December 7, 2014

"This graph proves it."



Let's be clear about one thing. Fraudulent accusations of rape are extraordinarily rare. This graph proves it.— Terrence McCoy (@terrence_mccoy) December 5, 2014

Image at the Atlantic article "The Rolling Stone Fiasco Is Terrible News for Rape Survivors/When sexual assault reports turn out to be inaccurate—even slightly so—nobody wins."

The chart is puzzling:
As the chart above, from The Enliven Project, shows, only about 2 to 8 percent of rape claims turn out to be fabricated, but those that are echo in the media and in public discourse for seemingly much longer than the true ones do.
The 2 figures down there in the lower right corner are necessarily within the category of persons who've been falsely accused. The light brown figures are all rapists who have not been accused of rape.* The unaccused individuals must be those against whom a true accusation of rape could be charged. Quite aside from the usual question about how one arrives at the number of those who could accurately be accused but were not, in order to visualize the proportion of falsely accused persons, we'd need another set of figures on the chart: those who would be falsely accused if the reporting of rape occurred often enough to include all of the light brown figures on the graph.

The graph-makers presume they know that the unaccused are really rapists, but no one is testing the veracity of their nonexistent accusers. It's built into the concept of the graph that we know the accusations against them are true. The 2 figures in the lower right corner are separated from the group in the upper right corner, the persons against whom accusations were made. The proportion looks much different if you put them there, where they belong. It's important to realize that we can only have a falsely accused person when a person is accused.

And what does it mean to say that "only about 2 to 8 percent of rape claims turn out to be fabricated"? In the United States, anyone accused of a crime has the presumption of innocence, and when a complaint is made but the accused doesn't end up in prison, we don't learn whether the complainant was lying, only that a decision was made not to charge, or the effort to force the accused into a plea bargain failed, or the evidence didn't convince the factfinder of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In some of those cases, perhaps the claim was "fabricated." Anyway, "fabricated" is a strong term, and it seems chosen to minimize the problem of possibly excessive reports of rape. "Fabricated" excludes complaints based on confusion and mistake, which might arise after intoxication or through a failure to understand the legal elements of rape.

"This graph proves it." That's either stupid or evil.
________________________________

* Why are we counting "rapists" rather than rapes? Did the Enliven Project leap from a number for unreported rapes to a number of individual rapists? It's scary to have a graph covered in little figures of men, but if rapists don't commit multiple rapes, they're less scary, if you bother to think about it logically.

UPDATE: The original post embedded a tweet that became unavailable later in the day. I got the same graph from here, and I left the text of the tweet from the HTML code for the embed.

AND: Here's Terrence McCoy's Twitter feed. I'm surprised to see he's a Washington Post Foreign Affairs Reporter. He's got a new tweet that says: "Just read more into the Enliven graph. It was a misleading graph. I've since taken it down." He links to a January 2013 WaPo article about the graph "Patrick Pexton: A flawed image of rape on Wonkblog":
It’s a fact of journalistic life today that blog entries aren’t vetted as thoroughly as fully reported news stories are... On Jan. 7, an infographic citing rape statistics appeared on Wonkblog in a post written by Dylan Matthews, who came to The Post last year after graduating from Harvard.

The Enliven Project, a new nonprofit advocacy group that promotes more open discussion of sexual violence, produced the infographic... One reader wrote to me and Matthews, however, to say that it was distorted, misleading and a lie.... I read the studies that underlay the infographic and its critiques. Individually, some of the statistics that Enliven used do appear in the studies. But Enliven made assumptions and extrapolations in consolidating this information into one graphic, rendering it misleading....

The blog post generated a lot of Web hits for The Post and the Enliven Project. It stirred controversy and discussion of sexual violence. But it damaged Wonkblog’s credibility, and that of The Post, and harmed the legitimate issue of addressing violence against women.

Real reporting takes time, analysis, and inquiry. Post bloggers need to be more careful.
Post bloggers and Post tweeters.

128 comments:

Sebastian said...

"That's either stupid or evil"

Or both?

Daniel Richwine said...

Is there a presumption that intercourse is always assault on a woman, and unless she explicitly invites it it is considered rape? if that is the case the graph might make sense.

Ann Althouse said...

If the graph and the argument it represents were to succeed and there were more reports of rape, there would be more bad accusations of rape. And I'm saying "bad" instead of "fabricated" or "false" for a reason. That's a variable that the graph-maker doesn't want to depict. That's my point here.

I'd appreciate focus on the new issues I've raised here, rather than the often discussed issue that the post refers to in the phrase "Quite aside from the usual question about how one arrives at the number of those who could accurately be accused but were not."

Ann Althouse said...

I would really like to get the comments on track, discussing the issues raised in the post. I'm going to delete off-track and comic riffing.

Bill R said...

Most of the graph represents rapes that aren't reported. Since they weren't reported we don't know they happened. This is an invented number.

Of the reported rapes that were not prosecuted, we don't know how many are false reports because we have no evidence.

Of the ones that went to trial, most resulted in acquittals. Some of these may be mistaken acquittals but surely some are not guilty and thus "falsely accused"

Of the men who went to jail, an unknown number are mistakenly convicted and thus falsely accused.

