Drug Policy

Nada on NIDA


The National Institute on Drug Abuse did not like the way it looked in its Wikipedia entry, so last August it began excising the naughty bits, including a section on "controversial research," a description of the government's marijuana cultivation, and references to nongovernmental sources. NIDA critics restored the expurgated material, NIDA cut it out again, and so on. After months of this, The Politico reports, the entry has been reduced to "four basic, non-controversial sentences followed by 10 links to federal Web sites."

[Thanks to Tom Angell at Students for Sensible Drug Policy for the tip.]

NEXT: American Cancer Society Says 2 = 12 and 5 = 23

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. He who controls the past controls the future.
    He who controls the present controls the past.

  2. He who controls the spice, controls the universe.

  3. So in that case, does NORML need to learn how to ride sandworms?

  4. I’d like to think Nora Volkow was above this kind of crap, she is a great scientist and this sort of thing just seems to go against the whole free exchange of ideas that science is founded upon. On the other hand she is Trotsky’s granddaughter.

  5. On a serious note, however, is Wikipedia doing anything to combat this injustice? I ask because I am not as familliar with the site’s Admin system as someone else might be.

    Also, can we call the ACLU and get some sort of censorship case going on this? We still have the lifeless corpse of the 1st Amendment lying around, right?

  6. NIDA has always been at war with Wikipedia.

  7. our government has been so inept at achieving its announced/desired goals

    that the emphasis of action is being transferred from making shit work to concealing the evidence of ineptitude

    fear not, all we have to do is cede more money/power and our men of best quality’ll fix everything that ails everyone


    stay the course!

    “We are here to help the [dopers], because inside every [doper] there is an American trying to get out. It’s a hardball world, son. We’ve gotta keep our heads until this [Reason] craze blows over.”

  8. It’s already been edited, and there’s a mention of this post in the discussion section…

  9. Gotta love these wiki wars! I haven’t visited the entry, but presumably all the content is still available, along with the history of all the edits.

    This is one of many cases in which a certain party is interested in the entry about itself. The dilemma is that the person in position to be most knowledgeable about you is yourself, but you are not objective about yourself.

    Has NIDA explained its edits in “talk” entries?

  10. Why I never use Wikipedia except to look up birthdates or state flowers or such.

  11. How again does anarchy benefit us?

  12. Bee – On the whole, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource to humanity – I work for a dot com and think Wikipedia is the greatest “group” effort in the history of the world – There are petty editing wars for controversial issues, but more often than not, the articles are fairly objective and facts prevail. I would not be dismissive of Wikipedia; it’s an amazing resource.

  13. is anarchy better than no government at all?

  14. This is utterly hilarious. The thought of some petty bureaucrat sitting in an office, furiously hammering away at a keyboard in a vain attempt to stick his finger in an ever-leakier dike makes me grin.

  15. One of the nice things about Wikipedia is that edits are tracked by IP and a user page is automatically generated. If an institution (like the NIH) has a shared IP you get a collection of edits by all the folks that work there. Check out the user page for the folks changing the NIDA article. They have contributed to the entry “Cluster fuck” as well as vandalized other articles with MC Hammer lyrics. Fun stuff.

  16. Why I never use Wikipedia except to look up birthdates or state flowers or such.

    I doubt I’d cite is an authority if I were writing a term paper or something, but I never come away from Wikipedia without having learned something. It’s a terrific reference for educating yourself on things or concepts that are unfamiliar.

    And I’d imagine that most articles have links that could be of great assistance to a student writing a term paper. It’s also probably a convenient place for teachers when checking if one of their less resourceful students is plagiarizing.

  17. Kinda like 1984 where the entire Declaration Of Independence is reduced to the single word thoughtcrime

  18. The wikipedia article is already restored, controversial section and all.

  19. It’s been edited 13 times so far today, restoring material deleted over the past year as well as improving the organization of the material.

    That’s the nice thing about Wikipedia, once something like this is detected, people work pretty quick to undo it.

    Now we just have to see how long it takes for NIDA to remove it again. 🙂

  20. :- | January 25, 2007, 3:46pm

    How again does anarchy benefit us?

