Fake but Accurate: How I Know Nobody Believes that 1 in 5 Women Are Raped on Campus

How do I know that average people do not believe the one in five women raped on campus meme?  Because parents still are sending their daughters to college, that's why.  In increasing numbers that threaten to overwhelm males on campus.   What is more, I sat recently through new parent orientations at a famous college and parents asked zillions of stupid, trivial questions and not one of them inquired into the safety of their daughters on campus or the protections afforded them.  Everyone knows that some women are raped and badly taken advantage of on campus, but everyone also knows the one in five number is overblown BS.

Imagine that there is a country with a one in 20 chance of an American woman visiting getting raped.  How many parents would yank their daughters from any school trip headed for that country -- a lot of them, I would imagine.  If there were a one in five chance?  No one would allow their little girls to go.  I promise.   I am a dad, I know.

Even if the average person can't articulate their source of skepticism, most people understand in their gut that we live in a post-modern world when it comes to media "data".  Political discourse, and much of the media, is ruled by the "fake but accurate" fact.  That is, the number everyone knows has no valid source or basis in fact or that everyone knows fails every smell test, but they use anyway because it is in a good cause.  They will say, "well one in five is probably high but it's an important issue anyway".

The first time I ever encountered this effect was on an NPR radio show years ago.  The hosts were discussing a well-accepted media statistic at the time that there were a million homeless people (these homeless people only seem to exist, at least in the media, during Republican presidencies so I suppose this dates all the way back to the Reagan or Bush years).  Someone actually tracked down this million person stat and traced it back to a leading homeless advocate, who admitted he just made it up for an interview, and was kind of amazed everyone just accepted it.  But the interesting part was a discussion with several people in the media who still used the statistic even after they knew it to be outsourced BS, made up out of thin air.  Their logic:  homelessness was a critical issue and the stat may be wrong, but it was OK to essentially lie (they did not use the word "lie") about the facts in a good cause.  The statistic was fake, but accurately reflected a real problem.  Later, the actual phrase "fake but accurate" would be coined in association with the George W. Bush faked air force national guard papers.  Opponents of Bush argued after the forgery became clear to everyone but Dan Rather that the letters may have been fake but they accurately reflected character flaws in the President.

And for those on the Left who want to get bent out of shape that this is just aimed at them, militarists love these post-modern non-facts to stir up fear in the war on terror, the war on crime, the war on drugs, and the war on just about everyone in the middle east.

PS-  Neil deGrasse Tyson has been criticized of late for the same failing, the use of fake quotes that supposedly accurately reflect the mind of the quoted person.  It is one thing for politicians to play this game.  It is worse for scientists.  It is the absolute worst for a scientist to play this anti-science game in the name of defending science.  



  1. MNHawk:

    If you notice, those trying to manipulate their low information voter bases, like Kerstin Gillibrand, aren't saying 1 in 5 are being raped. They're saying 1 in 5 are being ASSAULTED, and letting you make the automatic connection to rape that most of us not burdened with a School of Government education would make. That probably is true, when a fraud like Gillibrand equates all unwanted touching (a butt pinch...unwanted kiss...bra snap, ect) with rape, under the umbrella of "sexual assault."

    My question to the Gillibrands of the world is why? What do you gain from making the rest of society as miserable as you types obviously are?

  2. Daublin:

    That was my thought as well. I suspect the figure is technically accurate. One out of five women gets sexually approached, from someone she doesn't want it from, at some point during her entire four years in college.

    Anyway it's a depressing style of discussion. It makes careful analysis impossible, because everyone is just trading volleys of fauxtistics.

  3. eddie:

    Disqus is polluting your page with nearly-pornographic ads.

  4. Dave Boz:

    Astonishing, isn't it? If the phony statistic were actually true, we wouldn't need counselors, we would be calling for the National Guard. Imagine if that "statistic" applied to your neighborhood - you would be demanding saturation patrols from the police.
    There is something odd about an absolutely incredible "statistic" that generates nothing but rule-making and pretend outrage.

  5. Zachriel:

    That's one in five women are sexually assaulted while attending college, not necessarily while on campus, not necessarily rape. These women are primarily young, and only just leaving home.

  6. Don:

    It's the story that matters, the statistics (and truth) be damned.

  7. Nehemiah:

    eddie, that is because the visitors to these pages must be clicking through. The ad content gets modified based on visitor behavior. Doesn't speak too well for us as a group.

  8. NL7:

    Michael Crichton gave a speech years ago that hit this point. People like to use exaggerated stats in part to express sympathy for a side. https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~scranmer/SPD/crichton.html

    The "nuclear winter" theory garnered some outright criticism but Crichton points to more nuanced views:

    Freeman Dyson was quoted as saying, "It's an absolutely atrocious piece of science, but who wants to be accused of being in favor of nuclear war?" And Victor Weisskopf said, "The science is terrible but—perhaps the psychology is good."

