that are good for them - if they're not doing it, they likely just have reasons that you don't understand.

jareklupinski on 2024-05-15

> Show them a Quentin Tarantino film?

Mia's OD scene in Pulp Fiction definitely scared me away from drugs

even though I wasn't supposed to be old enough to see it >_>

2OEH8eoCRo0 on 2024-05-15

Same. That scene stuck with me.

Makes me wonder if over-protecting children from negative feelings backfires. Pulp Fiction was a risk-free and simple way to make vivid the risks of heroin.

ics on 2024-05-16

I would put Pulp Fiction near the top of the list for "films with surprisingly wholesome moral examples". The overdose, Butch coming back to help Marcellus and their subsequent parting ways, Jules' acknowledgement that he's "buying" not "giving"... to top it off, nobody is trying to moralize or patronize the viewer. Jules was getting close enough to agitate Vince but that just strengthens the film; it's okay to feel Vince's side more and not feel what someone else does despite witnessing the same thing. I was probably late teens when I first saw it but pretty sure if I saw it as a kid that I'd have gotten the good with the bad.

jareklupinski on 2024-05-15

> over-protecting children from negative feelings backfires

it definitely hit differently to "see it myself", versus having it introduced by a parent/guardian, who probably would shy away from making the lesson so graphic

zepolen on 2024-05-15

Trainspotting should be mandatory watching in schools.

gwbas1c on 2024-05-15

The ultimate thing that convinced me not to smoke was watching my uncle die of lung cancer, and being unable to quit the thing that was killing him.

I'm somewhat relieved that tobacco references are considered "adult" now in entertainment. The amount of smoking I saw in movies and TV (and around my uncle) normalized it for me, even though I knew how unhealthy it was.

itronitron on 2024-05-15

For my high school cohort the video interview of the person still smoking after having had a laryngectomy really drove home the powerlessness of addiction.

gwbas1c on 2024-05-15

The problem is seeing all that... And then seeing family members and friends smoke on the weekend... It puts it in this weird "safe to try, but not safe to keep doing" slot.

Nicotine addiction is very subtle, for many it's hard to recognize until you're hooked.

bombcar on 2024-05-15

We had a guy who had one come to our school in person; giving his talk whilst smoking from his stoma was ... pretty convincing, to be honest.

mdale on 2024-05-15

I remember that ad. I think it did it for me as well.

sandworm101 on 2024-05-15

Rather than uncool, just kill them. In british historical drama there is an old standard that any character that coughs will soon die. If the butler even sniffles, they are doomed. So make smoking the new coughing. The kids will then associated smoking with death, living in fear every time their favorite characters go anywhere near cigarettes.

Karellen on 2024-05-15

> In british historical drama there is an old standard that any character that coughs will soon die.

That reminds me of the classic short-film subversion of this trope: The Man Who Has a Cough and it's Just a Cough and He's Fine

nvahalik on 2024-05-15

Requiem for a dream still haunts me.

throwaway924385 on 2024-05-15

As a non-smoker, I’ve never felt like I needed a cigarette more than when the credits rolled on Requiem. Certainly scared me off of harder drugs, though.

Der_Einzige on 2024-05-15

Yup, that’s the real anti-drug movie. Stuff like this works. It’s not pleasant though.

ta2112 on 2024-05-15

Just when I finally almost forgot about it, this comment rips it back into my poor brain.

nvahalik on 2024-05-15

And now, if it hasn't already been playing in your head, Clint Mansell's "Summer Overture" will now haunt you. ;)

jjgreen on 2024-05-15

His worst film I thought, almost an Aronofsky pastiche.

pjc50 on 2024-05-15

It is remarkable how dramatically smoking was intentionally removed from even period movies, and in some cases edited out of old content.

Perhaps silence works better than negative mention? There's a real problem with anti-war or anti-violence media accidentally making it look cool, similarly with biographies of "troubled star" types detailing their drug uses.

the_af on 2024-05-15

> This might sound obvious but, if we want 7th graders not to glorify smoking, we quit glorifying it in our media

There was quite obviously a concerted effort to remove smoking from movies and shows. It's been going on for more than a decade. It's quite abrupt, go back far enough and everyone smokes, especially the cool guys and gals. Then fast forward and almost nobody smokes, not even the villains. Ads for smoking are gone from my country's TV and cigarette packs by law must display horrifying photos of emaciated cancer patients.

parpfish on 2024-05-15

Media is part of it, but seeing the real life adults in your life smoke influences you a lot. It’s not necessarily about emulating people you admire, it’s about adopting a signifier of adulthood.

matthewaveryusa on 2024-05-15

Exactly, these are the kinds of ads we need:

PhilipRoman on 2024-05-15

I was thinking more like this

But that one is not bad either :)

npteljes on 2024-05-15

Got a good laugh out of me, thanks for sharing!

treflop on 2024-05-15

For me, the older kids doing cool things were smoking.

A bunch of actors smoking never did anything for me.

RhysU on 2024-05-15

Smoking by most teenagers is easy to solve: Make all cigarettes hot pink with garish other colors in ugly, ugly patterns. Teenagers don't like looking conspicuously ridiculous.

ics on 2024-05-15

Finally get to use this anecdote...

    Friend: Do you have anything that doesn't taste like middle school girl lip gloss?
    Gas station attendant: *chuckles* No, sorry.
    Friend: Fine, cherry-berry then.
I don't think it works.

astura on 2024-05-15

Vaping already looks conspicuously ridiculous. Nobody ever looked cool vaping.

buildsjets on 2024-05-15

"Douche Flute."

toddmorey on 2024-05-15

Trainspotting. Those scenes are burned in my memory forever.

Workaccount2 on 2024-05-15

The fundamental problem is that drugs are fun and the bad effects are offset by years or even decades.

Also the fact that vast majority of people who do drugs never realize the bad effects from it. They do it in moderation, use them responsibly, and stop without much thought. It's the hockey stick at the edge of the chart where all the destructive narrative comes from.

kenjackson on 2024-05-15

And they are usually addictive. Almost every person I know who smokes says they derive little pleasure they once did, but are addicted to nicotine and can’t stop. And as a non-smoker, it doesn’t look fun, but I trust it was at one point in their life - I guess.

Workaccount2 on 2024-05-15

Right, I was a smoker for many years, the but the actual conversion rate of "drug users" to "drug addicts" is surprisingly low. The overwhelming majority of people who smoke their first cigarette will not die a smoking related death. And cigarettes are probably the most extreme example.