    An agent of a “government” does not put a gun to my head and force me to choose one side over the other.

  21. It’s wiki, which means power to everyone, including the government. Get it?


    On the whole, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource to humanity – I work for a dot com and think Wikipedia is the greatest “group” effort in the history of the world – There are petty editing wars for controversial issues, but more often than not, the articles are fairly objective and facts

    I’m an old-school Wiki-hater, but on the whole you’re probably correct when it comes to relatively non-controversial subjects. But people can agree to disagree about accuracy. However, as one critic rightly pointed out, Wiki article prose reads poorly. In my opinion, the articles read as if they’ve been written by committee.

  22. “In my opinion, the articles read as if they’ve been written by committee.”

    Or Cathy Young. Ba-dum-bum.

    Thank you, I’ll be here all night.

  23. I would guess that the edits by the NIH employee(s) were due to overzealousness, not a job assignment.

  24. Sorry, I didn’t RTFM.

    NIDA spokeswoman Dorie Hightower confirmed that her agency was behind the editing. She said in an e-mail that the definition was changed “to reflect the science.”

  25. I concur with earlier Comment that it might not be the best citation source for an MBA thesie paper, but it’s otherwise pretty cool.

    I spent over an hour last week reading about CATS when all I went in for was to check feline population in the USA.

    Never found that number, funny enough, but now I know more about why my two cats are frisky in the morning and evening hours.

    They are “crespucular”, as opposed to being “nocturnal” or “diurnal”.

    Three cents to your nearest drug policy reform org, please.


  26. Very well trafficked controversial topics are usually quite accurate due to the attention. You just have to watch out for those entries written by one or two people who may pushing something (the NIDA entry is a perfect example). Otherwise, Wikipedia is incredible. I go there for everything math and science. I write entries also. I spent five years working to learn a lot about something very specific. Where else are you going to get a free write-up by a PhD chemist, or physicist, or mathematician, just about that one thing on which they are the sole authority?

  27. Wikipedia has incorrect information in the Cockfighting page-as it does in many other entrys on subjects I am familiar with.

  28. so, fix it.

  29. Well I can’t fix the incorrect entries about things I don’t know.I don’t need to fix entries about things I do know.
    The mistakes, errors,distortions, incorrect facts etc serve a useful purpose as well.They show people not to rely on wikipedia as an accurate source and encourage them to do better research elsewhere.
    I use the thing but would never cite anything from it for anything more than a casual discussion without confirming it from a more reliable source.

  30. Douglas Adams would be proud. Society has evolved to the point that we have created the Hitchhiker’s Guide – yet we still think digital wristwatches are pretty nifty.

    I think you really have to treat Wikipedia as a meta-commentary on knowledge… it’s what people believe they know.

  31. I will certainly agree w/ the aforementioned criticism of wikipedia:

    1) Sometimes the prose reads poorly (as if it were written by committee)

    2) It’s not an acceptable source to directly use for serious research, (you never truly know who provided the content)

    I’ll also note that the category tagging at the bottom of entries is not always consistent. These problems will never really go away although all should gradually improve over time…The scary thing is that Wikipedia still has unlimited potential for expansion in different areas, languages, etc…
    Wikiversity, wikisource, wikispecies, wikibooks, and wiktionary are already impressive and still have enormous upside…

  32. She said in an e-mail that the definition was changed “to reflect the science.”

    I suspect that if everyone was exposed to the “science”, it would be more obvious what a sham the WoD is all about. A government monopoly on the research only contributes to the bad science, myths, and resulting public controversy.

    We are all guaranteed freedom of speech but that doesn’t immunize us to what opinons others (employers, family, law enforcement) will form about us or what actions they will take against us if we exercise that right. As a result, it’s become almost impossible to mount the full force of those opposed to these policies to do anything to address them.

    If it’s actually less risky to lie and hide it than it would be to take a chance on speaking out and losing your job or ruining your marriage then I’d say that it’s High Time(s) that we recognize that the problem isn’t the pot but, rather, the conservative, government-imposed, silence-fueled misperception associated with it.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.