Media coverage of drug abuse popularizes such abuse.

Stimulants help people be more alert and focused, which often helps with studying for school. High school students share their Ritalin and Adderall,, as the NY Times reports, but even more problematic is how illicit stimulant use tends to rise after such articles are published. Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks notices how a similar situation in the 1930s led to the popularization of speed (benzedrine). 

In 1937, none other than the The New York Times ran a story about benzedrine calling it a ‘high octane brain fuel’ and noting that without it the brain ‘does not run on all cylinders’. It was clearly pitched as a cognitive enhancer.

Shortly after Time magazine ran a story specifically on how it was being used by college students to cram for final exams.

Suddenly, there was a boom in students using benzedrine, leading the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Asociation to condemn the press coverage for promoting the widespread use of drug, as previously its use was a niche activity.

A similar problem might follow when game companies acknowledge cheating; perhaps that’s why all news coverage of the Diablo 3 auction house delay haven’t mentioned that vulnerabilities could result in real-money scams. 

[via Mind Hacks]