How many people who try cocaine end up being the poster case for DARE? It's virtually no one. The risk analysis for having fun with drugs is totally lopsided. Society is fighting to keep 100% from using drugs in order to protect the 5% who will have their lives ruined.

arp242 on 2024-05-15

I wish you could just buy single cigarettes rather than always getting a pack. I feel that's a big part of the problem right there.

It would be like only being able to buy wine in boxes of 20, or beers in crates of 30. Once you have it, you're much more likely to use it. I just want a beer or a bottle of wine this Friday evening, and maybe after that I want a cigarette. And that's it.

kelipso on 2024-05-15

Absolutely. You could taper off really easily with loosies while with 20 packs, you end up smoking the whole thing and get addicted again.

circus1540 on 2024-05-15

yeah I'm not sure how banning sale of loosies is protecting the kids. At 30, I get carded almost always when I buy a pack and almost never when I buy alcohol. If someone is selling to kids, they wouldn't care about this law anyway.

kenjackson on 2024-05-15

I think our samples must be different. Admittedly I have small samples of cocaine users, but the behaviors for them are consistent with the mainstream literature. Maybe just a bad sample, but it’s good enough for me to avoid it.

devoutsalsa on 2024-05-15

Smoking Is Awesome, by Kurzgesagt - In A Nutshell, touched on how smokers eventually need cigarettes just to feel normal.

alt227 on 2024-05-15

> touched on how smokers eventually need cigarettes just to feel normal.

This is the same for every addictive substance, no?

asdfgrasdf123 on 2024-05-15

I was amphetamine addict, I used daily for a year, very excessively in later stage. When I stopped I felt normal, it was not fun but I did not need amphetamine to get through the day. There is no physical urge to use more, you do it because you like it. It is very different with opiates I heard, but you said every. The word addiction pushed me towards drugs because I thought if I can stop any time it is not addiction and it is fine.

alt227 yesterday

I am sorry for your experience, but having lots of experience myself in amphtemines I do not consider it an addictive substance.

amadeuspagel on 2024-05-15

The main reason that it's hard to change people is that they resist manipulation. This is hard to see if you only consider well-meaning attempts to change people, which you might not consider manipulation because that word has a negative connotation.

cm2012 on 2024-05-15

No. My background: I've done marketing for 15 years, have read every book on persuasion and have been called an expert.

The reason for this is that the most important element of persuasion is Ethos, or your perceived character. This is much more important than Logos (logical appeal) or Pathos (emotional appeal).

Suits have no credibility to teenagers so they cannot be persuasive. Cool kids have a ton of credibility and thus are very persuasive.

madaxe_again on 2024-05-15

Absolutely this. You cannot get a person to change an opinion, a belief, a tendency, by tackling it head on. It’s almost like we have an autonomous immune response to information which challenges our preconceptions or preferences.

I have found, repeatedly, that the way to get people to change is to make them think it was their idea. So you manipulate them, but in such a fashion that they do not realise they are being manipulated. For instance, I got my kid sister to quit smoking by taking up smoking and encouraging her to smoke more and more until she smelt like an ashtray and had a wallet as light as a feather - and then she decided that this was stupid, and quit. I then claimed to take inspiration from her and followed suit.

Of course, this doesn’t work en masse without essentially going into conspiratorial psyops on the population, but on an individual or small group basis, people can be given a set of precepts and ideas that lead them to an almost inevitable conclusion - and because it was their idea, it’s precious. You can then really cement it by trying to get them to drop the idea, and convince them that the thing that you wanted them to think is wrong.

Contrary creatures, we.

jawns on 2024-05-15

And yet ... look at how much manipulation happens at the political level.

I find myself constantly wondering how people can be so gullible as to buy the drivel they're being fed.

Clent on 2024-05-15

This is a different form a manipulation.

No one is trying to change these people's behaviors. They are feeding them what they already want; reinforcing negative behaviors. That has always been very easy.

The relationship to today's political theatre is related to this discussion by comparing it to how easy it was to get everyone to smoke in the 1950's

hn_throwaway_99 on 2024-05-15

> The main reason that it's hard to change people is that they resist manipulation.

This seems flat out wrong to me given how extremely difficult it is for most people to change themselves. I guess on some level you could argue that people are "manipulating" themselves, but that seems a bit silly to me given how you are using the word manipulation.

It's hard to change people because humans are actually great at multiple forms of homeostasis. All research I've read has said that people's personalities are basically solidified from early childhood (i.e. age 5-6).

amadeuspagel on 2024-05-15

Not at all. The fact that it's hard to change yourself is itself part of the resistance against manipulation. It's a second layer of defense. Even if someone is able to manipulate your explicit beliefs, they still aren't able to manipulate your behaviour.

hn_throwaway_99 on 2024-05-15

That's an unfalsifiable assertion/tautology that is basically a "not even wrong" statement.

That is, you're basically asserting "If you try to change your behavior, but can't, it's because your explicit beliefs have been manipulated into thinking something that your body won't go along with." Well, how do you know? Seems like you're saying "Because your body would go along with it if your brain wasn't being manipulated."

Just look at the millions of people who have tried for decades to lose weight. You can call it "manipulation" or whatever, but I think a poor quality of life, shortened life span, etc. are plenty real, valid, "non-manipulative" reasons on their own for obese people to want to lose weight even if you ignore the societal implications. And does taking semaglutide somehow magically make it not "manipulation" anymore by your definition?

amadeuspagel on 2024-05-16

I'm not sure about semaglutide, but drugs in general are a good example of my point, because people use them to change/manipulate others and themselves. For example LSD has been used by cults, by the CIA, etc..

rdtsc on 2024-05-15

> You can have a PhD and good intentions. You can have money and buy-in. You can do a bunch of reasonable things to prevent a problem that everyone agrees is bad.

Imagine what they could do if they had a PhD and bad intentions...

But let's say, first they do have good intentions. However, even then, if these people devoted their lives to their cause, they promoted programs, wrote countless powerpoint slides, even books. And now some other research comes out and says "well it looks like that other stuff was actually hurting kids". How many of the PhDs with good intentions, will acknowledge that and effectively throw away their life's work?

> Some famous CEOs were mean to their employees and got good results, so I should do that too, which is convenient because I am a jerk.

That's exactly what one of the leadership team did in a company I worked at. They tried to emulate Steve Jobs. And out of brilliance, dedication to perfection, design, hiring the best people, all possible qualities they could have tried to emulated, they emulated being an asshole, hoping the company would become the next Apple at some point.

sandworm101 on 2024-05-15

Question: Do people who vape spend more or less money than people who smoke? I have some vapers that work for me and they talk about vape like wine people debating grapes. They seem willing to pay insane amounts of money for their hourly fix.

