pageok
pageok
pageok
A Little Multiplication Could Have Gone a Long Way:

The Oregon State University newspaper (The Daily Barometer) had this to say last week:

According to a press release issued by the Women's Center, 2,000 rapes occur every five minutes.

Huh -- 2,000 rapes every five minutes. That would mean 2000 x (60/5) x 24 x 365 = 200 million rapes a year (presumably in the U.S.). Many people underestimate the frequency of rape. Still, one would hope that it doesn't happen 200 million times a year; at least a little bit of multiplication should have alerted the writer and the editor that something was wrong.

Something was indeed wrong; when I e-mailed the Barometer to ask what the source was, they pointed me to the press release they were citing. It reads:

About 2,000 rapes are committed daily at the rate of about one every 5 minutes.

Not 2,000 rapes every five minutes, it turns out, but 2,000 rapes daily, or one every 5 minutes. Off by a factor of 300 (5 x 60) from how the newspaper rendered it.

But wait! A "rate of about one every 5 minutes" would be about 300 daily ((60/5) x 24), not about 2000 daily. The Women's Center press release was also mistaken (on at least one of the statistics, and maybe both); and again a little multiplication would have helped catch this.

For those who are interested about what the real number actually is, the answer of course is that we don't know for sure. The National Crime Victimization Survey, a survey of noninstitutionalized Americans age 12 or over, estimates that there were 72,000 completed rapes in the U.S. in 2003, plus 45,000 attempted rapes, and 82,000 sexual assaults (completed or attempted attacks short of vaginal, anal, or oral penetration); the 72,000 number would of course translate into roughly 200 rapes daily, not 2000. On the other hand, other studies have reported considerably higher levels, including the 700,000 number that corresponds to 2000 daily (though this was from the early 1990s, and the rape rate has apparently fallen considerably since then). To my knowledge, there continues to be a hot debate about the number (though not about whether 60/5 x 24 = 2000).

I e-mailed the Daily Barometer and the Women's Center to ask what's up, and to suggest that a correction be published (or, as to the web site, simply made); no response from them yet, I'm afraid.

(Note that the NCVS site was down when I checked the link; I fortunately have a printout from which I read the data, but I wanted to alert people that they might have trouble accessing the data themselves.)

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Multiplication:
  2. More Multiplication:
  3. Following Up on "A Little Multiplication":
  4. A Little Multiplication Could Have Gone a Long Way:
Dan_P (mail):
"Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics".
As an "ex-research person", I was always amazed at the extreme desire to "pump up the problem" in order to get the attention of folks in an attempt to get "action to solve the problem".
It's human nature.

Some people/groups make mistakes, some lie deliberately.
Both types are disappointed when "caught".
1.30.2006 10:33am
David Sucher (mail) (www):
I think it has little to do with any sort of organizational goals etc. It's simply lack of critical thinking.

There should be very large signs reading "Do the Math" in every classroom in America, from first-grade onwards. People are simply not in the habit of critical thinking, even when the only tools required are multiplication, division, etc. You see similar implausible statements everywhere which usually go undetected.
1.30.2006 10:39am
Cornellian (mail):
They should be required to read the book "Innumeracy."
1.30.2006 10:42am
AppSocRes (mail):
My favorite example of this kind of "thinking" was the assertion that floated around for a few years in the 1980s that 10% of the population was lesbian or homosexual. I finally tracked this down to an advocacy group that used an estimate that 5% of men are homosexual as the starting point foir the following argument: If 5% of men are homosexual, 5% of women must be lesbian. Therefore the percentage of homosexuals and lesbians in the population is 5% + 5% = 10%.
1.30.2006 10:47am
Kent Scheidegger (mail) (www):
Regrettably, it is not unusual to find supposedly reputable news sources citing as fact a number that ultimately comes from an inflated claim by someone with an agenda.

For crime, there are two "official" measures. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports is the number reported to or otherwise known to police. The National Crime Victimization Survey uses polling techniques to ask people about crimes committed personally against them.

The UCR necessarily underreports. It gets most homicides, but for other crimes the rate of reporting varies widely, and rape may be the most underreported of all.

