I ran across an article in a college newspaper, I think via a Google news search for "MDMA". Cause I do that. The article is "Rocking and Rolling: An Inside Look at SoCal's Rave Culture" in the University of California, Irvine paper under the byline of one Stephanie Vatz. My original response was via a Twitt:
I then started wasting my time Twitting one-liner objections but then a comment by @dr_leigh (who you really should be following) started me thinking about the changing nature of college journalism.
In my day, it was nearly axiomatic that the college/university newspaper would have a serious oopsie at least once a year. The kind of oopsie that drew fire from professors and required intervention from the administration...and occasionally a letter to the alumni. Actually, I seem to recall receiving one of these letters to alumni a few years ago so the tradition must be alive and well.
Typically, the oopsie was some sort of highly inflammatory bit of racist or misogynistic cartooning or editorializing. It might also be under the guise of humor, frequently associated with the April Fool's edition. Of course if your campus had an edgy satirical paper (this one is infamous; likely NSFW) bets are off..but I digress.
Again, in my day the college newspaper oopsie was pretty contained. The print newspaper has a limited circulation and a rapid expiration. It served as a great training ground for people who thought they might like to be journalists because their mistakes were localized. Contained.
With the modern age, these poor kids have their stuff up on the Intertoobs for anyone to see. To find by common search terms. For people to criticize.
I stopped at the first Twitt originally because I figured this bit was so spectacularly uninformed that the author was probably just starting out. Why get up in the face of (yet another) crappy bit of college journalism?
The problem, of course, is that even the really bad college journalism forms the background noise of the "Google U" made famous by Jenny McCarthy. People interested in the effects of MDMA and/or Ecstasy will find this article- I noticed it because it was coming up pretty high on a Google News search.
There is also the consideration that there is really no excuse here. Zero. The internet is littered with sites which will serve up summaries of the related literature. I am certain that UCI has decent electronic journal access, an actual library and very likely a professor or two that could inform this journalist. From my view of the article, she didn't seem to have done much background reading even on the Internet. Nevermind actually looking at a paper or six..or even a decent review article. The stuff she wrote is mostly wrong or seriously misleading...and of course there are no citations to the academic literature. Really, how hard is it so simply say "Hatzidimitriou et al, 1999" instead of "An experiment performed in 1999.."?
What do you think DearReader? Is it gauche to beat up on some poor kid who couldn't be bothered to research an article for some crappy college newspaper?