The graph also tells us that for every ten men sent to jail there are two men who are the victims of proven false accusations. That's a lot. It's why we have concepts like 'reasonable doubt'.

The graph proves nothing.

Michael said...

The graph, like any chart, can easily be manipulated to show the preferred belief in the brightest light. The horizontal line in a graph can be shortened or lengthened to dramatize or minimize the data. The vertical can be crafted in a similar way.

It is especially easy to manipulate visual data when you make up the data as in the instant case. When an outrageous number is used repeatedly it gains traction only among the stupid and the gullible, the gulls. The rest of us normal people begin to believe less and less, become harder to convince, less sympathetic.

Mingus Jerry said...

The graph also makes a leap from charged to jailed without listing how many were sentenced to something less than jail (i.e. probation).

Date rape situations, statutory rape where the D is 18 and the victim is 16, and some other situations don't usually lead to jail time even upon conviction.

Those people are still convicted and still have to register as sex offenders.

The chart should be "faced trial" and then "convicted."

Mingus Jerry said...

And, as touched on, it only includes "faced trial" not "plead guilty."

Greg Hlatky said...

Logically? Why are you trying to think logically about an epidemic? What are you anyway, a rape apologist?

The Drill SGT said...

what Bill R said

Tarrou said...

The biggest question is "based on what definition of rape"? Most of these "unreported rape" studies I've seen extrapolate from self-report studies in which the vast, vast majority of "rape victims" don't think they were raped. The definitions of "rape and sexual assault" have expanded to include creepy looks, being shown porn and of course, any and all sex involving alcohol. By these standards there isn't a non-clerical healthy adult in the nation who hasn't been raped.

SJ said...

I agree, if each "unreported rape" implies one "non-accused rapist", than these are the rapists that are not very likely to perform that deed again.

How does the study generate the "unreported rapes number"?

How did they generate the "False rape accusation number"?

Did they use any of the data seen here, in an Annals of Psychotherapy study on the subject?
(That study mentions "false reports of rape" numbers which range from 2% to 90%. It also does a fairly close look at two very careful studies of false-rape reports, which produce numbers close to 40%. Finally, that article lists a series of behaviors which are much more common among false-rape-accusations.)

I find it disturbing that every time I see a news story about rape, I automatically wonder whether "rape" is properly distinguished from "sexual assault" and "unwanted sexual attention".

I find this question very on-point, merely as a reminder that some people like to blur categories when it might help their cause.

If you don't find it on-point, I guess I can't argue.

Ann Althouse said...

Imagine a graph depicting police reports that don't result in conviction of a crime. There's a process filtering out the bad reports, and there should be. How many reports are there of crimes that are not really crimes and — in proportion to that number — how many individuals were prosecuted for making a false report and how many went to jail? Not many, I'm sure!

How different is rape from that? Obviously, to report rape is to invite the police into extremely intimate matters in your life if the person you are accusing is someone who is not a stranger. People filter themselves here, and it's important to make it possible to report the real rapes that occur within this category. But there's a tradeoff if you make it easier to report, and the easier you make it, the larger the set of bad claims will become.

Years ago, some anti-rape activists used the propaganda: Women don't lie. Now, the propaganda is more like: Women lie so rarely that it's best to assume they don't lie, because there are so many rapists to catch and so few innocent men to worry about.

This is like the old adage that it's better to let 10 guilty men go free than to convict 1 innocent one. That seems to imply that it's better to convict an innocent one if it means you can get more than 10 guilty ones in the process. In that light, if there are 50 rapists to be punished and you only have to toss in one innocent person, it's a great deal. Go for it!

But that's a mockery of justice. That's not what our criminal justice values are or should be.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

It's scary to have a graph covered in little figures of men.

Rather sexist of you to assume that rapists are always men.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It would appear from the graph that only a third of the mean who faced trial were actually jailed. What happened to the other two thirds? Did they get suspended sentences? Were they exonerated?

By the way, feminist Amanda Marcotte called bullshit on this graphic in Slate in January 2013. Wait 2 years, retweet.

rhhardin said...

A corner marked "got lucky" would lighten the mood.

Ann Althouse said...

Ignorance is Bliss said..."'It's scary to have a graph covered in little figures of men.' Rather sexist of you to assume that rapists are always men."

Poor reading on your part.

Ann Althouse said...

It would make more sense to say it's sexist of me to assume that figures in pants are always men. I did assume that the graph-makers intended to equate rapists with men, but I did not assume that.

Quaestor said...

Althouse has taken apart Mr.Terrence McCoy's "graph" in excruciating detail -- every t crossed, very i dotted. There's really no reply, thesis well and truly debunked. The tragedy is the large fraction of persons, university-educated for the most part, who will accept McCoy's claims uncritically. What this says about our culture I shan't hazard a guess.

On that last point, "That's either stupid or evil," I must point out that these are not mutually exclusive.

Birches said...

Wow. A lot of guys are coming out of the woodwork to show us just how Beta they are.

