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A sort of statistical sleight of hand, Outcome
Obfuscation is a misleading confusion of outcome and index
event. For example, in their 2003 press release "The Myth of the
'Chilling Effect'" the DEA (see "The Dissembling DEA") the index
event is the rate of actions against physicians, which they incorrectly
calculate. The outcome would be some measure of effect on physician
behavior resulting from the index prosecutions, which the DEA ignores.
commonly turns up in statements like the following, in which drug use is
correctly identified as an index event, but is also incorrectly
identified as the (problem) outcome.
"In 2001 it is estimated that 94
million people had used an illegal drug at some point in their lives.
Today, some 16 million people are using illicit drugs at least once a
month -- about seven percent of the population."
"The National Household Survey
on Drug Abuse reports a significant increase in "past month, non-medical
use" of pain relievers among those age 18-25 when comparing 2001 data
with that for 2000."
The misleading message is: use
= abuse =
problem = national crisis demanding federal action. More accurately and
honestly we might say, for example, that a teenage alcohol use rate of X
(index event) resulted in Y motor vehicle accidents (outcome).
I hope you found this document helpful. The "Understanding
Drug War Statistics" series
continues with Part 5: "Denominator