The Nasty Little Secret of Progressive Statistics

Cristian Farias pointed out the twit to me:

Marshall Project

For the self-proclaimed messiah of criminal law reporting, I would have expected something a tad deeper than “research suggests” repeating the same phony stats that are being used to trivialize the risk of false rape accusations.  But then, when the self-proclaimed messiah of criminal law reporting stands for the finest in progressive values, why not?

This is why not. From Jack Chin at PrawfsBlawg:

A widely cited review of the literature suggests that a more accurate conclusion of reliable studies is between 2 and 10%.  But CUNY Dean Michelle Anderson published an article the conclusion of which on this point seems solid to me:  “In fact, there is no good empirical data on false rape complaints either historically or currently . . . As a scientific matter, the frequency of false rape complaints to police or other legal authorities remains unknown.”

And this is why not:

A more recent National District Attorney’s Association study reviewing the same literature, while debunking absurdly high estimates from some unreliable studies, agreed: “Of course, in reality, no one knows—and in fact no one can possibly know—exactly how many sexual assault reports are false.”

But most importantly, this is why not:

And it cannot go unremarked, in a season where, in my opinion, at least, there is good reason to believe that African American men suffer from the consequences of myths imposed on them, that a belief that an accusation has a 98% chance of being true imposes a special burden on minorities.  White lacrosse players at Duke deserve false accusations against them no more than anyone else, but at least they are likely to have financial resources and, from some important quarters, receive the benefit of the doubt.  Falsely accused African Americans may not be so fortunate.

Many spectacular university-related gang rape charges which were disproved involved African American men.  Tracey Owens Patton & Julie Snyder-Yuly, Any Four Black Men Will Do: Rape, Race, and the Ultimate Scapegoat, J. Black Studies offers much history and context and a sad tale from Iowa State.  The fact that accusations were debunked in these cases might suggest that the system works.  But if the young Black men at St. John’s or Hofstra had neglected to record their encounters, I for one, would not be a bit surprised if they were in prison for life.

There is a huge, glaring conflict here, for those who willingly turn a blind eye to phony statistics to justify supporting and believing the claims of rape “survivors” without question, challenge or the slightest hint of skepticism.  Their simplistic mantra of believe the women because false accusations almost never happen is not merely a lie, but comes primarily at the expense of black male defendants.

So how does that fit with your progressive world view?  You support feminism. You are against racism.  When the two clash, who are you willing to burn, the accusing woman or the accused black man?

Aside from the inherent problems with advocates who continue to spread baseless statistics, largely because they and the rest of America are statistically incompetent, and the stats that support their team are the only ones that matter when the cause is on the line, even the phony stats matter.  Ten percent of accusations are false?  And that’s trivial, unworthy of your progressive concern for fairness, due process and innocence, when compared to the “survivor’s” suffering?

Why can’t both matter?  Since when must we pick sides with our eyes wide shut? When did truth become an inconvenience?

If you’re prepared to hold tight to fallacious statistics because they support, at least in your mind, your cause, and your cause is more important to you than accuracy, so be it.  But then, the fact that you’re willing to deceive yourself and others in furtherance of your cause doesn’t mean you also get to pretend you stand for progressive values. You don’t.

What you are doing is sacrificing innocent men of color on the altar of feminist dogma.  If this is fine with you, then say so.  Say it out loud, that you don’t care that you are happily condemning innocent black and Hispanic males to prison, to lives of misery, to all the suffering that a human being and family goes through when the innocent are wrongfully accused, convicted, disparaged and sentenced, because the rape panic matters more to you than their lives.

Be as feminist as you want, but you don’t get to wrap yourself in the comfort of progressive values. Your cause comes at the expense of males of color. You are the enemy of progressive values. You are prejudiced. Admit it already.

23 thoughts on “The Nasty Little Secret of Progressive Statistics

  1. Vin

    “So how does that fit with your progressive world view? You support feminism. You are against racism. When the two clash, who are you willing to burn, the accusing woman or the accused black man?”

    I know this might scare you some, but this question has been knawing at me for a week now, particularly given the article in the WP indicating its easy to get over a false accusation.
    Lynching was justified by proclaiming that the government system was insufficiently handling matters. It was also primarily used to target black men, guilty or not guilty. It has no more value today than it did back before it was outlawed
    Justifying its use in any form is the fundamental attribution error at its worst.

    1. SHG Post author

      I am scared by this question knawing at you. I would feel much better if it was only gnawing at you. But that’s just me.

  2. Mark Draughn

    Exactly. The horror story used to push stronger enforcement is about privileged rich white frat boys. Historically, however, when the boot comes down, that’s not whose neck it usually lands on.

  3. John Barleycorn

    Mick Jagger didn’t always wear eyeshadow when he and the Rolling Stones preformed Sympathy for the Devil. I suspect he knew what he was doing when he did.

    It will be interesting to observe to which public venues “feminists” choose to wear eyeshadow and what songs they will be preforming as their crowds swell in size alongside the numbers of the innocently accused as the definition of rape and consent continue to “evolve”.

  4. EH

    It depends on what FALSE means. And that is the source of the lie.

    If you’re a liberal researcher, “false” often means “proven to be untrue,” and often seems to include some sort of malice, i.e. “deliberately and maliciously false.” This is not the normal layperson definition, to put it mildly.