So I wonder whether "big tobacco" sees every smokers as potential vaper. Both are nicotine addicts. Perhaps the demonization of smoking will improve sales in the vape business, the alternative "legal" way to sell the drugs.

throwup238 on 2024-05-15

Vapers spend a lot less. As a pack-a-day smoker I was spending $7-10 a day on cigarettes. Before I quit altogether, I was spending $20-30 a month on nicotine salts, $20 a month on cartridges, and $100 once a year or two for mods and batteries. Since I was working from home I was vaping constantly, so I didn’t reduce nicotine consumption despite the cost reduction. I could buy a brand new mod every month and it’d still be cheaper.

I’m sure there are whales that spend on vaping like some stoners spend thousands on Mothership glass, but they pale in comparison to the millions of multipack-a-day smokers that are worth thousands a year in profit. I assume that’s why Juul was pushed so hard by cigarette companies, the economics of Juul pods are much closer to cigarettes than the stuff sold in vape shops.

hipadev23 on 2024-05-15

So nicotine salts are synthetic right? Is there a reason people consume them via oral pouches, does a pill simply not work?

Or is the addiction tied to both the method of consumption and not only the effect (why i drink coffee and not take caffeine pills i guess)

throwup238 on 2024-05-15

Yes they’re synthetic. Pills take much longer than pouches since they have to go through the digestive system, whereas pouches steadily release nicotine that is absorbed quickly by the gums.

Method of consumption is definitely important. I couldn’t fully switch to vapes until I found one that had the same “throat feel” as my American Spirits. Not just the type of nicotine (salts) but the exact brand of vaporizer and coil style. Just like people prefer the taste and ritual of coffee to caffeine pills.

prophesi on 2024-05-15

If they're buying disposable vapes, then it's likely on par with cigarettes in terms of price. That industry has been working hard on getting disposable vapes that last long enough and contain as much nicotine as possible. In my area it's next to impossible to find any disposables that contain less than 50mg (5%) nicotine, which is downright criminal.

If they're going custom then the upfront cost will be a lot more, but e-juice is super cheap. Have to replace the coils every now and then as well unless it's a refillable pod system. You can also choose whether you get freebase vs nicotine salts and how much nicotine the juice contains.

I personally believe disposable vapes are dangerous and can get a newcomer as addicted to nicotine as a pack-a-day smoker in a matter of weeks. And for smokers, it won't give you a pathway to taper off your nicotine intake.

cess11 on 2024-05-15

"In my area it's next to impossible to find any disposables that contain less than 50mg (5%) nicotine, which is downright criminal."

What do you mean by this? Why would you buy less than 50 mg at a time?

I use snus, and I'd guess it's several mgs per pouch, and I buy something like 200-250 pouches at a time because I'm not a heavy 'snusare' so one roll at roughly 30 bucks lasts more than a month. 50 mg would be, what, like two-three packs of cigarettes?

prophesi on 2024-05-15

Even for heavy smokers, vape shops will typically recommend 20mg for making the switch. Nobody needs 50mg+ at that level of concentration. With snus, as you've said, each individual pouch is like 1 - 6mg. I would get a massive head high from hitting a 50mg vape for the first time, and barely feel much from a 6mg Zyn pouch.

edit: Basically, no clue how much nicotine you'd technically intake with a puff but it seems absurdly stronger than the slow intake of 6mg in your gums.

t-3 on 2024-05-15

They can spend orders of magnitude less, or about the same depending on how they do it. Mixing your own fluid is stupidly cheap - a weeks spending for a pack-a-day smoker will cover at least a year of vaping like that. If they build their own coils, it's also very cheap - nearly a life's supply of wire can be had for one or two packs. On the other hand, if you buy disposable vapes or cartridges, you can easily spend more than a smoker, if you buy disposable coils and premixed fluid it probably comes about the same or slightly cheaper. If you have a huge collection of vapes and buy all kinds of different attachments and coil heads you are going to be spending a lot of money.

sandworm101 on 2024-05-15

So it sounds like the real money is in the hardware rather than the consumable juice?

t-3 on 2024-05-15

The juice is heavily price-gouged and not exactly cheap if you buy it pre-mixed, but yes, hardware is expensive and the replacement coils for refillable-but-not-rebuildable systems aren't cheap either. It can be cheaper than cigarettes, but there's a good chance it won't be significantly so if you aren't buying in bulk and are replacing your coils often. Disposables vapes and cartridge systems are so addictive and easy to use anywhere that they are more expensive than cigarettes in my experience.

Workaccount2 on 2024-05-15

Cigarettes are very expensive and there is no way to really get around it, except esoteric approaches like rolling your own cigs, which doesn't even save that much anyway (especially factoring in time).

Vapes on the other hand can range from expensive to cheap as dirt. When I vaped I was spending probably $10/mo to replace a pack a day habit. I made my own flavorless juice and used a $50 tank/mod system.

flobosg on 2024-05-15

Another example of interventions with reversed outcomes: “baby simulator” programs increase the rate of teen pregnancy –

washadjeffmad on 2024-05-15

In high school, I had to "raise" a bag of flour for a week with a girl that I was dating as part of an assignment. One night on the phone, I asked if she had any fantasies, and she immediately told me about how often she thought about being pregnant and doing everyday things- going to school, cleaning, going shopping, going to the doctor, etc.

It wasn't the type of fantasy I was expecting at the time, but I did eventually figure out the message a year or two after we broke up.

actionfromafar on 2024-05-15

Us guys can be a bit slow, can't we. :-/

1992spacemovie on 2024-05-15

> One night on the phone, I asked if she had any fantasies, and she immediately told me about how often she thought about being pregnant and doing everyday things- going to school, cleaning, going shopping, going to the doctor, etc.

Unfathomably based.

washadjeffmad on 2024-05-15

She and the other Catholic girls were raised to believe the only thing in the world worse than being an unwed mother was to be a pregnant teenager, so they grew up with some complicated fixations.

By their logic, they needed to experts in all the ways to be safe to prevent it from happening, but pre-internet, their info was a little dodgy. One summer, they had a "No boys in the hot tub, at all" rule. It took some convincing to get them to explain why, but someone had heard that sperm. could swim. in water.


And they'd just live in there, like goldfish? Did they need to be fed? Did they have maps?