The NCVS is better for most crimes, but it still depends on the victim being in the sampled population and being willing to disclose to an anonymous voice on the phone. It doesn't report homicides at all, for an obvious reason, and its rape number is also undoubtedly low. What is the actual rate of sex crimes against children? We know that what we can see is only the tip of the iceberg, but we have no way of knowing the actual size of the submerged part.

The moral of the story is to take all crime numbers and studies based on them with a heaping tablespoon of skepticism.
1.30.2006 11:07am
Hank:
AppSocRes: That's funny. If 50% of men were homosexual, and 50% of women were lesbians, then we'd all be gay. If it were 60% and 60% -- don't ask.
1.30.2006 11:10am
dk35 (mail):
Thank God Eugene is out there to report on stuff like this. I mean, if we let those people get away with stuff like that, people might start to believe that rape is a serious problem!
1.30.2006 11:14am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
*sigh*

Can't even point out a math error without someone complaining... I'm sure he would have pointed out the mistake if it was 300x too low as well, dk35.
1.30.2006 11:21am
Daniel G:
dk35: Rape is an incredibly serious problem. However, the on-campus hysteria produced by feminist groups and student life organizations (with the best of intentions) tends to be so surreal that folks tune it out. Every frat boy is not a date-rapist.

The thrust of these programs should not be "men, you are all potential rapists", it should be "defend yourselves and your friends against rape and encourage accurate rape reporting".
1.30.2006 11:22am
dk35 (mail):
Daniel Chapman,

You've got to be kidding.
1.30.2006 11:23am
dk35 (mail):
Daniel G,

Oh yes, those damn "feminist groups." If only we got rid of them, life would be such a better place. I mean, I'm sure there is so much "hysteria" that college students aren't having any sex any more.
1.30.2006 11:25am
Hank:
dk35: There are a few obvious problems with your comment:

1. Eugene did not imply that rape is not a serious problem.

2. Getting the facts straight makes it more likely that rape will be viewed as a serious problem, as it will make it less likely that people will dismiss statistics as probably inaccurate.

3. If #2 is wrong, and falsehoods will make it more likely that rape will be viewed as a serious problem, then you're saying that the end justifies the means. Next you'll be advocating that presidents deceive the nation into going to war when they believe that a war would be good and that the truth will not persuade the nation to support a war.
1.30.2006 11:25am
dk35 (mail):

1. Eugene did not imply that rape is not a serious problem.


No, but Eugene's only post on Rape, as far as I can see, decides to focus on the fact that one student group screwed up on its press release. This implies that on the subject of rape, this is what Eugene thinks is the most important issue to discuss. I don't agree. In fact, what it tends to do is validate people who think that rape is some kind of myth made up by man-hating "feminists" to attack frat boys (or brings up gratuitous gay-bashing attacks). For both, see comments above.


2. Getting the facts straight makes it more likely that rape will be viewed as a serious problem, as it will make it less likely that people will dismiss statistics as probably inaccurate.


Who doesn't think rape isn't a serious problem? What I don't get is why you need statistics at all to convice people that rape is a serious problem. The saddest thing about having to have statistics about all of this is that it indicates that some people actually need "proof" that rape is a problem.


3. If #2 is wrong, and falsehoods will make it more likely that rape will be viewed as a serious problem, then you're saying that the end justifies the means. Next you'll be advocating that presidents deceive the nation into going to war when they believe that a war would be good and that the truth will not persuade the nation to support a war.



No. My point is that whether a student press release screws up in their reporting on rape statistics isn't particularly important, since the consensus of rationoal people in this country understand rape to be a probem and, frankly, student press releases on this subject aren't very important one way or the other. The analogy you try to make is rather complicated. For example, in our current situation, the analogy doesn't work, since the reason the President wanted to go to war was not "good" but rather "self-interested."
1.30.2006 11:52am
Jerry Mimsy (www):
The idea that we should tolerate bad statistics when in the service of a greater good reminds me of how some health professionals tolerated the crack baby myth back in the eighties. The hope was that they'd get more funding for underprivileged women. What they got was a draconian crackdown, and often healthy children taken from their parents and treated as if they were brain-damaged and untreatable.