I don't have a problem with guys denouncing rape. Who doesn't? But we've entered silly territory now.

Quaestor said...

The graph proves nothing.

Well, it proves nothing about rape.

BDNYC said...

How is rape defined in the graph? Forcible rape?

Ann Althouse said...

"By the way, feminist Amanda Marcotte called bullshit on this graphic in Slate in January 2013."

Thanks for linked to that. I do want to point out that she's calling bullshit somewhat differently from what I'm saying. She has 3 points, one of which is the point I make in the footnote.

The other 2 are:

"The graphic overestimates the number of unreported rapes." I don't know one way or the other about that and don't purport to say.

"The graphic overestimates the number of false accusations." She seems to know that the Enliven Project included too much in what counts as false. I didn't like restricting the category to fabricated claims. But if you're going to say "fabricated" or "false," you shouldn't put things in that don't fit that label.

ddh said...

I think the chart is intended to induce moral panic, suppressing critical thinking in the reader. Everyone commenting here probably is already immunized against this version of moral panic, and the Sabrina Rubin Erdely's story is immunizing more.

great Unknown said...

The graph is itself a false accusation of rape.

chuck said...

I think he could improve his argument by increasing the number of rapists by a factor of 1000 while keeping the other catergories constant.

Birches said...

And, the line, "This graph proves it," is about as ridiculous as "Because Science."

Patrick said...

It's not clear how the chart accounts for acquittals. Are they in the "false accusation" or the "faced trial/no jail" category? What about Alford type pleas?

I doubt acquittals are a huge number in any event, but it lends credence to my thought that the chart is not really meant to clarify.

Christopher said...

I recently read an article from September by Megan McArdle addressing the statistics used when discussing false rape claims. I found it quite interesting.

Anyway, it's primary point was that all the statistics cited by the various sides in this discussion are pretty suspect.

Apparently the numbers being thrown out are either based upon anecdotal information or studies using questionable methodologies and she urges caution (although she does effectively call the 2% figure bullshit).

BDNYC said...

Shouldn't the black figures (ha!) be placed within the reported category? Or does the graph mean to say that all reported rapes are not false and that the only false accusations are the ones made informally, i.e., not reported to the police? Strange.

Also not clear is when an accusation is "false." I would think, as Althouse suggests, that some of the "faced trial but not convicted" ones were because the jury believed a rape had not occurred. For this graph, is falsity something that has to be affirmatively demonstrated by the accused? Is it more than falsity but conscious deception? If a woman is wrong about the rape but is mentally troubled or not really purposefully lying, does that mean the accused man isn't facing a false accusation?

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that part of what is going on here is the apparent unraveling of two prominent campus rape accusations- UVA and Lena D. This is shortly after the Administration pushed campus rape guidelines on most of academia that essentially mandates that accusers be believed over accusers. The implied assumption is that they would have no reason to lie

PB said...

It's not the graph, it's the data. In the case of false claims of rape the 2% number is mostly a legend originating from the claim of someone in a speech, while a 40% number, though with its own problems is from an actual peer-reviewed study.

Quaestor said...

I'd like to know the provenance of that graph. Did McCoy compose it himself, or did he acquire it? In other words do we count him among the stupid or the evil?

bob sacamano said...

"It would make more sense to say it's sexist of me to assume that figures in pants are always men."

I don't think so, it's a reasonable assumption as that's often the symbol on the door for the men's lavatory. Ladies wear dresses of course.
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=men%27s+lavatory+universal+image&l=1#

So the graph makers are sexist.

Brian said...

I guess this might be off-track too, but since the Rolling Stone article blew-up, there's been about 40 cookie-cutter articles about how this is terrible for rape victims, who people are now less likely to believe. The obvious and proximate damage of false accusations are the individuals and institutions destroyed, but men are invisible, and I guess the frat is invisible too.

With the exception of homicide, rape gets the most jail time of all common-law crimes. Plus, there's a social stigma attached to rape, that's in a way greater than homicide, because while most of us can imagine ourselves committing a heat-of-passion murder (e.g., against someone who just harmed or killed a loved one, but is not at the moment an imminent threat), we cannot imagine ourselves as rapists.

So I'm getting tired of the un-empathetic social justice warriors and the Uncle Tims acting as if the only reason its wrong to grievously injure a man is because such action may, some time down the line, harm a woman.

Blue Ox said...

They are purporting to show 2 - 8% of something using a graphic that shows 2/10 of 1%.

There are 1000 little dudes on the chart, not 100.

Eleanor said...

What constitutes being falsely accused? My son was accused of rape by a fellow classmate when he was in high school. She named my son, gave a place, a time, and a full description of his body. Only his work time card had him two towns away at the time, and she was unaware that when you lose your hair because of chemotherapy, you lose it everywhere. Nonetheless, it was a traumatic experience for him. Her excuse? She was pregnant by another guy. She figured my son would be dead soon so accusing him wouldn't hurt him. Because he was just "investigated", but never charged, is he one of those little guys down in the corner?

Blue Ox said...



I would bet that the majority of supporters of the Enliven Project fully support the Innocence Project keeping all their bases covered.

