If You Liked 1 In 5, You’ll Love 1 In 3

Remember when every story about campus rape began with that glorious claim, that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in college?  Good times. And then they went and blew it all to hell, because, well, it was just total nonsense.  It turns out that the real number is .61%, not 20%.

Just as the narrative being used to turn all sexual interactions into rape and sexual assault, at the woman’s pleasure, was unraveling, a new statistic hit the media that brought joy to neo-feminists everywhere:

Certain feminists were almost gleeful Monday when they discovered a “study” that seemed to confirm their worldview that a large chunk of the male population just want to rape.

The study, announced in Newsweek, showed that 1 in 3 college boys in North Dakota would rape a woman if they could get away with it.

This lead to pearl-clutching headlines such as Jezebel’s “1 in 3 college men admit they would rape if we don’t call it rape” and Cosmopolitan’s “Study: 1 in 3 men would rape if they wouldn’t get caught or face consequences.”

Rape culture! Rapists! Rape, rapey, rapedy rape, rape.  Even as I was being schooled by Elie Mystal the other night, who showed his mad skilz by simultaneously squeezing lime into his rum and coke, he emphasized that one third of men were rapists. “Hah!” Elie proclaimed triumphantly, as the final drop splashed in his hi-ball glass. This is why all men deserve to be convicted of maleness, he explained.

Except no:

The biggest problem with that study is that the researchers surveyed just 86 men (who received extra credit for their participation) at a single university in North Dakota. And the answers of just 73 men were used for analysis because the researchers discounted missing data and one man whose answers confused them (he said he would rape but not use force to obtain intercourse).

Wendy McElroy goes through a painstaking dissection of the statistic, showing why it’s worse than just bad numbers, but statistics abused in the name of a cause.

Charles Seife, a journalist and a professor at New York University, coined the term proofiness as a corollary to an earlier term coined by comedian Stephen Colbert: truthiness. Truthiness was defined as “the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.”

Proofiness is “the art of using bogus mathematical arguments to prove something that you know in your heart is true — even when it’s not.”

After all, what matters more, that it’s true or that you desperately want to believe that it’s true because it bolsters your otherwise baseless worldview?  While the study’s flaws were so deep and pervasive as to merit McElroy’s detailed analysis, some of the highlights are:

Use a ridiculously small sample that is selective and drawn from one source. Of the approximately 15,000 students at the university in question, 86 male students were surveyed and 73 answers were used for analysis. Of these, 23 respondents were considered to have expressed “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse.”

Throwing in incentives to please the study’s authors doesn’t help either. Nor does skewing the questions, and the various other flaws noted in her story.

But then, it appears this wasn’t exactly a study, at least not in the usual scholarly way. As Ashe Schow points out:

Edwards also provided the Examiner with the debriefing material that was supposed to address “rape myths.” Researchers were tasked with confirming that male participants’ “assumptions go in the right direction” following the survey. In other words, make sure those men believe what the researchers believe.

Academics and advocacy is a toxic mix.

Some of the assumptions were innocuous, like telling the men they should respect a “no” (even though that’s no longer acceptable; men are now required by feminists to get a “yes” for every stage of potential sexual activity). Other dispelled “myths” conform to current politically correct wisdom — for example, ignoring men as sexual assault victims and infantilizing drunk women as if they were incapable of giving consent.

But the worst piece of the study was the likelihood that it was taken as a joke by its handful of participants, particularly the nine guys who, per the study, reported that they would rape a woman:

And if one looks at the other major statistic in Edwards’ study — that 13.6 percent of respondents (9 guys) actually said they would rape if there were no consequences — the massive margin of error puts that range at between 2.13 percent and 25 percent.

“Since they received extra credit, they were probably all taking the same class from one of the professors who wrote the paper,” Perry wrote.

Not exactly a confidence raiser, but who cares about anything remotely resembling accuracy when this study provided fodder for headlines to fill the gap after the crushing demise of the 1 in 5 statistic that had been relied upon in framing a national discussion calling for the redefinition (or more accurately, the non-definition) of rape and sexual assault and criminalization without due process of all those raping men.

And no, I will not insert the standard caveat here about how rape is horrible. If you think that’s an issue, then you are too twisted to be worthy of the bother. But when it comes to redefining and criminalizing conduct based upon manufactured hysteria with the full weight of academia pushing for it, and leaving all academic integrity at the back door, it’s necessary for people like Ashe Schow and Wendy McElroy to clear up the malarky so we don’t have to debunk the 1 in 3 men want to rape claim just as had to be done to the 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted claim.

No, there is no valid statistical evidence to suggest that a third of men are rapists.  It’s complete nonsense. Care for another Cuba Libre, Elie?

7 thoughts on “If You Liked 1 In 5, You’ll Love 1 In 3

  1. Ted H.

    This is a frigtening double down on obvious propaganda. These types of gamblers have to go bust eventually, right?

      1. Nigel Declan

        At the rate that the definitions of “rape” and “sexual assault” are expanding, I could easily see even more methodologically-suspect isolated studies performed by true believers returning results like “1 in 2” or “2 in 3” or “4 in 5” in the not-too-distant (though sadly not-distant-enough) future.

  2. The Real Peterman

    “And no, I will not insert the standard caveat here about how rape is horrible. ”

    Thank you for respecting your readers. Anyway, since this survey didn’t ask any women, it is worthless in making determinations comparing one gender to the other. Unless one already believes what the “study” is supposed to prove.

  3. Quinn Martindale

    A minor point given the larger methodological flaws, but I also found it disingenuous for the study’s authors to say respondents said they would have “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse”” when the question asked was how likely, from 1-5, would you be to force a woman to do “something sexual”.

    1. SHG Post author

      Given the definitional variability these days, it may no longer be possible to ask an adequately framed question to get a meaningful and reliable response. A generation ago, “force” in this context meant physical force. Today, it could mean “emotional manipulation,” which is what used to be called seduction and was not only considered perfectly acceptable, but was presumed to be quite normal.

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