BBC Scotland News misuses research findings to lie and scare about drug use in Scotland


As crime plummets in Scotland, BBC Scotland News resorts to misrepresentations of research findings in the 2018 Global Drug Survey to suggest another ‘crisis’ in Scotland. Headlined in TV broadcasts throughout the morning and online, as:

Drug users in Scotland ‘consume most cocaine’ in one session’

and leading with:

‘Drug users in Scotland consume the most cocaine in a single session, according to a worldwide survey of drug-taking habits. The 2018 Global Drug Survey looked at the recreational drug use of 130,000 people across 44 countries. In Scotland the amount of the drug consumed per session was more than double the global average. Researchers, who quizzed 15,000 cocaine users, said the drug can be delivered “more quickly than a pizza” in Glasgow.’

BBC Scotland have either misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented the findings.

First, on the third page of the report, we find this careful disclaimer by the authors:

‘Participation is voluntary. Our survey is not a general population survey and should not be used to determine the prevalence of drug use within a population.’

With regard to the BBC’s claim that ‘the amount of the drug consumed per session was more than double the global average’, this is not reliable because we don’t know how many Scots responded as a percentage of the overall population, we do not know how representative they are of the overall drug-taking population, we do not know if they had a tendency to ‘brag’ about doses or whether they were telling the truth and we don’t know how pure the doses are in different countries. Could the Scots cocaine-users who did respond be a bit more gallus and prone to exaggerate their consumption? Could the typical dose in Scotland be known to be weaker than elsewhere?

By ignoring the reservations declared by GDS on page three and then using certain language such as Drug users in Scotland consume the most cocaine and In Scotland the amount of the drug consumed per session was more than double the global average, BBC Scotland are effectively using lies to deceive and to panic their audience.

Also, in saying Researchers, who quizzed 15,000 cocaine users, when in fact the users merely completed an online form in an ‘encrypted anonymous web survey’, the reporter has misled the reader into thinking the research was more valid than it could be – quiz 15 000 users? How many researchers did they hire?

Footnote: Is this the real news story in the research findings?

UK among world’s biggest buyers of drugs on dark web as illicit trade grows, survey finds



19 thoughts on “BBC Scotland News misuses research findings to lie and scare about drug use in Scotland

  1. Charles Maitland May 9, 2018 / 10:00 am

    John, you keep me sane. How much more of this BBC crap do we have to put up with?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ludo Thierry May 9, 2018 / 11:49 am

    Sally could easily be mistaken for experiencing a bit of White Line Fever in that photie! – I’m sure no cocaine was injured in the production of that particular news broadcast (or any other beeb productions). Although….. having said that…..It might help explain quite a bit of beeb Jockland’s news and current affairs output??? Mebbes?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Stewart May 9, 2018 / 3:37 pm

    In the words of the song, “Why does it always rein in truth?”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. johnrobertson834 May 9, 2018 / 6:59 pm

    Reporting Scotland better on this mentioning GDS health warning though still making comparison between Scotland and England.


  5. Alasdair Macdonald May 9, 2018 / 8:51 pm

    A nice bit of debunking.

    I notice that this no longer appears on the BBC website.

    There is a fair amount, recently, of attacking of the SG and Scotland going on by the unionist media in Scotland – mental health in Dundee and Tayside health Board, Queen St ‘worst’ station, Scotland as racist as everywhere else, Scots consume more heroin and more booze than anyone else, baby boxes catch fire if you hold a very hot naked flame against them for a couple of minutes and ensure an unobstructed flow of air, and several more.

    Are they diverting attention from the Brexit shambles and the persistent infighting in the cabinet, or from shrinking economic growth, NHS England failures, etc? Are they worried that the UK Government will fall and the SNP might make gains or that there is a real chance of Indyref2 coming soon? They are clearly in the same mode as they were in during the 2014 referendum.


    • johnrobertson834 May 10, 2018 / 7:11 am

      Yes, I detect the same mood. Thankfully my blog is less combustible than the Daily Record.


  6. Contrary May 9, 2018 / 11:05 pm

    I just lost a huge big rant there due to iPad foible, irritating. – take it as read that I’m shocked, astounded, annoyed etc at all the recent reporting codswallop as outlined by Alasdair above.

    The main thing I wanted to say that this is yet another superb article John, clearly outlining how the BBC are fully and knowingly misrepresenting news or non-news to cause harm to the people of Scotland.

    In fact, this article has even been cited already 🙂

    I was a bit miffed that they described you initially as ‘former academic’ – I would have expected a ‘leading expert’ at least! Seriously though, being retired from a profession does not suddenly make you any less of an expert, and this indeed is your area of expertise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 May 10, 2018 / 7:12 am

      Thanks Contrary, I value your opinion.

      And thanks for the indyref2 link. I’ll sort them out

      THE Prof!


      • Contrary May 10, 2018 / 9:00 am

        Yeah! Exactly!!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Runnerman6 May 10, 2018 / 12:01 pm

    Your point re the reliability of the survey was made very clear in both radio and tv coverage. Also, reasons given why Scots use more than other places, e.g. purity less because it is cut and short measures being sold to users. Sounds like thoughtcontrolscotland is the one trying to control the thoughts of Scots.


    • johnrobertson834 May 10, 2018 / 12:15 pm

      Both the broadcasts 6:26 to 9am and the website used language suggesting actual usage had been gathered. The purity comment did not occur in the aforementioned broadcasts and was only made later on in the website piece. The disclaimer was made by the researchers right at the start and should have been reported in the same prominence. The Reporting Scotland version at 6.30pm was better.


    • johnrobertson834 May 10, 2018 / 12:20 pm

      Thought control can also be exercised by the decision to report unreliable findings in the first place. Admitting the reliability problem after the event begs the question ‘Why report it at all if it is unreliable?’


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