Meth babies

Tolerating bad stats in the hopes that something good will come of it is a dangerous course, in my opinion.
1.30.2006 11:52am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Substitute "rape" with "thousands of hotdogs eaten" if it bothers you. The story had more to do with careless reporting than politics. Geez. If you have so little respect for the author, why read the posts? No one here is trying to say that rape is not a serious problem. This whole conversation gives new meaning to the term "straw man."
1.30.2006 11:56am
dk35 (mail):
Substitute "straw man" with "emphasis of reporting" and I'll agree.
1.30.2006 12:00pm
countertop (mail):
Isn't this in line with what one of Hillary's friends who was nominated for a high ranking DOJ position (can't recall her name right now) has written extensivly about - that every instance of sex between a married man and woman was in fact rape since men are by nature oppressors.

DOn't recall if there was anything else to it (as in all things in politics, I am sure there was) but that at least is the bit of the soundbyte story I recall from the mid 90s.
1.30.2006 12:05pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Somebody was getting a little shrill and hysterical. S/he might benefit from reading Orin Kerr's 12:10 post.
1.30.2006 12:20pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Eugene, you'll be much happier if you simply accept that a 'fact' is any assertion that supports a Higher Truth.
1.30.2006 12:33pm
Nixon:
My first reaction - similar to Countertop's above - was that perhaps the total number would have been relatively reasonable to the activists writers from the Women's Center if they believe in the Andrea Dworkin theory of male/female relations....
1.30.2006 12:39pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Rape is a slippery subject. As noted, some feminists have essentially defined the term to include almost any male/female intercourse. And to include a lot of "date rape" in the statistics is frankly silly. If every time a woman had second thoughts about what she did the night before, most of us guys would have felony records.

On the other hand, there are a lot of reasons that the reported statistics would be too low. For example, a lot of incest rape is unreported simply because the raped women (and worse, girls) have to live with the guys in their households. There is also often embarrassment. Plus, in many cases, prosecutors refuse to prosecute when it turns into a he said/she said situation. But before it gets there, the woman would have gone through the entire rape riggamarole: medical exam, counseling, etc. After going through all that, and then having the prosecutor not prosecute teaches that woman, and many of her friends, to not file a complaint if there is any question about proving the case (and, even sometimes then - I was involved in a case a couple of years ago for my old sec. where her underage daughter was raped while asleep. Clear statutory rape, but he claimed consent, and it was dropped).

But Eugene's point is still valid - a little mathematics would have gone a long way here to avoiding looking silly.
1.30.2006 12:53pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
countertop, it was Andrea Dworkin who supposedly said that all heterosexual sex is rape -- only she didn't actually say that (see here), and even if she had, she was never nominated for any DOJ position, high ranking or otherwise.
1.30.2006 1:17pm
No One of Particular Import (mail):

No. My point is that whether a student press release screws up in their reporting on rape statistics isn't particularly important


Don't let facts get in the way of your argument, eh?

Anyone recall the myth of more domestic violence cases on Super Bowl Sunday from a few years ago?

The facts didn't matter, what was important was to draw attention to domestic violence.

If the subject is important enough, it is important enough to get the facts right.

But the noble lie rages on.
1.30.2006 1:18pm
countertop (mail):
Jason, and Nixon, yes I think it is Andrea Dworkin who is widely credited with that remark, though for some reason I recall the sentiment being attached to one of Clinton's DOJ nominees through academic writing. Perhaps it was Lani Guiner.

Like I stated, my memory is fuzzy and I am pretty sure there was more to the sound byte than I recalled (but then, isn't that the point of spinning soundbytes?)
1.30.2006 1:33pm
farmer56 (mail):
Whats wrong with getting facts right? Today I instinctivley run any 'news' I read that contains numbers the math in my head. more times than not, the numbers are grossley wrong, trying to gin up a concern.

And remember, the error was pointed out and they still got it wrong.

My latest example of the math fiaasco was when I was visiting a large aquarium. The guide was explaining the large sea turtle hatched from an egg and only weighed an ounce. And doubled is size every single day for the first year of its life. I got the guy alone and explained that you cant double any number 365 times and not have a creature that weighed more than the earth itself. He politely explained he was a marine bioligist and in fact what he said was true. Try it yourself double an ounce 365 times and see what you get.
1.30.2006 1:35pm
stealthlawprof (mail) (www):
The need for adherence to fact diminishes in direct proportion to the importance of the point being made. We have not yet fully adopted Newspeak, but its twin Newlogic is already in the ascendency.
1.30.2006 1:35pm
dweeb:
Math is hard.
1.30.2006 1:36pm
frankcross (mail):
dk35, you've got to understand that putting out false facts undermines a case. It's perfectly appropriate to point out false facts, because over the long run the truth is the effective argument.

