Saturday, October 18, 2008

Debunking The Debunking Of 2 Percent False Rape Report Claim: Part 1

I saw the article: The Truth Behind Legal Dominance Feminism's "Two Percent False Rape Claim" Figure by Edward Greer given as proof that the claim that only 2% of rape reports are false reports (the person who reported being raped lied about having been raped) has been debunked.

However, while this paper claims to debunk a claim about the low rate of false rape reports, the proof given in this debunking contains no actual proof that the 2% rate of false rape reports is lower than reality.

[...] many of its empirical claims regarding the sexual abuse of women are erroneous. [...] This article attempts to demonstrate that the LDF discourse on rape is fundamentally false.

At the core of LDF discourse on rape is the proposition that "women don't lie" about sexual abuse.

The problem here is that while Greer is officially claiming to debunk a 2% rate of false rape reports (where women lie about having been raped) and thereby proving that a higher rate of girls and women who report having been raped are lying, he is also claiming that the real feminist claim is that there is a rate of false reports of 0.0000000000000000%.

In reality the core of the genuine feminist discourse is that the anti-feminist mantra, "women lie about rape" attempts to baselessly discredit the testimony of girls and women who report being raped and it attempts to justify baselessly mistreating rape victims throughout the criminal justice process.

This "women lie about rape" mantra implies that men are more honest than women when it comes to cases where a woman reported being raped by a man. Men, even those guilty of rape, must never feel victimized by the criminal justice system while this feeling of revictimization is a requirement for women who report rape.

Jurors are instructed to consider issues of credibility for all witnesses. This includes defendants if they choose to testify. The "women lie about rape" mantra seeks to baselessly taint the credibility of victim testimony but only when the victim is female and the crime is rape.

Greer makes a fundamental error by saying that women who report rape have the burden of proving that the allegation is true beyond a reasonable doubt. That legal responsibility has always belonged to the prosecution and it will continue to belong to the prosecution.

If Greer doesn't know this he is incompetent. If he knows this, he is trying to obscure this fact and has proven himself to be untrustworthy.

Unlike those who oppose the LDF program because of its alleged "malebashing" this article concedes that were it empirically true that only two percent of those charged with rape were innocent, LDF's solutions might represent a reasonable public policy. But if, as may well be the case, as many as a quarter of the men currently accused of rape are actually innocent, then the goals of LDF are truly destructive. [...]

Whether by trial or by plea-bargaining, roughly half of accused rapists are convicted. Even if we assume arguendo that all those convicted are indeed guilty, and that a full two-thirds of those acquitted at trial were also guilty, we would still wind up with a situation in which one-sixth of those actually tried are really innocent.

Here's where we get the statistical switcheroo. The 2% allegedly debunked was the rate of false rape reports and now it is the rate of men charged with rape who are innocent.

It is notable that not only does Greer do a statistical switcheroo, his claim that roughly half of accused rapists are convicted can easily be proven to be a false claim. According to RAINN, if a rape is reported (about 40% are) there is only a 50.8% chance of an arrest. If there is an arrest there is an 80% chance of prosecution. If there is a prosecution there is a 58% chance of a conviction. If there is a felony conviction there is a 69% chance the convict will spend time in jail.

That means that in reality the percentage of those accused who are convicted is 23.6%. Of the reported rapes there is only a 16.3% chance the rapist will go to prison.

That new statistical measurement of defendant innocence is based on assumptions and guesswork so not only is the range of 16.6% to 25% not a measurement of false rape reports which can be used to disprove the feminist estimate it is not an accurate measure of how many rape defendants are factually innocent. Greer is doing the equivalent of sticking his thumb out and squinting to come up with a number.

The rate of rape defendants innocence is not the rate of false rape reports. There is some overlap but identification problems allow men charged with rape to be innocent while the reports of rape in those cases are true.

A gap in the law or an error in which statutes were included in the indictment doesn't make the original report of rape false either.

A true report of rape doesn't become false even if the rape victim was coerced into recanting. But this injustice against a rape victim can elevate the recorded rate of false reports. For all of Greer's concern for the innocent, he shows no genuine concern for the harm done by these false allegations. As far as I can tell Greer views cops coercing rape victims into recanting a crime that really happened as an acceptable disinsentive for false rape reports.

By way of comparison, there is an elaborate body of literature and numerous examples suggesting that a significant number -- way beyond the two percent range -- of capital murder convictions are of innocent men. Why should criminal trials involving sexual assaults on women be more accurately discriminating than those involving capital crime?

For this comparison to have any meaning in debunking the claim that about 2% of rape reports are false reports, Greer must be claiming here that the number of false murder reports (no murder occurred and the person who reported the murder knows it) is way beyond two percent.

Notice that the high rate of wrongful convictions are only suggested from literature and examples. That's called guesswork.

Greer makes the false assumption that any rejection of his belief that 20 to 25 percent of rape claims are false reports is proof that people have been suckered by feminists. This again is a sign of sloppiness on his part.

Greer has done nothing to prove that the rate of false police reports is higher than 2% or that it is higher than the general rate of false police reports.

By Greer's decision to go against the law and assign rape victims with the burden of proof, he shows a basic level of disrespect for our legal system.

He complains that the raw data and inability to review that data and the analysis behind the original claim from the book by Susan Brownmiller Against Our Will cannot be analyzed to determine whether this source number meets a minimum criteria for accuracy, but his complaints can be applied to all the data he himself puts forth to debunk the idea that only about 2% of rape reports are false.

The closest Greer comes to any data which attempts to measure the rate of false reports is 40% from Eugene Kanin's study, but that data relied entirely on recantations given to investigators who used polygraphs as a standard part of their rape investigations.

