Whatever Happened to Crack Cocaine?

That’s the headline of our newest New York Times Magazine column, to be published on Sunday, Aug. 7. Click here for a preview.


The Guardian online today (www.guardian.co.uk) has an article about what happens to cocaine in Italy:

"Tests on the River Po in Italy have proved an effective way of gauging levels of substance abuse - thanks to the presence of human byproducts from cocaine in the water.

"Researchers found the equivalent of 4kg a day of Colombia's most famous export being washed into the Adriatic, showing that Italians were consuming far more cocaine than figures had indicated."

The bottom line: "27 in 1,000 people in the region, aged 15 to 34, took the drug daily" conclude the researchers.

Is this Freako?


The chapter in the book on the economic structure of drug gangs was one of the funniest things I have read recently, in particular, the correct answers to the survey, as provided by the gang members. One statement that has gone uncommented-on is that the members of the gang consider working as a janitor at the University of Chicago an example of a good job, and that the members of the gang would gladly give up dealing drugs if they could get such a job. (I don't have the book with me to provide an exact quote.) That statement, if true (and I have no reason to doubt it) is an appalling comment on the economic divide in this country.


If I had my druthers, if the New York Times Magazine were going to have a piece on "drugs," it would focus on something relevant to the "war on drugs" in 2005 such as:

a. the growing tension between states that legalize medical marijuana and the Federal government that says this is not kosher

b. the growing problem of addiction to unprescribed prescription drugs like Oxycontin

or maybe even

c. a comprehensive look at all of the perverse incentives and incoherent assumptions in Uncle Sam's portfolio of drug-related legislation.

Example: Cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA. The nicotine patch is available by prescription only. Uncle Sam acts as if the answer to the question "Is nicotine a drug?" depends on the delivery system. The guy is BONKERS.

Does it surprise me that the stevies choose to focus on a non-issue like crack cocaine?


Does it surprise me that The New York Times, especially the Sunday Times would publish pointless drivel?

No. The Sunday New York Times is 37.5% corporogovernmental propaganda (Front section, Week in Review, Business) and 62.5% highbrow entertainment (Styles, Magazine, Book Review, Arts, Travel).

Goddess forbid the Sunday Magazine published a story about something controversial or relevant about drugs (legalization of marijuana, horrendous externalities associated with methamphetamine use, escalating health care costs due to overprescription of expensive pharmaceuticals, etc).

The stevies are a perfect fit for the weapon of mass distraction (as syndicated columnist Norman Solomon puts it) formerly known as the New York Times.



Anon. 4:22 p.m. said [blah blah blah]. The great thing about having someone as idiotic as Deb Frisch (a.k.a. Anon. 4:22) on your website is that the minute you read a piece of anon. drivel full of illogic and contradiction and whining, you know right away who wrote it. Thanks!


... but if you're dying to tell me what a big LOSER i really am (and don't think for a minute i'm not), come stalk me on my own blog.

don't forget to be anonymous. use a generic browser and a phony email to creep me out!

the more trolls the merrier at my site.



Peggy Archer

"Human Byproducts"? Does that mean organic waste (as in untreated sewage) or cocaine paraphinalia?



Is it really so hard to get anyone to care about your blog that you need to beg for readers amongst a community you antagonize? Say what you will about the Steves (and we know you will...) at least they have readers who enjoy and respect them...


Here's a question for your next book- Why do fat women invest so much money in getting their nails done rather than investing in diet foods or a gym membership? Look closely next time you see an overweight woman and it almost a certainty that she will have very nice, professionally manicured nails. Very confusing to me.


Why would that confuse you? It's very easy to walk into a salon and get a manicure or your hair done? If it turns out badly you can blame someone else. Diet and gyms actually require self determination and self control?
I always thought that was obvious.


As I work in downtown LA, I just realized that I have probably been a very amusing conversationalist for most drug users. I had no idea half those words meant cocaine in any of it forms.

Yeah, I'm naive. Can't say I'm sorry about it.


