October 1, 2013

Making up numbers

Bob Jones, in the Herald

But although the offenders are male, 99.999 per cent of men are not rapists and feel just as outraged as women do about it.

He’s obviously just pulled that number out of his head (or somewhere else round and inappropriate), since it would imply only about 20 male rapists in New Zealand. About 20 times that number were convicted and sent to prison just last year for sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault.

A lot of men have a hard time believing that rape is as common as it is — either because they can’t imagine doing it, or because they do it and don’t think it’s rape. But there are good-quality high response-rate surveys showing that lots of women have been raped, and if only a tiny minority of men are rapists, they have to be very busy.

Bob Jones is off by at least three, and quite likely more than four orders of magnitude. That must be close to a record.

(update)

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Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »

Comments

  • avatar

    Can you define ‘sexual assault’ and ‘aggravated sexual assault’? As a lawyer, these terms do not seem synonymous with ‘rape’.

    4 years ago

    • avatar
      Thomas Lumley

      They were the categories on the Stats NZ website for convictions by ANZSOC. Under Major Offence: “sexual assault and related offences”, divided into “aggravated sexual assault” and “non-aggravated sexual assault”, and “non-assaultive sexual offences”

      4 years ago

      • avatar
        Thomas Lumley

        And most of the convictions with imprisonment were under “aggravated sexual assault”.

        4 years ago

        • avatar
          Thomas Lumley

          The ANZSOC definition for ‘aggravated sexual assault” is

          Sexual assault, as defined in Subdivision 031, Sexual assault, that involves any of the following aggravating circumstances:
          sexual intercourse (i.e. oral sex and/or penetration of the vagina or anus by any part of the human body or by any object);
          inflict injury or violence;
          possession/use of a weapon;
          consent proscribed/committed against a child; or
          committed in company (i.e. by two or more persons).

          4 years ago