  9. Nehemiah:

    The ends justify the means don't you know. I think scientists may be worse than politicians in this regard. Consider Ernst Haeckel's embryonic recapitulation drawings, proven to be frauds, but they remain part of the "evidence" for evolution. Or how about Stanley Miller and Harold Urey's experiment that "created the building blocks of life". Although amino acids did form under laboratory conditions, it was a far cry from the protein development necessary for life. In addition the "atmospheric" conditions used in the experiment were inconsistent with conditions early in the Earth's development. That didn't stop Carl Sagan from confidently predicting the planets orbiting those billions and billions of stars are just teeming with life. Actually scientists are having such a difficult time explaining how life originated on the Earth, some are suggesting that life here is the result of extraterrestrial life transferred here by asteroids or space travelers.

  10. drobviousso:

    >Doesn't speak too well for us as a group.

    Agreed. I for one vow to change my viewing habits until actually-pornographic ads are used.

  11. Milton:

    If I remember correctly the 1 in 5 statistic came from a study that considered rape and attempted rape and rape was defined as sex by use of force or guilt. Seriously, by guilt. Can't wait for the next study- 1 in 1 American husbands have committed attempted rape.

  12. Billford:

    I think the 1 in 5 statistic for college women is for sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. This could actually be a "legit" statistic, if sexual assault includes non-consensual boob or butt grabs or touches. Take a look at this link that purports to be from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/sv-datasheet-a.pdf I tried to read the article to see how sexual assault was defined, but they want $40 for it.: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.3200/JACH.57.6.639-649#.VCrVZmddXiI

    It appears the survey was given to 5,446 randomly selected college women. I wonder whether an attempted sexual assault would include somebody you don't want to sleep with obviously trying to get you to drink a lot. This has actually happened to me several times, and one time it was so bad I was actually pretty offended, and left a gathering and stumbled home (I'm a guy, a girl was obviously trying to get me drunker than I already was, her friends had already paired off with my friends, I hate to say it, but she was extremely unattractive).

    Anyway, if the one in five statistic includes attempts such as that one, which in my mind was a total sexual assault attempt to overwhelm my ability to give consent, given the circumstances, well then like you said, it is technically true, but not really that meaningful.

  13. jimbeaux:

    That's beside the point. It's still wildly overinflated. At my local university they have a crime statistics page which lists the number of reported sexual assaults (they don't break it down by the type of sexual assault). If the one in five stat was true, over a four year period there should be over 12,000 sexual assaults. Over the past four years, there have only been 48 reported sexual assaults. Eight of the 48 were dismissed outright, and only a half dozen resulted in anyone's conviction.

    According to reports by the FBI, etc., about fifty percent of sexual assaults go unreported. If that's true, then there may have been 80 sexual assaults in the past four years, but definitely not 12,000. One in five? Not hardly. Perhaps one in one thousand.

  14. jimbeaux:

    I disagree. Even using the audacious definition above, there is no way that one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college. Going by my local university's crime stats page on sexual assault, the reality is closer to one in one thousand - I'm very skeptical that the discrepancy can be that significant.

  15. Steve Merryman:

    I'm always a little puzzled when I read crime statistics from the Centers for Disease Control.

  16. Zachriel:

    jimbeaux: That's beside the point.

    It's not beside the point if the findings are misstated.

    Krebs et al., College women’s experiences with physically forced, alcohol- or other drug-enabled, and drug-facilitated sexual assault before and since entering college, Journal of American College Health 2009.

    jimbeaux: If the one in five stat was true, over a four year period there should be over 12,000 sexual assaults.

    They only report assaults within the designated area of the campus. You have to look at the definitions before comparing different statistics.

  17. Zachriel:

    Billford: given the circumstances, well then like you said, it is technically true, but not really that meaningful.

    If you were penetrated while blacked out, you might think differently.

  18. Gil G:

    Then again the law can long provided an allowance to describe an unwanted shove as battery even if it causes no physical harm namely you don't go physically hitting others, period. Women it seems to have one helluva time trying to persuade traditional types that rape ought not have to only mean a stranger violently forcing himself on a woman. Traditional types prefer the Biblical definition of rape to mean when some man trespasses and steals the sexual property rights of a father or a husband.

  19. bigmaq1980:

    Well, not besides the point. However....