Now, I agree that the basis of choice of conspirator posts is a little unclear. The world is full of false factual claims. For a while this site was repeatedly taking on Slate, generally fairly, but overlooking far greater errors from other sources. But it's their site to choose what they wish.
1.30.2006 2:17pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Rape is of course a very serious crime. I had thought this went without saying. Moreover, as I noted in my post, many people underestimate its frequency.

On the other hand, that rape is a very serious crime makes it all the more important that discussions of it be accurate. First, factual accuracy is generally helpful to trying to deal with social problems; generally speaking, the more serious the problem, the greater the risks from dealing with it incorrectly.

But more specifically, many women are understandably very concerned about the risk of rape, precisely because rape is such a serious crime. It's no service to them to suggest that there are 200 million rapes per year in the U.S., which translates into an average of more than one rape per U.S. woman per year (surveys of noninstitutionalized persons report that the victims of rape are overwhelmingly women), when the actual risk is roughly 1/2500 to 1/250 of that.
1.30.2006 2:21pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Frank: One important determinate of what we criticize is what we read (always a tiny and skewed fraction of all that's out there). As I've at times pointed out, I read Slate pretty often, because it's generally quite interesting and easily accessible.

The Daily Barometer piece came up on a largely unrelated LEXIS/NEXIS query that I run each day (the query looks for references to sexual harassment cases, but often finds stories that mention harassment in passing but are about something else); I saw the error, and when I also saw a similar error in the site they referred to, I thought it was worth pointing out.
1.30.2006 2:26pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
Guinier was rejected because she was portrayed as being in favor of quotas and race-based electoral districts (she wasn't -- see here). Her problems had nothing to do with sex, let alone an assertion that heterosexual sex is rape.

It's possible that there was some Clinton DOJ nominee who took that extreme position, but if so, I can't imagine who it is. Certainly, none of the infamous Clinton DOJ unconfirmed appointments (Kimba Wood, Zoe Baird, Guinier, Bill Lan Lee) fit the bill.
1.30.2006 2:36pm
dk35 (mail):
Eugene,

Thank you for that comment. It is, in my opinion, a better way to express your concerns than your original post, because it doesn't come off as a judgment on the student group that put out the press release. It is, frankly, more constructive, and is more helpful than the original post, which is more in the spirit of a "gotcha" post impugning the group.
1.30.2006 2:43pm
Robert Racansky:
No, but Eugene's only post on Rape, as far as I can see, decides to focus on the fact that one student group screwed up on its press release....My point is that whether a student press release screws up in their reporting on rape statistics isn't particularly important,;

It's all part of the War on Error.

Speaking of which, this is not his only post on the subject. See this
1.30.2006 2:48pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Well, dk, since the student group is either too dumb to breathe without adult supervision or is actively trying to mislead, why should they not be impugned?
It would save the rest of us time to know not to bother with them on other issues, or more nonsense on this issue.

One item not noted so far is what happens when the bulk of the population finds it's been put on. They become hostile, which is understandable, and don't take further discussion of the issue in question seriously. If the issue is important, this result in unhelpful.

Lying in pursuit of justice is a bad idea.
1.30.2006 2:51pm
Tom Myers (www):
Puzzlement: You say "Not 2,000 rapes every five minutes, it turns out, but 2,000 rapes daily, or one every 5 minutes. Off by a factor of 300." I think you mean "seven every 5 minutes", don't you? Otherwise it would be off by a factor of 2000, yes? But I make more mistakes than you do, even if I happen to be right about this.
1.30.2006 2:55pm
ApesMa (mail):
Daily Barometer: According to a press release issued by the Women's Center, 2,000 rapes occur every five minutes.

Press Release: About 2,000 rapes are committed daily at the rate of about one every 5 minutes.