That one was probably the most precious. They never really questioned how the aggressive little Olympians might end up there in the first place, and these girls could all drive.

1992spacemovie on 2024-05-16

You made me chuckle at the hot tub rule - crazy what people will believe.

andy99 on 2024-05-15

I remember hearing rumors that tobacco companies funded anti-smoking campaigns because they realized it just made smoking look that much cooler. It's certainly easy to imagine a dual purpose ad that will appear positive and affirming to adults but super lame to kids and make them want to do the opposite.

piker on 2024-05-15

I believe big tobacco was required to fund those as part of a mass tort settlement.

bagels on 2024-05-15
FMecha on 2024-05-16

Given that this was required by the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement as pointed out, is it safe to say that the U.S. federal government accidentally mandated tobacco companies to make a brand-new form of youth smoking dogwhistle?

arrowsmith on 2024-05-15

As parodied by South Park:

furyofantares on 2024-05-15

Lots of great points, although a sexual harassment quiz for adults seems fairly different than a multiweek program for kids.

And the article seems to argue that interventions are unlikely to change people while also accepting that the drug study did change the kids in the wrong way. To me that doesn't indicate that it's necessarily wrong to try to intervene with short-ish programs in schools, it indicates the content of those programs might be really bad.

Maybe that program didn't actually harm kids, beyond wasting their time, and was a statistical outlier. I don't have much opinion that. But I can understand why interventions can backfire if they're inauthentic. When I figure out you've been lying to me, I want to throw everything you said out the window. If you also made me make some videotaped promise saying something YOU want me to believe then you can bet I'm gonna feel betrayed too.

kazinator on 2024-05-15

If you see footnote 1: "In a later paper where the researchers caught up with these same students again, the difference between the Social and Emotional programs had mysteriously disappeared."

It almost seems as if the researchers triggered something resembling the Streisand effect. The Social and Emotional programs were obviously intended to discourage the kids from smoking, but participation in those programs was only serving to keep the kids' attention on smoking, and making some of them curious.

The kids might also have gotten the message that trying smoking is okay, as long as it's not related to peer pressure or feelings, but one's inherent curiosity. Programs designed to produce resilience against peer pressure will not block smoking that is not caused by peer pressure.

ordu on 2024-05-15

*> Programs designed to produce resilience against peer pressure...

... also could have a unintended effect. A kid could start to notice a peer pressure and get more clear idea how to follow trends or even predict them and to run ahead of them.

Teenagers are really concerned about what their peers think about them. If you tell them all about peer pressure, they will listen attentively, and develop a strategy how to grow in the eyes of their peers. Very bright could get the idea that you can be the source of peer pressure. Lets start smoking and lets make all others to start smoking too.

I would say, that if you talk with kids about smoking, some of kids get the idea that if they were seen smoking, then they will look more knowledgeable about smoking than you. Or maybe they will see rebellious and independent from boring adults. Especially rebellious if adults talk about dangers of smoking all the time.

People's minds are difficult complex machines, they could react at your stimulus in unexpected ways, and the more ways you can predict the more mind-blowing unpredictable become.

langsoul-com on 2024-05-15

Most interesting part is how we view changing ourselves VS others so critically different.

We know how hard it is to change ourselves, yet view others as fuzzy and that it's easy, just enact a few advertisements and a program or two, done.

But at the same time, it's basically impossible to know what will work until it hits the field. Better to just throw a bunch of stuff and then adjust according to the results.

dwhitney on 2024-05-15

Contrarian view - the programs are working. Rates of smoking among teens over the past three decades:

Ever used nicotine: 70.1% in 1991 to 17.8% in 2021; Occasional use of nicotine: 27.5% in 1991 to 3.8% in 2021; Frequent use of nicotine: 12.7% to 0.7%; Daily use of nicotine: 9.8% in 1991 to 0.6% in 2021

I suspect the same can be said for workplace sexual harassment and outlooks on diversity. I agree that the programs are dumb and the trainings are dumb, but they have an effect.

foobarchu on 2024-05-15

I think that can be chalked up to other changes like the wild increases in cigarette prices, the near elimination of advertising, and cigarettes becoming culturally uncool (orthogonal to DAREs attempts). Your link shows that during the heyday of these campaigns usage rates were still rising. They didn't really drop until after the approach was dialed back, and they dropped most appreciably after DARE gave up on anti-drug messages entirely.

The message of the article wasn't that you can't discourage drug use at all, it's that the means may be counterproductive. The means used in DARE were counterproductive.

tech_ken on 2024-05-15

It seems more plausible (to me) that this is the result of the cultural 'quarantine' of smoking and not the efficacy of the "don't smoke" programs in schools per se. The entertainment industry in the US aggressively committed to not showing cigarettes in a cool or positive light, and to me this seems way more likely to have driven these reductions in youth smoking. In the 80s pretty much any person a 13 year old would call 'cool' could be seen smoking somewhere. Now media uses cigarettes to either indicate that a movie is happening in the past or that a character is self-destructive. With the cultural cachet gone, or greatly reduced, I think what you're seeing is mostly 'background' smoking rates: kids smoking specifically for the effects of nicotine, or because it's a taboo-breaking behavior. Not because their parents and every celebrity smoke. This dynamic also explains the rise of e-cigs, IMO. Kids love streamers and influencers, and streamers and influencers vape nic. Now kids vape nic.

defen on 2024-05-15

That's cigarette usage, not nicotine usage. Why would a teenager smoke when they can vape or use Zyns?

knowaveragejoe on 2024-05-15

This isn't contrarian, this is just correct and well understood. What's contrarian is the article suggesting that any attempts to change people's behavior, no matter how well intentioned thought-out, actually result in the opposite of the desired outcome.

syang737 on 2024-05-15

While the statement "kids are smoking less cigarettes" is correct, not sure if that's proof that the programs are working. Naturally, teens are filling the void of cigarettes with vapes and e-cigs, seeing as 26% of high school students ( have vaped.

Whether the programs are working or not is more of a debate, but don't want this cherry picked stat to go untouched.

iamthepieman on 2024-05-15

If you want someone to stop something you have to offer them a world of opportunities to replace it. Because you don't know exactly what will slot into that gap due to lifestyle, financial, personality and social factors.

If you want someone to DO something you just need to show that it COULD fill a gap in some other part of their life. If it's addictive as well then they don't need to experiment for long before it's a solid part of their life.