Rats. It looks like all the messages are from one person - my own private troll. Timmy - I can recognize your writing just as well as you can recognize me.

Dear Dr. Levitt and Mr. Dubner,

I would like to request that you reprimand people on your blog who write anonymous snippy, stalky things about me.

As you know, I am not closeted about being your troll. I request that you request that the commenters on your blog identify themselves if they choose to attack another commenter.

I look forward to your reply on this matter.




just shutup, you're not funny.


Who cares? Is your main gripe with the article that you didn't find it interesting? So go read something you do find intersting.


the thing is anonymous12:55, i think the steves should have standards in the comments section of their blog.

i have identified myself as a professional social scientist, just like dr. levitt. by allowing the anonymous boyz on his blog to attack me, he is "acting as if" he thinks that is acceptable.

would he allow this in a class - if a bunch of men played practical jokes on a woman who challenged the professor's claims?

i think "acting as if" it is okay to stalk me anonymously on this blog is unprofessional for a professor of economics at the university of chicago.

dr. levitt is the only professor of whom I am aware in the blogosphere who devotes his blog to chitchat and not to substantive social or intellectual issues. The ONLY one out of what must be close to a hundred blogs by academics.

I think levitt should discuss substantive issues on this blog, not chitchat. The University of Chicago is paying him 250K(?) a year to teach and do research. I sincerely doubt Levitt would have had a blog like this prior to being granted tenure. I sincerely doubt that his colleagues anticipated his devoting his research time to homoerotic banter about adolescent topics.



Princess Leia

Without scrutinizing the data for myself (believe me, I'll trust you on that one), I just wanted to say that I did find your article to be well-written and completely relevant to the continuing debate over the criminal sentencing guidelines (mandatory v. advisory, racist or not?). Thanks for a great piece.

P.S. I never got my t-shirt from the first round. Could you possibly check into this for me -- I know you're busy so I haven't asked until now.

P.P.S. In case anyone here is interested, you can go to http://www.uscourts.gov/ttb/may05ttb/drugbill/ for some background on what's up with the guidelines.


"The University of Chicago is paying him 250K(?) a year to teach and do research."

Correct. That's to do research not to post an academic blog that is up to your standards. They can post "chit-chat" all they want; this is America, dumbass.

Saying that a social scientist can't create a "chit-chat" blog maes about as much sense as saying one can't ride a bicycle.


Why would a person keep writing about how crappy this blog is; just move on with your life, why are you even here.


anonymous: That's to do research not to post an academic blog that is up to your standards. They can post "chit-chat" all they want; this is America, dumbass. Saying that a social scientist can't create a "chit-chat" blog makes about as much sense as saying one can't ride a bicycle.

The point is that when the administration of the University of Chicago chose to commit resources to Dr. Levitt for the next forty or fifty years, it assumed he would continue to produce research. Freakonomics might be considered research but this blog, the t-shirt shtick is not. Tenured professors are supposed to spend a lot of time doing research. Most do and the ones that don't, pretend that they do. Levitt is proud to devote a great deal of time to trivial pursuits (this blog, the talk show circuit, selling t-shirts, etc.)

The point is that Levitt is the ONLY economist in the blogosphere who chitchats on his blog instead of discussing economic and social issues. He's probably got the lowest percentage of commenters who are peers (ph.d. social scientists) of every academic blog.

These are not statistics to be proud of. That's my point.



How do you know Levitt doesn't spend time doing research just because he happens to post a paragraph every other day on this blog? Are you even remotely aware of how many projects he has going?
If you do happen to have proof that his academic productivity is affected by posting on this blog, then prove it.

And like everybody said, this is his blog, he can choose to be trivial or serious. If you don't like it, you can leave.


Your point is stupid. Some lawyers have blogs that discuss stamp collecting. Who cares? Most professors don't even have blogs, yet having one that discusses trivial matters is somehow worse than that? Dr. Levitt can do whatever he wants with his free time. It's completely irrelevant to his employment by the University of Chicago.