High Society

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Unique times require unique thinking, right? We’re under the cosh here in the UK with unprecendented public cuts and austerity measures. Is there a potential revenue stream we’re missing? One right under our noses? One that could solve the university tuition fees crisis? And leave around £75M left for a very, very good party…

My latest graphic for The Guardian Datablog puts the case.

Data: http://bit.ly/drug_deal

High Society

While on the subject, I wanted to mention a great exhibition in London. It’s called High Society. Curated by writer Mike Jay and the Wellcome Trust, it’s about the influence of (illegal) drugs on society and culture. It’s free. And features a couple of commissioned wall-sized graphics from me, including Drugs World and this Billion Drug-o-Gram.

The Billion Drug O Gram - Information Is Beautiful

(If this image looks furtive, it is. You’re not allowed to take photos at the exhibit. Shortly after this was snapped, I was asked to leave the building! A real moment. For once in my life, I was able to say, with authentic indignation, “Do you know WHO I am???”)

Drug Data

In the course of preparing and researching the images, we came across a ton of interesting facts and figures about the drugs world. They’re all in this spreadsheet.

Did you know…

  • the average purity of street cocaine is now just 27% – link
  • most coke in the Western world is now cut with levamisole, a toxic de-worming agent not detected by most street tests for purity (story).
  • the US government has spent nearly $2,500 billion dollars on the War On Drugs over the last 40 years (story)

More here: http://bit.ly/drug_deal

Consumer Index

Particularly liked the data on which countries like which drugs.

8-Ball - Information Is Beautiful


Books and Store

Our Beautiful Books - Information is Beautiful Information is Beautiful Store

Show Comments ( )

  • Henk Poley

    Are you sure there are no Eastern European countries on the ‘drunks’ map?

  • http://fishbowl.pastiche.org/ Charles Miller

    Aussie Aussie Aussie! It’s great to see our little country punching above its weight. Although we should probably do something about those damn Europeans out-drinking us.

  • Rob

    The bullet points to the right of the expected income seem a bit unexplained, are those supposed to be linked to some of the supplementary incomes? Also it’d be nice if you summed those for people too lazy to do the math.

  • Francisco Romero

    Wow, I’m from Spain and it seems that my country has a great representation on all this…

  • http://twitter.com/jdduarte João

    Great drug maps. Just a quick correction: In the speed freaks image, Portugal is not painted.

  • Robin

    The idea of the maps is interesting, but there’s nothing that says where that’s gross numbers or per capita. Also, there’s no indication as to the level of drug use (whether those are people addicted to those drugs, use them regularly, sparingly, or tried them once).

  • Thomas van Amerongen

    Nice to see that the Netherlands is not on the top 8 lists, while we are known for drugs all over the world.

  • imajoebob

    If the UK is making more revenue from tobacco than alcohol they’re leaving a big chunk on the table. A very small bump in beer and a reasonable one in spirits could raise another billion without much pain.

  • Nathan

    Oh gosh I feel better that as a Canadian, I can travel to Spain and Australia and feel right at home.

  • Paul

    Should the portugal be green highlighted on the the “speed freaks” map ?

  • http://www.aceitedelasvaldesas.com Aceite de oliva

    i am from Spain. It is awful. Spain is coloured in all of them, except “smack heads”.

  • http://www.tonydurke.com tony durke

    What an interesting world map. I am from Vancouver, Canada and I now live in Melbourne, Australia and I never see, smell or come across marijuana here. But back in Vancouver, it is EVERYWHERE. I know one city is not representative of an entire country but Alcohol really seems to be the drug of choice here in Australia. Um, where’s all the weed, mate?

  • http://anglia.tumblr.com anglia

    AHEM! You forgot to fill in Finland for drunks! I thought we we’re very well known everywhere in the world for our KOSSU.

  • oak

    as paul said, you forgot to color Portugal in the speed freaks map.

  • simon klamborn

    Ha! Interesting Sweden is not even on the charts!
    /nonitoxicated swede ;)

  • Natasha

    As usual, the Wellcome Collection presents another excellent exhibition. Was really pleased to see your work there. Did you also produce the infographic on coke from source to street? If so, have you put it online? If not, do you know who did? It’s done a brilliant job highlighting some really grim truths and I’ve got some friends I’d like to show it to. Thanks.

  • Geenee

    oh and i like that japan is a part of russia in the smokers map. ;)

    but after all very nice graphics!

  • Emily

    I went to see the exhibit, and loved it. You should post the Billion Dollar Drug-o-gram so I can show everyone I know! I found your blog when I was searching for it online.

  • http://sceptiques.qc.ca/forum Francis

    Very nice job with the maps.

    By the way, In “smokers”, there’s only 7 countries instead of 8. >=D

  • Helen

    Billion Drug-o-Gram

    Would it be possible to post the Billion Drug-o-Gram graphic? There are no postcards in museum and they wouldn’t let me take a photo either :(

  • http://www.whatsthesequency.com Jack

    These maps are pure bunk.
    1. “Like” as in “which countries like which drugs” is vague. Does it mean one time use, constant use – what is the frequency, etc.
    2. The standard of error is not given or is hidden. Since the rates of use are so close, the data may actually be worthless for ranking use.
    3. The researchers use wikipedia, which in turn uses cannibis country data from different years, for example Ghana (1998), Zambia(2003)
    4. The researchers falsely consider Scotland, Wales, and England one country. They also use data that arbitrarily averages the cocaine use for England and Wales. The result of erroroneously considering “UK” a country makes Panama the 9th highest coke user, when in actuality it is 11th and therefore shouldn’t be on the map.

  • R

    ravers = ecstasy?

  • http://danielwhiteblogs.blogspot.com Daniel White

    Would have been nice to see humans on the “how long do animals live”, since we are technically animals ourselves.

  • Whatashame

    Spain appears 5 times in the 7 maps. Clearly we deserve all the problems we have.

  • sergio

    Spain…living in an endless social sickness

  • David R. (Canada)

    This all very interesting as long as you know what a “stoner” or a “smack head” is. I have no idea what they are or what a “raver” is either.
    If you’re going to give us statistics to inform; then inform us. Stop using useless, meaningless expressions.

    • http://www.inkfarm.com Inkfarmer

      “stoner”(s) use marijuana, “smack head”(s) use heroin, “raver” is definitely more vague, but ecstasy is the drug of choice for them.

  • http://www.inkfarm.com Inkfarmer

    Very cool! As an American, I was really surprised to see that we aren’t on top of the “speed freaks” pile. Goes to show how media sensationalism can really distort things. And, go Europe with your boozing!!

  • Rocío

    Lord! I am soo glad I´m a Spaniard!

  • Treskov

    Seriously! No Ukraine, No Russia among the drunks? There IS some huge mistake.

  • michael jordan is

    yeah, i’m czech and we’re drunks and speedfreaks!

  • http://- gibro

    Well, mmmh that doesn’t look very correct to me :-) Spain = True but for weed and coke, switzerland is top 3 normally…

    • Dan, Editor

      Hey, don’t forget this viz is from 2010, so some numbers may be slightly outdated. You can check our sources and workings here though – http://bit.ly/drug_deal