Getting someone to stop plays off loss aversion and sunk cost.

kelseyfrog on 2024-05-15

> We perceive ourselves in full 4000K HD with Dolby Atmos Surround Sound, but when we perceive each other, it’s like we’re watching a VHS tape that someone made by using a Motorola Razr phone c. 2007 to record the screen on the back of an airplane seat.

Does anyone else feel the opposite?

I can much more easily intuit how others feel and synthesize hypotheses on why they behaved the way they did than I can with myself. I have an infinite number of framings and reframings to choose from when it comes to my own behavior that it's difficult to objectively choose. I constantly ask myself how do I know that my own model isn't unconsciously avoiding negative feelings or conversely biased toward being too critical? So much so that I simply give up more than I like to admit.

ksaun on 2024-05-15

Well, I have a similar difficulty in analyzing myself. So you are not alone.

But I also struggle hypothesizing others' reasons for behavior. I can readily empathize with others, but often can't transfer from the emotional response to the underlying reasons/logic.

dctoedt on 2024-05-15

In the first day or two of Navy nuclear power school in 1974, all of us junior officers in the new class (93 of us IIRC) were assembled in an auditorium for a don't-do-drugs lecture by a chief petty officer who was a "fleet sailor" — i.e., he'd been around the block a few times, so it was thought that young sailors would pay more attention to him — and had been assigned to get trained as the drug counselor.

The speaker made one especially-memorable comment: "I'm told that shooting heroin feels like an all-over-body sexual climax. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds pretty neat."

(The rest of the lecture was standard stuff about how doing drugs would get us de-nuked and basically end our careers.)

h2odragon on 2024-05-15

"Drugs are Bad" except all the ones we advertise on TV and might require school kids to take in order to attend school.

hi-v-rocknroll on 2024-05-15

The War on Drugs was used to target Nixon's perceived opponents: hippies and black people.

Later, Reagan couldn't relate to poor or minorities, so he (and Nancy) doubled-down on "tough on crime" militarization and ineffective PSAs.

somethoughts on 2024-05-15

In all seriousness (although half joking) - these days it seems perhaps the best way to get people not to do something is to make them think that some "Big" corporate monopoly - with an army of lobbyists - want to sucker them into buying their mass produced product for huge $$$ profits.

The movie "Thank You for Smoking" has a great scene between Big Tobacco, Big Alcohol and Big Firearms lobbyist caricatures [1].

[1] Merchants Of Death Thank You For Smoking

nashashmi on 2024-05-15

Here is what prevented me: My D.A.R.E. officer said to us (honestly?) when you take drugs you feel like you are on top of the world. You take it again and you again feel like you are on top of the world. This is called a high. And after that, you feel like just a little bit of trashy feeling from how you used to be. And so you take drugs again and again to keep the trashy feeling away and each time you feel trashier and trashier after the high is gone. Until people who have been drugs for so long have a difficult time ever becoming normal again.

next what prevented me from doing this was that it is illegal. Plain and simple. I am not questioning the law. I am following it.

Lastly, what prevents me is my community faith that has labeled it to be forbidden.

OTOH, caffiene is also bad. My family told me so. And they drank it nevertheless. And I drank a few times, but very few. But I avoided it because children should not be drinking coffee/tea. Until college came. And then I had to. It was a hack. But I kept it disciplined. And then I got married to someone who always drank coffee. And now I am an addict. and my potassium is super high. And everything else in my body is in the gutters because of it. And I can't come off of it. It's a way to stave off depression. And stress. And anxiety. And keeps me in a positive state because I can drink and become a superworker and get all my work done, without addressing some of the more problematic stuff. All I have done is push the crash further down the timeline.

Caffiene should be banned too. And probably ADHD drugs while we are at it.

kayodelycaon on 2024-05-15

The vast majority of people don't have the same issues with caffeine as you do.

Also, ADHD medication is regulated. It's an effective treatment for what can be a truly debilitating disorder affecting executive function, memory and emotional control. ADHD is not something that trying harder will fix.

currency on 2024-05-15

>changing people is so surprisingly hard—no matter how much you focus on the person in front of you, you’ll never appreciate the million tiny influences that made them who they are and that keep them that way. If you really want to make someone different, you might have to change the TV they watch, the music they listen to, the things they learn in school, the friends they hang out with, the role models they look up to, etc.

I'm a white guy who grew up in rural Pennsylvania in the 60s and 70s, so you can imagine what my implicit biases are like pretty reliably. What helps me get away from that is access to social media sites like X, reddit, and tumblr, where I follow people who are as different from me as possible. I have updated my influences. I listen. I pay attention to my internal dialogue and reactions and try to challenge myself.

>and if you do all that, congratulations, you’ve started what we call a cult.

Right. It's one thing to open myself to worlds I'm not aware of. It's something completely different to try to control what someone else experiences.

Another way of saying that is—as an atheist, I don't find religions interesting or useful. But I know that I'll never be able to sell atheism to anyone if their religion is a deeply meaningful part of their worldview and identity. Any attempt to do so has to start by destroying that world and that identity, and that kind of violence is anathema to anyone with the smallest bit of empathy. We are made of our influences and this essay covers that well.

It's a great essay that covers so much more than smoking (or drugs). Thanks for the link.

t-3 on 2024-05-15

The reason "anti-drug training", "diversity training", etc., don't work is that lecturing is not conducive to learning for the vast majority of people. Most people need real life experience to internalize that people that seem very different superficially are just the same humans as they are, that addictive drugs can make you poor and sick and waste a lot of time, that getting a criminal record will fuck you over in every way possible, and so on.

Peer pressure works - if all your friends think drugs are really stupid you probably won't ever try them, but you probably will if they all do them. Indoctrination in this fashion works well in isolation but tends to fall apart as people move socially and geographically.

TOGoS on 2024-05-15

Only tangentially related to the main topic of the article, but the bit about the gym makes me want to say "that's an ADHD thing!". Which maybe the author already knows that. As if neurotypicals have an uncanny ability to simply skip over all the details of getting things done. Which explains both why they're able to get things done so quickly, and also why their constructions completely fall apart when you poke them with a stick.

Or maybe getting stuck in the fractal of details is not specifically an ADHD thing, but the ADHD meme groups I'm in sure lead me to think it is.

That said, I did manage to go to the gym regularly for a while. After a few times the routine of scoping out the equipment you want to use becomes habitual and the whole process becomes less overwhelming, though the do-it-for-the-rest-of-your-life requirement poses a challenge. For a few months, sure, but forever? I've got an infinite list of projects with infinite loose ends to attend to!

fuzzfactor on 2024-05-15

You could always have a tobacco company sponsor a prime-time animated TV program intended for the whole family to watch before it was kids' bedtime.