    If you’re an accused party, or for that matter a normal layperson, “false” means “WRONG.” That includes malice; mistake; forgetfulness; inadvertent memory lapses; accusations of conduct which does not legally constitute rape; and situations where the accused had a defense. In other words, all situations where a hypothetical omniscient magic person would not conclude that there was cause to convict.

    1. SHG Post author

      It, whatever “it” you’re talking about, may well “depend” on many things, the definition of false among them, as well as the definition of rape, sexual assault and every other key word. But no, the conflict raised in the post doesn’t depend on “what FALSE means,” but rather on which value is superior, race or gender, as one comes at the expense of the other. Your focus, while a worthy one for discussion, comes significantly down the line.

    2. Daniel Schegh

      For the sake of justice, “false” really means a lack of *mens rea*. Though mens rea technically means “the intending mind”, it also includes neglect or failure of a duty to care. That is, a reasonable person *should have* known. This is why your actions when drunk are still your responsibility because you failed to take precautions to ensure you were not a danger to others when drunk.

      Herein lies one of the main problems I see: it is possible for an alleged victim (“survivor”) to *feel* that they have been victim to a crime but the accused may have done everything reasonable. This creates a conflict because public justice systems are designed to protect the public by dealing with the perpetrators of crime, whether correcting their behaviour, segregating them from the public, or providing deterrence for people considering committing a crime. The justice system is not a means for satiating a desire for revenge or punishment by victims.

      To me, this is why there need to be two completely separate systems: one that supports (alleged) victims and one that seeks justice, and never mixing the two. Being supportive means providing comfort, therapy, and psychological help. In a support system, truth does not matter, the victims direct needs are everything, and punishing the alleged perpetrators is not a function. In a justice system, truth is everything and scrutiny is paramount, including the accuser.

      The fundamental problem I see with the OCR’s Title IX initiatives, the resulting college and university policies and tribunals, and “rape culture” activism, is that they use the basis of a support system while acting like they are a justice system. Punishing the accused should never be within the mandate of any Title IX program.

      This is exactly what we say in the Rolling Stone UVa narrative. Jackie didn’t want to file charges, didn’t want to name names, and didn’t want the university or Rolling Stone to push it to punish the perpetrators. She sought a support system; in that system, the accuracy of her accusations are irrelevant. Instead, RS and activists galore used the narrative to criticize and even vandalized based on the assumption of its truth, and demand justice. Now that the lack of truth and scrutiny in the story have been revealed, Jackie even lacks the support.

      The solution is for activists to stop trying to have their cake and eat it too. Never take a support system narrative as accurate, ever. You can take a justice system narrative as accurate, however, because that is its function. Mixing the two simply undermines both; women can’t get support systems now without their stories being scrutinized because support systems are attacked if they don’t seek justice as well. Keep them separate.

      1. SHG Post author

        Aside from the length of your comment and your explaining to lawyers at a law blog what mens rea means, your dichotomy between support systems and justice systems is a very interesting one.

  5. Patrick Maupin

    Your cause comes at the expense of males of color. You are the enemy of progressive values. You are prejudiced. Admit it already.

    Unfortunately, this is not news. The same was true of many (though not all) of the suffragettes over 100 years ago.

  6. EH


    In my unsurprising experience, the frequency of malicious acts is directly related to the ease and cost/benefits of doing them. If you simultaneously make it easier to file; and harder to defend; and lower the penalties for false reporting (have you ever even heard of someone who was disciplined for that?); and give additional protections like “no cross” or “no sworn testimony,” there is every reason to think that the false accusation rate–whatever it actually is–will go WAY up.

    Any discussions of existing “false” accusations are functionally meaningless unless they take that sort of thing into account. It’s as if you compared the # of false accusations of car theft to the # of false accusations of spousal abuse.

  7. The Real Peterman

    Research also suggests that only 2-10% of people are homosexual, yet feminists insists gay and lesbian rights must be fought for (one of the few matters I agree with them uopn). So, which is it? Is this number too small to care about, or not?

  8. Nick

    Even if it is “only” 10%, isn’t that horrifyingly high for a serious crime? One out of nine being innocent should make people question, not automatically believe.
    If 10% of murder accusations were false, people would be out with pitchforks.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Yeah, but did you think about what you wrote? I mean, did the 10% number really hit you at the time? It’s only five times the 2% number, and frankly 2% just isn’t that exciting these days, so the true significance could easily have escaped you.

        I mean, if you had truly gotten it, whether it was trivial or not wouldn’t have been a question, now, would it?

        1. Noah

          Did you get it down deep into your bones? Did you meditate on the 10% in absolute and relative terms? I think this deserves a vision quest.

  9. Anne Krone

    This is the inevitable result when the aim is not equality under the law, but special carve outs for favored “victim” groups. Sometimes in the real world, the endangered wolf eats the endangered bison.

    1. SHG Post author

      There are a lot of moving parts with the problem today, not the least of which is that “rape” isn’t rape anymore, so post-hoc decisions that an unhappy, drunken, regretted, deceptive experience, after some discussion amongst friends, even months later, manifests as a rape complaint. In the eyes of those who don’t feel constrained by definitions or elements to endorse this view, complaints that rational people might deem false become true and beyond reproach.

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