EDH said...

Is there such a thing as "Beta-rape"?

You know, the guys who Twitter posts whatever he thinks women in his circle will like to see just so he might have a better chance of hooking up?

Saint Croix said...

They ought to come out with a Barbie Feminist.

You just have to add

"Destroy the patriarchy!"

and you can keep

"Math class is hard!"

Original Mike said...

"They are purporting to show 2 - 8% of something using a graphic that shows 2/10 of 1%.

There are 1000 little dudes on the chart, not 100."


I'm going with evil.

khesanh0802 said...

Where's the BS tag on this?

Gahrie said...

87% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Gahrie said...

This is like the old adage that it's better to let 10 guilty men go free than to convict 1 innocent one. That seems to imply that it's better to convict an innocent one if it means you can get more than 10 guilty ones in the process

Of course, after all, they are only men.

Gahrie said...

Where's the chart comparing the length of prison or jail time for male rapists and child abusers versus the amount of jail or prison time served by female rapists and child abusers

Or the chart showing the number of rapes committed by females that are reported versus the number of rapes committed by females that are not reported.

How much do you want to bet that there are far more rapes by women as a percentage that go unreported?

Louis said...

So there is a strategy out there to reduce the number of rapes by reporting that there are more rapes than we can know there are. Why would that work? Why would it get the real number moving in the right direction?

khesanh0802 said...

I will once again say that if rape were treated as a CRIME on campus and given to the police to investigate the numbers of false accusations would drop, the number of gropes that turn into close-to-a-rape would drop and the real rapists would actually face trial.

If campus rape is such an epidemic (which I don't believe for a minute) then a serious remedy is called for.

If the feminists are serious they should be willing to seek a serious solution. As with so many things academic it is preferable to talk rather than act.

Louis said...

I believe that campus rape is an epidemic, I don't need to be sold on that. What I don't understand is the tactics I've seen deployed to combat the problem. I think humans are just jerks and they are going to assault and batter each other roughly as often as they think they can get away with it. Amid clouds of drug and alcohol binges (eg campuses on weekends) people can get away with quite a lot.

JAORE said...

I'm reminded o commercials of my youth when headaches were depicted as lightning bolts to the head, then, miracle of miracles, upon application of the pill the lightning stopped. Well then it just MUST be true, it was shown so graphically. Now we will forever more know, just know, that one in five women has been raped and virtually no (2 in 100, phhht) women falsely accuse men of rape.
Facts are tricky things.

Original Mike said...

"I believe that campus rape is an epidemic,"

Why do you believe that?

David said...

"The graph-makers presume they know that the unaccused are really rapists, but no one is testing the veracity of their nonexistent accusers."

Correct. They presume they know everything. They have the truth about demons that fly unseen. It's 17th Century Salem writ very large.

David said...

"I believe that campus rape is an epidemic."

Could be. But the epidemic may instead be hysteria and persecution.

The existence of a widespread belief does not make it true. We live in a credulous time. People attach themselves passionately to various beliefs without engaging in critical thought about the foundations of the belief. This is bad enough. But when the exercise of critical thought, which requires a probing skepticism, is made immoral and socially unacceptable there is more than just a human weakness at work. It is other humans using their power to manipulate that weakness.

Using power to manipulate weakness is evil. Partly this effort is successful because some of the people being manipulated are stupid. (Perhaps ignorant would be more accurate?) So the answer to Althouse's question is that both stupidity and evil are in play. In any particular case, it's extremely hard to determine which is prevalent.

campy said...

This is like the old adage that it's better to let 10 guilty men go free than to convict 1 innocent one. That seems to imply that it's better to convict an innocent one if it means you can get more than 10 guilty ones in the process

The new adage is that there are no innocent men.

All men are rapists, and that's all they are.

bgates said...

Only around 2-8 percent of rape claims turn out to be fabricated, which is hardly enough for anybody to get upset about.

The real horror is that between 0.3 and 1.67 percent of all claims of rape are directed against innocent black men, which is a national disgrace and tragedy of the first order.

Louis said...

Why do you believe that?
Epidemic is the wrong word. It's not new. Humans have been raping their way to future generations longer than they have been humans. I should say something like rape is endemic. Clearly most rapes aren't going to be reported because it's a humiliating thing to happen to a person and people just want to move on from it. Guys want some and they are big and strong and can buy various chemical helpers to that end. Anyone who has lived with a child knows the child will grab whatever candy or cookies are unguarded. Adults and near-adults are not different. Having masculine power psychologically wrapped up in virility and sexual success just heightens what is already a sore physical temptation and provides the justification to use the small amount of force necessary to achieve a notch on one's belt.

Presley Bennett said...

I suppose fabricated would really have to mean nothing happened at all, no sex, no encounter of any kind. Criminal law isn't my specialty and I don't know this to be true but I think it's possible that where most sexual battery prosecutions fall apart is on the issue of consent, that the jury or the court finds insufficient evidence to find lack of, within the legal definition that is. And within that category I assume that there are variations, women who make the allegation after the sexual encounter out of revenge or remorse, which I would count as fabricated, and accusers who genuinely believe that they didn't consent at the time but the finding goes the other way. Which isn't fabrication, it's just how the system works.