One would like to think that even a math-challenged proofreader at the DB would notice the difference between 2,000 every five minutes and one every five minutes.

dk35: I would think that the student paper would be concerned about making such blatant errors because they undermine the paper's reputation. Why should one believe an alleged news source that commits blunders like this one?
1.30.2006 2:55pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
If there are 6.5 billion people, and 3% get raped each year, or 1% get raped 3 times a year, or 0.03% get raped 100 times a year, that would satify the quote. If 1% get raped each year, some of them more than once, a few many times, that would satisfy the quote.
There was no reason to limit the population to one particular country or city.
You can get different answers depending how rape is defined.
1.30.2006 3:10pm
nrein1 (mail):
I just would like to point out as a graduate of the University of Oregon located in Eugene OR, there must be something about people who are associated with the word Eugene that causes them to want to point out the mistakes associated with Oregon State.
1.30.2006 3:17pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
This kind of thing has been going on for a long time. I remember back in the 80s when there was a missing child hysteria, complete with programs to tattoo identification on kids, etc., based on huge numbers of "missing" kids. I was talking to my boss one day, and we wondered why, if there were all these missing, abducted, and murdered kids, we didn't see any of them on our tables (I'm a forensic pathologist). The answer was that the number of kids was hugely inflated by the fact that a kid who runs away from home is counted as a separate missing kid *each time* the kid runs away. There are a lot of teens who are reported missing who run away ten to a hundred times per year. The fact is that the number of abducted children is very, very low.

Similarly, there was a big to-do not too long ago with the claim made by President Clinton that 30% of ER visits made by women were due to domestic violence. When asked where that number came from, nobody could give a reference. It was eventually tracked down to an unsubstantiated article in Mirabella, a woman's magazine. The actual number is closer to 2%.

Finally, one must remember that the statistics on rape are inflated by false claims, which account for up to 40% of accusations.
1.30.2006 3:23pm
Seamus (mail):

countertop, it was Andrea Dworkin who supposedly said that all heterosexual sex is rape -- only she didn't actually say that (see here), and even if she had, she was never nominated for any DOJ position, high ranking or otherwise.


But aside from that, yeah, good point!

(Like the man said, it's important to get your facts right, so you don't come off looking like a horse's ass.)
1.30.2006 3:40pm
Condi4Prez (mail):
Farmer56.

You get to 1,024 lbs on day 15, you get to over a million lbs on day 25 and over a billion lbs on day 35! There is a 109 digit number waiting for you if you make it to 1 year. But what would you eat to maintain this weight? At least 2 Ted Kennedy's per day at minimum...
1.30.2006 3:53pm
TheProudDuck (mail) (www):
I love this. DK's argument is essentially "Rape is a more serious problem than innumeracy; therefore, rape should be discussed instead of innumeracy."

In other words, Eugene's post should have said this:

"Rape is a serious problem."

Okay. So it is. Glad we got that out of the way. Now we have time to go down the list and discuss less important things -- like college journalists who can't count.

It's not an either-or proposition. There's plenty of time to discuss the seriousness of rape and the seriousness of innumeracy, too.
1.30.2006 4:08pm
farmer56 (mail):
I dont worry so much about rape. My wife and daughter are both carrying a concealed weapon. And if they are out at night walking the dog, (135 lbs of love and drool), I dont worry. I dont believe in vigilanty justice, but, If more of these pedators thought about their own safty, We would reduce the amount of rape.

Eugene's point is...If you are willing to lie about the numbers of persons being raped, you'll lie about anything to push your cause. And? Soon? your cause has no meritt in the eyes of the people you are trying get you to join in your fight. A fourth grader could run these numbers in their head, so, I think it was an outright lie.

Back In The Reagan years, homelessness was a huge problem (went away when Clinton 'fixed' it) But in the rural state I live in, a Proffessor did a study. A county by county study of homeless persons. The very rural county I lived in had 25 homeless people. The local weekly thought that was terrible and set out to enrage the poupulace to fix this. surley 25 people could be taken care of by the people.

Except. After the paper talked to every single church, school. halfway house, police mayor, city council person. fire fighter, ambulence personel, etc. Not a single person had ever seen 1 homeless person. The learned Proff had included in his 'study'? included college kids home on Christmas break, because, They were force to leave their dorms for the Chrismas break.

