EA Survey: Sexual Harassment Questions - Feedback Requested

I interested Tee Barnett and Peter Hurford in adding sexual violence questions to the survey. Therefore sexual violence definitions need to be created. There are various challenges involved. Below I have listed the challenges and proposed a set of questions that I think will help work around them. (This does... Read More
Comment author: Kathy_Forth 29 January 2018 12:42:10AM *  5 points [-]

The main reason I'm not looking for a full-time EA job right now is because I don't have enough runway and financial security. I estimate that it will take around 2 years to accomplish the amount of financial security and runway I need. If you accomplish building a safety net, this might result in a surge of people going into EA jobs. I'm not sure how many people are building up runway right now, or how many hours of EA work you can grab by liberating them from that, but it could be a lot!

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 29 January 2018 12:27:15AM *  7 points [-]

For this group to make an effective social safety net for EAs having a bad time, more is needed than just money. When a real problem actually does arise, people tend to spam that person with uninformed suggestions which won't work. They're trying to help, but due to the "what you see is all there is" bias and others, they can't see that they are uninformed and spamming. The result is that the problem doesn't seem real to anyone.

So, the person who has a problem, who may not have any time or emotional energy or even intellectual capacity left over, must explain why dozens of spitball suggestions won't work.

How spitballing can totally sabotage people in need of help:

Imagine that to obtain help, you have to patiently and rigorously evaluate dozens of ill-conceived suggestions, support your points, meet standards of evidence, seem to have a positive attitude about each suggestion, and try not to be too frustrated with the process and your life.

The task of convincing people your problem is real while a bunch of friends are accidentally spamming you with clever but uninformed suggestions might be the persuasive challenge of a lifetime. If any of the ill-conceived options still seem potentially workable to your friends, you will not be helped. To succeed at this challenge, you have to make sure that every spitball you receive from friends is thoroughly addressed to their satisfaction.

A person with a real problem will be doing this challenge when they're stressed out, time poor and emotionally drained. They are at their worst.

A person at their worst shouldn't need to take on the largest persuasive challenge of their lives at that time. To assume that they can do this is about as helpful as "Let them eat cake.".

There's an additional risk that people will sour on helping you if they see that lots of solution ideas are being rejected. This is despite the fact that the same friends will tell you "most ideas will fail" in other circumstances. They know that ideas are often useless, but instead of realizing that the specific set of ideas in question are uninformed or not helpful, some people will jump to the conclusion that the problem is your attitude.

Just the act of evaluating a bunch of uninformed spitball suggestions can get you rejected!

Making a distinction between a problem that is too hard for the person to solve, and a person who has a bad attitude about solving their problem is a challenge. It's hard for both sides to communicate well enough to figure this out. Often a huge amount of information has to be exchanged.

The default assumption seems to be that a person with a problem should talk to a bunch of friends about it to see if anyone has ideas. If you count up the number of hours it actually takes to discuss dozens of suggestions in detail multiplied by dozens of people, it's not pretty. For many people who are already burdened by a serious problem, that sort of time investment just is not viable. In some cases the entire problem is insufficient time, so it can be unfair to demand for them to do this.

In the event that potential helpers are not convinced the problem is real, or aren't convinced to take the actions that would actually work, the person in need of help could easily waste 100 hours or more with nothing to show for it. This will cause them to pass up other opportunities and possibly make their situation far worse due to things like opportunity costs and burnout.

Solution: well-informed advocates.

For this reason, people who are experiencing a problem need an advocate. The advocate can take on the burden of evaluating solution ideas and advocating in favor of a particular solution.

Given that it often requires a huge amount of information to predict which solution ideas will work and which solution ideas will fail, it is probably the case that an advocate needs to be well-informed about the type of problem involved, or at least knows what it is like to go through some sort of difficult time due to past experience.


Sexual Violence Risk Reduction - Let's Do Tracking!

After I published my exploration of the importance of sexual violence reduction , some expressed interest in trying sexual violence risk reduction ideas from the article. This post is to invite everyone to do tracking together. It will be much better if we track *the same things*. Then our numbers... Read More
Comment author: xccf 14 November 2017 09:55:04AM *  4 points [-]

I don't think we can have an accurate idea of how much sexual assault is happening in EA without a separate high-quality survey. This is because there are so many definitions of sexual violence which contradict one another, that to ensure an accurate picture of what's going on, we'd have to wrangle with definitions for a long time - and we'd end up asking a set of questions, not just one question.

