I’ve written about conflicts of interest (COIs) a lot over the years. COIs are important in medicine and science because, as much as physicians and scientists like to think that they are immune to such things, we are as human as anyone else. We are just as prone to unconsciously (or consciously) being influenced by self-interest related to our COIs. Most of the time, for purposes of science, COIs are considered to be mostly financial in nature: employment or payments from a drug company, a financial interest in a treatment being studied, and the like. Andrew Wakefield is a classic example in that he was developing a separate measles vaccine that would compete with the MMR vaccine that he tried to nail as a cause of autism. However, conflicts of interest are not just financial. They can be ideological. For example, I have come across antivaccine articles published in ostensibly respectable sources in which the author does not divulge that she is affiliated with “vaccine safety advocacy group” (a.k.a. an antivaccine group). These sorts of COIs can be as important, if not sometimes even more so, than financial COIs. After all, money is just money, but an intense ideological belief is unlikely ever to be removed and can warp one’s perspective even more than money. Sometimes, COIs take the form of something about one’s background that is relevant to a topic being investigated or discussed or a personal experience that strongly influences one views. These non-financial COIs are, without a doubt, under appreciated, even in the skeptic movement.

That’s why I’ve become very insistent that we, as skeptics, scientists, and physicians, need to be totally up front about our conflicts of interest, be they financial, ideological, or personal. One reason, of course, is that those who—shall we say?—don’t share our dedication to rationality, science, and critical thinking will be very quick to point them out if we don’t do so first, but that’s not the most important reason. The most important reason is to be better skeptics. We need to honestly admit and recognize anything that might compromise our objectivity or lead us to conclusions that are not the ones best supported by science and the evidence. Once we know our own skeptical weaknesses in the form of COIs, we can work on trying to mitigate them. In many ways, financial COIs are the easiest to deal with, because they’re far more straightforward. When one has a personal experience that informs one’s views on a topic or has a strong ideological commitment to a point of view, it’s often hard to tell where skepticism devolves into motivated reasoning.

You know what’s also bad? False accusations are bad.

Indeed, I think that, without a doubt, we can all agree that false accusations of serious crimes and misdeeds are bad things, horrible things, a terrible things, things that can ruin reputations and lives and even end up with people dying over them. If there’s anyone who disagrees with this contention, he’s one warped person with whom I want no part. I also think that, without a doubt, skeptics can agree that examining false accusations is completely within the purview of skepticism, that no accusation is off-limits to legitimate skepticism that truly uses science, reason, and critical thinking and doesn’t devolve into trying to discredit the presumed victim. In that vein, Ben Radford’s post on his Center for Inquiry (CFI) blog A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper entitled The Anatomy of False Accusations: A Skeptical Case Study, seems, at first glance, like an entirely reasonable deconstruction of false accusations.

At first. It doesn’t take long, however, to notice problems. It starts out with an anecdote (and, as we all know from medicine, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”), and it’s a damning one. It’s the story of a college student who falsely accused her former boyfriend of abduction and sexual assault. It turns out that she made the false accusation because her grandmother had discovered images of her and the accused engaged in consensual sex acts. The rest of the post is a litany of more of the same. One false accusation recounted by Radford even resulted in the death of the falsely accused because the boyfriend of the woman who made the false accusation shot the man with whom she was having sex. The reason? He thought she was being raped.

The further I read, the more disturbed I became. For one thing, until near the end the article was relentlessly one-sided, its purpose clearly being to give the impression that false accusations of sexual assault are common. Oh, sure, towards the end Radford quotes Alan Dershowitz to concede that “most people who are accused of a crime are in fact guilty.” However, the overall message I got from his blog post was that false accusations of rape and sexual misconduct are common, making his concession that most people don’t lie about such things seem half-hearted, particularly in the context of the lack of high quality evidence to support his view in his post. Again, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data,” and Radford, disappointingly, went for anecdotes instead of data.

Now, here’s where I reveal that I know something that many of you don’t know (although, I daresay, many of you do). What those of you who aren’t into the skeptical movement probably don’t know is that last summer, the author of this piece, Ben Radford, was publicly accused of sexual harassment by Karen Stollznow. Now, let me make one thing very clear. I make no judgment as to whether Radford is actually guilty of sexual harassment. I don’t know. I don’t have enough information to know, because all I know is what Stollznow wrote about it (an article that was later removed) and some of what flew back and forth on atheist blogs for a few weeks. For purposes of this discussion of COIs, it really doesn’t matter. For purposes of my discussion of disclosing COIs, it’s utterly irrelevant to me whether Radford is guilty or not.

Now, how does Radford’s post read? Different, doesn’t it? Knowing this about him, I find it hard to view his post as anything more than an attempt at self-justification and a means of casting doubt on his accuser—even if such was not his intent. How would I have reacted to his post if he had disclosed his COI up front? I don’t know for sure. Probably not as badly as I did with his not having disclosed it. No, definitely not as badly as I did. However, what irritates me is what people who don’t know the back story will see. They will tend to assume that Radford is reasonably disinterested, trying to apply skepticism and critical thinking to the issue of false accusations. He is, after all, a prominent skeptic, writing on his employer’s blog, and his employer is CFI, which is dedicated to promoting skepticism and critical thinking. What Radford denied such readers is a piece of evidence necessary to help them evaluate his arguments, namely the bias of the writer. The closest Radford ever gets to admitting his COI is this paragraph:

It may be hard to sympathize with a man or woman falsely accused of a crime unless you’ve been in that situation yourself. Many people may assume that they would never be in relationship with a person who would falsely accuse them of something as serious as sexual harassment or sexual assault. However the fact is that any of us could be in that position; the man Levitski accused of abduction and assault was a friend and recent sex partner, who presumably had no idea what she was capable of. Think about how you would feel if this happened to your wife, husband, daughter, son, brother, sister, mother or father.

A perceptive reader, even one who knows nothing about the back story here, might suspect from this paragraph that Radford’s interest in the topic is more than just academic, but he would not have any way of doing more than suspecting this.

Unfortunately, Radford’s post is also badly reasoned and lacking in evidence. I was going to provide some examples and pick it apart a bit in my own inimitable way, other than pointing out its near-total reliance on anecdotes as I’ve already done, but it turns out that I don’t have to. Here’s what I mean. When I first saw Radford’s post and decided to write about it, I was also annoyed at CFI. Why, I thought, did CFI allow Radford to use its blog as a platform to grind his his own personal axes? Believe it or not, given how happy and pleased I was that my very first major article had just seen print in CFI’s flagship publication, Skeptical Inquirer (it’s a primer on Stanislaw Burzynski coupled with an article about how skeptics have become active again opposing him), I even felt a little trepidation as I wrote this. I wondered whether I would ever be invited to give a talk at a national CSI conference again, the way I was in 2012, or whether I’d ever see any of my articles in print again in the pages of Skeptical Inquirer. It was almost enough to make me stay my typing hands and look to another topic I had had in mind for today before I became aware of Radford’s post. Radford is, after all, very influential in CFI. If I were to piss him off, it wouldn’t result in a profane rant directed at me at TAM this year in which a certain large magician took umbrage about something I wrote about him, but it could have negative effects on my aspirations to be more influential. I don’t know if those fears are unreasonable, but I’m less worried now that I’ve seen another post on a CFI blog.

It turns out that Ron Lindsay, president of CFI, has actually written a response in which he noticed the same sorts of problems that I did. His post is reasoned and balanced, and he basically eviscerates Radford’s arguments right from the very title of his post, Evidence-Based Reasoning: Comments on a Blog Post. Now, I’ve had my issues with Lindsay in the past, in particular over an incident three years ago, but in this case Lindsay is spot on. For example:

In the first paragraph, Ben notes, in referencing the Iowa case, that “The relative obscurity of this case suggests its prevalence.” No, it doesn’t. Obscurity does not imply prevalence. This is fallacious reasoning. Right now, someone in obscure, rural Latvia could be falsely accusing someone else of being a philosopher. The obscurity of this event does not imply that false attributions of philosophizing are prevalent.

Exactly. Radford’s argument is a non sequitur. It does not follow from the obscurity of a case of a false accusation that false accusations are prevalent. It could just as easily imply the opposite. Evidence is needed to make the connection, and Radford didn’t provide any.

Then there’s this:

That false reports happen is not disputed. Nor does anyone dispute that for the individual falsely accused, it’s a very unfortunate, sometimes tragic, situation. But is this a widespread problem? That’s the key question. One might think so from the attention Ben has given to it and his use of the adverb “often,” but, actually, the evidence seems to indicate it is not a widespread problem. For example, a British study last year indicated that there were 35 prosecutions for false accusations of rape during a 17-month period while there were 5,681 prosecutions for rape in the same period of time. The suggestion that false accusations of rape are commonplace does not appear to be supported by the evidence. Moreover, this suggestion can be very harmful if it persuades people that reports of rape should be treated with special suspicion.

Exactly (again). Radford provided no context and no evidence to support his implication that such false accusations happen “often.” Most evidence, as Lindsay points out, actually tends to point in the opposite direction, namely that false accusations of rape are uncommon and that, if anything, rape is underreported, although he doesn’t mention that the issue is highly politicized and you can find outlier studies with very high numbers. In any case, Radford didn’t make even the most superficial attempt to look at the evidence. He just slung anecdotes. That’s the point. That’s where another major skeptical fail was, in addition to Radford’s glaring failure to disclose his personal COI regarding false accusations of sexual misconduct. We don’t let quacks, cranks, pseudoscientists, and antivaccinationists get away with making assertions using only anecdotes to support their conclusions. We should hold the luminaries of the skeptical movement to the same standards.

Think of it this way. No one disputes that in scientific and medical research it’s important to disclose one’s financial COIs. If discussed the way I discussed above, few would argue that it’s not also important to disclose COIs that might imply a strong ideological COI, such as antivaccinationists who publish review articles and research purporting to find a link between vaccines and autism who don’t mention that, oh, by the way, they are on the board of directors of an antivaccine group, although such COIs tend to be treated much less seriously than financial COIs. Fewer people would insist that disclosing COIs like those of Ben Radford, life events that have the potential to massively impact one’s objectivity, is critical, but I would. If you want to claim to be a skeptic and to persuade an audience of skeptics, you need to be completely open about such a potent personal COI. More importantly, if you want to be honest with yourself, it’s even more imperative to do so. The same is true of science. Ruthless self-examination and openness about sources of our potential biases can only help us develop as skeptics. We all have biases, and we all have potential COIs. Acknowledging them and being honest about them, are the first step in overcoming them, because you can’t overcome them if you fail to admit that they exist.

Comments

  1. […] Hey remember the other day – February 27th it was, last Thursday – I wrote a post about how Ben Radford wrote a post about False Accusations of Sexual Assault? And how it was more or less simultaneous with one by Carol Tavris on the same subject? And how it all seemed rather pointed? And then Orac wrote one? About conflicts of interest and how Ben Radford hadn’t disclosed his? […]

  2. #2 MI Dawn
    March 4, 2014

    Well, actually, I’m personally highly amused by Delysid’s claims about us. Since I imagine he’s one of the people on OK Cupid who would email every woman who shows up with”your hot wannna have sex with me”, I’ll just point and laugh.