    It might well have been sourced from a report like this - lifetime 20% of women experience rape:

    I think the left cleverly use this to imply (by "echoing") the same on campus (and remember, this is of the women who had consumed alcohol - so not necessarily the entire female campus population; and, this is of one college only...are all campuses equal in terms of alcohol or drug consumption?):

    The stats in that report include "forced kissing or fondling". 12.6% (around half of those "1 in 5" reported to experience an assault) were attempted assaults. Given the age group, and varying levels of social skills with the opposite gender, is it possible that we could be talking about a clumsy attempt at kissing, or holding hands, especially if each has consumed alcohol?

    The LARGER point is that it is a false number (to what the left imply) and the average person recognizes it is so, as evident by their behavior.

  20. Zachriel:

    bigmaq1980: It might well have been sourced from this widely disseminated report - 20% of women experience rape in their lifetime:http://www.cdc.gov/violencepre...

    It's more likely from the study, from your citation, that "In a study of undergraduate women, 19% experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college."

  21. HFB:

    "If you were penetrated while blacked out, you might think differently."
    Are you saying that every woman claimed to have been ACTUALLY raped? You compare woman thinking that they had been raped or that they were at risk, to a situation that IS rape. You just put the whammy on and made every argument against the flawed or outright lie of this stat.
    I will report every possible interaction as actual sexual assault or rape. BOOM! 1 in 5.

  22. bigmaq1980:

    For clarity, since you only show the link to the CDC report, which folks would then think that is where you pull the 19% from...it is from the Washington Post article I linked.

    So nobody gets fooled by that sleight of hand, the full text is:

    "The survey found that 1,073 women, or 19 percent, said that they experienced attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college. The actual breakdown was that 12.6 percent experienced attempted sexual assault and 13.7 percent experienced actual sexual assault. (There was some overlap.)"

    So, it is about a 50/50 split.

    Back to the same point....there is all kinds of issues with this "study". However, when one looks at how real people make decisions regarding their or their children's daily life, it demonstrates their real faith in these numbers.

  23. obloodyhell:

    Any degree of respect NDT had gotten from me disappeared when he openly supported AGW Theory on Cosmos. The man's an untrustworthy quack in the same mold as Paul Krugman. Not going to listen to anyone who MIGHT be right, but feels he need not be.

  24. obloodyhell:

    More critically, what questions were being asked? How was "sexual assault" defined? If some drunk guy at a party grabbed a girl and tried to kiss her, is that an "attempted sexual assault"? Quite possibly, and pretty damned relevant. You tell me THAT happens to 1 in 5 women, I could believe that.

    Ideally, yes, it should not happen... But to conflate that in equivalence to rapes and attempted rapes is just absolute bovine excreta.

    Unfortunately, "sexual assault" and "rape" get equated in the media much like "assault rifles" and "machine guns" get equated to legally available weaponry.

    Anything to push an agenda, y'know?

  25. obloodyhell:

    No, many people want women to actually show they MEAN "no" when they say "no", and not "Well, Part of me wants to, but another part doesn't... convince me."

    If a woman says "No", but sticks around without being restrained or prevented from leaving, then there's serious -- and highly legitimate -- **doubt** as to which of the above meanings she's conveying to the male involved. AND to any post-event judgement being asked for.

    Female indecisiveness is no basis for serious legal events to turn on.

    And the issue with the above possibilities means, if you want people to take you seriously, force him to actually bruise you in some manner. Either by bruising or abraiding your wrists (showing restraint) or any other bruising (showing physical force applied) is the best means to make it clear what YOU, the female, did, to make it clear your wishes in the matter, and that it was definitely and clearly "No" as "No", and not "No" as "Convince me."

    If women never, ever played that game, we could dispense with the requirement a lot. but as long as they do, women need to make cases of rape CLEAR cases of rape.

  26. obloodyhell:

    }}} If you were penetrated while blacked out, you might think differently.

    And if your head were stuck FAR up your ass, you'd see things exactly the....

    Oh... *Never mind*.

    How did she get "blacked out". Was she drugged? Or was she in a drunken stupor that she fell into WHILE nuzzling with the guy?

    If the former -- throw the book at him, it was rape, no question.

    If the latter, yeah, he should, probably, have stopped -- but, let's face it, if she was shitfaced then is there any reason to presume he wasn't? And, even if "blacked out", was she utterly unresponsive, or moaning and saying things?

    And why, then, is he required to be responsible and sensible though shitfaced, while she didn't have to be responsible and sensible enough not to get shitfaced in the first place...? I'd still recommend punishment for the bozo, don't get me wrong. But not seriously so. She has "culpable negligence" written all over her face.

    This notion of equal rights meaning "equal privileges, but you just HOLD ON when you start meaning equal responsibilities, mister!!" shit needs to stop.