Where the main characters took regular breaks to smoke their Winstons, using those ancient Zippo lighters that basically rubbed two sticks together to light up.

Fred & Barney never looked so relaxed and satisfied any other time.

gumby on 2024-05-15

I remember when the cigarette companies used to hire people to stand on street corners and just give them away (little three-cigarette packs) to encourage people to start or switch brands. Teenagers never have money so this was a great way to get them.

I didn't smoke but I used to accept them and then give them to my smoker friends.

swagasaurus-rex on 2024-05-15

You’re the one the programs warned us about, giving drugs away for free.

gumby on 2024-05-15

According to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, I am merely an provider and the liability rests with the employee who "posted" the cigarettes with me.

tracker1 on 2024-05-15

I think the absolute best anti-drug program is volunteering for homeless outreach programs. You'll see the level of f'd up that a lot of people will go to and through in order to get and keep taking drugs. It also helps to humanize drug victims and homelessness.

pookha on 2024-05-15

One of the main motivations that kept me from wanting to get involved with drugs was the T.V show COPS. As a young child I got to watch REALLY high people from the bottom rungs of society (all races and all creeds) get flashlight interrogated on T.V and or chased under mobile homes and crawl spaces by Belgian Malinois dogs out for blood. later in life if I got inebriated I'd think back to those faces on COPS and I'd start to feel shame and a return to sobriety. Being exposed to hard living (in the real world and not "scared straight" via prisoners) might have an effect that this author is breezing over.

hi-v-rocknroll on 2024-05-15

While COPS might have ancillary effects on some, it was largely voyeristic, triumphal poverty porn and propaganda used to justify the repression and brutalization of poor and minorities through selective Prohibition and over-prosecution.

hi-v-rocknroll on 2024-05-15

Damn, this is something Big Tobacco could use today in the global South where they still use cartoon packaging and school donations to increase tobacco use.

porphyra on 2024-05-15

I feel like humans, especially children, are in some respects similar to LLMs or current AI models. With an LLM, if you explicitly tell it not to do something, like keeping a secret hidden, it's notoriously eager to disobey the command and do just that. Similarly, if you tell generative AI like DALL-E to not include something, it will try super hard to include it nonetheless. It's as though once the concept is shown, they can't stop thinking about it.

Maybe an "out of sight, out of mind" thing would do better than explicitly telling people not to do something?

hollywood_court on 2024-05-15

I have a love/hate relationship with smoking. I quit smoking 5+ years ago when my child was born. But I always loved a smoke with a beer. But I also quit drinking.

As a carpenter and electrician, I smoked many cigarettes during my career and they calmed me and allowed me to focus a bit better.

However, I finally realized that few things say "hey look at me I'm am absolute idiot" quite like smoking.

That's actually what I told myself over and over again to shame myself into quitting. I associated smoking with a few trashy individuals that I knew. I told myself that I didn't want to be like those people so I tricked my mind into quitting.

parpfish on 2024-05-15

people start out wanting to smoke for whatever reason, but then the addiction kicks in and you just keep smoking even after that reason has passed.

among adult smokers, i've always wondered what the breakdown was between people that actively like smoking and want it in their lives versus those that are ambivalent but quitting is too much of a hassle?

bongodongobob on 2024-05-15

I'm a smoker and everyone I know who smokes hates it but it's just so fucking hard to quit. It takes active energy for months and months not to do it.

hollywood_court on 2024-05-15

I suggest using shame to leverage yourself into quitting. It's fallen out of favor in our society, but shame really should be a powerful motivator.

I used it to quit smoking tobacco, quit drinking, and quit a 20+ habitual marijuana habit. I use shame to make myself do that extra bit of work in the evenings after my family has gone off to bed. Shame has plenty of good uses if leveraged properly.

bongodongobob on 2024-05-15

Currently hiding in my car smoking at work. I feel like a complete asshole.

hollywood_court on 2024-05-15

I knew it was working for me when I didn't want anyone to ever see me smoking. I definitely didn't want my child to see me smoking. But first it was coworkers or in-laws and such.

bongodongobob on 2024-05-16

I feel the same, I don't have any kids, but my friends do. Feels like shit. Any other advice or recommended reading? Smoker for 27 years.

hollywood_court on 2024-05-16

Associate the habit with someone you don’t like. That’s how I stopped all of my bad habits. Smoking, drinking, herb, going to the bar, eating like crap, not exercising, etc. I just associated each habit with someone I didn’t like or respect.

Then I took a long had look in the mirror and told myself that I was better than that person and that I could make better decisions.

poulpy123 on 2024-05-15

Requiem for a dream did more against drugs than any campaign

chias on 2024-05-15

"I understand these trainings exist solely for the purposes of ass-covering."

This is not really true.

They exist for shifting liability -- which is similar, but also quite different -- to where it needs to be. They exist so that you don't even have to listen to the "but that's just normal", "but we always do that", "i had no idea that wasn't allowed" excuses when a person gets in trouble. They exist because otherwise when someone does something that everybody including the perpetrator obviously knows was wrong, they can say "how was I supposed to know that was bad?" and suddenly you have to start arguing in a context where your opponent can "win" the argument by feigning being an idiot, which is a surefire way to have a shit day.

Consider this:

stackedinserter on 2024-05-15

People subconsciously reject agendas that authorities (parents, school, government, corporations) push into their throats, what a surprising discovery.

Projectiboga on 2024-05-15

I predate DARE. In 1980 we got a cool early 1970s film that was suprisingly neutral and only focused on Cannabis.

ladzoppelin on 2024-05-15

Like others have said its the lying and exaggeration on both sides that really made this a confusing topic to navigate. I wish there was a way to push a "wait until your brain is developed before anything" message without being pro drug or confusing.

nerdjon on 2024-05-15

I firmly believe that the problem in the US regarding how we handle drugs in the US is that it is so focused on Shame. Same with how we do sex ed and many other things.

We shame it so much, that when you have questions or you start thinking about it, you don't have people who you can go to and ask questions without judgement or being preached at.

And then of course once you do try something, it is criminalized so you can't go talk to someone to get help without being worried about going to Jail (depending on where you are).

It also doesn't help that so many of these systems love to talk about how Pot is just as bad as every other drug, which of course it isn't.

I feel like we need more of a focus on compassion instead of just beating us over the head with "Drugs are Bad mkay" so of course we are going to rebel against adults telling us this. Especially when we know we can't have alcohol but they can, so are they telling the truth about drugs?