    Actually, Narad, I’d be very interested to see what Delysid thinks you look like. Somehow, I suspect it’s totally opposite of your true appearance, and more similar to his own.

  3. #3 Delysis
    March 4, 2014

    Again you have failed to say anything. For someone flaunts their vocabulary and obscure knowledge you continuously fail to say anything of intellectual substance. You babble with ad homonym attacks.

    Instead if attacking my arguments you attack me. You attack my grammar. You cite the dictionary and nitpick minor details while ignoring the point. Typical academic who is overdeveloped I’m the playpen.

  4. #4 Delysis
    March 4, 2014

    Okcupid?!?! LMFAO!

    Yeah because I want to date pudgy women with a bad attitude who are desperately aware of their impending infertility.

  5. #5 AdamG
    March 4, 2014

    Instead if attacking my arguments you attack me.

    Why would anyone bother ‘attacking your arguments’ when you yourself have admitted that you will not be persuaded by evidence?

  6. #6 AdamG
    March 4, 2014

    The scientific method cannot be applied to sexual harrasment/rape trends in society because they are strongly influenced by feminist political propaganda and opinion.

    In fact, Delysid, I wonder if you’ve ever actually read a study that deals with these sorts of things.

    Here’s a particularly interesting one out today:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acer.12356/abstract

  7. #7 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 4, 2014

    @herr doktor bimler – I am in awe – awe, I say! – of your research skills. You managed in one link to show the most probable true name of metasonix, his e-mail address, and a reference by him to Orac as “MastCell”. Well done sir. If I were wearing a hat (considered gauche indoors) I’d tip, if not doff, it to you.

  8. #8 Bob G
    Los Angeles
    March 4, 2014

    @Orac@195

    Point taken. I think I understand the idea that a single case history in a medical journal does not demonstrate causation, even when there is correlation. And I further concede that Radford uses a few cases of false accusation and then tries to sell the generalization that false accusations are common. He even looks like he is trying ever so gently to imply that a substantial fraction of accusations are exaggerated or false. That’s the point of his amateur psychoanalysis of those who make false accusations.

    But I don’t think that anybody reading the Radford piece at all critically would buy into the generalization that is based on the small set of case histories. The first time I read it (more naively), the generalizations he was making came across as something akin to those warnings on the front pages of the tabloids in the supermarket checkout line. “Who is hanging around your child’s schoolyard!” The whole article had that sort of tone. I think that most of your readers and most of the CFI readers are careful about broad generalizations that aren’t carefully established scientific fact.

    On rereading Radford’s article, it’s a little unsettling that he is using CFI to flog his personal demon. After all, he has plenty of material about belief in astrology and flying saucers to work with. On the other hand, suppose for the sake of argument that he is actually completely innocent, and will establish that by a preponderance of the evidence in a New Mexico courtroom. If those are the facts, then I’m not completely sold on the idea that he has to make full disclosure that he has been a victim. Yes, it seems fishy, but what are the truly innocent obliged to do in this life? I will offer a counter argument that I read a long time ago. A man was stopped by the police and held because he resembled the description of someone wanted for murder. He was booked on the charge, and fairly rapidly exonerated and released. Later in life, back when job applications asked about arrests, he would write that he had been arrested due to mistaken identity. But when the employer pushed the matter and discovered that he had been arrested for murder, he was not hired, and this pattern followed him around for some years. It’s a quandary. The government solved the problem for the unjustly arrested by limiting employment applications to convictions, but the more general problem remains for the unjustly accused.

    I think it’s useful to make a distinction between the carefully documented anecdote of a published medical case history, vs the hundreds of anecdotes of alien abduction, electromagnetic field sensitivity, and flying saucers. CFI has done a good job of rebuttal on these topics. Radford’s ethical violation is to imply that false accusations of sexual crimes are somewhat related to the other forms of mass delusion that CFI likes to debunk.

  9. #9 Delysid
    March 4, 2014

    @AdamG

    Thanks for the link. This is the epitome of everything wrong and hilarious with academia. There is no topic too obvious in order for research.

    You mean testosterone causes sexual aggressiveness in males?! What landmark revelation! I hope they received tax money for this! Better yet I hope this was a Master’s thesis! That is some of the highest quality scientific research I ever seen!

    This is exactly why SOCIOLOGY IS NOT SCIENCE. Applying the scientific method to something does make something science. This is pathetic attempt to legitimize political third-wave feminist propaganda under the guise of science.

    Of course that is the whole point. Communists/socialists/progressives figured out long ago that the best way to promote their stupid ideology is pretend that it is scientific.

  10. #10 Orac
    March 4, 2014

    On rereading Radford’s article, it’s a little unsettling that he is using CFI to flog his personal demon.

    Having been appointed a CFI fellow last year, I was particularly disturbed by that as well. It’s probably what annoyed me enough to write this post.

    Radford’s ethical violation is to imply that false accusations of sexual crimes are somewhat related to the other forms of mass delusion that CFI likes to debunk.

    An excellent point that I should have made.

    I do note that people have told me that Mr. Radford has posted the first page of his legal complaint against Ms. Stollznow on his Facebook page, and that a reader pointed out that Ophelia Benson has noted this:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/03/very-pointed/

    If my prodding was what motivated Mr. Radford to reveal this rather whopping COI that I didn’t even know about when I wrote this post (i.e., his being involved in pending litigation related to the topic he blogged about), my work here is done. Hopefully, he will be much more transparent about these things in the future.

    I’m not sure what the fallout will be, however. Mr. Radford has friends high in the skeptical movement, and I know from various sources that he is not pleased with me. Oh, well…

    Whether anything will come of it, who knows? I’m actually relatively surprised at how relatively mild the criticism has been, compared to what I had been concerned about.

  11. #11 Narad
    March 4, 2014

    Instead if attacking my arguments you attack me. You attack my grammar. You cite the dictionary and nitpick minor details while ignoring the point.

    You mean like demonstrating your ignorance of Camus and the comical “praxeology,” the touchstone of your very existence? Remember your brilliant assertion that the “anarcho/capitalist solution” to Typhoid Mary would be “banishment,” and the utter humiliation that followed?

    Spare me. Your “points” collapse so quickly into raving displays of a persecution complex that there’s scarcely any reason or time to do more than mock you. Your very first entry in these comments started out with an undefended, stupid, blanket assertion and devolved into “hysterical feminazis” in the space of three paragraphs.

    And by all means, show me where I’ve “cite[d] the dictionary” while everyone waits for the long-suppressed,* shocking photographic reveal that has resulted from your expert linguistic fingerprinting.

    Otherwise, I suggest you go nurse your terminal case of asshurt elsewhere.

    * Despite not seeming to have ever been mentioned before.

  12. #12 Shay
    March 4, 2014

    Nard it is obvious that you are an extremely ugly and overweight computer science professor at a Canadian University

    Jesus God, are we back in high school here?

  13. #13 Shay
    March 4, 2014

    Italics fail, and I don’t even have a cat on my wrist as an excuse.

  14. #14 herr doktor bimler
    March 4, 2014

    Metasonix provides more contact details here, if anyone wants the thick dossier of evidence.
    http://wikipediocracy.com/press-release/

  15. #15 ann
    March 4, 2014

    ” On rereading Radford’s article, it’s a little unsettling that he is using CFI to flog his personal demon.

    Having been appointed a CFI fellow last year, I was particularly disturbed by that as well. It’s probably what annoyed me enough to write this post.

    Radford’s ethical violation is to imply that false accusations of sexual crimes are somewhat related to the other forms of mass delusion that CFI likes to debunk.

    An excellent point that I should have made”
    _______________

    Sigh.

    Moreover, there actually is a ton of data on the subject of rape accusations that shows there is exactly, precisely such a mass delusion directly related to it!

    And it’s that people don’t take rape accusations or the women who make them seriously at all, as a result of which a full two-thirds of the 20 percent of American women who are raped in their lifetimes don’t report it!

    The reason that matters is that in order for false rape accusations to be pandemic, women would have to be lying about rape frequently. So that’s what a person who cherry-picks anecdotes about false rape accusations is suggesting.

    It’s not helpful.

    The vast majority of men are not rapists. Of course. But the rapists are. And they get away with it.

  16. #16 ann
    March 4, 2014

    @Adam G, and — no doubt — for Delysid to respond to with a juvenile ad hominem attack:

    Yes. There are plenty of studies to that effect. For example, from here:

    http://sapac.umich.edu/article/196

    “Surveys have consistently reported that college men acknowledged forced intercourse at a rate of 5-15% and college sexual aggression at a rate of 15-25% (Koss, Gidycz, and Wisniewski, 1987; Malamuth, Sockloskie, Koss, and Tanaka, 1991).

    The national survey of rape conducted by Koss et al. (1987) revealed that 1 in 12 college men committed acts that met the legal definition of rape, and of those men, 84% did not consider their actions to be illegal.

    In a large study of college men, 8.8% admitted rape or attempted rape (Ouimette & Riggs, 1998).”

    Although according to Lisak and Miller, which is more recent:

    “Of the 1,882 men in the total sample, 120 (6.4%) met criteria for rape or attempted rape.A majority of these men, 80.8%, reported committing rapes of women who were inca-
    pacitated because of drugs or alcohol; 17.5% reported using threats or overt force in attempted rapes; 9.2% reported using threats or overt force to coerce sexual intercourse; and 10% reported using threats or overt force to coerce oral sex.

    Of the 120 rapists, 76 (63.3%) reported committing repeat rapes, either against multiple victims, or more than once against the same victim. In total, the 120 rapists admitted to 483 rapes, or 4.0 rapes each. However, this average is somewhat misleading. Since 44 of the 120 rapists admitted to only a single rape, the 76 repeat rapists actually accounted for 439 of the rapes, averaging 5.8 each (SD =7.7), significantly more than the single-act rapists (t =-4.1 (118), p < .001). The median number of rapes for the repeat rapists was three."

    And, last but not least, as the above study notes when summarizing the prior research:

    "Finally, in at least one study using this methodology (Lisak & Roth, 1990), autobiographical interviews were conducted with a sample of rapists. None of the assaults committed by these men had ever been reported, let alone prosecuted. In a second study using this methodology (Lisak et aI., 2000), interviews were conducted with another sample of perpetrators (induding rapists). Although the interviews were not comprehensively autobiographical, in no instance was any arrest or prosecution reported by any of the men who had perpetrated interpersonal crimes."

    The pandemic runs the other way, IOW.

    Full study here:

    http://www.wcsap.org/sites/www.wcsap.org/files/uploads/webinars/SV%20on%20Campus/Repeat%20Rape.pdf

  17. #17 ann
    March 4, 2014

    But don’t pay any attention to that.

    As Delysis has informed the thread, there are flyers about rape all over college campuses.

    And everyone knows that flyers trump data.

    So the Feminazis rule.

  18. #18 ann
    March 4, 2014

    Put another way:

    Being MRA means you’re so tough that you spend more time raging fearfully about flyers than women do about rape.

  19. #19 Narad
    March 4, 2014

    Better yet I hope this was a Master’s thesis! That is some of the highest quality scientific research I ever seen!

    Say, Dellysis’, would you like to share yours?

  20. #20 Chris,
    March 4, 2014

    hdb: “Metasonix provides more contact details here, if anyone wants the thick dossier of evidence.”