  27. obloodyhell:

    I'm ALWAYS disappointed when people whose job it is to defend science fail to defend nonsense passing as science.

  28. obloodyhell:

    P.S., this is a highly related Crichton piece about our damning INability to manage even simple ecosystems, such as Yellowstone park:

    Fear, Complexity, & Environmental Management in the 21st Century

  29. obloodyhell:

    One word: Adblock.


    I literally have no idea WTF you're talking about. Ads? What ads?

  30. obloodyhell:

    One in five? Is that all? Seems low. Must be a lot of fugly wimmin in that study.

  31. Zachriel:

    You didn't reply to the point, did you. If you were abused while passed out, would you consider that an assault? Of course you would.

  32. Zachriel:

    You didn't reply to the point, did you. If you were abused while passed out, would you consider that an assault?

  33. Zachriel:

    migmaq1980: However, notwithstanding that, when one looks at how real people make decisions regarding their or their children's daily life, it demonstrates their real faith in the inflated topside numbers the left promulgate.

    It may be best not to have daughters, but given that you do, they have to grow up sometime or other and go out into the world.

  34. Zachriel:

    obloodyhell: But to conflate that in equivalence to rapes and attempted rapes is just absolute bovine excreta.

    That's right. They're not the same thing, so when studies are compared, it's important not to compare apples and oranges.

    The 1 in 5 figure is self-reporting by women of assault. That isn't the same as rape, or even that a crime has been committed.

  35. Billford:

    I only meant that if the unsuccessful attempt to get me to drink more in order to get me to say a very drunken "yes" counts as an attempted assault, then the statistic would be true, but not meaningful. I certainly did not mean to minimize an actual assault occurring where the person is unable to consent or has been given alcohol specifically in order to change a drunken "no" into a very, very drunken "ok".

  36. Bram:

    Gives them something to do instead of keeping viral epidemics contained.

  37. Man Hater World:

    The study was garbage.
    it was self selected, small sample size.
    and respondents didnt indicate sexual assault, those who reviewed the data determined who they thought were sexually assaulted.
    half of all women sexually assaulted in that study went out with their rapist again (continued to date and continued to have intimacies, continued to live with them (as bf/gf).
    according to the man haters studies, women are raped, go back and have more sex with their rapist in 505 of the cases

  38. Man Hater World:

    men's rights activism is the radical notion that men deserve rights, too

  39. Man Hater World:

    So, women can be firefighters, police officers, be in the army and now they are trying to get them allowed in special forces, but they cannot even call 911 when attacked? Then they are delicate flowers unable to even have the agency to report a crime (keeping in mind that supposedly these rapist do this to a lot of women and supposedly people want to prevent rapes - so the woman who doesnt come forward makes it real easy for a rapist to do this to another woman (she would just as guilty as the confused administrator untrained in criminal law who did nothing).
    if a woman is murdered on campus, do women fall into blobs of fear and forget to call the police knowing that forensic evidence is a requirement for administering justice and proving guilt?
    Rape is a serious crime? as serious as homicide? I agree. and I agree that anyone who doesnt report a homicide is irresponsible.
    Now, if you are confused if a rape took place, it likely didnt happen.
    if you are confused if a homicide took place, one likely didnt.
    if you are confused as to weather a bank was robbed or not, it likely was not.
    serious crimes deserve serious responses.
    fake accusations require punishment (or just tell the world you think rape should be seen as the joke it is becoming, because the more rape lies, the easier it is for real rapists to go free)

  40. Man Hater World:

    27% of rape kits are negative (rape liars)

  41. Man Hater World:

    according to their lies, it is safer in ferguson, mo than at harvard

  42. Man Hater World:

    Exactly, as if women are incapable of butt pinching, or the like.
    But, I ask you (sorry, found this late), how many times have you been assaulted by a woman?
    I bet it has been far more than once.
    With the progtard agenda of the last decade or so, hugging is big whereas it used to be far less common, especially among opposite genders (where men get all the false accusations).
    Have you ever had a woman demand a hug from you?
    I had a woman hit me in my collar bone once because I had told her i had to keep the hugs to one per weekend (I explained that my wife was a jealous woman and that if she ever found her hugging me, I would be in a lot of trouble - i didnt explain, that my wife would only beat me after she beat her mightily for hugging her man - sorry, the missus is kinda fierce and protective of what she considers her property)

  43. MNHawk:

    I'm not high school aged, anymore. But I'm glad I was in the 80's, when the workplaces high school people worked at was still fun. And yes, by Gillibrand's definition, I was assaulted, and did a little assaulting myself.

  44. Darren Snakeman:

    Part of the issue is the over-sexualization of women in culture. Which is demonstrated in the bogus studies mentioned in this video.