I guess my point is that there is a difference between the law of sexual battery and the prosecution of those crimes, what happens at a police station and in the courtroom, and the story of rape and how it's discussed in magazine articles and web postings.

Laslo Spatula said...

It would be interesting if there was a way to overlay Althouse's last two graphs: the 'age-of-readers' graph and the 'rape' graph. Does age play a role in evaluating the validity of the rape chart?

Paco Wové said...

"I believe that campus rape is an epidemic"

Echoing Original Mike: Why?

"What I don't understand is the tactics I've seen deployed to combat the problem."

When the tactics and solutions proposed don't fit the alleged problem, that's a pretty good indication that there's an underlying intellectual dishonesty in the argument.

Original Mike said...

With respect, Louis, everything you listed is speculation. On a topic this important, I think we need to be guided by evidence and data.

Paco Wové said...

"Self-control", Louis. Look it up. It's a real thing.

Jason said...

If two to eight percent false accusations is correct, there should be 20 to 80 little darkened guys in the lower right hand corner. Not two.

Put them in the middle of the range - say, 50 - and you have more falsely accused in that column than you have prosecuted. And that's assuming, ridiculously, that EVERYONE prosecuted is guilty.

Whoever's behind this graphic should be working at McDonald's. But not at the drive through, because I'd definitely want to be double and triple-checking my order.

William said...

The 1300 child rapes in Rotenham were apparently perpetrated by about a dozen cab drivers. The graph doesn't reflect that kind of data. It can be true that many women have been the victims of rape, but it can also be true that only a miniscule fraction of men are guilty of rape. All by himself Bill Cosby represents a fair number of the stick figures shown on the graph.

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't think so, it's a reasonable assumption as that's often the symbol on the door for the men's lavatory. Ladies wear dresses of course.
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=men%27s+lavatory+universal+image&l=1#."

1. I only said it would make "more sense," not that it would make a lot of sense.

2. Those bathroom door logos are oppressing me.

Louis said...

With respect, Louis, everything you listed is speculation. On a topic this important, I think we need to be guided by evidence and data.

I think evidence we can reason ourselves to is important.

Paco, you implied there is an intellectual dishonesty in the assertion that rape is common, and also that self-control is a real thing. So it is your belief that men are tempted by rape but don't indulge in troubling numbers?

SGT Ted said...

The light brown figures representing non-related rapes is proof that the chart is propaganda and not reality.

SeanF said...

For those who are saying there should be ten times as many dark figures - you're wrong. The dark figures represent the number of false accusations, which is (minimum) 2% of all accusations. The 100 shaded figures in the upper right represent the accusations.

The proper response to this point - that very few false accusations of rape are made - is, "So, what?" Literally. What are we supposed to do about it?

If we start assuming criminal accusations are true, and punish the accused based on nothing more than an accusation, would we really expect the number of false accusations to stay low?

Original Mike said...

"I think evidence we can reason ourselves to is important."

NO! That is not "evidence". You've accused 1/2 the human race based on a conversation you've had in your head.

Laslo Spatula said...

"2. Those bathroom door logos are oppressing me."

Riffing but not comic?

I am Laslo.

Jason said...

Oh, I see... they'll argue 2 to 8 percent of rape claims are fabricated, not 2 to 8 percent of the whole set of 1000. Still doesn't work though. In order for the false accusations to be PROVEN false, they have to wind their way a long way through the system. We're only seeing the tip of the iceberg of the false rape claims, because some of them don't pass the laugh test right out of the gate, once you start investigating.

Jason said...

I come for the comic riffing. Not much else, really. Keep the comic riffing!!

Big Mike said...

Before I credit the graphic, I'd like to know its author's definition of "rape."

To society rape is a crime that combines a sex act with coercion in the form of violence or the threat of violence.

If "rape" is defined to mean "we generally have consensual sex but the other day I wasn't in the mood but he wanted it a lot so I gave in," then the graph makes some sense. But I don't agree with the definition and I don't think the courts do, either.

And seduction isn't rape.

Nor is drunkness an excuse in my book. If a woman is not interested in the "coyote ugly" effect then she should learn how to hold her booze.

And, finally, those who say that any sex is rape, well, society doesn't agree with them at all.

Louis said...

NO! That is not "evidence". You've accused 1/2 the human race based on a conversation you've had in your head.

I don't think I have accused anyone. I just know that kids take candy. I don't understand the thinking of people who think young adults have by and large reached a sufficient state of holy enlightenment that its outrageous to suspect they might use extraordinary means to achieve their desires.

SGT Ted said...

Non reported not non related.

chillblaine said...

Seems we are being told that to encourage women to report rape more faithfully. To do this, we need to lower the burden of proof as well as keep the definition of rape fluid?

John Althouse Cohen said...

Why is your tiny footnote a tiny footnote? Isn't that the most egregious problem with the graph?

Bill said...

When the known range is between 2 and 8, why pick 2? That's just annoying; just as it would be to use the high number 8 to prove another point, without any any basis for using the extreme number.