I'd love to see a yearly undetected sex offender survey given to both men and women regarding how much sexual violence they committed against EAs in the last year, and a yearly sexual violence survey given to both men and women to ask how much sexual violence they received from EAs in the last year. If they added this to the yearly survey that would be awesome!

I think there's a tradeoff here. If this is created as a second, separate survey, there will likely be selection effects in who chooses to take it. I expect people who are more concerned about the problem of sexual assault (such as people who have been sexually assaulted) will be more likely to complete a survey that's specifically about sexual assault. Given these selection effects, I suspect it's best to settle on a relatively brief measure and include it in the main survey.

Brainstorming on what to include in that measure:

One idea is to just ask people "were you sexually assaulted" and let them use their own definition. After all, our goal is to reduce psychological trauma. If someone's experience met some technical definition of sexual assault, but it didn't bother them very much, maybe it's not something we need to worry about.

In a memo that has now been signed by about 70 institute members and advisers, including Judge Gertner, readers have been asked to consider the following scenario: “Person A and Person B are on a date and walking down the street. Person A, feeling romantically and sexually attracted, timidly reaches out to hold B’s hand and feels a thrill as their hands touch. Person B does nothing, but six months later files a criminal complaint. Person A is guilty of ‘Criminal Sexual Contact’ under proposed Section 213.6(3)(a).”

Far-fetched? Not as the draft is written. The hypothetical crime cobbles together two of the draft’s key concepts. The first is affirmative consent. The second is an enlarged definition of criminal sexual contact that would include the touching of any body part, clothed or unclothed, with sexual gratification in mind. As the authors of the model law explain: “Any kind of contact may qualify. There are no limits on either the body part touched or the manner in which it is touched.” So if Person B neither invites nor rebukes a sexual advance, then anything that happens afterward is illegal. “With passivity expressly disallowed as consent,” the memo says, “the initiator quickly runs up a string of offenses with increasingly more severe penalties to be listed touch by touch and kiss by kiss in the criminal complaint.”

Source. I don't think using a broad technical definition like this would be very useful, but a narrow technical definition of rape seems like it could be pretty useful to measure.

This blog post makes the case for vague rules like "don't be a jerk" and "don't be creepy". Maybe that could make a good survey question: "Did you get creeped out by another EA in the past year? How creeped out were you on a scale of 1 to 10? Here's a rubric." I actually think a measure like this could be less controversial than trying to precisely define sexual assault. Hopefully even the most fraternity brother-ish of EAs can recognize the case for not creeping chicks out. (Similarly, having a central registry that tells people things like "a lot of people are getting creeped out by you" seems like it could maybe work better than trying to define what exactly constitutes "assault"--it frames the problem as something you'd like to become aware of and fix, like having body odor, as opposed to grounds for ostracization? Of course ostracization is in fact justified in some cases--I'm just thinking aloud here.)

I suppose one issue with these measures is that they will fluctuate depending on the presence/absence of highly sensitive people in the movement. Overall, I'm much more comfortable using measures like these as indicators for what we should prioritize internally vs an overall measure of the moral worth of the movement. In other words, maybe we should not make them public? I don't know.

It might also be interesting to include a measure of how many women in EA would like men in EA to be more direct and sexually assertive with them--see this comment.

The reason I want to write a separate article about the number of sex offenders in EA is because it appears quite controversial. If we can get closer to having a consensus on sexual violence related matters, I think this will make us more effective at reducing it. The purpose of the article is not to create a more accurate number. I'm not even sure that's possible. The purpose of the article is to address the controversy, explore the complexities, and encourage people to compensate for the various biases that may be interfering.

Well, as a man in EA, I don't like the idea of people thinking of me as a possible sex offender--especially if I'm not, in fact, a sex offender. And whenever you try to estimate how X men in EA are sex offenders, no matter what X you tell people, you've framed things in a way that is gonna make people see me as a possible sex offender. So maybe that's why you got some pushback on that statement.