    What is even more awesome, is that he is a co-writer of a book about Wikipedia. I surely hope he puts all of that data that shows Orac moonlights as “MastCell” while sleeping.

    A pertinent quote from that page:

    …: “I edited Wikipedia back in 2004-2005, and gave up after realizing what a magnet for fools it was….

    Then I found this. Which says:

    I think that [name redacted] (“metasonix”) might have more credibility if he had disclosed to you that he is permanently banned from Wikipedia.

    I redacted his name as a courtesy because he did not use it here. I did not spend much time on googling while making dinner, the most pertinent thing I found was he is upset that Wikipedia would not let him advertise his business. I did not dwell into the details.

    I still can’t figure is out why he thinks Orac, a surgical oncologist who writes very long blog posts, also has time to edit Wikipedia. What is freaking weird is that “Encyclopedia Dramatica” claims that “MastCell” is a “Cyber Jew”… even with using Google cache that pathetic website produced several pornographic popups. Perhaps that is the work of the Hitler Zombie.

    My only conclusion is that Mr. Metasonic finally figured out that Orac is a pseudonym of someone he refers to in the website herr doktor bimler referenced. On several pages he refers to Orac’s not so secret name with “MastCell” tossed in the middle. But why?

    So I googled Orac’s not so secret identity with “MastCell”, and what are the first two links to? Well, to John Scudamore’s infamous whale.to site.

    This is where one must invoke Scopie’s Law on both Metasonix and his websites:

    In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately …and gets you laughed out of the room.

    (from a website that Kent Hovind has filed a lawsuit against)

  21. #21 ann
    March 4, 2014

    Formatting. I’m going to try it.

    I’ve been avoiding this topic since making my previous post, but I just have to say, this point strikes home. It was hurtful to be on the wrong end of false accusations; it was hurtful to see how many people presumed simply because of what the accusation was that it must be true.

    If now I have to re-inflict that own pain on myself every time I have something to say on the subject, that’s going to have a chilling effect. And of course that applies to all sides. It’s going to lead to an awful lot being said on the subject (on any subject) by people who have no personal COIs – because all their information is second-hand.

    Antaeus Feldspar, I’m profoundly sorry I hadn’t seen the above when I replied to you so snippily earlier in the thread.

    I wasn’t kidding when I said false accusations were evil. And I’m very sorry that you were touched by one.

    The reason I’m making the case as forcefully as I am is that I’m used to having this argument with men who have no firsthand experience of having been victimized by anything other than the flyers that double as their data.

    And I’ve been having it in one form or another for decades. It’s an evergreen. Because all of those stats have been close to what they are now for that long. In some cases, longer,

    Nevertheless, I apologize.

  22. #22 Narad
    March 4, 2014

    Whoops, nearly missed this part:

    Of course that is the whole point. Communists/socialists/progressives figured out long ago that the best way to promote their stupid ideology is pretend that it is scientific.

    This is uproarious, coming from someone who whines about econometrics’ sullying economics with pesky data (it’s like climate science, or vice versa, or something something “models” something) and venerates Human Action, which purports, for no discernible reason given that it’s a risible pretend axiomatic system pulled out of von Mises’s ass, to represent “a theoretical and systematic” science, the “statements and propositions” of which are “like those of logic and mathematics.”*

    * Strangely von Mises further seems to be under the under the impression that statements of mathematics and logic are “not subject to verification or falsification on the ground of experience and facts,” which I suppose is why all triangles really are equilateral.

  23. #23 ann
    March 4, 2014

    He had me at

    Communists/socialists/progressives

    Because you know them. And

    their stupid ideology

    singular..

  24. #24 Delysis
    March 4, 2014

    I’ve been falsely accused twice. The second time escalated to an internal meeting to kick me out of my fraternity. Fortunately I was completely innocent and there were witnesses defending me, but it got extremely ugly and was quite infuriating and embarrassing. Also dated a girl who falsely accused her previous boyfriend. I found out on my way to go kick the crap out him when she finally confessed to lying.

    A few months ago I happened to get late to a party and witness a friend in the act of pounding a guy because she lied. I took a shot in the face restraining my friend. She finally came clean after physical harm was caused to defend her “honor.”

    So Ann that is 4 false rape accusations. I know zero rapists, four false accusers.

  25. #25 Chris,
    March 5, 2014

    ann: “Nevertheless, I apologize.”

    Welcome to RI. Please stick around, just because of that one phrase. One thing I like here is that one can freely admit they were wrong, apologize and then get more respect.

    I am approaching sixty years old, and attended college for a less than traditional field: aerospace engineering. Nothing in the discussion above is foreign to me.

    I was subject to the most heinous innuendo in the dorm from guys I had never met. After being mocked as a nerd in high school, being accused of sexual acts that I never knew about was confusing, and a bit amusing, to my eighteen year old self.

    I even had to listen patiently while an upperclassman made the most intensely crude jokes. I became the queen of the eye-roll.

    Fortunately at work there was a witness to the most heinous sexual offer voiced to me at work. I and the young man sitting nearby were both actually gobsmacked at what the older gentleman suggested after I helped him with a technical problem. I am sorry I did not report it, because all I could utter was “Save me from dirty old men.” It was just a shock.

    I am personally glad this kind of behavior is being exposed. Radford should have shut up at the first chance. He is just digging himself deeper. Perhaps he should have done a Bill Hoyt:

    Also, for a forum mystery, the “Antivax quackery now killing wolves” thread, in which Bill Hoyt promised to return with some evidence for the nonsense he was talking, only to vanish practically in mid-sentence and never return to the forum again. Hell, that must have been six or seven years ago.

    Did I mention I am old, and jaded?

  26. #26 Delysid
    March 5, 2014

    @ann

    I’ve been falsely accused-twice. The second time escalated to an internal meeting to kick me out of my fraternity. Fortunately I was completely innocent and there were witnesses defending me, but it got extremely ugly and was quite infuriating and embarrassing.

    I Also dated a girl who falsely accused her previous boyfriend. I found out on my way to go kick the crap out him when she finally confessed to lying.

    A few months ago I happened to get late to a party and witness a friend in the act of pounding a guy because she lied. I took a shot in the face restraining my friend. She finally came clean after physical harm was caused to defend her “honor.”

    So Ann that is 4 false rape accusations. I know zero rapists, four false accusers.

    Also, since we are citing radical feminists as trustworthy, let me add to the mix.

    “Feminism, Socialism, and Communism are one in the same, and Socialist/Communist government is the goal of feminism.” – Catharine A. MacKinnon

  27. #27 herr doktor bimler
    March 5, 2014

    I still can’t figure is out why he thinks Orac, a surgical oncologist who writes very long blog posts, also has time to edit Wikipedia. …
    My only conclusion is that Mr. Metasonic finally figured out that Orac is a pseudonym of someone he refers to in the website herr doktor bimler referenced. On several pages he refers to Orac’s not so secret name with “MastCell” tossed in the middle. But why?

    Looking idly at the timeline with the Google, it appears that the equation between (1) Wiki editor MastCell, and (2) Orac’s secret identity crystallised in mid-2007. One Ilena Rosenthal — breast cancer alt-health loon — was receiving insolence from all directions, and subsequently got herself thrown out of the Wiki project for aggravated stupidity, so she decided that at least two of the people on her Enemies List must be the same person. MastCell was involved in Rosenthal’s banning in a peripheral way so she announced that (1) = (2). MastCell denied this:

    Ilena Rosenthal has been quite vocal in claiming to identify every Wikipedia editor she’s butted heads with (which is quite a few) with some real-life antagonist of hers. Generally (at least in her claimed identification of me), she’s been way off base. COI accusations are a quick road to nowhere on this article. You’re confusing having an opinion on a subject with having a conflict of interest.

    Nevertheless, the purported identity was quickly picked up by Tim Bolen and Whale.to and “DrRath Foundation” (all united by their dislike of Orac and Wikipedia). And now for Mr. Metasonic it has become an article of faith. Perhaps he will come back and explain his reasoning.

    All of this inside-Wikipedia argie-bargie is pervaded with accusations of Conflicts of Interest, as indeed is the Wikipediocracy project. So I don’t feel too badly off-topic.

  28. #28 ann
    March 5, 2014

    Thank you. And also: I hear that.

    But seriously. A bad act is a bad act. It was an insensitive, inconsiderate reply, and I’m sorry for it.

    I genuinely don’t see it as a boys vs. girls thing. There’s plenty of suffering to go around, nobody should need to compete.

    It’s mainly the perpetuation of false and harmful information that enlighens nobody and causes strife, heartache and dissension that I object to.

    Although I do admit that it’s occasionally irksome to have to cite chapter and verse again and again and again, simply to convince the fellow members of ones culture that the social landscape through which one strolls every day and always has done since time immemorial is what it is.

    But what can you do? Life’s not fair for anybody.

  29. #29 herr doktor bimler
    March 5, 2014

    ann:
    Welcome to RI. Please stick around

    Seconding Chris. Your attempts to cite relevant research are appreciated, even if they are wasted on Delysid (who has asked that people not confuse him with facts).

  30. #30 Helianthus
    March 5, 2014

    @ ann / Antaeus

    I wasn’t kidding when I said false accusations were evil. And I’m very sorry that you were touched by one.

    Since Antaeus post, I have been mulling over this whole topic, tried three times to phrase an answer which wouldn’t look like I am dismissing either the reality of culture rape, or the reality of the harm of false allegations. Short of writing a lengthy thesis, and certainly one full of fallacies, I could not.
    I gave up.

    Maybe “I am sorry this happened to you” is the best answer.

    So yes, please stick around. Both of you.

    Earlier (# 197), ann was asking why people are more willing to discuss false accusations than ignored complaints of sexual harassment or assault. For this one, my answer will be easy and short:

    It’s easier and cheaper to put yourself as Perry Mason, defender of the wrongly accused, than to recognize that there are plenty of damsels in distress in the next room and, at best, you didn’t do anything to help them. Hero vs coward/accomplice.
    That’s the charitable explanation. A less charitable one is even simpler: self-centered interest. Many people (and, I guess, not just men) could easily believe they are more at risk of being falsely accused than of being raped.
    Or maybe not-so-falsely accused.

    And then you have people who have good reasons to fear false accusations, because it already happened to them or someone they know.
    It’s complicated.

  31. #31 Delysid
    March 5, 2014

    @Narad

    You are so unbelievably pompous that you don’t even realize that your comments usually make no sense. Your favorite tactic (besides childish mockery) is go off into irrelevant obscure topics in a laughable attempt to demonstrate your intellectual superiority. You are like a dweeby and depressed Dennis MIller.

    You might have the peanut gallery fooled, but I have seen through you BS from your first few comments.

    On the other side of the spectrum, there are people like herr doktor bimler who can’t distinguish science from political fluff. Sociology is science and rape culture is real herr doktor der doktor. “It’s science as long as I agree with it.” It is hilarious to me that Orac has acquired such a primitive and moronic following.

    But go ahead, all of you stay in awe of Narad’s articulate gibberish and herr doktor bimler’s “scientific facts.”

  32. #32 Delysid
    March 5, 2014

    @Narad

    You are so unbelievably pompous that you don’t even realize that your comments usually make no sense. Your favorite tactic (besides childish mockery) is go off into irrelevant obscure topics in a laughable attempt to demonstrate your intellectual superiority. You are like a dweeby and depressed Dennis MIller.