Result. All of the churches and community orginizations had their donations drop substationly thus people that needed help, lost an avenue to recieve help.
Lieing does have a price to the most needy.
1.30.2006 4:10pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Folks: I have no reason at all do believe that anyone involved in this problem was "lying"; as best I can tell, I think they were just sloppy. You can speculate to the contrary, if you'd like, but I'm hesitant to label people liars without some concrete evidence that shows the falsehood was deliberate, evidence that I don't see here. So please don't characterize my post as asserting anything at all about lying.
1.30.2006 4:17pm
2LChris:
William Oliver:
Finally, one must remember that the statistics on rape are inflated by false claims, which account for up to 40% of accusations.

I guess I'm curious if you have a source for that data. Given that this conversation began on the spouting of what, upon second glance, are obviously unsupported statistics based in part on "making weight" for one's case, that information would be valuable. Could I assume that you are referring to acquittals or dismissals in rape cases? If that is the case, most anyone associated with the legal field realizes that findings are at best an approximation taking into account the social consequences of the legal system itself; given our social concern for overinclusion (i.e., innocent people being convicted) we have hurdles in the way of guilty verdicts. I'm sure you'll agree that if 40% of rape cases do not end with a guilty verdict this does not necessarily mean the person that pressed charges to begin with was lying, it only means that for any number of reasons not enough facts reached 12 random people in a box such that they were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. Not saying that's where you got the statistic, but just guessing because you don't say for sure.

Further, I'd like you to think rationally about the incidence of false reporting in the context of a rape problem. Is it easy to report a rape? Would it be easy, after the occurrence of something so degrading and violent, to go to the hospital and then to the police and relive the event? How about for the length of a trial? Imagine the difficulties just described for someone who is dealing with the added pressure of upholding a lie. It actually seems more likely that the psychological pressures in the case of rape reporting lead to women who actually were raped not reporting it, rather than women who were raped going through all that trouble just to harass/vex/get attention. Eugene's statement about rape being underreported in the Victim's Survey seems to bear that out.

I should end with a caveat that I do realize that the subset of women who are raped and don't report it share very little in the way of incentives and mindset with women who are not raped yet nevertheless feel the need to report it. I'm simply saying that 1) I am concerned by the unsupported nature of the statistic 2) my concern is amplified by the fact that I'm not sure what the incentive would be for people to file false claims at that rate and 3) given the difficult nature of rape reporting, my concern has an added dimension that labeling rape reporting as an area rife with fraud would add to that difficulty.
1.30.2006 5:20pm
cyall (mail):
2) my concern is amplified by the fact that I'm not sure what the incentive would be for people to file false claims at that rate and

I'm not sure about rape, but my friend has been falsely accused of sexual battery and assault (toward his daughter) because he attempted to obtain joint physical custody after the mother started making to much money for the girl to remain on the state's subsidised health insurance. Which was the only reason he agreed to joint legal but not joint physical custody. One can't imagine all the incentives that can become "resoanable" to people in the righ circumstance.
1.30.2006 5:50pm
Sammimo (mail):

I dont worry so much about rape. My wife and daughter are both carrying a concealed weapon.

That's a mercy, since a concealed weapon also imbues the owner with the ability to single out a likely rapist from 100 yards. And I understand they usually announce their approach anyway: "I'm coming to rape you now. Getting closer. If you have a weapon, now's the time to draw." They would never, say, blindside a victim with a disabling blow to the head or employ any other MO involving stealth. That's just not cricket.

The dog, on the other hand? Certainly a better deterrent than a concealed weapon.

/flame on
//believes in gun ownership, but not magic
1.30.2006 5:51pm
Richard Bennett (www):
Professor Volokh says:

...surveys of noninstitutionalized persons report that the victims of rape are overwhelmingly women


Yes, but that's a bit of a distortion. There are more rapes where the victim is male than female, on account of the high incidence of prison rape. But as that's an institutionalized population, it doesn't matter.

Jeez.
1.30.2006 6:03pm
OSU grad (mail):
OSU student reporters are just lazy and sloppy....like all state school student reporters. But I may be painting student reporters with a pretty broad brush. Or not. Oh, by the way....Rape is bad. Very bad.
1.30.2006 6:04pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
I guess I'm curious if you have a source for that data. Given that this conversation began on the spouting of what, upon second glance, are obviously unsupported statistics based in part on "making weight" for one's case, that information would be valuable. Could I assume that you are referring to acquittals or dismissals in rape cases?

