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by Paul

Pot Makes You Stupid? Apparently only if you’re a researcher.

August 29, 2012 in Opinion

This week AP felt the need to write an article about a research project done in Australia and suggest that somehow the research suggested that use of marijuana during teen years resulted in lower IQ later in life than if you started using pot after 18.

While I can’t say that this is incorrect I am stuck on what they qualify as research. According to the article they IQ tested 13 year olds and then IQ tested them again at age 38. The ones who used marijuana during their years 13-18 had lower scores at age 38 than those who started at age 18.

While this is an interesting correlation this is a super example of stretching information to make your point. A lot happens in 25 years and some of it might be attributed to other factors. No mention was made of a control group or how they balanced out other factors such as family, economic status, other drug use, etc. There are certainly many other factors which could affect an IQ test during a 25 year period than just the age at which you started using marijuana.

While the idea that pot use and loss of intelligence have been anecdotally suggested for decades, trying to disguise sloppy research as proof is quite disappointing on AP’s part.

Should their characterization of the research be accurate this also says a lot about what we accept as proof and scientific method. To test a theory properly there needs to be ways to account for and eliminate external factors which could affect the outcome. These factors can lead to feeling that your point is proven by methods other than what is tested for.

Unfortunately one of the hardest things to accept is that sometimes the proof you are looking for proves your theory incorrect. While difficult to accept a researcher with integrity will go back to their theory and adjust it and test again. While we can’t stop sloppy research we can be vigilant for such weak ideas and unjustified propositions so that we aren’t swayed by unproven arguments.