    You might have the peanut gallery fooled, but I have seen through you BS from your first few comments.

    On the other side of the spectrum, there are people like herr doktor bimler who can’t distinguish science from political fluff. Sociology is science and rape culture is real herr doktor der doktor. “It’s science as long as I agree with it.” It is hilarious to me that Orac has acquired such a primitive and moronic following.

    But go ahead, all of you stay in awe of Narad’s articulate gibberish and herr doktor bimler’s “scientific facts.”

  33. #33 Krebiozen
    March 5, 2014

    You babble with ad homonym attacks.

    Now there’s a vein of humor I would be mining if I were a little more wide awake.

  34. #34 Krebiozen
    March 5, 2014

    ann,

    But what can you do? Life’s not fair for anybody.

    We can try to make it fairer, in whatever way we can. That’s if we possess something resembling a social conscience, of course. I have little doubt some consider such to be an unnecessary encumbrance, the result of liberal brainwashing.

  35. #35 ann
    March 5, 2014

    @Kreblozen

    Agreed. Rhetorical. Was attempting to do so.

    (Ad homonym. “Lyre” is the first thing that springs to mind, but it’s inadequate. I’m not really fully awake either.)

  36. #36 ann
    March 5, 2014

    @Helianthus —

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    Many people (and, I guess, not just men) could easily believe they are more at risk of being falsely accused than of being raped.

    I don’t know about that. Conscious consideration of the risk of being raped is a fairly regular fact of life for virtually all women, at least transiently, when passed by motor vehicles while walking on dark and lonely streets and so forth.

    And it’s also a part of the life experience of one in five American women. Or more, including attempts and close friends affected, etc.

    Not all that remote a risk, IOW….

  37. #37 Helianthus
    March 5, 2014

    @ ann

    Conscious consideration of the risk of being raped is a fairly regular fact of life for virtually all women

    I’m not disagreeing on this.
    I wrote the sentence you quoted thinking about the way people may deal with risk – including by denying the risk exists, or minimizing it. Nasty things may happen to other people. but not to special me. That is, until the day it does.

  38. #38 Delysid
    March 5, 2014

    “walking down lonely and dark streets.”

    Guess what, that makes EVERYONE uneasy. Men worry more of getting robbed than raped, but it is dangerous force nonetheless.

    That situation is not how most rapes supposedly occur in third-wave feminist rape culture. Supposedly rape is everywhere, all of the time. Supposedly it is institutionalized.

    Ann you are just jumping around and moving the goalpost and not making any point. Now you are talking about dark alley rape? Who is defending this?

    The ridiculous thing is that there are people here complaining about how many MRA’s there are. Now supposedly false rape is a higher concern than the rape culture hysteria? GIVE ME A GOD DAMN BREAK. The media is obsessed with rape. Even in situations of false rape accusation, the media still spins it to imply that the opposite! Look at this disgusting piece in ABC.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/police-investigate-assault-transgender-teen-22770897

    Here is a situation to ponder. Has anyone stopped to think that maybe there are so many men’s rights activists against false accusations BECAUSE SO MANY MEN HAVE BEEN FALSELY ACCUSED? Ann the nerve of you to suggest that men’s rights activism is the result of reading statistics and propaganda? Ann YOU are sexist. So women worry about rape from first-hand experience but men worry about false accusations because they hear about it? This hypocrisy is unbelievable.

  39. #39 Johanna
    March 5, 2014

    I’m just going to leave this here.

    http://tinyurl.com/ya2fd8v

    “When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a man who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions. If you expect me to trust you—to accept you at face value as a nice sort of guy—you are not only failing to respect my reasonable caution, you are being cavalier about my personal safety.” – from the piece, above.

    It’s a great essay. It’ll probably push Delysid further into apoplexy, but that’s just icing on the cake.

  40. #40 Helianthus
    March 5, 2014

    @ Delysid

    Even in situations of false rape accusation, the media still spins it to imply that the opposite

    And the opposite happens quite often in confirmed cases of sexual assaults. Media love to dig mud and fling it around.
    Not necessarily a bad thing: sometimes, they dig out a gold nugget.

    men worry about false accusations

    And some men worry that there will be accusations, period. How do you distinguish between the two?

    This topic presents an interesting conundrum, from a social perspective. Take any accusation of sexual assault very seriously, you will favor false accusations. Take them not seriously enough, and you will favor false accusations.
    And throw plenty of victims under the bus.
    I would prefer to reach some equilibrium which reduces false positives and false negatives altogether.

  41. #41 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 5, 2014

    I apologize in advance for doing a number of things that I consider to be quite rude and ordinarily would not do. First, I’m failing to stick my flounce; I said I wouldn’t be back to this thread, but here I am. Second, I’m not going to read all the posts that have gone by, which ordinarily I would consider the most obvious obligation. Third, if my better judgment can prevail this time, I’m going to stick the flounce this time in hopes that my stomach won’t go through as many hours of churning as it did yesterday. I can’t blame anyone who decides that because I’m presenting it in such a rude fashion, they won’t read it – but I need to say it nevertheless.

    When it comes to vaccination, there are three major positions, which we might call “Fisher”, “Straw-Offit”, and “Salamone”. As the name of Straw-Offit suggests, some of these positions exist less as “what anyone out there actually advocates” and more as “what an awful lot of people *claim* is the enemy they’re fighting.”

    The ‘Fisher’ position is “Vaccine injuries are all over the place! They’re everywhere! When you think about ‘how should a vaccination program be run,’ you must start with the assumption that vaccine injuries are the primary result that comes out of vaccination programs, and make your decisions accordingly! The idea that vaccination might be preventing death and misery from vaccine-preventable diseases is stupid; if it happens at all, and isn’t just a bogeyman dreamed up by the Dark Lords of Vaccination, it’s so rare it shouldn’t be a real consideration!”

    The ‘Straw-Offit’ position is what the Fishers claim they’re fighting against. “Vaccine injuries?? Poppycock! Those don’t exist, and if they do, the statistics prove that they’re so rare they can just be ignored! The need for vaccination is so established that it must be the only factor taken into consideration! If you even talk about ‘vaccine injuries’ it means you’re a foolish or crazy anti-vaccinationist!”

    The ‘Salamone’ position, meanwhile, is the one that recognizes both concerns as valid. “Yes, vaccine injuries are statistically far more rare than injuries from VPDs – but they are still real, and they are not less tragic. No one of any sense wants to lose the benefits we gain from having a strong vaccination program, but we do want to see if the program could be refined to minimize vaccine injuries even further. And it should go without saying that even if claimed vaccine injuries are far more numerous than real vaccine injuries, we should be respecting those who suffer the real thing, not writing them off as nonexistent or unimportant!”

    I’m sure everyone sees the metaphor. Some may even be impatient, saying “yeah, yeah, VPD injuries are akin to true accusations of rape while vaccine injuries are akin to false accusations of rape, we get it; what’s the point already??”

    The point is that while the Fishers of accusation really are out there, handing out their flyers and claiming there’s an absolute epidemic out there being covered up for ideological reasons by the Straw-Offits of accusation …

    This time the Straw-Offits really are out there. They aren’t a straw man; they really are there, on college campuses and cable shows, declaring that false accusations don’t happen, the evidence shows they don’t happen (and therefore any evidence indicating that maybe they do happen, in numbers that make it an actual problem, must be written off as lies cooked up by the Fishers) and anyways if it does happen, it’s an acceptable price to pay.

    If you’re tempted to think that that last part is, yes, a straw man, just exaggeration or Fisher spin – consider, once again, those incidents where law enforcement officials had iron-clad cases of knowingly false accusation, but openly stated ‘we’re declining to prosecute this, because if we did, we feel it might discourage people from reporting actual rape.’ How can you interpret that to not mean: “of these two crimes, we care about one but not at all about the other”?

    Where are the Salamones of the discussion? Why does everyone – at least everyone whose voice can be heard in the din – seem to assume that you can treat either real rape or false accusations as an actual problem, not both? We need those who can come forward and say calmly and plainly “Look, even with the research that’s showing that false accusations are probably more common than we thought – they are still almost certainly rarer than true accusations. But that doesn’t make it reasonable to automatically prejudge any such accusation we encounter as ‘probably true’, before any actual facts one way or the other have been established. It doesn’t make it right to try and write off anyone worried about false accusations as unrealistically worrying about something that couldn’t happen to them. And when an atmosphere has been created such that TV personalities don’t hesitate to completely invent ‘evidence’ against someone slapped with such an accusation, it’s time to ask, ‘couldn’t our system do a better job of recognizing that false accusations can indeed happen?'”

    … But if anyone does speak up to say something like this, the Straw-Offits leap to their feet and point and say “See, isn’t that proof of what I’ve been saying all along! We’re trapped in an ocean of rape culture! How can it be anything but rape culture to suggest that concern over a statistically negligible amount of false accusation should alter in any way our pursuit of justice for those who have been truly victimized, by rape itself??”

  42. #42 Delysid
    March 5, 2014

    @Johanna

    This article gave some refreshingly honest insight into the female mindset. As is so common with women, it is saying one thing with words, but there is larger and conflicting message apparent that is elucidated by reading between the lines.

    I am NOT criticizing women for this dichotomy, as it is the product of hundreds of thousands of years of biology that cannot and should not be changed.

    Let me translate…

    At face value the author is saying don’t approach strange women because of their fears of the man’s potential to cause harm. This is quite understandable as women need to protect themselves.

    If you keep reading, however, the author admits that the problem is not being approached by a strange man, but that the problem is being approached badly by an unattractive man (physically and psychologically). She advises creepy men with low sexual appeal (let’s call them beta males) to stick with internet contact because that is a very easy screening system. It’s much easier to dodge an unattractive suitor by not answering his emails or phone calls than it is in person. The average woman is fantastic at giving social cues should hint to a beta man to f-off. Unfortunately beta males are often terrible at reading these cues and continue to orbit and hover. They try to combat the barriers the woman puts up by being nice and reassuring that they won’t rape her. To polite the woman is nice back while dropping hints to keep the beta male at bay. This makes it even worse! These men confuse these negative sexual cues with friendship.

    Of course if the woman just told the beta straight-up her true feelings she would be a b.i.itch.

    As you keep reading the article it isn’t even about rape anymore! It’s about beta men who can’t talk to women.

    In tragic irony, feminism inadvertently encourages this terrible sexual behavior from men! Women say they want a nice guy, but in reality they are repulsed by them.

    Women actually desire nothing more than to be approached by a stranger. A sexually attractive, masculine, confident stranger who doesn’t need sex from them. Approached in this way the stranger only moments ago becomes protection from the beta men. The fear then shifts away from danger to her to losing him to another woman. Even if he wanted to rape her he couldn’t, because she wants him.

    Woman claim to not a want a dangerous man, but this does not really reflect reality. The most dangerous men throughout history have no shortage of mistresses.

    Of course if a beta man tries to overcome his timid weakness and pretends to be dangerous, he comes across as a pscyhopath. This is understandably frightening for women. This is a terrible approach and part of the message conveyed by the author.

