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Discredited Rape Data Overshadow What’s Accurate

A Washington Times headline on Nov. 9 declared, “Pentagon ‘gay’ rape debacle: Report alleging male-on-male sexual trauma retracted.” In an almost unprecedented move, the American Psychological Association (APA) retracted an article it had published a week earlier in its journal, Psychological Services. “Preliminary Data Suggest Rates of Male Sexual Trauma May be Higher than Previously Reported” had claimed that the rate of rape for military males might be 15 times higher than acknowledged. The media trumpeted the presence of another rape crisis.

Why were the data retracted? An APA press release explained, “Although the article went through our standard peer-review process, other scholars have ... raised valid concerns regarding the design and statistical analysis, which compromise the findings.” Flawed methodology rendered useless results. This often occurs with rape research, whether it is conducted inside the military, at police stations or on campuses.

The most remarkable aspect of the APA retraction may be that it was mentioned by mainstream media. Most discredited assault studies are invisibly corrected, which allows the original, sensational conclusions to be repeated as fact. For example, the campus survey “Denying Rape but Endorsing Forceful Intercourse” exploded across the airwaves in early 2015. One in three male students would rape, researchers maintained, “if nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences.” Activists cried out for tighter controls on campus.

Wendy McElroy is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. Her books include the Independent Institute volumes, Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-First Century, and Freedom, Feminism, and the State.

From Wendy McElroy
LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-First Century
With its vision of individualist feminism, Liberty for Women boldly explores a wide range of issues that confront the modern woman, including self-defense, economic well-being and employment, sex and abortion, the family, technology, and much more.