Wow. . . coming off the Silence is the Enemy rape awareness initiative, it’s more depressing than usual to see the Telegraph’s latest bad science reporting. Their story implies that rape victims deserve blame for what happens to them:
Women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped, claim scientists at the University of Leicester (source).
Ben Goldacre of the excellent Bad Science blog didn’t think so. So he tracked down the (student) author of the (unpublished) (MS) dissertation cited by the Telegraph. She said the article was completely wrong:
“We found no evidence that that women who are more outgoing are more likely to be raped, this is completely inaccurate, we found no difference whatsoever. The alcohol thing is also completely wrong: if anything, we found that men reported they were willing to go further with women who are completely sober.” (source)
Goldacre then asked about the “provocative dress” claim: while there was a slight correlation, it was “not statistically significant.” In fact, the researcher said “I told the journalist it isn’t one of our main findings, you can’t say that. It’s not significant, which is why we’re not reporting it in our main analysis.”
What are they doing at the Telegraph? Simply calling whatever knee-jerk prejudices they have “news”, without reading the press release or actually listening to the scientists they call? And we wonder why these attitudes about rape persist. . .
PS: Another study presented at the same conference indicated that men have less sympathy for rape victims. Now why would that be? Because there’s a perception that women are asking for it with their behavior? Thanks again, Telegraph.