    I’m speaking in generalized terms, as there there are rarely, if ever, pure alpha and beta males. Every man has elements of both and the dominating traits can oscillate through life. I’ve made some of the most horrible approaches to women imaginable and have had periods of involuntary celibacy for months at a time. I’ve also had stretches where I’m juggling the affections of multiple women at once. I’ve bedded women minutes after approaching them. (Of course, these seem to always be the times when I’m excellent shape and lift religiously).

    I understand the desire of women to be listened to (FOREMOST WHEN THEY GIVE NEGATIVE SEXUAL CUES), but I’ve found that you can’t listen too much. When women start acting ridiculous and crazy and going into PMS-mode, it’s best to treat them how you would a tantrum throwing child and distract them. Maybe they are hungry and could use yogurt or something. Or just walk away. If you tolerate the drama they gain control over the relationship in a way that is terrible for both him and her.

    Of course nice beta guys will cave-in and tolerate it endlessly thinking they are doing the right thing, but this results in an unhappy woman and man.

  43. #43 Jubilee
    March 5, 2014

    I have refrained from commenting because this is an issue of both my personal and activist interests, and frankly, I am at the point where I am quite selective about where I am willing to talk about it online.

    But I will say two things:

    –anyone who thinks rape allegations are uncritically or easily accepted has never been through a rape kit exam, a police interview (the number of police officers I have met who hold grotesque beliefs about rape is more than I like to ponder at this point), or an entire community critiquing their wardrobe, social life, sex life, drinking habits and asking why they want to ruin a man’s life. Also, contrary to the idea that college campuses are encouraging false rape allegations, it is far more likely (basing this on the experiences of myself and approximately two dozen cases I know off hand) that colleges strongly push victims into using the school disciplinary system rather than bringing in the police. See ongoing protests from the University of California, Yale, Swarthmore, Amherst, Oklahoma, Tufts, Missouri. .

    –as someone who has worked on rape education matters, I am regularly horrified by how many men approach the discussion of almost exclusively how far they can go and not risk being accused of rape, or get off on a technicality. A model of enthusiastic consent SHOULD be good for both men and women–but that means treating sex as something besides a prize men (sterotypically) pursue at all odds (including unethical but legal ones) and women (sterotypically) withold for gain. Oddly enough, it’s been mostly feminists talking about that, with men and especially MRAs resisting, on grounds of pseudo-evopsychology, claims to chivalry, or plain old girls against boys rhetoric.

    Thanks for posting that essay, Johanna. It’s a favorite of mine.

    Also, much as I hate to risk an engagement I’m not going to finish–responding to a woman’s report of rape by offering or threatening to beat up the rapist is not as helpful or supportive as a lot of men seem to think. Especially if it’s put in terms of “defending her honor.”

  44. #44 Shay
    March 5, 2014

    Another excruciatingly revealing post by Delysid. Ow. Ow. Just…ow.

  45. #45 anon
    March 5, 2014

    Way way back in my younger days hearing delysid I would have
    laughed my head off at this drivel. Now I think THEY ARE STILL OUT THERE! YIKES!

  46. #46 Narad
    March 5, 2014

    Another excruciatingly revealing post by Delysid. Ow. Ow. Just…ow.

    Evo-psych + “beta males” = Yah, I think the reference to “Chateau Heartiste” was spot-on.

  47. #47 Narad
    March 5, 2014

    There’s one amusing thing about this:

    The media is obsessed with rape. Even in situations of false rape accusation, the media still spins it to imply that the opposite! Look at this disgusting piece in ABC.

    [Link to story that doesn’t involve rape and doesn’t spin the story to “imply the opposite!”]

    One wonders whether D.’s choice of a story about a false claim of transgender bullying puts him in the same room as Catherine Brennan.

  48. #48 Narad
    March 5, 2014

    Actually, another inconsistency just sprang to mind. Given that D. is a primitivist libertarian of the first water, false rape accusations that don’t result in incarceration shouldn’t represent a problem, regardless of any other consequences, most certainly in the media or other people’s heads. The remedy, obviously and always, in his ideal “rudimentary court system” is monetary.

  49. #49 JGC
    March 5, 2014

    Delysid, I asked you a question earlier that you’ve studiously ignored. Can I expect you’ll ever answer it?

    Given that in post 45 you admitted explicitly “There is no way I can possibly guess what percentage of rape accusations are false”, do you not agree that your initial claim “It doesn’t take a scientific study to know with absolute certainty that false rape accusations are ubitiquitous” simply isn’t true?

  50. #50 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    March 5, 2014

    The more Delysid spews his drivel, the more he sounds like the MRA I encountered on Twitter the other day. Arguments are all the same.

  51. #51 Narad
    March 5, 2014

    Given that in post 45 you admitted explicitly “There is no way I can possibly guess what percentage of rape accusations are false”, do you not agree that your initial claim “It doesn’t take a scientific study to know with absolute certainty that false rape accusations are ubitiquitous” simply isn’t true?

    Moreover, D. foams, “Here is a situation to ponder. Has anyone stopped to think that maybe there are so many men’s rights activists against false accusations BECAUSE SO MANY MEN HAVE BEEN FALSELY ACCUSED?”

    How many would that be?

  52. #52 Narad
    March 5, 2014

    On the other side of the spectrum, there are people like herr doktor bimler who can’t distinguish science from political fluff.

    Gee, D., you’d look awfully fυcking stupid if it turned out that HDB is a scientist, now wouldn’t you?

  53. #53 Narad
    March 5, 2014

    I’ve made some of the most horrible approaches to women imaginable and have had periods of involuntary celibacy for months at a time. I’ve also had stretches where I’m juggling the affections of multiple women at once. I’ve bedded women minutes after approaching them.

    Note the direct implication of a high attrition rate in the return-customers department. D. has basically copped to being unable to maintain the position of a “seller” in this “market.”

    Strangely, despite provably* being an extremely ugly and overweight computer science professor at a Canadian University, I’ve never needed to proposition anyone. Perhaps it has something to do with not oozing of desperation to remedy the obvious sort of market distortion that could lead to months of “involuntary celibacy.”

    * Still waiting, Delly Sista.

  54. #54 ann
    March 5, 2014

    walking down lonely and dark streets.”

    Guess what, that makes EVERYONE uneasy. Men worry more of getting robbed than raped, but it is dangerous force nonetheless.

    Yes, I know.

    I was specifically replying to Helianthus’s conjecture about whether women would be more inclined to picture themselves at risk for rape or for false accusation.

    That situation is not how most rapes supposedly occur in third-wave feminist rape culture.

    It’s also not how most rapes occur in reality.

    Supposedly rape is everywhere, all of the time. Supposedly it is institutionalized.

    You haven’t been clicking any of the links I’ve posted, have you?

    Ann you are just jumping around and moving the goalpost and not making any point. Now you are talking about dark alley rape? Who is defending this?

    Please see above, in re: I was specifically replying to Helianthus..

    The ridiculous thing is that there are people here complaining about how many MRA’s there are. Now supposedly false rape is a higher concern than the rape culture hysteria? GIVE ME A GOD DAMN BREAK. The media is obsessed with rape. Even in situations of false rape accusation, the media still spins it to imply that the opposite! Look at this disgusting piece in ABC.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/police-investigate-assault-transgender-teen-22770897

    Uh-huh.

    That’s actually quite typical of the most frequent kind of false rape allegation, in that the accuser didn’t name or identify the attacker.

    I don’t see anything that supports your point about media spin favoring the accuser there, though.

    Would you care to share the links to some of the many, many cases of alleged rape victims being roundly supported and cheered by all and sundry while their alleged assailants are vilified that you doubtless have at the tip of your fingers?

    Here is a situation to ponder. Has anyone stopped to think that maybe there are so many men’s rights activists against false accusations BECAUSE SO MANY MEN HAVE BEEN FALSELY ACCUSED? Ann the nerve of you to suggest that men’s rights activism is the result of reading statistics and propaganda? Ann YOU are sexist.

    No, I’m not.

    So women worry about rape from first-hand experience but men worry about false accusations because they hear about it? This hypocrisy is unbelievable.

    I didn’t say that, precisely.

    In fact, I didn’t make that comparison at all, in those terms.

    And I’ve repeatedly said that false accusations are an evil, which they are.

    However. The odds of an American man being falsely accused of rape are very low, I’m exceedingly happy to say. Because I love men.

    The odds of an American rapist being justly accused of rape are, sadly, also very low.

    And even when they are:

    Out of every 100 rapes:

    46 get reported to the police***

    12 lead to an arrest

    9 get prosecuted.

    5 lead to a felony conviction.

    3 rapists will spend even a single day in prison.

    The other 97 will walk free.

    (From here:

    http://www.rainn.org/news-room/97-of-every-100-rapists-receive-no-punishment)

    And I’m not so thrilled about that.

    ,

  55. #55 ann
    March 5, 2014

    Yikes.

    Formatting.

    I’ll re-do.

  56. #56 ann
    March 5, 2014

    “walking down lonely and dark streets.”

    Guess what, that makes EVERYONE uneasy. Men worry more of getting robbed than raped, but it is dangerous force nonetheless.

    Yes, I know.

    I was specifically replying to Helianthus’s conjecture about whether women would be more inclined to picture themselves at risk for rape or for false accusation.

    That situation is not how most rapes supposedly occur in third-wave feminist rape culture.

    It’s also not how most rapes occur in reality.

    Supposedly rape is everywhere, all of the time. Supposedly it is institutionalized.

    You haven’t been clicking any of the links I’ve posted, have you?

    Ann you are just jumping around and moving the goalpost and not making any point. Now you are talking about dark alley rape? Who is defending this?

    Please see above, in re: I was specifically replying to Helianthus..

    The ridiculous thing is that there are people here complaining about how many MRA’s there are. Now supposedly false rape is a higher concern than the rape culture hysteria? GIVE ME A GOD DAMN BREAK. The media is obsessed with rape. Even in situations of false rape accusation, the media still spins it to imply that the opposite! Look at this disgusting piece in ABC.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/police-investigate-assault-transgender-teen-22770897

    Uh-huh.

    That’s actually quite typical of the most frequent kind of false rape allegation, in that the accuser didn’t name or identify the attacker.

    Did you notice that part?

    I don’t see anything that supports your point about media spin favoring the accuser there, though.

    Would you care to share the links to some of the many, many cases of alleged rape victims being roundly supported and cheered by all and sundry while their alleged assailants are vilified that you doubtless have at the tip of your fingers?

    Here is a situation to ponder. Has anyone stopped to think that maybe there are so many men’s rights activists against false accusations BECAUSE SO MANY MEN HAVE BEEN FALSELY ACCUSED? Ann the nerve of you to suggest that men’s rights activism is the result of reading statistics and propaganda? Ann YOU are sexist.

    No, I’m not.

    So women worry about rape from first-hand experience but men worry about false accusations because they hear about it? This hypocrisy is unbelievable.

    I didn’t say that, precisely. In fact, I apologized for the post in which I said something kind of like it.

    But I didn’t make that comparison at all, in those terms. And I’ve repeatedly said that false accusations are an evil, which they are.

    However. The odds of an American man being falsely accused of rape are very low, I’m exceedingly happy to say. Because I love men.

    The odds of an American rapist being justly accused of rape are, sadly, also very low.

