Recently, a number of bloggers have been claiming that the statistics show that 20% of women are raped.
I was pretty sure that the statistics had been misreported, but nobody was willing to talk about the actual numbers.
The problem, supposedly, was “rape culture.” My attempt to get the facts was denounced as “passive-aggressive.”
Normally people call me “pretentious.” It’s been a good long time since anyone called me “passive-agressive.”
But there’s a time for everything. When I tried to argue about exactly what the rape statistics were, I got the following:
Statistics/numbers can be useful tools to understand the magnitude of degenerate male behavior in society and other topics but making them central to the discussion, even with passive-aggressive disclaimers is a diversion from examining the causes of this conditioned behavior and instead debating the results. Is 15% raped young women really ‘better’ than 20%?
The difference between 15% and 20% matters to very few people. About 95% of the people don’t care about it.
You may have heard of Jane Smith the sociologist, and Kathleen Jones the idiot savant with a genius for probability. The two of the were walking past an orphanage of 100 orphans when a fire broke out. Kathleen Jones, with a conspicuous disregard for common sense, calculated the probability of walking into the burning building and then walking out again. In a split second, she decided that the odds were good. She ran into the building and accidentally opened a door that had been trapping five orphans. She and the orphans ran out together.
After the smoke cleared, the police counted the bodies and found that fifteen orphans had burned to death, and eighty-five had survived. The police had trouble questioning Kathleen Jones, because she was an idiot at everything but math.
Jane Smith was very angry at Kathleen Jones for talking about math. Jane Smith said, “It doesn’t matter whether fifteen orphans died or twenty – the root cause is that an unjust society forces orphans to live in flammable buildings.”
One of the orphans disagreed: “Our five lives don’t matter to you, and they don’t matter to the idiot, but they matter to us. Only five people out of every hundred give a damn about whether fifteen or twenty people die.”
The underlying problem is illustrated by the “original sin” comic at the top. It doesn’t matter whether 20% or 1% of women get raped, if all you want is to establish a case of original sin and start collecting money from people who believe in the guilt trip.
However, I ended up stumbling across the origin of the “1 in 5 women get raped” claim. It’s a misrepresentation of a statistical study, and here is what the authors wrote:
Setting the Record Straight on ‘1 in 5’
There are caveats that make it inappropriate to use the number as a baseline when discussing rape and sexual assault on campus.
If you’ve followed the discussion about sexual assault on college campuses in America, it’s likely you’ve heard some variation of the claim that 1 in 5 women on college campuses in the United States has been sexually assaulted or raped. Or you may have heard the even more incorrect abbreviated version, that 1 in 5 women on campus has been raped.
As two of the researchers who conducted the Campus Sexual Assault Study from which this number was derived, we feel we need to set the record straight. Although we used the best methodology available to us at the time, there are caveats that make it inappropriate to use the 1-in-5 number in the way it’s being used today, as a baseline or the only statistic when discussing our country’s problem with rape and sexual assault on campus.
First and foremost, the 1-in-5 statistic is not a nationally representative estimate of the prevalence of sexual assault, and we have never presented it as being representative of anything other than the population of senior undergraduate women at the two universities where data were collected—two large public universities, one in the South and one in the Midwest.
Second, the 1-in-5 statistic includes victims of both rape and other forms of sexual assault, such as forced kissing or unwanted groping of sexual body parts—acts that can legally constitute sexual battery and are crimes. To limit the statistic to include rape only, meaning unwanted sexual penetration, the prevalence for senior undergraduate women drops to 14.3%, or 1 in 7 (again, limited to the two universities we studied).
Third, despite what has been said in some media reports, the 1-in-5 statistic does not include victims who experienced only sexual-assault incidents that were attempted but not completed….
Fourth, another limitation of our study—inherent to web-based surveys—is that the response rate was relatively low (42%)….
Our survey had limitations, as outlined above. However, we believe the results have value for several reasons.
First, all research of this kind faces methodological and logistical challenges, but we approached the study objectively and implemented it with as much methodological rigor as possible given the budget we were given and the state of the field at that time.
Second, our results are not inconsistent with other studies…
Third, the study results are helping fuel a conversation about sexual assault on college campuses, …
Although there will never be a definitive estimate of the prevalence of sexual assault, these new research efforts are larger in scale and are employing scientific best practices, which will result in methodological improvements that should increase the validity and utility of the findings. …
Christopher Krebs and Christine Lindquist are Senior Research Social Scientists at RTI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute. They are both in the Center for Justice, Safety, and Resilience at RTI, and they directed the Campus Sexual Assault Study, which was funded by the National Institute of Justice and completed in 2007.
So, the study produced a 42% response rate even though they “implemented it with as much methodological rigor as possible given the budget we were given and the state of the field at that time.”
It’s effectively impossible to tell whether the respondents answered honestly or not. Their “1 in 7” number matches a very rough extrapolation from USA BJS numbers.
Of course, a lot of statisticians tried to pump up the outrage by broadening the definitions, such as the following report from the Center for Disease Control:
Rape is defined as any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal (for women), oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force
… or threats to physically harm, and includes times when the victim was drunk,
So if Rebecca Watson just got out of an elevator with a creepy guy who wanted her to come to her room, would Rebecca Watson report that to this CDC survey?
Rebecca Watson described her experience as follows:
… All of you except for the one man who didn’t really grasp, I think, what I was saying on the panel, because, at the bar later that night — actually at four in the morning, we were at the hotel bar, four a.m. I said I’ve had enough guys, I’m exhausted, going to bed, so I walked to the elevator, and a man got on the elevator with me and said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting and I would like to talk more, would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?” Um, just a word to the wise here, guys, don’t do that. I don’t really know how else to explain that this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at four a.m., in a hotel elevator with you, just you, and I, don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I’ve finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualise me in that manner.
And if Rebecca Watson reported that incident as an example of something that WAS NOT attempted rape, would the CDC mark it down as an attempted rape anyway?
So what number did they come up with for actual COMPLETED rape?
11%, for hetero women, and 36% for bisexual women, sort of. They had to fiddle with the statistics by “weighting” them, i.e. multiplying the numbers they didn’t like by fabricated numbers to get the answers that they wanted.
If you want to see their report, here it is:
Maybe you will decide that their “weighted estimates” were honest estimates. I think they kept calculating until they got the answers they wanted.
Why do I care? Isn’t it horrible that 1 in 7 women got raped, even though it’s not 1 in 5?
I care because a LOT of people – from Joe Biden to the CDC to a bunch of bush-league pundits – lied about this on purpose. Even if all the respondents told the truth, ideologues tried to inflate the findings up from “1 in 7” to “1 in 4.” And then they wanted to make those lies the basis for political and economic policy. And then they got angry when I pointed out that their math didn’t add up. Some of these ideologues were trying to make a “pious fraud” – a lie for the greater good. Many others were just trying to advance their selfish personal interests, as illustrated by the “Patreon” tip jar in the comic at the top of the post.
If you want to make political decisions, you need to be able to tell yourself the truth. You need to admit to yourself that “1 divided by 7” does not equal “1 divided by 4.”