Fictional News about opioids and the workforce

Fictional News about opioids and the workforce

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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 the report is about opioids:

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


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 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.


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).

Thus, most of those taking pain medication were doing so because of disability, injury or disease, presumably.

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