    And even when they are, out of every 100 rapes:

    46 get reported to the police

    12 lead to an arrest

    9 get prosecuted.

    5 lead to a felony conviction.

    3 rapists will spend even a single day in prison.

    The other 97 will walk free.

    (From here:

    http://www.rainn.org/news-room/97-of-every-100-rapists-receive-no-punishment)

    And I’m not so thrilled about that.

  57. #57 ann
    March 5, 2014

    I don’t see anything that supports your point about media spin favoring the accuser there, though.

    Would you care to share the links to some of the many, many cases of alleged rape victims being roundly supported and cheered by all and sundry while their alleged assailants are vilified that you doubtless have at the tip of your fingers?

    Seriously.

    I can’t think of so much as a single high-media profile rape allegation in my lifetime in which the accuser wasn’t raked over the coals by at least half the media and in the court of public opinion..

    Not including the Central Park jogger.

  58. #58 ann
    March 5, 2014

    Unfortunately beta males are often terrible at reading these cues and continue to orbit and hover. They try to combat the barriers the woman puts up by being nice and reassuring that they won’t rape her. To polite the woman is nice back while dropping hints to keep the beta male at bay. This makes it even worse! These men confuse these negative sexual cues with friendship.

    You realize that this is the second post on the thread in which we’ve learned about what you find sexually repellent in a man, don’t you?

    Odd how you’re the only poster who seems to be dwelling on the topic

  59. #59 Narad
    March 5, 2014

    Ann the nerve of you to suggest that men’s rights activism is the result of reading statistics and propaganda? Ann YOU are sexist.

    No, I’m not.

    There of course remains the buzzing-neon question where D.’s “men’s rights ‘activism'” thus results from.

  60. #60 ann
    March 5, 2014

    True.

    I don’t recall having the nerve to suggest that men’s rights activism was the result of reading statistics and propaganda, though. Now that you mention it.

    And according to a quick search for the word “propaganda,” I didn’t.

    What are you talking about, Delysid?

  61. #61 Narad
    March 5, 2014

    Aside from not really being a dental student, D., what have you been falsely accused of?

  62. #62 ann
    March 5, 2014

    n fact, as far as I can see, I’ve only suggested it was the result of a phobic, whiny temperament, and/or a hysterical overreaction to the sigh of flyers, and/or a compulsion to rage at women.

    Cross-posted from the thread it doesn’t belong on.

    I’m an idiot.

  63. #63 ann
    March 5, 2014

    There was a quite horrible false rape accusation story at Brown University, not too long ago. To be fair.

    Granted, the girl was the daughter of a big donor. And the poor unfortunate young man finished school elsewhere and got a million-dollar settlement.

    But he was definitely very unfairly punished.

  64. #64 Johanna
    March 6, 2014

    Gosh, however could have fritterheaded lil ol’ me ever possibly have ever hoped to guess at the author’s intent unless some manly man explained it?

    Mansplaining. Yet more male privilege in action. Yawn.

  65. #65 france engels
    new caledonia, florida (both,1/2,1/2)
    March 6, 2014

    to answer the comment # 16 Orac, Probably you, working for University, can choose the topic on your research, however I used to work with a French Professor and who is also a research lab manager…and the big issue is to know who is paying that kind of lab…except private companies…nobody,..it means, that scientist is also a “company” manager, and has to be financially effective…that’s how the World is running… (sorry if I am expressing me in such a poor English, but this is my third language…still improving though:)

  66. #66 Helianthus
    March 6, 2014

    @ Narad / HDB

    Gee, D., you’d look awfully fυcking stupid if it turned out that HDB is a scientist, now wouldn’t you?

    Also, for someone who asserted that sociology is no science, he sure does indulge a lot in social theories hypotheses.

    [long rant from D. about how there are winners and losers, and how women, due to hormones, prefer bad guys like James Bond to hamfisted losers like Woody Allen’s characters]

    It took some time for the acne-riddled teenager in me, but I eventually learned two important things about relationships between human beings.

    – if you want to be seen as a nice person, act like one (I said “act”, not ” pretend”)
    – if you don’t want to be seen as a creepy person, don’t act like one.
    You would be surprised how much that helps.

  67. #67 Helianthus
    March 6, 2014

    Note to self, should remember to check the correct html tag for strikethrough.

  68. #68 Narad
    March 6, 2014

    Also, for someone who asserted that sociology is no science, he sure does indulge a lot in social theories hypotheses.

    Ah, but he’s a praxeologist praxeometrist praxtician, so all such utterances are unassailable, because they flow inexorably through his iron-clad alpha deduction from the “action axiom” and are unsullied by evidence. Except when his “beta cycle” is coming on, or something.

  69. #69 Bill Price
    March 6, 2014

    Note to self, should remember to check the correct html tag for strikethrough.

    The correct html tag for strikethrough is <strike>. However this toy blogging platform corrupts strike tags out of existence. The god news: it doesn’t corrupt <del%gt; tags, which (in my browser, anyway) also renders as strikethrough.
    Hint: select the struckthrough text in Narad’s post #267 and view the source (using your browser’s incantation for the view-source operation).

  70. #70 Bill Price
    March 6, 2014

    Blarg. This toy blogging platform also fails to provide a preview function, else I would have caught ‘good’ misspelled as ‘god’ and ‘&gt;’ misspelled as ‘%gt;’. Maybe it’s past bedtime for tonight.

  71. #71 Narad
    March 6, 2014

    The correct html tag for strikethrough is <strike>.

    Not supported in HTML5.

  72. #72 ann
    March 6, 2014

    This time the Straw-Offits really are out there. They aren’t a straw man; they really are there, on college campuses and cable shows, declaring that false accusations don’t happen, the evidence shows they don’t happen (and therefore any evidence indicating that maybe they do happen, in numbers that make it an actual problem, must be written off as lies cooked up by the Fishers) and anyways if it does happen, it’s an acceptable price to pay.

    If people really are out there flatly saying that false accusations don’t happen at all and it’s influencing policy/procedure to the detriment of the accused, it’s not an acceptable price to pay, no matter what the numbers are.

    As far as I’m aware, that’s not happening. But I certainly wouldn’t want to overlook any evidence indicating that it was happening in numbers that made it “an actual problem” — by which I assume you mean “a chronic problem that represents a systematic injustice against one class of people and favors another.” (Because it’s already actual.)

    What did you have in mind?

    If you’re tempted to think that that last part is, yes, a straw man, just exaggeration or Fisher spin – consider, once again, those incidents where law enforcement officials had iron-clad cases of knowingly false accusation, but openly stated ‘we’re declining to prosecute this, because if we did, we feel it might discourage people from reporting actual rape.’ How can you interpret that to not mean: “of these two crimes, we care about one but not at all about the other”?

    It depends on the circumstances.

    You can sometimes interpret it as meaning “We, the authorities, did a piss-poor job investigating this case and have no interest in revealing the details, thereby exposing ourselves to a civil suit by the wrongfully accused.”

    Or any number of other things.

    Additionally, sometimes they go forward with charges against false accusers, as — for example — in these recent cases:

    http://triblive.com/news/fayette/4641675-74/police-housel-aug#axzz2vEWgilhD

    http://www.arkansasmatters.com/story/woman-facing-felony-charge-after-filing-false-rape-report/d/story/0Nb6TxG59UCNI3vzRCy9WA

    http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130315/news/703159743/

    http://defender.smcvt.edu/?p=1543

    http://www.kalb.com/story/23638924/apd-woman

    http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2013-11-14/appling-woman-charged-making-false-rape-claim

    Just to give a half-dozen anecdotal counter-examples.

    There’s also a third category of women who have been falsely accused of being false accusers, as these three were:

    http://seattletimes.com/text/2021161550.html

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/15/sara-reedy-rape-victim-wins-police-payout

    http://truthinjustice.org/cryrape3.htm

    But I don’t know everything. If you point me to a systematic injustice, I’ll object to it.

  73. […] your article: Ron Lindsay tore it apart. And just to add an avalanche on top of that slingstone, Orac writes a leventy-kajillion word post deploring the whole mess. A guy with accusations of a sexual harassment history hanging over his head, pretending that false […]

  74. […] small. Going through it all, as painful as it is, might be educational. Besides, I’ve already pissed off one big name skeptic a couple of weeks ago. If I end up pissing off another one, it’s no big deal at this point, […]

  75. #75 AnnB
    March 13, 2014

    Orac and All,

    You may be interested in the incident at Psychiatric Times and the debate around it.

    http://1boringoldman.com/index.php/2014/03/07/of-all-people/

  76. #76 HendersonF
    March 16, 2014

    It seems that many sites focus on the Karen Stollznow / Ben Radford ‘sexual harassment’ matter but forget to notice that Ben Radford has placed a lawsuit against Stollznow for fraud and defamation: tinyurl.com/m2tcetg

  77. #77 ann
    March 16, 2014

    That link doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

    However, the lawsuit was noted in the comments. I don’t think it was known yet when the post was written.

  78. #78 Orac
    March 16, 2014

    Correct. I only learned about the lawsuit after this post was published. In my mind, having pending litigation at the time Radford wrote his post makes the undisclosed COI much, much worse.

  79. #79 ann
    March 16, 2014

    It’s actually not plainly, clearly libel per se.

    Yes, <a href="http://lawlibrary.unm.edu/nmlr/14/2/02_higdon_defamation.pdfit is (PDF). “Assault” is a crime (just what crime it is varies by state – in mine, it refers to credibly making a person feel threatened – but that’s unimportant), and the one is alleged involves moral turpitude.

    My earlier response to this was poorly phrased and probably unclear.

    You are (of course) right that it would be libel per se if she were accusing him of sexual assault. And it’s obviously possible to read what she said as such an accusation, because she uses the words “sexual assault.”

    Despite which, because she’s unmistakably, explicitly describing an experience with sexual harassment throughout — as indicated, among other places, in the headline — I don’t think that’s how an average, reasonable reader would understand it. I mean, she reported the conduct she’s describing as harassment. And it was investigated as harassment.

    I took her simply to mean that the harassment became physical. And I though it was fairly plain that that was her intended meaning. No other thought crossed my mind.

    I can’t speak for everybody, though. Obviously.

  80. #80 Bill
    United States
    March 29, 2014

    Orac,

    I’m disappointed that in your reply to me you didn’t address the evidence-based reasoning fail I pointed out in Lindsay’s post. (You normally aren’t selective about pointing out evidence-based reasoning fails.)

    Instead you suggested I was being sarcastic in pointing out that I would not presume the reason for you neglecting Lindsay’s gaffe is your own ideological conflict of interest. My point in the phrasing I used is that it is problematic for you to encourage readers to scrutinize essayists’ conflict of interest instead of focusing on the quality of their arguments (or lack of them).

    If you’re going to make ideological conflict of interest an issue, you’re inviting speculation about your own ideological leanings rather than keeping the focus on the persuasiveness of your writing (which in this case was reduced by your citation of Lindsay without noting his gaffe–even in your replies to commenters).

  81. #81 Narad
    March 30, 2014

    I’m kind of surprised that Stollznow wasn’t able (or didn’t try) to obtain pro bono representation.

