CASA Crapola


Rebecca Goldin of the invaluable bullshit-detecting outfit STATS has a great deconstruction of the most recent crapola study emanating from the hallowed halls of CASA, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse that's housed at Columbia University (and is to solid, factual research what the Columbia's legendarily losing football teams of the '80s were to that sport). CASA recently got headlines by suggesting, in Goldin's summary, "that almost half of the industry's revenue (almost 50 million dollars per year) results from abusive and dependent drinking, and minors consuming alcohol."

Goldin downs a shot and then lays into the CASA numerology:

Here are a few numbers that don't make sense: according to their estimate, over 20 billion drinks are consumed by underage drinkers. STATS was unable to reconstruct this number. According to their own analysis, 47.1 percent of kids age 12-20 are "drinkers", that is, they consume at least one drink per month. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are 35.8 million people in the United States in this age range; of these, just under 17 million drank in the past month. The average number of drinks/month, according to the data given in this article, is 35.2 per person per month–or about 422 per year. This amounts to about 422 times 17 million, or just under 7.2 billion drinks per year, far from the 20 billion reported in their table, and used for their analysis. For these same kids to consume 20 billion drinks, each teen would have to consume over 1,000 drinks per year, or almost three drinks a day!

That's only part of the problem with CASA's work. For more Foster Brooks-inspired math, go here.

And for various Reason takedowns of previous CASA studies, go here and here and here.