Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Harvard Drinking Statistics

Some sort of undeniably evil anti-alcohol propaganda group has begun advertising heavily on the facebook citing statistics like
1 in 2 Harvard student that drinks doesn't play drinking games

62% of Harvard students that drink alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic bevarages
(they cite the "National College Health Assesment"). I clicked on one of the ads, even though I know it will make them want to advertise even more in the future. They describe their methodology:
Campus media campaigns which use products such as pens, posters, highlighters, postcards, lip balms, Nalgene bottles, tray liners, and newspaper ads feature positive statistics about Harvard students which illustrate that most students make low-risk choices with respect to alcohol consumption. A typical social norms message would be, “78% of Harvard students had 0-5 drinks the last time they ‘partied’.”
I would be absolutely fascinated if this preposterous scheme works. Something tells me that the fact that "most [Harvard] students make low-risk choices" will not sway those in the silent but cool majority who actually like to enjoy themselves when it's possible.
Students are then invited to review the data and assist in creating new messages. Those messages, in turn, are tested by Harvard students for believability and interpretation.
I've got to wonder which students these are, and whether or not they've ever spoken to anyone who drinks heavily (or if, like they think of people in Africa, they just think of drinkers as sub-omegaloids who could use their generously donated indirect assistance).

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