If the upper right of the chart is correct, for every 10 jailed rapists, there are 2 to 8 fabricated reports? That's actually pretty high.

Terry said...

2% to 8% is not rare, it's common.

Paco Wové said...

"Paco, you implied there is an intellectual dishonesty in the assertion that rape is common..."

If that's what you inferred from my comments, then I guess I was not very clear.

I did not say (or mean to imply) that "there is an intellectual dishonesty in the assertion that rape is common". What I meant to say is that when someone proposes tactics and solutions that are disproportionate to the problem they raise, it implies that their public presentation of the problem and the real problem are not the same thing. I see that as a general rule of thumb, not specific to this case.

"...and also that self-control is a real thing. So it is your belief that men are tempted by rape but don't indulge in troubling numbers?"

That's such an odd restatement of what I said I almost don't know where to start. First off, I usually don't make blanket category statements about "men" or "women", and certainly not in this case. Second, no, I don't think 'men' are hankering after committing violent crimes against women in large (what is "troubling"?) numbers. And yes, I do think that most people, when tempted by thoughts of illicit behavior, can and do exercise enough self-contrlol to not do it.

Original Mike said...

Obviously there is rape, Louis, but we're talking about its prevalence. You stated you believe there's a lot of it. I was interested because I thought you might have some experience to relate on the matter. It's been 30 years since I was a student on campus. But it turns out it's just a feeling you have. I'm suggesting you might want to be more circumspect.

We had a thread yesterday about youngsters and oldsters. One of the things you learn over the years is that things you thought were true based upon nothing more than "it makes sense" often turn out not to be true at all. "It makes sense" isn't enough. Data first, then reasoning.

Jupiter said...

Althouse said ...

"That seems to imply that it's better to convict an innocent one if it means you can get more than 10 guilty ones in the process. In that light, if there are 50 rapists to be punished and you only have to toss in one innocent person, it's a great deal. Go for it!

But that's a mockery of justice. That's not what our criminal justice values are or should be."

The same argument is made about the death penalty. If fear of the death penalty prevents 50 murders, at the cost of one innocent man executed, that's 49 lives saved, right? It's a great deal, go for it! The math is somewhat clearer when we compare deaths to deaths, rather than rapes to false convictions, but the principle is the same.

And I think the principle is sound. We have a highway system that kills 20 or 30 thousand of us every year, but no one wants to shut it down, because we think the good it does outweighs 20,000 deaths. We want to have orange juice for breakfast, and visit Aunt Irma at Thanksgiving, and 20K seems like a fair price. It is only because we have a peculiar horror of executing the innocent that we reject this logic in the criminal justice system.

Chuck said...

WHERE IS THE GRAPH OF ALL OF THE BLACK TEENAGERS KILLED BY:

A) OTHER BLACK TEENAGERS
B) WHITE CIVILIANS
C) BLACK POLICE OFFICERS
D) WHITE POLICE OFFICERS

Gahrie said...

Those bathroom door logos are oppressing me.

Don't worry..given what's going on in our society right now, they probably won't be around much longer...

DKWalser said...

The Innocence Project has proven through DNA evidence that a not insignificant number of men convicted and jailed were innocent of the rape of which they were convicted. I don't know what the percentage of false convictions is and suspect it varies by jurisdiction.

The graph does not address this problem. It assumes all who were convicted were guilty of the rape. However, since many of these men were named by their accuser (so it's not matter that they matched the description of an unknown assailant), this proves that some women do lie about rape and that they are willing to see those the wrongly accused serve long jail terms.

Gahrie said...

I don't understand the thinking of people who think young adults have by and large reached a sufficient state of holy enlightenment that its outrageous to suspect they might use extraordinary means to achieve their desires.

Well Louis, let me try to explain.

What we are thinking is that most people are raised by their parents to defer their gratification and control their impulsive behavior, especially when it comes to harming others.

Now, given the state of the family, and the domination of our society and culture by thuggish behavior and instant gratification, I understand your confusion.

Terry said...

If 2% to 8% of police shootings were of unarmed black teenagers, would that be a problem?

Jupiter said...

Louis said...

"I just know that kids take candy. I don't understand the thinking of people who think young adults have by and large reached a sufficient state of holy enlightenment that its outrageous to suspect they might use extraordinary means to achieve their desires."

Louis, if you believe that taking an unguarded piece of candy and forcibly raping another person are essentially equivalent, I would not be at all surprised to learn that you are an habitual rapist. Most people find it actively unpleasant to physically harm another person, unless they are angry.

In any case, as others have remarked, you are indulging in idle speculation. FBI figures show that between 1994 and 2013, the US rape rate fell from 39.3 to 25.2. Do you think there has been a comparable decrease in cookie jar heists?

richard mcenroe said...

Never use a graph by Michael Mann...

richard mcenroe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
richard mcenroe said...

So does the deliberate presentation of this hopelessly flawed graph represent incompetence or malice on the author's part?

Louis said...

Now, given the state of the family, and the domination of our society and culture by thuggish behavior and instant gratification, I understand your confusion.