Same with Smoking. The message gets mixed up when we are being told all these things that we shouldn't do but adults are able to do some of them.

ganzuul on 2024-05-15

Shaming must be one of our worst generational traumas. I don't think millennials like me can stop it, but Gen Z already has a slim chance of doing it.

makach on 2024-05-15

Put them on fire?

Joker_vD on 2024-05-15

Or run them over with a forklift!

cheschire on 2024-05-15

Staplerfahrer Klaus as an anti-smoking mascot. Never would've had that thought before today. Thanks for that.

ooterness on 2024-05-15

For those unaware, Staplerfahrer Klaus is a gory, dark-comedy PSA about the hazards of forklifts in warehouses:

Most training modules are dry and clinical. This one is the opposite. Many people are killed, dismembered, and otherwise mutilated.

I think the combination of good comedy and vividly illustrated consequences makes Klaus far more effective and memorable than the average corporate training module that OP is discussing.

nkrisc on 2024-05-15

> You know those signs on the highway that say things like, “Drive safely! Over 20 people have died on this highway so far this year!”? They maybe cause more people to crash and die.

Ah yeah, those signs that completely remove the human tragedy of those who lost their lives driving. Instead you see something like "99 people died on this highway" and for a moment I can't always help but think, "so close to 100!" before remembering these are dead people, not just a number.

What always reminds me to drive more carefully and not be so complacent is reading about some family has been torn apart by some little driving mistake that I could have easily made as well. It's tragic and depressing, but that's what reminds me to think about my own family when I'm driving.

With regards to smoking, what convinced me to never take up smoking was seeing what 50 year old smokers looked like. Yikes. Should some lifelong smokers be fortunate enough to live to 80, taking a look at them will typically put to rest any remaining desire to smoke.

ta_9390 on 2024-05-16

> A big trial of mindfulness training in UK schools maybe made kids a bit more depressed, and two attempts to teach psychotherapy principles to students in Australia both failed.

I have always belived that the widespread of cheap psychological content aimed for average people is a mental-unhealthy plague and would only make them overconfident in judging their own and others mental health, this is why we see overuse of terms like bi-polar, trauma, narcissist etc.. in social media where teenagers are active.

iamleppert on 2024-05-15

I have a simple solution to end all world hunger, forever.

Nuclear War.

tech_ken on 2024-05-15

It's definitely hard to change people, but I also think to some extent it's extremely easy if you know what you're doing and you're specific about the context. As the author notes: cults are really good at it. Another example is any entertainment performer, or even just a DJ: getting a crowd from one state ("cold") to another state ("hot") is well-understood game.

On the other hand scientists seem to be very bad at it (if the last few decades of quantitative social science research are any indicator). My pet hypothesis is that this is because an experimental environment is actually a very bad way to reason about human behavior. When you're dealing with basic material phenomena (particles, energy, chemical reactions, even biological reactions to a certain extent) the behavior is 'isolatable'. It will happen in a predictable way under controlled conditions, and removing outside influences makes that behavior easier to observe. Human behavior is the exact opposite of 'isolatable' though: so much of what makes us act the way we do is the influence of outside factors. In a general sense I don't even think it really makes sense to imagine a 'single person' or 'isolated behavior', our mind exists in mutual definition with the social world around us. Indeed the successful examples I listed above are successful precisely because they take control of your environment: a secluded meditation area or a sweaty club are critical tools for changing the way someone is.

As a result I think scientists often have a really skewed understanding of what motivates people, because anything they do in a controlled environment basically can never generalize by definition. Want to get kids to stop smoking? Don't treat the kids, treat the media environment they live in. But this isn't something that can be replicated in a generic/engineering/scientific manner; there's no magic recipe it's just common sense and coalition building (getting buy-in from the people who make media). But because these tools don't fit cleanly into an experimental framework they kind of get sidelined. Instead we get endless variations on nudge theory and little cognitive games to try and induce the behavior we want. Shockingly this fails time and time again. Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace simply cannot come from a PowerPoint deck or training, it will only follow from a massive overhaul in the cultural milleu. Look at any successful grassroots political movement: find people who are primed to receive your message; convince them to support you; use their support and evangelism to widen the circle to the next group of slightly less-primed people; repeat until massive; force structural/cultural change through a crush of bodies. Simple as.

edit: hm okay I clicked one link in the OP and it seems this point is not very original

yowlingcat on 2024-05-15

I really like your illustrative example and to me it points at the fundamental core problem of the idea of "social science" to me -- it's not that the structured anthropological inquiry is a misguided ambitions, nor that scientific methods are misguided, but that the two are, to some extent, intrinsically at odds with one another because of practical limitations to isolate factors within or to create in a controlled environment a natural social setting.

To your point, the DJ (and I would say many performance artists) has a practice for how to make this occur in a repeatable manner, but the practice is an artistic practice and therein a cultural practice, not a conventional scientific practice. To me, it raises the question of whether for the goals of any kind of "social science" to come to fruition if it must become an artistic practice. I don't have a great answer to this question but you can probably tell in which direction I lean.

tech_ken on 2024-05-15

Damn you said exactly what I wanted to say but way more concisely haha.

> To me, it raises the question of whether for the goals of any kind of "social science" to come to fruition if it must become an artistic practice.

“Artistic practice” is absolutely what I think the field is missing, and which many other disciplines with similar concerns (ex. marketing) are way more enthusiastic to incorporate. And thats not just about getting social scientists to start painting or whatever, but more adopting that mindset of an artist trying to perfect their craft. The basic program for the performing artist is to bomb over and over again until you can change people’s behavior “by feel” (or maybe you never develop the knack and change careers). Politicians similarly start out by pressing the flesh and going to endless community meetings until they figure out how to move a crowd. Doing these things isn’t “hard” once you’ve figured out the trick, but it’s a skill that you acquire by extensive practice and apply by intuition/artistic judgment, rather than something that you can figure out solely through sufficiently rigorous analytics. Not to say that this isn’t experimentation, it absolutely is, but it’s not laboratory experimentation, it’s fully integrated within the real world.

kmeisthax on 2024-05-15

>What really screws us is that it’s surprisingly hard to change people. We cook up schemes that seem like they should definitely work, then they don’t work, and this doesn’t chasten us or dim our enthusiasm for future schemes.

It's easier than you think, but the techniques that actually work are all the ones in the no-no box that liberals like me know not to touch. Advertisers use them all the time: appeals to emotion, misleading and outright false comparisons, ridicule, etc. I cannot think of a single successful propaganda or advertising campaign that worked specifically because it embraced the whole "marketplace of ideas" debate club ideal.

