Failure to Launch

I don’t want to sound anti-intellectual here. Misinformation, unintended consequences, hidden motives, and policy failures plague the healthcare space. The same ideations which inform the dialogue on social stagnation are presented as inspiring and impassioned pleas for progress and action.

If we imagine the healthcare-policy space as a food chain, then a part-time blogger/full-time intern would presumably be the least threatening species to encounter. As a result, the following is less a critique of healthcare as a broad and overarching system… and more a dive into my experience with the minutiae of policy debates.

In my previous blog, I discussed the unintended consequences of regulating opioid access.

Today, I would like to continue the discussion on another solution being packaged as the best alternative for chronic pain management. An Economist article recently stated that:

“If people were to errantly substitute cannabis for one of the proven treatments, it could cause greater rates of relapse and more overdose deaths.”

The above quote was paired with a series of other clarifications about the misinterpretation of correlative data on marijuana use. It explained the fallacy of conflating correlation with a speculative, causal, link… but it did so in the worst way possible. I agree that advocates for marijuana as a replacement for opiates frequently misinterpret and therefore misrepresent data. But the following sentence is a perfect example of the reason why this continues to be a common problem:

“Rather than the 25 percentage-point reduction in the opioid overdose mortality rate cited by cannabis promoters, the study shows a 23 percentage-point increase between 1999 and 2017. One way to interpret that would be causally: To say that cannabis was saving people then, and is killing people now. But we don’t believe that,” says Ms Shover. “That’s one reason why it’s fraught to make policy decisions based on this data.”

The above sentence assumes the same fallacy that the overall article works to apprehend. In the same way that the original study is described as ripe for misrepresentation, this article too echoes its shortcomings.

Varad Dabke is a recent graduate from the University of Georgia, with a background in English & international affairs. He enjoys being concurrently exposed to a diverse array of style, content, form and pedagogy employed by both of his majors. Varad likes to consider multidisciplinary approaches to new challenges. His research interests include education policy and design efficiency in community planning. Following the summer in D.C., he plans on pursuing a career in the legal field.


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