6

Kathy_Forth comments on An Exploration of Sexual Violence Reduction for Effective Altruism Potential - Effective Altruism Forum

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (133)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 14 November 2017 08:58:37AM 0 points [-]

No, I do not paint a picture of criminal men and female survivors. Direct quotes:

"Sexual violence harms the health of both men [3] [4] and women." "Additional risk factors - rape myths that apply to male rape:" "While looking for the number of female rapists, I found a meta-analysis on female sex offenders."

This isn't even in the article at all:

"along with high rates of trauma at 90%+ for female survivors."

I haven't even read the rest of your comment because your claims are blatantly, verifiably false.

Comment author: Marcus_N 15 November 2017 12:12:21AM -1 points [-]

I read your post as painting a picture of criminal men and victimized women due to it uncritically referencing feminist statistics or narratives. Your post cites feminist research claiming that 36.3% of women have experienced sexual assault, and that 6% of men admit to rape. You then jump from these figures into discussing high trauma rates for female survivors, and male sex offender populations, even though these are from studies with totally different populations.

These prevalence figures are extraordinary claims and require extraordinary evidence, which the incredibly politicized and methodologically flawed sexual assault studies do not supply. The effect of this narrative is to exaggerate the female victimization rate, male perpetration rate, and the rate of male criminality and paraphilias beyond what the evidence supports. By suggesting radical measures like stings and medicalization, you are implying that the population of male predators is sufficiently large to make this necessary, and the evidence is sufficiently solid—an extraordinary accusation against your own community.

While you do acknowledge a lesser amount of male victimization and female perpetration—which some feminists don't acknowledge—this doesn't solve the problem that your piece drastically overestimates the level of female victimization and male perpetration, and paints an overly negative view of men, which will lead people unfamiliar with the methodological issues astray. My criticism is not that you are underestimating male victimhood: I believe that the male victimization studies suffer from the same methodological problems as the female victimization studies.

By uncritically referencing feminist statistics and narratives, your article is—likely unwittingly—inheriting the bad feminists habits of irresponsible use of evidence and self-righteous patholagization towards men. This baggage will undermine both the rigor and empathy of your case, particularly in the ears of men.

As for my claim that you were citing 90%+ trauma rates, xccf is right. That was my short-hand way of summarizing your section “Sexual violence reduction as suffering reduction”, which contains many negative consequences of rape that occur for 90%+ of the sample. I am pointing out that the studies finding these negative consequences have different populations and methodology from the studies like the NISVS, which you were using to establish a high 36.3% prevalence rate of sexual assault.

Comment author: xccf 14 November 2017 10:42:47AM 0 points [-]

This isn't even in the article at all:

"along with high rates of trauma at 90%+ for female survivors."

I haven't even read the rest of your comment because your claims are blatantly, verifiably false.

I think Marcus was referring to the stats you quoted under "Sexual violence reduction as suffering reduction", such as the claim that 94% of rape victims met the criteria for PTSD one week later.

Marcus's comments were a lot more confrontational than I would have liked, but I still found them worth reading. I think there are some good points if you're able to get past the confrontational tone.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 15 November 2017 01:30:21AM *  4 points [-]

The valid points behind Marcus's comments are, in this case, being wielded in an exceptionally broad and haphazard manner, painting vast swathes of academia and media with the same brush, under the assumption that they are all guided by the same ideology and methodology. I rather strongly disagree that he is worth paying attention to here (speaking as someone who is more neutral than anything else on these debates). The lazy generalization of everything being "feminist research" is a pretty poor way of looking at the issue which isn't helpful for the discussion at hand.

Comment author: Marcus_N 15 November 2017 07:50:40AM *  -1 points [-]

Academia and the media do have a high level of ideological conformity, and I am not the first person to make this kind of criticism.

Feminism has greatly influenced the present-day understanding of sexual assault and sexual harassment. In fact, both of these terms come from feminist legal activism. The word "sexual assault" was popularized in 1971.

If you look at the careers of central feminist legal scholars and researchers, like Catharine MacKinnon and Mary Koss, you will find that they have been incredibly influential. Here is an excerpt from one of the many awards that Koss has received:

In her work on gender-based violence, Koss served on the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Violence Against Women. She has twice testified before the US Senate and participated in congressional briefings. She sits on the Coordinating Committee of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative, funded by the Global Forum and the Ford Foundation based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has consulted with the World Bank, United Nations, World Health Organization, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Departments of Education and Justice. Her current work involves advising the Gallup Organization on their survey of sexual assault prevalence in the US Air Force and advising Social Science International in their work with implementation and evaluation of sexual assault prevention in the Air Force. She recently served as Rapporteur on gender-based violence at the 4th Milestones of a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention in Geneva.