Greer fails to recognize or note that tools such as polygraphs have been shown in studies to facilitate false confessions. This makes Kanin's study data tainted and therefore meaningless at determining the actual number of false rape reports. In the Kanin study none of the rape reports which Kanin identified as false were proven to be false by police investigation. So the number of proven false rape reports in Kanin's study is 0.

Greer implies that a review of unfounded rape cases, which are often included in the number of false rape reports, contradicts the 2% false rape report claim.

For Greer the significance was that there were no new prosecutions from that review, but what Greer fails to make note of is that none of those unfounded cases were proven during the review to be false reports. The data that Greer uses to contradict a 2% rate of false reports actually has a rate of 0% proven false reports. The only way to get a number of false reports from that sample higher than 0 is to guess.

It must be noted that Greer's statistical scrutiny, which is so important to him as he rejects feminist claims, is nowhere to be seen when he is tossing out higher rates of false rape reporting.

Continue to part 2.

Technorati tags:


Bookmark and Share
posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:25 AM   6 comments links to this post


At October 18, 2008 1:06 PM, Anonymous Ashley said...

Thanks Marcella, this is a great post. The bull**** from rape apologists on the false report issue is totally out of control.

I would love to see a well-designed study using MRIs to test the number of false reports. We really need some recent data, and the conflation of "unfounded," "retracted," and "false" by apologists is causing real problems for advocates.

At October 18, 2008 7:58 PM, Blogger georgia girl said...

I am really in a lot of pain right now -- not because of what happened to me in 1962, but because nobody seems to hear me! It's as if what happened to women decades ago doesn't seem to matter.

If you would, please visit my blog at

I want so very much to expose the rapists involved with this gang rape, including the frat man who set it up. I know the names of several perpetrators. Why, then, is this so difficult? It should be a slam-dunk case. If an attorney had the member roster of this particular fraternity, I am POSITIVE that "some" of the Theta Chi members of that era would come forward. What happened to me that year was "common knowledge"! Everyone in the fraternity was aware of who, what, where and how.

At October 19, 2008 8:24 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Georgia Girl,

My heart goes out to you. What happened to you matters to me.

Unfortunately, the why it is so difficult is articulated in Greer's paper. For him the "second rape" is good and necessary for the sake of those accused of rape -- who are clearly the only people who Greer is genuinely concerned about protecting.

At December 04, 2009 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, the FBI says that, in 25% of rape cases they consider, where DNA evidence is available, the primary suspect has been exonerated by the DNA evidence.

Obviously only fairly violent or serial rapes are being considered by the FBI, no date rapes. So we're considering a fairly special group. Also, these are not necessarily false rape claims, often the victim was raped by someone, but local police accused the wrong guy. But still 25% >> 2%.

We're also talking irrefutable DNA evidence here too, so innocence is unquestionable. If you merely ask that good DNA evidence exists but is inconclusive, which would be enough for an acquittal in court, the figure jump to 40%. So you should expect 40% acquittal when good evidence is available.

In fact, there is only one even vaguely scientific study on false rape reporting, by Prof. Eugene Kanin, Purdue University. He found that 41% of rape reports were false.

Kanin attempted eliminate various confounding factors by considering only one midwestern city where all eye witness reports were subject to lie detector tests and all rape reports were throughly investigated. He only considered rape reports false if the victim eventually recanted.

Kanin himself asserts that, despite his attempts to eliminate confounding factors, the lie detector test itself probably caused real victims to recant. Kanin's 41% figure nevertheless suggests that there are actually enormous numbers of falsely reported rapes.

Do you seriously believe that like 39% of real rape victims will retract their accusations simply because they might fail a lie detector test? No way.

At December 04, 2009 10:14 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


None of what you present proves what you claim it proves.

The FBI DNA mismatch data has nothing to do with false claims since identification errors is a separate issue from a fraudulent police report. When you have unrelated data it doesn't matter that 25% is greater than 2%.

There are scientific studies on false rape reporting, but Kanin's study doesn't qualify as truly scientific in this area.

Kanin's study did not prove the guilt of anyone who reported having been raped let alone prove that 41% of rape reports were false. It only measured the rate at which that police dept could get women who reported having been raped to say or do something listed by them as recanting.

Kanin simply assumed that all those who were listed as recanting had filed a fraudulent report. He did no independent verification of this assumption. Many people falsely claim this study is objective because they like the numbers cited by Kanin. It supports their biases.

None of the cases in his study listed as false were proven to be false through a thorough investigation. So the verifiable number of fraudulent reports in his study was a big fat zero.

Innocent people can be coerced into giving false confessions. The Innocence Project estimated that 25% of the DNA exonerations involved people who gave false confessions prior to their conviction. If your premise about confessions is correct then the Innocence Project must have falsely exonerated guilty men.

Your question glosses over the harsh reality of interrogations where those who reported having been raped were most likely denied basic due process rights.

The same strategies can be used to get a man to confess to a crime he didn't commit and to get a woman to confess she wasn't raped when she was raped. Yet many people who hate these strategies when used against innocent men love them and defend them when they are used against innocent women.

Women who have been wrongfully charged with filing a false police report have been exonerated, but people such as yourself seem to have no interest in false allegations and false police charges when the person who is innocent is a woman who was raped prior to being falsely charged.

At December 04, 2009 10:58 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


Your mention that Kanin attempted to eliminate confounding factors misses the fact that his chosen city's processes which he looked at as increasing accuracy directly and systematically increased the rate of false confessions from rape victims. Apparently, even Kanin himself knew this but decided to ignore that knowledge.

Having a systematic approach does not equal having a system where all reports are thoroughly and competently investigated.

This city's "ideal" methodology has since been banned by law in many jurisdictions.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home