  82. #82 ann
    March 30, 2014

    @Bill —

    If you’re going to make ideological conflict of interest an issue, you’re inviting speculation about your own ideological leanings rather than keeping the focus on the persuasiveness of your writing

    The guy maintains that he himself was falsely accused and was — even as he wrote about false accusations — entering into litigation over it, which he didn’t disclose.

    WTF does that have to do with ideology? It’s just a non-disclosure of a highly relevant potential personal COI.

    Contrary to what Lindsay wrote, there are people who dispute the notion of false reports; such a person wrote to me after I tweeted about the Tavris eSkeptic piece that was also cited in Ben’s post.

    He was using a common rhetorical figure to indicate that he himself feels the question is beyond dispute.

    Lindsay’s comparison of the number of prosecutions for rape to number of prosecutions for false accusations of rape is relevant to his discussion of how common false accusations are only if suspected cases of ape and cases of suspected false accusations of rape are about equally likely to be prosecuted.

    He’s citing figures from a study that took place over a seventeen-month period during which all allegations of false report were referred to the Director of Public Prosecution.

    At best, Lindsay’s citation of the British study (just one study!) was a rush job. It doesn’t look like he carefully reviewed the literature as would be expected by someone espousing evidence-based reasoning.

    He might have. That study’s in basic agreement with all the others. Maybe he just cited it because it’s among the most comprehensive and the most recent.

  83. #83 ann
    March 31, 2014

    I’m kind of surprised that Stollznow wasn’t able (or didn’t try) to obtain pro bono representation.

    Thanks for prompting me to get caught up on this.

    Sounds like such a mess that I’m not sure what “expected” would be. So I have no opinion on whether that’s surprising or not.

    But it’s disturbing. More so than I’d realized, naively. Or maybe just unimaginatively.

    I very much hope that someone somehow manages to get it firmly on a path to resolution before it has a chance to get worse.

  84. #84 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 31, 2014

    ann –

    I know I said I wouldn’t be going back to read the other comments, and that I wouldn’t be replying again. To be honest, this issue gets me so churned up inside that I can’t figure out if it’s a bad thing to break those orders I gave to myself, or if giving myself those orders was the bad thing and breaking them, if belatedly, is a good thing. For a very logic-oriented person like me to have no resort left than to just shrug helplessly and say “my stomach can handle it, so maybe it’s a good thing” is discomfiting territory, as you might imagine.

    Thank you for your apology. I don’t think what you said was out of line, but I think it speaks highly of you that you nevertheless thought “what is the effect of saying these words to this person?” and acted accordingly.

    I don’t think our positions are actually that far apart, but I’d like to address a few things, just to clarify my stance:

    If people really are out there flatly saying that false accusations don’t happen at all and it’s influencing policy/procedure to the detriment of the accused, it’s not an acceptable price to pay, no matter what the numbers are.

    As far as I’m aware, that’s not happening. But I certainly wouldn’t want to overlook any evidence indicating that it was happening in numbers that made it “an actual problem” — by which I assume you mean “a chronic problem that represents a systematic injustice against one class of people and favors another.” (Because it’s already actual.)

    Well, that isn’t what I mean. I don’t think that it really “represents [an] injustice against one class of people and favors another”; I would also say that it doesn’t meet my definition of “systematic” but to be honest I don’t know whether my understanding of that term matches yours. But my definition of “actual problem” doesn’t hinge on either of those criteria.

    There are always people who would rather have simple answers than the correct answers. I’m afraid that’s just a sad constant of human nature. The effect is especially pronounced in certain circumstances: when people are told the thing they want to hear comes from The Best Authorities, for example; also, when clinging to those simple answers put them in a position of moral righteousness.

    Which means that when there are people out there who really are literally saying that false accusations never happen because no woman would ever lie about such a serious matter – and furthermore that anyone who tries to question that dogma is just an accomplice of rape culture – and those people are frequently saying it from positions of authority as television pundits and professors of higher education – well, unfortunately, there will be people who will grab onto that very simple paradigm and adopt it with gusto. Because it erases for them all the ambiguity that exists for those of us who think that, just as in any other crime, false accusation is always a possibility that should be kept in mind, even if its actual rate of occurrence is rare.

    What is the true rate of occurrence? I honestly wouldn’t venture a guess myself, because I just don’t think we have enough data that we can be sure isn’t ideologically tainted – one way or the other. But I personally have talked with activists who say that they placed the rate at about 1-2% – and they were the ones who cited that figure to justify their position that all rape investigations should automatically assume the truthfulness of the complainaint as an absolute, not to be questioned! Imagine what furor would rightfully ensue if a vaccine advocate ever said “Well, there’s a very serious side effect from this vaccine which happens in about 1 in 1000 cases, but since it’s only 1 in 1000, let’s just construct the system around the assumption that it never happens.” These people were quite explicit that they were comfortable accepting an error rate an order of magnitude higher than that.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that I already quoted above, but will quote again:

    If people really are out there flatly saying that false accusations don’t happen at all and it’s influencing policy/procedure to the detriment of the accused, it’s not an acceptable price to pay, no matter what the numbers are.

    Thank you. I realize it may be hard to believe – just as it’s hard to believe that there really are germ theory denialists in this day and age – but yes, there really are people out there flatly saying that false accusations don’t happen. I’ve encountered far too many of them, and they’re not the least bit apologetic for their views, because they simply have no doubt that the simple dogma they’ve adopted is the truth: false accusations don’t happen; the only ones who say they do are those steeped in rape culture; even if you show them a case where someone retracted their own rape allegation, it can’t be because it was false, it must be because associates of the rapist got to them and made them fear for their lives; if you show them several dozen such retractions, each and every one of them must have been a true accusation retracted only under coercion – et cetera. Even if you confront them with some of the documented cases where it’s established beyond any reasonable doubt that the rape for which someone spent years or decades in prison never occurred – if you present them with evidence it would just be ridiculous to ignore, they may agree that those cases actually happened, but that doesn’t mean they consider them a problem. In their doublethink, because false accusation “never happens”, it can’t be a big deal when it does happen. To them, it is an acceptable price to pay, for dealing with the “real” problem.

    There is no reasonable doubt that real accusations far outnumber false accusations, and the system should reflect that – we should not have a system that works so hard to prevent false accusations that it leaves those who are bringing real accusations in the lurch. But neither should the pendulum swing all the other to the other side, completely abandoning those who have been falsely accused – and there are those who would gladly push it to that extreme, because they truly do believe that false accusations simply don’t happen, and aren’t important when they do. Have they been successful? To be honest, I don’t know. But anyone who’s studied the incredible injustices that came out of the SRA panic of the 1980s knows better than to assume the system couldn’t be thrown horribly out of balance, with tragic results, by a pressure group which is absolutely fervent in their efforts because they never question their own righteousness.

    You can sometimes interpret [the authorities declining to prosecute a known false accusation and justifying the decision by claiming it would discourage actual reporting] as meaning “We, the authorities, did a piss-poor job investigating this case and have no interest in revealing the details, thereby exposing ourselves to a civil suit by the wrongfully accused.”

    Or any number of other things.

    I must admit that possibility hadn’t occurred to me, and does seem pretty plausible in light of some cases I’ve been aware of over the years where authorities tied themselves in logical pretzels trying to insist that they hadn’t bungled the case as completely as it was obvious that they had.

    Additionally, sometimes they go forward with charges against false accusers, as — for example — in these recent cases:

    I really want to thank you for providing these links. I didn’t quite realize it until you posted them, but these are actually the first incidents I’m aware of where there was actually an effort to hold someone who’d made a false accusation responsible for that act.

    In all the cases I was aware of before, the false accuser was either deemed not responsible for her actions because of mental illness (which I’m sure actually was the correct conclusion and the correct response, for a majority of those cases) or … the authorities simply declined to pursue any charges, and sometimes, as I said, openly stated that they were doing so because to pursue justice for that crime might have indirect effects on enforcement of the other crime, and those indirect effects were more important to worry about.

    All I really want to see is a system where, when an accusation is made, those responsible for investigating (and ideally, those in the community who might consider themselves qualified to take action) remember “All sorts of people do terrible things. It’s very likely that, as Person A accuses, Person B is guilty of the terrible act of sexual assault. It’s also possible, however, that Person A is guilty of the terrible act of false accusation, trying to abuse the justice system as their means to hurt Person B. We won’t know which it is until we investigate.” I have met too many people whose desired system is instead “False accusations never happen, so if someone is accused, do everything you can to destroy them, they’re guilty people who deserve it – and even if it’s proven that they were falsely accused, well, they must have done something else bad to deserve that punishment” – and too many of them had power to make the system work that way. It’d be a relief to believe that maybe we are leaving that nightmare behind.

  85. #85 Beaker
    March 31, 2014

    ” I have met too many people whose desired system is instead “False accusations never happen, so if someone is accused, do everything you can to destroy them, they’re guilty people who deserve it – and even if it’s proven that they were falsely accused, well, they must have done something else bad to deserve that punishment” – and too many of them had power to make the system work that way. It’d be a relief to believe that maybe we are leaving that nightmare behind.”

    Do you actually have any evidence at all that this system ever existed. Because if I look at the media landscape and the stories of people reporting that they were raped, the actual situation seems to be the opposite. Rape accusations have often been received, and still too often receive, an amount of disbelief and disdain that makes it hard for women to press charges in the first place. Victim blaming seems to be rampant, both within the police force as well as in the media.

  86. #86 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 31, 2014

    ” I have met too many people whose desired system is instead “False accusations never happen, so if someone is accused, do everything you can to destroy them, they’re guilty people who deserve it – and even if it’s proven that they were falsely accused, well, they must have done something else bad to deserve that punishment” – and too many of them had power to make the system work that way. It’d be a relief to believe that maybe we are leaving that nightmare behind.”

    Do you actually have any evidence at all that this system ever existed. Because if I look at the media landscape and the stories of people reporting that they were raped, the actual situation seems to be the opposite. Rape accusations have often been received, and still too often receive, an amount of disbelief and disdain that makes it hard for women to press charges in the first place. Victim blaming seems to be rampant, both within the police force as well as in the media.

    Perhaps you would like to read up and see some of my previous comments about what it was like for me when I was the subject of false accusations. I’m so glad your perception of “the media landscape” is enough to invalidate everything I have personally experienced. Perhaps you can make the problem disappear entirely, if you simply believe hard enough that it has never existed.

  87. #87 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 31, 2014

    It was a mistake to come back to this thread. I won’t make it again.

  88. #88 ann
    March 31, 2014

    It was a mistake to come back to this thread. I won’t make it again.

    Okay. Well, in the event that you do:

    First of all, thanks very much for your willingness to engage in dialogue on a personally sensitive issue in such an open and true spirit.

    And fwiw:

    I realize it may be hard to believe – just as it’s hard to believe that there really are germ theory denialists in this day and age – but yes, there really are people out there flatly saying that false accusations don’t happen.

    I guess it’s not really hard to believe. It used to be a something of a stock phrase several decades ago, among people who go in for that mode of expression. And not for no reason at all, it must be said. Until Against Our Will was published in 1975, there really wasn’t anybody anywhere challenging the longtime standing presumption that women routinely, frequently lie about rape with ease, because that’s just how they are. Which was and is false.

    I’m old enough to remember those days well, having been fifteen at the time. Some pushback was definitely needed. And still is, sad to say.

