Slut shaming is a crappy way to try to reduce alcohol abuse

I encountered this banner at a “health fair” at my employer. The banner, from Innovision, Inc (which has the ominous URL “FatalVision.com“) promoted being aware of your alcohol choices, which is something I support.

But I was equally upset by a second message that they seemed to carry.

Can you see it?

In the age of Brock Turner, (you know, that dirtbag who was convicted of sexual assault and has tried to appeal based on his swimming record) it is important to point out that consuming too much alcohol can lead to Bad Life Choices.

Yet this banner – and particularly the bottom half of the banner – seems to wield slut shaming as a weapon in the effort to reduce drinking. (Not underage drinking, pay attention to the ages listed with their stats.)

This is the curse and blessing of having actually learned (and taught, in my case) research methods.

Let’s look at this last bullet point of theirs.

Any social science researcher would tear this to shreds.

  • What confounding variables (other reasons) might be involved?
  • What age ranges does this impact?
  • What STIs are considered here?
  • Does this ratio vary depending on what STI is considered?
  • What year(s) was this data collected?
  • Even if all the above is statistically significant, was it practically significant? (That is, even if there’s a link, was it a big enough link to note in the real world?)

And that’s off the top of my head, and I’m sympathetic to the cause.

With a lack of sourcing (either on the banner or on their site), it really seems that this vendor is relying upon scare tactics to sell their banners, and little else.

Why does this matter? Because honesty matters. When you’re faced with a population that wished to engage in the behavior that you want to change, any bit of inaccuracy or exaggeration is seen as an invalidation of all information that is presented.  (See the ineffectiveness of the D.A.R.E. program for another example.) Using crappy stats as a rationale here both undermines the argument for reasonable drinking and manages to slut-shame and increase the likelihood that people will hide an STI.

I inquired of the vendor well over a year ago, and have received no reply.

But, you know, being accurate has nothing to do with sales.

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