While EAs are working hard to save lives and struggling for mainstream acceptance, Mary Koss is hanging out at the WHO and the DOJ and collecting awards. How come? What has Koss accomplished? Something much more valuable than saving lives (in the current political climate). Koss designed the study that found that 1 in 5 women are supposedly raped, the statistic that launched a thousand rape seminars.

The work of Koss, MacKinnon, and all the other feminist figures, influences policy from the university, to the workplace, to high schools, to global bodies like the UN and the Hague. This feminist framework has became the bedrock of respectable middle-class sexual ethics, which is mandatory due to policies of the workplace and university that are necessary due to state coercion via EEOC sexual harassment law and Title IX. This framework was not adopted due to its accuracy or fruitfulness, it was adopted for political reasons. When put into practice, it creates alienation between men and women, and gross violations of civil liberties.

Everything you think you know about sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual harassment actually comes from the tireless influence of feminist legal activism that has been operating for decades. Regardless of whether you think this perspective is correct or not, it's important to understand the history of where your foundational moral concepts come from so that they can be examined.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 17 November 2017 04:27:35AM *  0 points [-]

Academia and the media do have a high level of ideological conformity

As far as I can tell this is pretty much false. I've seen lots of ideological diversity in both. Do you have any evidence for your position?

I am not the first person to make this kind of criticism

No, but among people who are actually informed and make this criticism, they don't blindly wave it as a bludgeon against the mass of evidence which doesn't suit their opinions.

Feminism has greatly influenced the present-day understanding of sexual assault and sexual harassment

That would make sense, since feminists are people whose job it is to understand these sorts of things.

If you look at the careers of central feminist legal scholars and researchers, like Catharine MacKinnon and Mary Koss, you will find that they have been incredibly influential

Yes, it seems like they are regarded as experts by large, competent, nonpartisan institutions.

While EAs are working hard to save lives and struggling for mainstream acceptance

EA has very good mainstream acceptance given how new it is.

How come? What has Koss accomplished?

She has done research and advocacy which was regarded as excellent by large, competent organizations.

The work of Koss, MacKinnon, and all the other feminist figures, influences policy from the university, to the workplace, to high schools, to global bodies like the UN and the Hague.

Yes. That's because they thought it was very good. I'm still not sure what your argument is.

Everything you think you know about sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual harassment actually comes from the tireless influence of feminist legal activism

What? Where did that come from? Mary Koss is an academic psychiatrist. Do you not know the difference between psychiatric research and legal activism?

Regardless of whether you think this perspective is correct or not, it's important to understand the history of where your foundational moral concepts come from

"Our knowledge of gender violence come from a world-renowned psychiatrist." I'm kind of sad that this is the best argument you can give.

Comment author: Denkenberger 17 November 2017 06:04:59PM 3 points [-]

This shows that psychology professors in the US are ~10:1 liberal to conservative, almost as extreme as EA. So I think there are data to show that there is little ideological diversity in academia, especially the humanities, social sciences, and arts.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 20 November 2017 06:55:56AM *  1 point [-]

There's a lot more to diversity than the liberal/conservative ratio. I could come up with any partisan divide to argue anything I want, e.g. economics academia has very little diversity because the ratio of communists to capitalists is 1:100, or philosophy academia has a lot of diversity because the ratio of liberal feminists to radical feminists is 1:1, or something like that.

Comment author: Marcus_N 18 November 2017 03:57:39AM *  0 points [-]

I think the crux of our disagreement is that you are far more trusting of large institutions and social scientists than I am. I don't think I can convince you of my position in a comment box, I have given a couple case studies in support of it:

I brought up Koss and MacKinnon to show that feminist ideology is highly influential on the current party line about sexual violence in polite society, the workplace, and academia, and that it is not from a neutral source, or from the social consensus of the population. You can argue that this feminist influence is good, that feminists are correct about sexual violence, and that it's wonderful that they found a methodology to prove it. But it's undeniable that these ideas came from feminism and were imposed top-down via institutions, not by social consensus of the larger population.

I brought up Lisak's shadiness to suggest that the sexual assault field is full of perverse incentives, not "world-class" neutral research. Lisak cannot answer basic questions about his methodology. Also, he cut-and-pasted together decades old interviews to create the perfect rapist predator, played by an actor on a video that he shows to big institutions. This is the behavior of an activist, not a researcher. But his work is behind the policies of tons of public and private bureaucracies.