Yep.

Most people find it actively unpleasant to physically harm another person, unless they are angry.

When I was robbed at gunpoint I could see the pain in my mugger's face but he still did it. I imagine it would have been easier for him if I had been passed out or blacked out. Easier still if he were approaching climax as he proceeded.


Original Mike, anecdotal evidence is less compelling to me than clear reasoning especially because of how tricky this issue is. We don't have the tech to surveil everyone all the time so any data set is going to be incomplete and compromised. I don't believe any numbers about something committed in privacy requiring disclosure.


Paco, rape as it is committed it is not a violent crime in the mind of the perpetrator. It's bad sex, too often enacted with chemical helpers. (That was the case with the one girl I knew who made a rape accusation where I also knew the guy.) I don't believe people exercise self-control. I think they justify what they can get away.

Moneyrunner said...

The heightened interest in campus rape is the result of Sabrina Rubin Erdely authoring the Protocols of the Young Men of the Frat House. When you do that, your fellow travelers jump in to validate your thesis. http://moneyrunner.blogspot.com/2014/12/protocols-of-young-men-of-frat-house.html

Original Mike said...

"I don't believe any numbers about something committed in privacy requiring disclosure."

You prefer to just make stuff up, because there's nothing more behind your "clear reasoning" than your opinion about other people's self-control.

Louis said...

Original Mike, why should I believe a particular set of numbers? Is there a set that you stand behind?

Original Mike said...

Are you a rapist, Louis? Assuming not, however did you find the self control?

mccullough said...

Do the stats distinguish stranger rape from acquaintance rape?

Terry said...

Perhaps I am an atypical male, but I do not remember ever seeing a woman and saying to myself "I'd sure like to rape her!"

Original Mike said...

That makes two of us, Terry.

Louis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
walter said...

Eleanor's post blew my mind. Is there a graphic representation of the evil in that scenario?

With what's left of it, would like to mention..
This reminds me of late 80's early 90's on Madison campus.. the prime era of "take back the night" demonstrations and seminars, some which advised "every man is a potential rapist". To the dismay of my female instructor, I took that on in debate class with the premise "Every orange is a potential weapon". Well....the mug shot expression here is perfect.. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2014/12/03/mcchicken-used-weapon/19823923/

Louis said...

It's only hot if my partner is into it. I couldn't rape if I had to

Paco Wové said...

"...rape [...] is not a violent crime in the mind of the perpetrator. It's bad sex..."

So you're saying that rape and consensual sex are indistinguishable in the mind of a rapist?

"I don't believe people exercise self-control. I think they justify what they can get away."

Ok, then there's at least two things we have distinctly different opinions on...

Paco Wové said...

"I couldn't rape if I had to"

Yeah, well, you and me both.

But that seems to directly contradict everything else you've been arguing here.

Original Mike said...

"I couldn't rape if I had to"

Yet you "reason" that most others can ("I think humans are just jerks and they are going to assault and batter each other roughly as often as they think they can get away with it.").

Louis said...

I'm just a man. If this were a novel I would be an unreliable narrator. So would a rapist.

richard mcenroe said...

Terry, you LOOKED at a woman;that MAKES you a rapist. Try to keep up with the Narrative.

walter said...

Tangled web indeed

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201411/don-t-call-them-rape-fantasies

http://www.vocativ.com/underworld/sex/rape-fantasies-go-horribly-wrong/

Louis said...

Should I say aloud that I would definitely rape a robot?

walter said...

How would a graphic representation of this go over?
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19085605

Zach said...

Even taking the graph at face value, there are 2 "false accusations" and 20 acquittals ("faced trial" minus "jailed") for every 10 convictions. That's about 2/3 of cases that reach a final resolution.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Original Mike writes: One of the things you learn over the years is that things you thought were true based upon nothing more than "it makes sense" often turn out not to be true at all.

And even at my age this happens. Case in point, though completely OT: the other day I was claiming to my wife that different salts of common drugs (e.g. citrates, sulfates, HCl,) were not significantly different because the active fragment was in common. However, I was induced to spend a few minutes researching the topic, and quickly learned I was completely wrong.
Actual data is what counts, not common sense or "what people say".

Terry said...

richard mcenroe wrote:
"Terry, you LOOKED at a woman;that MAKES you a rapist. Try to keep up with the Narrative."
Isn't it obvious that fempower now has the goal of controlling the male gaze? "Yuk! I don't want that loser to even think about making it with me! It's male oppression! It should be against the law!"

Zach said...

Considering the number of plea bargains in our criminal justice system, I'm more confused about what it means for a case to reach "final resolution." Some large fraction of those people being jailed did not "face trial" in the sense of standing before a judge and jury. But that would make conviction rates at trial even worse than 1 out of 3!

But in a plea bargain situation, the prosecutor is agreeing not to file charges, right? So I don't see how you could fairly place somebody who plea bargained out of a rape charge into the "faced trial" category.

So it seems to me that there is a large missing category of people who reached a final resolution of their case via plea bargain but did not actually go to jail for rape. And possibly a large missing category of people who went to jail but did not face trial because they pled guilty. Both of those are final resolutions to the case, and both are important for the argument.