Your assumption would be incorrect:

A study of rape allegations in Indiana over a nine-year period revealed that over 40% were shown to be false — not merely unproven. According to the author, "These false allegations appear to serve three major functions for the complainants: providing an alibi, seeking revenge, and obtaining sympathy and attention. False rape allegations are not the consequence of a gender-linked aberration, as frequently claimed, but reflect impulsive and desperate efforts to cope with personal and social stress situations." ( Kanin EJ. Arch Sex Behav. 1994 Feb;23(1):81-92 False rape allegations. )

I write at more length on this particular topic on my blog, if you are interested in the real numbers.
1.30.2006 6:55pm
Porkov (mail):
Jeeze - two hundred million. Maybe this has something to do with the Larry Summers conjecture.
1.30.2006 7:08pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Rodney Dangerfield ca 1980..."I know a girl whos so Ugly, 2 guys broke into her apartment..she yelled "RAPE!!" they yelled "NO!!!"
1.30.2006 8:47pm
Jody (mail) (www):
I'll just add that 73% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
1.30.2006 9:31pm
-Ed. (mail):
Thank you for this post! I was watching TV recently and saw two commercials by a large US insurance company, though I forget which one at the moment. One of the commercials claims there is a collision incident between a train and an automobile in the US every 5 minutes. The other claims there is a car wreck in the US every 30 seconds. I've got my shoes and socks on so I can't do the arithmetic at this moment,... but both of those seem outrageously high to me.
1.30.2006 9:40pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Is the student group lying?

Either they deliberately misrepresented the statistics, or the deliberately misrepresented themselves as an institution which knows stuff.

Ever hear a reporter preface a report with, "I don't know jack about this, you probably know more than I do, but here's what you should believe about it."?

If the student group had represented themselves as a bunch of kids playing with a keyboard, they'd have been honest.
1.30.2006 11:37pm
TChad:
While some feminists continue to pretend otherwise, the rape rate has fallen dramatically in recent years. Bureau of Justice Statistics stats from the the National Crime Victimization Survey show that the incidence of rape dropped from 2.2 per thousand in 1991 to 0.4 per thousand in 2004, a reduction of more than 80%.

Click on the chart here for details:

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/rape.htm

The stats include rapes of males, which comprise about 10% of the total.
1.31.2006 1:04am
Windypundit (www):
"What I don't get is why you need statistics at all to convice people that rape is a serious problem."

Here's why you need statistics: I have never been raped. I have never even met someone who told me they were raped. There has been no rape in my life.

How else could I know that rape is big problem except through indirect evidence such as statistics?
1.31.2006 2:00am
Jeroen Wenting (mail):
The definition of rape is indeed also a major problem here.
Even given that the number of 2000 per minute would be 2000 per day (more likely but still high), without defining what they include in that number it doesn't mean anything.
Convictions? Accusations? Did they do some extrapolation to include a number for non-reported rapes (and if so what basis did they use for their data?)?
And what do they call rape in the first place? I've heard some feminists screaming rape when a man looks at them, because obviously he's undressing them with his eyes and thinking about rape therefore it is rape...
If you call every time a man looks at a woman an incident of rape you're up into the billions of incidents per day for the US alone.
1.31.2006 7:34am
Marty (mail) (www):
So if their statistic of 1 rape every 5 minutes is correct (and, given their proficiency in math, why would I believe that?), then there are 2016 (about 2000) rapes weekly.
1.31.2006 8:40am
farmer56 (mail):
Sammimo:

Rapists do not knock their victims unconcious. Because, this is not about sexual intercourse. It is, about violence against a weaker victim, My girls stuff their hand in their purse if the have a need to traverse an isolated area. I belive that the predators (if they are watching), dont like the idea that they can't figure out what is in the unseen hand. It is called Self defense. and if the women you love and care about do not know these tactics, you are at fault for not giving them the info to keep them out of risk.

No I do not belive in magic.

