Don’t Be That Predator: Followup

This website pushing the myth that rape is a man/woman problem rather than a predator/citizen problem suggests that my previous claim that 2 – 4% of reported rapes are false reports was way too low. The figure they cite from the FBI is 8%, which means based on their own data, a rape report is as likely to be false as a man is likely to be a rapist.

That is, “8% of men admit committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape”.

And: “False reports of rape are rare, according to the FBI, occurring only 8% of the time.”

Yet they do not report anyone asking people: “Is there ANY degree of likelihood that you would make a false rape accusation if you could be assured of never getting caught?”

This is weird, because they do see fit to report that “35% of men report at least some degree of likelihood of raping if they could be assured they wouldn’t be caught or punished” as if that impossible hypothetical was somehow important to the discourse on rape and rape culture (which exists.)

If an 8% false reporting rate is “rare” then an 8% perpetration rate is “rare”, which is consistent with what we already know: the vast majority of men are not rapists, and a considerable majority of rapes are committed by a small minority of men, and when a person makes an accusation of rape they are almost always telling the truth.

Almost all men are not rapists.

Almost all women are telling the truth about rape.

Most rapes are committed by a small minority of serial predators.

These are facts, and they just do not support the “all men are rapists” model, nor make the claim “all men are potential rapists” any more relevant to public policy than the equally true claim that “all blacks are potential murderers”. There is simply no basis in fact for bringing up such statements: they are rooted purely in ideology; the latter in racism, the former in misandry–which is quite distinct from feminism, although you can obviously find misandric feminists.

More particularly, the facts do not support giving any special relevance to the claim, “All people who report rapes are potential liars.”

When any man is accused of rape it should be taken seriously, because he could be a rapist.

When anyone reports a rape it should be investigated carefully, because the accuser could be lying.

These statements have exactly the same weight based on the evidence: all else being equal, a man has an 8% chance of being a rapist. All else being equal, someone who reports a rape has an 8% chance of lying about it. And in any criminal case, both the accuser and the accused should be investigated, with due respect for their civil and legal rights.

How to balance the legal and civil rights of both parties–including the right of the accuser to privacy and security of person–is something we are still learning how to do, and we have seen a great many examples of how not to do it.

But despite the proclivities of the Internet Hate Machine, it is unjust to take either accusation or denial as the basis for guilt or innocence.

This is extremely hard on rape victims. They know, particularly in the wake of cases like Stubenville, that they will become the accused. We can all help make the world a better place by taking accusations of rape very seriously, while not simply condemning the accused out of hand.

How to deal with this within the criminal justice system is a matter for specialists. Improved interview techniques have been shown to help, and more research needs to be done in this direction.

It is also likely that some kind of psychometric analysis of the accused could help in determining if they are a predator. The majority of rapes are committed by people who are not like other men. Surely it is time to throw some resources into identifying them, as has been done with serial killers?

The parallel with murder is an interesting one: most murders are not committed by serial killers, but even so we have put a lot of money into identifying them, and what we have learned is that serial killers are quantitatively and qualitatively different from other people. In contrast, most rapes are committed by serial rapists, and we have done almost nothing to bring their identification to the forefront of police investigation. But we have every reason to believe that serial rapists will have as distinct a set of psychological characteristics as serial killers.

Rather than focusing on the accuser, putting more resources into properly categorizing the accused seems like a good place to start in enhancing police procedures dealing with rape.

In the meantime, if we can keep in mind that almost all women are telling the truth about rape and almost all men are not rapists, we would be moving the discourse forward in a productive and positive way.

About TJ

Scientist, engineer, inventor, writer, poet, sailor, hiker, canoeist, father.
This entry was posted in epistemology, ethics, politics, probability, psychology. Bookmark the permalink.

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