    But completely unnecessary collateral damage sure isn’t. So I’m sorry to learn that some people evidently haven’t gotten the memo on that yet.

    I don’t know. I myself hadn’t heard it recently. And I guess I was under the impression was that most activists knew better nowadays. Or….I think things are moving in that direction, anyway. As they should, for purely realpolitik reasons, among many others. Because it’s just not a defensible statement. False accusations obviously can and do occur.

    What is the true rate of occurrence? I honestly wouldn’t venture a guess myself, because I just don’t think we have enough data that we can be sure isn’t ideologically tainted – one way or the other. But I personally have talked with activists who say that they placed the rate at about 1-2% – and they were the ones who cited that figure to justify their position that all rape investigations should automatically assume the truthfulness of the complainaint as an absolute, not to be questioned!

    Yeah. It’s been reflex to say “2%” since (again) 1975. (That was the figure Susan Brownmiller used in the book.) And that’s in the ballpark, as it happens.

    But there’s been a lot of work done since then. So that could probably use an update, too.

    The most thorough study that I know about found a false-report rate of 3 percent. Sadly, it also found that police classified nine percent of the same reports as false.

    A .pdf of that one, which was done by the British Home Office in 2005, is here, if you want to read it:

    http://paladinservice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/gap-or-chasm-rape-report.pdf

    And…Well. The National Center for Prosecution of Violence against women also has a concise, readable precis of the literature that’s (maybe surprisingly) pretty damn good. Interesting, even. FWIW, I recommend it. And that’s here:

    http://ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_3_no_1_2009.pdf

    Or, if you want to skip the research and just take my word for it, the short answer is:

    Hard to say. But it’s somewhere between two and eight percent.

    And finally:

    Please believe that the last thing on earth I would want to do would be to invalidate someone else’s painful personal experience of preemptively punitive social injustice. There’s not much that feels worse, and not many bad things that leave a more enduring mark on the soul than that.

    It’s serious, in short. I take it seriously. It’s an evil thing. So I think you’re right. We’re not very far apart. And we might not even be any distance from one another at all. For example:

    There is no reasonable doubt that real accusations far outnumber false accusations, and the system should reflect that – we should not have a system that works so hard to prevent false accusations that it leaves those who are bringing real accusations in the lurch. But neither should the pendulum swing all the other to the other side, completely abandoning those who have been falsely accused – and there are those who would gladly push it to that extreme, because they truly do believe that false accusations simply don’t happen, and aren’t important when they do.

    ^^I’m in pretty much complete agreement with you there.

    However, if I may say so very gently…

    Have they been successful? To be honest, I don’t know.

    The answer to that question is “No.” They haven’t been successful at all.

    The prevalence of rape on American college campuses has now been widely known for a full twenty-five years. A whole generation. There’s been study after study after study on it. It’s one of the most thoroughly researched demographics wrt rape and/or rape-reporting and/or false-rape-accusations there could possibly be. And the findings are very much the same as they were in the 1950s:

    About twenty to twenty-five percent of female college students are raped/sexually assaulted while at school. About ninety-five percent don’t report it at all. And those that do are routinely discouraged from doing so at best, disbelieved at worst. (Or, I guess, “persecuted/punished at worst.” Because that happens too.)

    None of that takes away one iota of validity from your experience, from my perspective. There’s no reason why it should. This is not a competition. And an experience doesn’t have to be typical to be valid.

    In short: We’re all on Team Justice here, I hope.

    So. In that spirit:

    But anyone who’s studied the incredible injustices that came out of the SRA panic of the 1980s knows better than to assume the system couldn’t be thrown horribly out of balance, with tragic results, by a pressure group which is absolutely fervent in their efforts because they never question their own righteousness.

    You’re definitely far from alone in fearing that. In fact, I’ve heard, read or seen people make that comparison countless times. Good people. Well-meaning. Wise. Possessed of all kinds of virtue.

    I don’t know what to say to it. It fills me with despair, tbh. There’s no danger of a moral-panic-based boom in unjust/unfounded rape prosecutions. None. Both the traditional rapability of women and all the moral values that go with it are as fully intact as any other unquestioned thing that society holds dear without really noticing. Sort of like the sun, moon, stars, and racism.

    The objective social conditions for it simply don’t exist, in reality. They really don’t.

    I wish I knew how to convey that valid truth more effectively than I evidently do. It’s really awful beyond words for everybody — men and women both, regardless of experience — to see the sum total of sexual fear and hostility current in the culture we all share be unnecessarily increased by so groundless a prospect.

    But, oh well. I gave it a shot.

    Thanks again for your grace and good will, if you’re reading. Don’t let anyone tell you what your experience means, including me. You’re the authority on it. And that deserves respect. Cheers.

  89. #89 ann
    April 13, 2014

    So. Over the last six or seven weeks, Benjamin Radford has:

    (a) filed suit against Karen Stollznow;
    (b) sent her (and the world) a super-secret coded message about where he was coming from wrt that via something he wrote for his gig at CSI that was so slipshod that it was disowned by management; and
    (c) posted an alleged retraction/apology by her that she hadn’t written or signed to Facebook

    Now he has a website responding to her allegations, which is here:

    http://benrlegal.info/

    It’s distressing.

  90. #90 herr doktor bimler
    April 14, 2014

    Benjamin Radford has:

    This is the same Ben Radford who peddles Evo-psych twaddle about color preferences and gender roles? Dear oh dear.

  91. #91 Narad
    April 14, 2014

    Now he has a website responding to her allegations

    Who in their right mind willingly registers a .info TLD?

  92. #92 Narad
    April 14, 2014

    Having skimmed the site, I’d be amazed if he ran this past his attorney (the complaint; PDF).

  93. #93 Narad
    April 14, 2014

    It appears that Stollznow filed for removal to federal court on April 9 (diversity, obviously).

  94. #94 Narad
    April 14, 2014

    Heh. Registered January 20.

  95. #95 ann
    April 14, 2014

    @t#292

    Seems ill-advised from that perspective, to be sure..

    There are some gaping lacunae in the correspondence, proofs offered and timeline as well.

    And even so, he evidently wasn’t able to find enough emails in which he didn’t say things like “You still love me. I can hear it in your voice,” to make the argument that he’s not at all fixated on her, one little bit. While posting the (by my count) fourth response he’s made to her in the last month and a half. But you could call it the fifth. Because he also retracted the retraction.

    It’s a sad and disturbing thing.

    @#293

    I gather that there’s some question about whether he can afford to litigate.

    If that’s right, I suppose he might not have thought he would have to, since until recently she couldn’t

  96. #96 ann
    April 14, 2014

    @#294

    I know, right?

  97. #97 Narad
    April 14, 2014

    If that’s right, I suppose he might not have thought he would have to

    I looked it up at the (crappy) New Mexico courts site. All it says is that a motion was filed to remove, but I’m not seeing any other plausible explanation than its being the defendant.

    So, what’s Radford’s accomplished here is to put his exhibits on display, inviting crowdsourced forensics, and acting as his own character witness, including revenge porn. Absolutely brilliant.

  98. #98 Narad
    April 14, 2014

    Oh, this is funny. I didn’t look closely enough; the case already has been removed to federal court. As noted at the JREF forums, that was simple, precisely because of this:

    55. Plaintiff is entitled to recover actual and punitive damages from Stollznow in an amount that Plaintiff Radford reasonably estimates to be in the millions of dollars.

  99. #99 Orac
    April 14, 2014

    Well, that’s interesting. A pretty good timeline of the whole thing was posted over on FTB. The comments are pretty interesting, too, as there are arguments both pro and con as to why the evidence on Radford’s website is/isn’t convincing. Personally, I’m not convinced, as there’s nothing there that I can see that looks like slam dunk (or even convincing) evidence of forging e-mail headers. (There is no analysis of server logs, for instance.)

    I am, however disgusted by Radford’s decision to post all that stuff (particularly the naked/semi-nude selfie of him and a woman who looks to be Karen Stollznow in bed, since removed, and an apparently sealed arrest record for a domestic disturbance arrest) to the point that, even if unequivocal evidence were presented to me that Karen Stollznow was and is as deceptive and evil as Radford claims and that he was as pure as the driven snow in his dealings with her, I’d still be forced to conclude that Radford is a despicable, vindictive human being whom I want nothing to do with. Before he did that, he might have persuaded me that he was in the right, but after his posting of what was in essence revenge porn, even if he’s right with respect to the harassment suit, I conclude that he put himself in the wrong—willingly and enthusiastically so.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2014/03/25/radford-stollznow-defamation-case-what-we-know-and-what-we-can-infer-or-extrapolate-reasonably/

  100. #100 Narad
    April 14, 2014

    there’s nothing there that I can see that looks like slam dunk (or even convincing) evidence of forging e-mail headers

    If one looks at the second page that he posted, it’s obvious that 7/18/2012 is from 2010, because that wasn’t a Sunday in 2010. Yet he doesn’t single this out as a “forgery.” The 3/26/2012 one has got to be 2012, because that was a Monday and it’s a reminder about Wednesday (in which he’s still addressing her as “beautiful”).

    But the sort order is wrong; the first four are reverse chronological, and then it switches to chronological with 3/26/2012. Very peculiar.

  101. #101 ann
    April 14, 2014

    That’s putting it mildly.

    He posts a tiny handful of emails out of (by self-admission) a huge correspondence and asserts the dates were changed (which there’s no proof they were) and thus proves what, exactly, that’s relevant to the question of whether he did what she says he did?

    At most, as far as I can see, it shows that although they broke up in late 2009 and she cited the break-up date in her blog post as the point at which the harassment began, in fact, they had one last fling five months into 2010, followed five months later, which coincided with a rocky period of her new relationship, by some overtures on her part.

    That leaves two-plus years of contacts almost entirely unaccounted for, apart from a few pro-forma pleasantries on her side — such as one might send to a touchy ex with whom one worked to make a show of good will if one didn’t want to rock the boat.

    To say nothing of the revenge porn, or the fact that he’s in possession of a police report that was sealed, which suggests that it was sealed after he got a copy (and possibly because he got a copy)

    Or, in other words, despite his purported lack of interest in and detachment from her, he seems to have been going to some pretty considerable lengths to get into her personal business in a way that gave him power over her.

    I mean, concerned friends don’t order up police reports and mug-shots long distance.

    Plus it’s got nothing to do with what she said about him, or the (not very compelling) reason he gives for her having said it.

    A casual reader might think the point of the whole enterprise was to wreak havoc on her marriage.

  102. #102 Narad
    April 14, 2014

    A casual reader might think the point of the whole enterprise was to wreak havoc on her marriage.

    The timing of the creation and advertising of the site lends credence to the notion that it was effectively being used as a form of blackmail, as far as I’m concerned.

  103. #103 ann
    April 14, 2014

    Certainly.

    Might not have been a completely clear distinction, though.

  104. #104 Politicalguineapig
    April 14, 2014

    Ann: Here’s the thing that worries me about accusations; do we not prosecute ANY cases because a few might be false? That seems to be what most men who bring up the false accusations want. Personally, I’m in favor of legally empowering the victim to do whatever she (or sometimes he) wants. Rape prosecution tends to be more about persecuting the victim than the perp anyway, and in some states rape is nearly legal.

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