Jonathan Haidt's work is a good place to start for academic and media political bias.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 20 November 2017 06:54:43AM *  1 point [-]

I think the crux of our disagreement is that you are far more trusting of large institutions and social scientists than I am

No, the crux of our disagreement is that you are sufficiently unfamiliar with the academic world that you see it purely through the narrow prism of your favorite political topic and therefore lump everyone whose positions you disagree with as part of a vague faction of "feminist ideology".

I brought up Koss and MacKinnon to show that feminist ideology is highly influential on the current party line about sexual violence in polite society, the workplace, and academia, and that it is not from a neutral source,

But you haven't done anything to show that their positions have anything to do with "feminist ideology" (whatever that is) nor that it is non-neutral. Of course it's true that their positions aren't, say, right-wing, but I don't see how the mere fact that they don't agree with right-wing cultural views implies that they should be distrusted. You can't say "these people have views which indicate that feminists are right about something, therefore they're biased!" That's obviously a terrible argument, it's circular.

or from the social consensus of the population

I don't see why the "social consensus of the population" should be trusted to answer questions of sociology and criminology.

But it's undeniable that these ideas came from feminism

Sure I deny it. I don't see how a survey of college students "comes from feminism", it seems to come straight out of ordinary sociological methodology to me. I didn't perceive that the paper in question made any methodological commitments which tied it to feminism. As far as I can tell, the only thing that makes it "feminist" is that the survey total came out to be 6%. If the authors had used the exact same approach and come up with a figure of 0.5%, you wouldn't perceive anything "feminist" about it, and would probably be parading it around as an example of heterodox research that needs to be broadcasted.

and were imposed top-down via institutions

I deny that too. You haven't given any evidence of that. You pointed out that lots of important institutions have endorsed the research(ers) in question. That is evidence that the research(ers) is high quality, but it's not evidence that it was "imposed".

I brought up Lisak's shadiness to suggest that the sexual assault field is full of perverse incentives

First, there's no such thing as a "sexual assault field". Lisak is a psychiatrist, as I pointed out.

Second, it's easy enough to find singular examples of research problems in any field, so your claim is totally spurious (see for comparison the people who bloviate about the Sokal Hoax while ignoring similar hoaxes perpetuated in hard science journals, for instance).

Lisak cannot answer basic questions about his methodology

He gave some answers, just not in response to a partisan blog post. You can find them elsewhere (Google it).

Comment author: Marcus_N 21 November 2017 03:39:14AM *  -1 points [-]

Nearly everyone studying sexual assault in academia, regardless of their purported field, are feminists, are heavily influenced by feminist ideas, or are heavily citing researchers who are feminists or influenced by feminist ideas. Specifically, a focus on "gender-based violence" or "violence against women" is nearly always associated with acceptance of feminist ideology about a high rate of female victimization and male perpetration, and beliefs about "patriarchy" and male dominance or control.

The notion that Mary Koss and Catharine MacKinnon's positions are nothing to do with feminism is untenable. MacKinnon is considered to be one of the most famous and influential feminists of all time, for creating sexual harassment law and driving anti-porn ordinances.

As for Koss, I've found a history of her ideas and work.

BEFORE 1985, when Koss published the initial findings from her survey, there was a general consensus among scholars that the best way to measure rape was to ask about it directly, like any other illegal act: Have you ever been raped? But outside the ivory tower, feminists had begun to argue that rape was not analogous to a crime like, say, robbery; it was a crime of power, used by men to keep women in a state of fear. In her 1975 book, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, the journalist Susan Brownmiller argued that women tended to blame themselves for instigating rape—and as a result, they often did not conceptualize what had happened to them as a crime...

Koss had read Brownmiller's book, and as she was constructing the survey, she realized that women might be reluctant to label their unwanted sexual experiences as rape. So instead of straightforward questions about whether women had been raped, Koss developed a series of behavioral queries about specific acts, such as: "Have you been forced to have sex without saying yes?"

So, Koss reads Brownmiller's Against Our Will (a one-sided portrayal of female victimization), which leads her to believe that there is a hidden epidemic of rape. Then she comes up with a new methodology—different from the accepted methodology of her field at the time—and "discovers" a much higher rate of rate. She then works with Gloria Steinem (another of the most famous feminist activists of all time) who helps her seek funding. Koss is a feminist through and through, and her ideas about rape came from feminism (via Brownmiller) prior to her doing research.

Next, Koss' research greatly influences other fields, and is heavily cited. Her methodology comes to look like normal social science, because typical social science is so heavy on badly designed self-report studies. Then they fuel badly-design public policy and laws which are applied top-down.

