G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Whether or not this graphic turns out to be true, Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews provides a peek into modern journalistic integrity.
He rehashed a rehash of a cutesy, digestible graphic on the disparity in rape incidents, arrests for rape, and incarceration for rape. The original graphic was provided by a group called Enliven Project and supposedly based on data from the Department of Justice. The link provided by Matthews has the following statement setting us at ease on the strength of the research:
The fear of getting falsely accused of rape just doesn’t compare to the fear of an actual rapist getting away with his or her crime. Statistics from Justice Department, National Crime Victimization Survey: 2006-2010 and FBI reports.
Matthews followed the daisy chain from a Huffington Post writer named Laura Bassett who linked to the catchy graphic which suggests that for every 1000 rapists there are 2 men falsely accused of rape. That 0.2% false accusation figure doesn’t match even the most conservative estimates. So since that figure is so far off the commonly-cited mark, it seems incumbent on Matthews/Enliven/Bassett to do their homework first and show their work to us while doing it.
I tweeted at Matthews and Bassett asking about the data to back the graphic. I’ve discussed rape statistics and false rape statistics and have a certain opinion on the topic, but I’d be willing to change my mind if shown proper data. But even Matthews admits that he doesn’t have that data. Even so, he posted the graphic anyway and pushed the discussion to a huge pool of passive readers:
Addendum: It is a fact that many actual rapes go unreported. Nobody can deny that. But it seems incomplete to look at the incidents where rapes were not reported to the police and then compare that to falsified rape accusations. What about rape accusations that are tossed around in social circles or used as threats against men but which don’t make it up to the police level? Could the DOJ or any other agency even count those?