Yes that whole 2cnd ammendment thing I do belive in

And My girls have never been assulted. BECAUSE they have trained themselves not to be victims. DUH!
1.31.2006 9:22am
sh (mail):
Most interesting, dk35 addresses the horrors of rape, yet uses "screws up" as a legitimate conversational phrase.
I guess that you're part of the problem, too, ya think?
1.31.2006 10:04am
ShelbyC:
Well, they posted a correction here.
1.31.2006 10:15am
Timothy (mail) (www):
As another U of Oregon graduate, I do have to say "neener" to the Daily Barometer. Not like the Daily Emerald is much better. At least my former home never pretended to be anything more than a drinking club for libertarians.
1.31.2006 10:16am
Ilkka Kokkarinen (www):
But how many homeless people die each minute?
1.31.2006 10:38am
Chester White (mail):

The media constantly make mistakes with million/billion/trillion and exponential numbers.

For many of us trained as scientists or engineers, it's automatic, every time we hear a number or a rate or a size or anything similar mentioned, to do a quick ballpark calculation to see if it's reasonable.

Shocking how often it's not.
1.31.2006 10:52am
farmer56 (mail):
Chester

I do this constantly. I find the media skews the figures at a worrisome rate that shouts,,,,not a mistake. An attempt to move a story toward a political view.

We do not have to be a trained scientist to do the math. My son is studying engineering, but, my daughter, in elementry education does the same.

Shocking? No. dishonest.
1.31.2006 12:32pm
Dave Justus (mail) (www):
It's called 'new math' and if you were more in tune with other peoples feelings and realized that the process, not the result is what is important you would understand that.

Why do you have women?
1.31.2006 12:49pm
Guest 1960:
I did write the editor and heard back from them the next day - this morning.
The note was that they had posted a correction last Friday.

I wrote back to admonish them to review their corrections policy as it applies to on-line stories.

While a correction is nice for print, the on line story should be updated - either with strike thru or a foot note. I am sure there are other methods.

Just updating, without noting the change, is not 'professional'

Anyways - in keeping with the idea of MSM errors - the editors/publishers of college papers have to instill in the reporters a sense of accuracy, correctness and responsibility.

A 'back of the envelope' check for numerical results makes sense - as some point out is it reasonable.
Another check like this is the 'laugh test' If it seems so wacky that someone might laugh, you had better expain futher. And with on-line being virtually unlimited, you have the space. A print copy can say - "Do you want more information? See our web copy of this story"

I would also expect the editors to watch the adverbs and adjectives. How you say something can influence how it is percieved. Same with percentages. A 50% drop in price ...

Drudge and other sources had the past couple of days the 'record profit' for a US company. Well Earnings/share - were those even 'high?' It is a huge company, shouldn't they make a profit? Maybe you are editorializing in the way the story is told.

Hard to stay objective and readible ... by that is why they get paid - professionals.


Rape is serious.
Don't forget that OSU has a long history of student athletes raping women on campus. If it were up to me, they would have lost the football and basketball programs years ago.
1.31.2006 12:53pm
farmer56 (mail):
Dave justus

Yes I need to be admonished. I forgot that as long as the goal is pure (stopping rape) lying and stealing and murder and genocide is acceptable.

I have women the same way as my wife says 'My Husband'
1.31.2006 1:28pm
Philip F. Lee (mail):
The FBI UCR reports rapes every year. In 2004, they reported
94,635
1.31.2006 6:49pm
peterkylee (mail):
The correction is still wrong! 1 every 5 min. is 12 per hour (60min/5=12). There are 24 hours a day. Therefore 12x24=288. Not 2000! The press release is wrong. The paper is wrong. The correction is wrong! The press release should've claimed there are 288 rapes daily, not 2000! And the Barometer should be ashamed it wouldn't do the math (again) before issuing an correction. How lazy is that?
1.31.2006 7:40pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
The FBI UCR reports reported rapes (or, to be more precise, reported rapes and attempted rapes reported to the police). The NCVS is, I suspect, more accurate for most crimes that it measures, because it includes the many crimes that are never reported to the police. Naturally, it has its own potential problems, some of which stem from its being a survey, but on balance I think it provides better estimates of the actual incidence of rape, robbery, burglary, and the like than does the UCR.
2.1.2006 12:55am