As for top-down application, you can look at university sexual assault policy and kangaroo courts, and sexual assault policies in the workplace. These are all top-down and involve ridiculous overbroad definitions and miscarriages of justice. For an excellent example, look at the Orwellian persecution of Laura Kipnis where she was accused of sexual harassment for criticizing college harassment policy.

People in the professions or academia are subject to an intellectual monoculture about rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault—at least for what can be expressed in public. I believe that this leads to a false consensus emerging, where people are biased towards feminist views of those subjects, and any other views are persecuted, leading to the perception that any other views cannot be valid and must be held by horrible people.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 21 November 2017 07:13:31AM *  1 point [-]

Nearly everyone studying sexual assault in academia, regardless of their purported field, are feminists, are heavily influenced by feminist ideas, or are heavily citing researchers who are feminists or influenced by feminist ideas.

Specifically, a focus on "gender-based violence" or "violence against women" is nearly always associated with acceptance of feminist ideology about a high rate of female victimization and male perpetration,

But that doesn't say anything about their research methodology. That just says they are pro-feminist. I thought you were here to say that the methodology itself was problematic, right? Or is it true that you just object to the mere fact that the research doesn't come to the conclusions that you want it to?

and beliefs about "patriarchy" and male dominance or control.

Could you point out where in Lisak and Miller's study they do this? I must have missed that part.

The notion that Mary Koss and Catharine MacKinnon's positions are nothing to do with feminism is untenable. MacKinnon is considered to be one of the most famous and influential feminists of all time, for creating sexual harassment law and driving anti-porn ordinances.

So, Koss reads Brownmiller's Against Our Will (a one-sided portrayal of female victimization), which leads her to believe that there is a hidden epidemic of rape. Then she comes up with a new methodology—different from the accepted methodology of her field at the time—and "discovers" a much higher rate of rate.

Seems pretty straightforward to me. The reason this stuff is widely accepted in academia is that it's obvious in retrospect. Victims are reluctant to label their own experiences as rape. Since being forced to have sex without saying yes is rape, and response rates differ, it is empirically proven.

People in the professions or academia are subject to an intellectual monoculture about rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault—at least for what can be expressed in public

It's true that hardly anyone in the relevant areas of academia believe in right wing counternarratives about sexual violence, but it's false that there is a monoculture - there is plenty of variation among different approaches to gender studies and deep disagreement among different feminist theories.

I believe that this leads to a false consensus emerging, where people are biased towards feminist views of those subjects, and any other views are persecuted, leading to the perception that any other views cannot be valid and must be held by horrible people.

Oh no! What could give them the impression that other views are held by horrible people? Is it the fact that they engage in rape apologia and weasel their way around having to admit that forcibly penetrating someone who doesn't want to have sex is in fact rape? No, surely it can't be that.

Comment author: Marcus_N 15 November 2017 01:57:20AM *  0 points [-]

The most confrontational things I've said were calling the author's sting proposals creepy, I compared them to witch hunts, and I made fun of the author and the entire audience for sleeping through the validity lectures of Psychology 101. The rest of my criticisms were directed at specific claims and specific feminist arguments. After reading my case, anyone is welcome to decide whether my approach is over the top if my premises are correct.

While I understand that many of the readers here are trying to be sympathetic and find things to like about this piece due to their abhorrence for sexual assault and empathy for survivors, such a response downplays serious problems with the piece and deprives the author from getting critical feedback.

If articles with certain types of errors aren't called out and instead they are lauded, then further argumentation of the same type will be incentivized.

That's how we get to point where 6% of male EAs are categorized as rapists who should be captured in stings and medicated. Either this argument is in bad faith—or something has gone horribly wrong if someone can make it and think they are operating in good faith.

(I missed this before, but an additional criticism is that the 6% figure comes from a study by David Lisak. Lisak is known for fraudulent academic conduct. We should not only doubt his results, but we should note that this entire field has extremely broken incentives, and suspect all sensationalist studies emerging from it for cooking their books or falsifying data.)

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 15 November 2017 02:23:23AM *  1 point [-]

(I missed this before, but an additional criticism is that the 6% figure comes from a study by David Lisak. Lisak is known for fraudulent academic conduct. We should not only doubt his results, but we should note that this entire field has extremely broken incentives, and suspect all sensationalist studies emerging from it for cooking their books or falsifying data.)

Your sources are contradicting your own points. If the data for these surveys didn't come from Lisak, and was not originally part of a study on sexual violence, then it's just nonsensical to presume that the data is skewed because it's feminist.