If a large fraction of "reported" - "faced trial" had charges dropped, dismissed, or eliminated via plea bargaining, that really alters the ratio of guilty to not guilty among people who reached a final resolution. If a large fraction of the people who are jailed are there because of plea bargains, then the conviction rate of people who face trial is scandalously low!

Original Mike said...

"Actual data is what counts, not common sense or "what people say"."

This is something I'm always working on with my students in the lab. "Your explanation for what's going on is consistent with (there's that phrase again, Althouse) the data, but that doesn't mean it's what's really happening in this case." Some of them learn that their "clear reasoning" is just a hypothesis until they prove it. Others never lose their infatuation with their own "cleverness". Needless to say, the first group turn into good scientists. The second group, not so much.

The Godfather said...

Not that long ago "forcible rape" was a capital crime -- if you were convicted of that, you could/would be executed.

At the same time, plying your date with alcohol (do you remember "Have Some Mediera, My Dear" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW_zi8n4HDQ ) was considered SOP. I don't dispute that the lines between those two behaviors have been blurred by technological changes, but they ARE different, and should be treated differently, even in a graphic.

ELC said...

That tweet must have gotten a lot of blowback: I get a "Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!" error when clicking the Twitter picture link. I see the image at in the Slate article, though, and it doesn't take much more than a glance to realize that somebody just made up the numbers.

n.n said...

At a time when faith-based choice of premeditated abortion is falling into progressive disrepute, the exploitation of the rape -- not rape, rape -- moral loophole offers a glimmer of hope for girls and boys, women and men, dreaming of government-subsidized indulgence to relieve their "burden".

Bruce Hayden said...

Here is part of the other side from the WaPo: No matter what Jackie said, we should generally believe rape claims: "Incredulity hurts victims more than it hurts wrongly-accused perps."

Chef Mojo said...

I wonder how statutory rape figures into into the overall number of rape convictions? Is there a differentiation made in applying a legal definition that might not be apparent in a statistical graph like this? Should a differentiation be made in the first place?

RecChief said...

"This graph proves it." That's either stupid or evil.

Both.

Next question.

Jupiter said...

Louis said...
"Should I say aloud that I would definitely rape a robot?"

Are you the same Louis who was telling us yesterday that you are gay and black and you don't comment here because you are afraid of old Republicans? You've come a long way, baby!

Now tell us about this robot you want to rape ...

Original Mike said...

"wrongly-accused perps."

Wow.

Ignorance is Bliss said...


Bruce Hayden quotes the WaPo saying:

Incredulity hurts victims more than it hurts wrongly-accused perps.

How the fuck do you have a wrongly-accused perpetrator?

virgil xenophon said...

@Bruce Hayden/

The WaPO gal who authored the article was on the Milessa Harris--Perry show on MSNBC this am mouthing the same sentiments--and all the other three participants agreed, as well as everyone on her second panel (natch, it IS MSNBC after all) NOT A SINGLE WORD was expressed about the plight of the fraternity members caused by such spurious charges by ANYONE.

And I should have been surprised? "Fake but accurate" has been the standard leftist "meme" for a long, long time now...it is, after all, all about Teh NARRATIVE isn't it?

Ann Althouse said...

"Why is your tiny footnote a tiny footnote? Isn't that the most egregious problem with the graph?"

It was a point that broke up the flow of the point I wanted to make. Unlike the graph itself, I wasn't purporting to depict proportion.

I put it in a tiny font to make it look more footnote-y. I rarely do a footnote on the blog. Maybe 10 times in 10 years.

Original Mike said...

"Just read more into the Enliven graph. It was a misleading graph. I've since taken it down."

So I guess it was stupid.

The Godfather said...

OK, based on the updates, we've all had an interesting discussion about a bullshit graphic. And wasn't it obvious from the beginning that it was bullshit? But the ISSUE was really what we've mostly been talking about, and that's worth something.

And it's perhaps also worth something to be reminded to keep your bullshit-detector tuned. Am I right?

Louis said...

I want to say while rape is on the table 1) it's all-important to me that if a falsely accused rapist goes to prison he is probably about as likely to be raped himself as a rightly convicted rapist; can it be moral to send anyone but enemies of the state to prison in that circumstance? (But I digress.) 2) how about that love scene in The Fountanhead? Is that some prose or what? Truer than real life.

Unknown said...

You being gay, Louis, the question of rape is different for you. As a gay friend explained to me, your date is liable to be the same size weight and strength as you, accordingly nonconsensual sex either is not on the menu, or is going to happen after a knock down drag out fight or the use of some drug, brandishing a weapon or some threat, or other incapacitant. And that's for gay-on-gay violence. I reason, to use your word, that a straight victim would fight harder.

Equally, you have not the dog-does-not-bite-bitch rule ingrained in you after millennia of social conditioning. Your prey would not be women but other men. And, "homo homini lupus." If I were forced to a life of crime and robbery, I would think that I would prefer to rob men rather than women for this reason, even though women are easier targets.