Speaking of "how to get 7th graders to smoke", anti-smoking and anti-vaping PSAs. They're so awful as advertising that they make smoking and vaping look good, because that is what advertising is designed to do. Make you feel good about the product being talked about. The few commercials that did actually get people to stop smoking back in the day were ones that were profoundly disturbing and had no positive emotional sentiment. Like the one where someone's smoking through a hole in their trachea. If you want to get people to stop smoking, you need to make it look as profoundly unsexy as possible, and that's something advertisers aren't great at doing.

Likewise, for sexual harassment, you don't bombard people with incredibly obvious basic moral principles and legal minutiae. You make sexual harassers look like objects of ridicule. Cringe, as the kids say. My go-to example of how to do this would be Hbomberguy's early video essays[0], like the one where he systematically deconstructs all of Davis Aurini's toughboy affectations[1].

So let's break down the archetypal sex pest. They're not sexually harassing people because they need sex - in most countries you can just pay people for it now. Instead, they're doing it for the same reason my two male guinea pigs hump each other: to assert dominance. I want you to imagine the most domineering asshole you can think of, and then figure out what qualities will make them look pathetic rather than sexy. Again, if you want an example, perhaps check out this old video from The Onion about a sex pest dinosaur:

Forget the Social program, forget the Emotional program, I'm talking about the Make Smoking Cringe Again program.

[0] No shade to his later work - it's also amazing, but in a different way.

[1] People say he's still sipping that shot glass to this very day.

TheRealNGenius on 2024-05-16


quacked on 2024-05-15

At the core of the problem is that social services that address the physical consequences of smoking (mostly medical professionals and financial counselors) are run by people who believe that everyone ought to be treated similarly and have similar opportunities, regardless of behavior.

Smoking is considered "a problem" to society because intelligent, caring people that notice that smoking injuries and medical conditions cause sorrow, strife, and excess medical waste. They've run huge propaganda campaigns to get us to care about this problem: literally "other people are dying because of this habit so you need to hate this habit."

But the people who smoke usually don't care about the social sorrow & strife caused by smoking, and they don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to provide hospitals or lung cancer screenings. They just smoke because they enjoy it and don't really anticipate or care about the consequences.

So really, what's going on is that well-intentioned meddlers are trying to meddle in the lives of people who don't share the utopian, collaborative values of the meddlers.

The answers that actually solve "the problem"--ban cigarette sales outright, imprison or exile smokers, refuse medical treatment to smokers--are unthinkable to the meddlers, because they genuinely believe in their principles, especially "everyone in society should be taken care of by competent people".

(For the record: I don't smoke, and I don't think anyone should smoke.)

fossuser on 2024-05-15

> “ So really, what's going on is that well-intentioned meddlers are trying to meddle in the lives of people who don't share the utopian, collaborative values of the meddlers. Predictably, this doesn't work.”

It actually did work incredibly well (at least in the US). Smoking went from something the majority of the American population did that was present in almost all private and public spaces to something only a small minority does in a small number of places.

Whether or not you agree with the methods, I think it is necessary to recognize that the methods worked.

t-3 on 2024-05-15

There's really no saying whether it actually worked for good or not. Nicotine consumption has gone through several phases of boom and bust in the course of it's history (the book The Soverane Herbe is an interesting if very dated account of some of the history).

quacked on 2024-05-15

Yeah, that's true.

I was thinking more about the "at risk" populations that are very resilient to smoking interventions, which are what the seventh-grade propaganda campaigns that I sat through and are talked about in the article are trying to capture and influence. There are still 20-30M adult smokers in the US, and cigarette sales are pretty stable. Smoking is still considered "a problem" by smoking interventionists, but they're not doing a great job at finally stamping it out, because they need harsher methods than learning campaigns and well-intentioned propaganda.

Edit: I had removed "predictably, this doesn't work" from my original comment before you commented for the exact reason that you commented. To a degree, it does work, on people who typically follow rules, when it's combined with taxes and bans that make it a crime to smoke.

toast0 on 2024-05-15

> literally "other people are dying because of this habit so you need to hate this habit."

I didn't need a media campaign to hate this habit, although it probably helped when they made Mr. Potato Head give up his pipe, the smell and the residues everywhere were enough.

I guess it was one way to get kids to play outside; I never wanted to be in my grandparents' homes while they were smokers. Didn't matter if they were smoking at the time, it was always gross.

quacked on 2024-05-15

You're in low-risk group, then. I think 95-99% of HN commenters don't even need an emotional response to smoking trained into them; just an explanation of the risks is enough, or an appeal to their manners (some people don't like the smell of smoking.)

I personally like the smell of smoke and get a great nicotine buzz when I do smoke. If it didn't cause health issues I'd smoke all day.

chucksta on 2024-05-15

Tell us how you really feel.

> They enjoy it and don't really anticipate or care about the consequences.

This is the actual core and it applies to all risky and anti-social behavior. Speeding while driving, sloth, over indulgence, smoking, addictive drugs, ..etc

What's your take on the morbidly obese? Deny food and let their diabetes take hold?

quacked on 2024-05-15

Obesity is different, because eating is a basic need, and the factors in the US behind obesity have more to do with the available food being "poisoned": corn syrup, pressed oil, dyes, and other industrial fillers are added to almost all packaged foods, and social traditions around food preparation are vanishing because they're inconvenient with the modern lifestyle.

If you don't want to be obese, you have to maintain constant self-denial, long-term planning, and a basic scientific understanding of nutrition in the face of your available food supply being hijacked by advertisers and profiteers. For millions of years, the best possible strategy for feeding was "acquire as many calories as possible and make them as tasty as possible", and only in the past 30-40 years has that strategy suddenly started yielding bad results.

I think there is a much stronger need for a huge legal and philosophical intervention into the western food supply than there is into the western nicotine supply.

pjc50 on 2024-05-15

> imprison or exile smokers, refuse medical treatment to smokers

.. doesn't work in the rest of the war on drugs. But on the other hand, if you care that little about their outcomes that you're willing to do those things, why are you doing them in the first place rather than leaving them alone?

quacked on 2024-05-15

If it doesn't work in the war on drugs, then why is the drug epidemic worse in the US than it is in Asia?

The reason the US is losing the war on drugs is not because harsh measures don't work, it's because the measures in the US are inconsistently applied by incompetent and corrupt leadership and agents.