In my previous post about the real incidence of rape (it is in massive decline! contrary to the claims of the campus rape industry), I said there was a discrepancy in the National Crime Victimization Survey statistics about its prevalence in the past several years. Steven Pinker writes that it was at 50/100,000 in 2008, whereas the only data I was able to access showed it to be at about 94/100,000 in 2011. Since it’s rather unlikely that the incidence of rape has doubled in the past three years, I suggested that either Pinker made a mistake or the NCVS has changed its definitions.
I was pleased to receive a reply from Steven Pinker on this and it seems that the second option is the likely one. The first one is certainly wrong, because he attached a spreadsheet showing the NCVS figures on rape for 1973-2008, and they do indeed show it declining from around 250/100,000 in the 1970’s to just 50/100,000 in recent years.
On the basis of that data I made the following telling chart.
It shows that a generation ago there really was something of a “rape culture” in that your average rape was very unlikely to be reported to police. Ironically, it was at precisely the time in history that reports of rape to police started to converge with the number of people who said they were raped in that year that all this rape culture rigmarole got going.
But as we can see, by that point the train had long departed. With reported rapes drawing close to the anonymously reported general incidence of rape*, plus the inherent ambiguity and fluidity around what actually constitutes rape, it is practically impossible to continue to imagine in good faith that a large number of innocent men aren’t getting tangled up in the narrow space between those two converging lines.
(Finally, even within just the modern US, there will be significant differences in rape prevalence between different regions and socio-economic groups. For instance, “rape culture” is considered by feminists to be more prevalent on the nation’s campuses. But considering that the average college student is one S.D. higher in IQ than the national average, and the close correlation between IQ and crime rates, it is in fact quite likely that modern US college towns are some of the very safest places for women in history. Then again it’s much safer to rant about “campus rape culture” from an actual campus than from within some inner city ghetto).
That is why I think that the higher-end (i.e. 25%+) estimates for false rape accusations, far from being the products of MRM chauvinist hysteria, are in fact the most credible ones today.
PS. Here is Steven Pinker’s reply in full:
The rape statistics come from
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2009. National Crime Victimization Survey Spreadsheet.http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/sheets/viortrd.csv.
which I attach (accessed 2010/5/3). Unfortunately that URL now redirects to http://www.bjs.gov/glance_redirect.cfm which apologizes for a BoJ Web site redesign rendering the file unavailable until this summer.
You’ll see in a comment line within the spreadsheet that the survey methodology changed at least twice during the 1973-2008 interval, though the numbers reported in it have been adjusted to make (except for one year) commensurable with one another.
It’s not certain why the numbers you found for 2011 are so out of whack with those in this dataset, and it would take some digging to resolve the discrepancy. But the warning in this spreadsheet about previous methodology changes suggests a likely answer. Under pressure from activist groups, common definitions of “rape” and “sexual assault” have recently been broadened to include, for example, a man verbally pressuring a woman into sex, and a man getting a woman drunk and having sex with her; even, in some surveys, sex that the woman regrets afterwards. These expansive definitions are the source of some of the incredible claims such as that one in every four female college students has been raped. I doubt that the NCVS uses such a definition which is quite that expansive, but if the question asked in the past few years differs from those asked in 1973-2008, we would have an explanation for the discrepancy. And you may be correct that the restrictive and expansive definitions correspond to “rape” and “sexual assault,” respectively, but it would take some digging into the recent survey methodology to verify this.
* These two measures aren’t strictly comparable, because one person can report multiple instances of rape to police, whereas in any one year someone can only either be raped or not raped in the NCVS statistics. Nonetheless, one would imagine that the percentage of (very unfortunate) people experienced two or more cases of rape per year and reporting them to police would be very low.