Tuesday, August 7, 2018

More fake news

USA Today has an article about sexual assaults on college campuses, starting off with the estimates range from one in four to one in five, and then of course going on from there as if those were hard, statistically solid facts.
Apparently nobody there bothers to do the slightest research, since the article below was published in September 2016, almost two full years ago, and deals with the matter in some detail.  It quotes the actual authors of the original report on campus assaults chastising media for using those figures as if they were valid and precise, when the conditions of the survey and the kinds of answers they got guaranteed they could not be so.
Common sense says that if one in four young women in college were subject to rape or anything close to it, the newspapers would be full of it, since at least some large fraction of them would be reporting it, complaining about it, forming protest groups every week, and their parents would be suing the schools, and all kinds of stuff would be going on.
And the definition of "sexual assault" turns out to be whatever any woman says, which ranges from perceived harassment (like getting looked at) to stupid comments by a guy to the slightest touch to more serious touch to real groping to actual rape.
Bottom line, it was a very limited study of small groups and had a low participation rate, all of which only demonstrates that at least some fraction of women in college have been or feel they have been sexually harassed or assaulted in some way.  Is this still a problem?  Of course it is, but throwing out numbers like that is seriously misinforming, it's not remotely responsible journalism, and it just feeds into more negativity in a society already oversupplied with negativity and divisiveness.  When a national newspaper descends to this, we know more than ever how little we can trust the media.

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