Demonization is a time-honored technique we use to band together and fight off a danger that threatens us all. Whoever our enemies may be — spiders, illicit drugs, or nations with whom we're at war — we create tales that show them to be evil incarnate. There must be no room left for doubt in public sentiment; no amount of embellishment or outright lying is considered excessive in service of the cause.
So it is with our ubiquitous tales about the horrors of illicit drug use. Dangers are exaggerated off the scale, and those who traffic in drugs are portrayed as unfeeling monsters. The message that drugs are bad is deemed far too important to be presented in anything less than stark black and white. Improbable, illogical, or downright impossible, these well-known (and apocryphal) stories are nonetheless circulated as the truth, even by those who should (and often do) know better.