Fake News about opioids and the workforce

Powell cited research from Princeton economist Alan Krueger, who conducted a survey and found that 44 percent of men reported that they had taken some form of pain medication the previous day.

Source: Fed’s Powell: Opioids people out of the workforce

Actual study text:

Fully 44 percent of prime age men who were out of the labor force acknowledged taking pain medication on the previous day, although this encompasses a wide range of medications.

Pain medication, per the study, included either prescription or over-the-counter medication, or both

Since this is about opioids:

Nearly two-thirds of those who took pain medication indicated that they took prescription pain medication

and

Thus, on any given day, 31 percent of NLF prime age men take pain medication, most likely an opioid-based medication<

No data is given to support the “most likely an opiod-based medication” claim.

From a claim of “44% of men” down to 31% of prime age men not-in-the-labor-force – or 31% of a very small subset.

Apparently CNBC never read the underlying study, made no attempt to verify the facts or unintentionally or intentionally misconstrued the Fed Chair’s comments. What ever it is, it was terrible reporting.

This “news” works as a propaganda:

  1.  It now appears in a major media outlet which will influence others into believing pain medication is so widespread that 44% of working age men are taking prescription pain medications.
  2.  It uses an “Appeal to Authority” (Fed Chair)
  3.  It uses an “Appeal to Authority” (Princeton economist)
  4.  It uses a “Logical fallacy” (lumping prescription and non-prescription medications together in the top line number of 44%)
  5. It uses “Lies” by leaving out that this refers to men not in the labor force, rather than all men.

There is a wide spread meme sweeping the nation that opioid deaths care caused primarily by abuse of prescription opioid pain medications. Other studies indicate most deaths are due to synthetic, illegally produced and sold drugs on the street and not those prescribed by doctors.

This “news” report by CNBC feeds this propaganda meme.

Footnotes

A separate table (Table 6) presents different data values saying that 57.7% of men aged 25-54 NLF took pain medication yesterday.

According to Table 8, 76.5% of those taking prescription pain medication were part of Medicaid, Medicare or VA/Tricare. About half were on various disability programs (Workmen’s comp, Social Security, VA, Disability insurance).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.