I recently added a new phrase to my vocabulary - pluralistic ignorance. Pluralistic ignorance refers to a situation in which the majority of a population misunderstands reality. This majority may all be in agreement, but they are mistaken. The best way I understand it is in relation to drugs and alcohol, thanks to one study done at the University of California - Santa Barbara.
Think about Luther and your peers - how many of those peers do you think consume alcohol one to nine times a month? How about 10 to 29 times a month? Odds are you are overestimating; this is due to pluralistic ignorance. In reality, the number of people that report such alcohol consumption is far lower than what we, as a majority, believe. Even when students know they personally fall in the one to nine range, they believe that everyone else is drinking much more. Assuming that the students of UCSB (and other schools-Luther has researched this too!) accurately self-reported their own alcohol and drug consumption, this is a prime example of pluralistic ignorance. These students all share the common believe that drug and alcohol consumption is higher than it truly is.
While pluralistic ignorance can be shown in many other examples, I wanted to focus on this one for a reason. This shared belief in higher consumption rates can make students feel pressured to consume more drugs or alcohol to be seen as "normal." Keep this new information in the back of your mind, and think about it if you ever feel this sort of pressure. The people telling you that higher consumption rates are normal are really just ignorant to the ignorance.