I'm happy for us to do a survey to measure sex offenses, because that will give us a way to actually measure and fight the problem. I know that any nonzero number that survey finds is going to reflect poorly on me, a man in EA, even if the number is much lower than we'd expect on base rates, because of the framing effects I discussed. However, I am willing to pay that cost because I care about addressing the problem of sexual assault. But I think trying to make an estimate based on prior information will just stir people up.

Edit: I've set up a collaboration with the yearly EA survey team!


Comment author: Kathy_Forth 15 November 2017 01:23:47AM *  2 points [-]

What I was envisioning was a whole section within the survey where multiple questions about sexual violence are asked. For whatever reason, I described this using the word "separate". That's not actually what I was trying to suggest. I agree that if the questions are separated, there will probably be some bias.

If we use a definition that is vague, a lot of people will ignore the survey results. They'll assume that a lot of what was reported is stuff they wouldn't agree is a sexual assault. Therefore, specific definitions are needed. Ideally, I would like to see a set of specific definitions that a lot of people agree are sexual assault, and that cover a broad range of types.

To make sure the questions are relevant to the goals, I think there should be questions about things like whether the sexual harassment resulted in psychological harm, suicidal behavior, or intentions to leave the workplace or movement. I'd also like to see questions about whether sexual assaults are happening at work, EA events, etc. Depending on how well anonymized the survey is, we may or may not get answers to these sorts of questions.

Without knowing the limit to the number of questions we can add, there's no point in discussing what should be asked. We would just waste time optimizing for the wrong trade off between detail and brevity. Also, it would be good to get some perspectives from people who do research in related areas. I'm going to hold off on investing time into planning until I have had a collaboration with the survey team.

Comment author: Lila 13 November 2017 03:15:51AM 0 points [-]

It seems that you are vastly underestimating the intensity of psychological trauma that comes with rape.

Even if this is descriptively true (and I think it varies a lot - some people aren't bothered long-term), there's no reason that this is a desirable outcome. Everything is mediated through attitudes.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 14 November 2017 11:54:09PM *  0 points [-]

Some people have blue eyes and other people have brown eyes. A lot of mind-related traits vary from intelligence to personality to capacity to pay attention. Not everybody even has two chromosomes (see XXY).

If not everyone experiences sexual trauma, let's not jump to the conclusion that it's due to culture. There are a multitude of possible reasons. For just one example: they might have different genes.

I definitely have the capacity to experience trauma, and I'm pretty sure that's genetic, so it's not fair to me for people to expect me not to experience it. In fact, I think it would be more traumatic for me to experience my natural instinct for trauma and then be told I shouldn't experience trauma. Telling me I should have experienced less trauma would hurt me too.

If someone doesn't experience trauma, don't assume it's genes, either. It might not be genes or culture. To assume it must be one of these is a false dichotomy. There could be dozens of different possible reasons why that might happen, and we just don't know.

Point: just because some people didn't experience trauma when they could have does not mean we should expect for everyone else to stop experiencing trauma. First of all, we don't even know why some people don't experience it. This is totally unfair to the victim because victims do not actually know how to stop experiencing trauma.

Second of all, expecting people to reduce their experience of trauma puts the responsibility onto the victim. Sex offenders might be confused by this sort of thinking. They might tell themselves "the victim shouldn't feel trauma" and then feel good about going off to commit a whole bunch of sex offences, blaming the victims for all the negative consequences. This is how sex offenders think. They create justifications to commit crimes. These are called cognitive distortions.

By arguing in favor of an attitude that can be used as a justification to commit sex offences, you are making us all less safe.

Comment author: Marcus_N 14 November 2017 08:03:59AM *  2 points [-]

Feminist sexual assault ideology and the non-central fallacy

If the methodological objections to the validity of feminist sexual assault statistics aren’t enough, I would like to raise another class of objections: that feminists, and the original post, are hopping between reference classes to paint a picture of criminal, paraphiliac men, and innocent, traumatized female survivors.

The original post mixes together supposed prevalence rates of 36.3% for female survivors, supposed 6% prevalence for male rapists, along with high rates of trauma at 90%+ for female survivors. This paints a very dark and urgent picture of the situation, and these numbers underly the impact math.

While the post obliquely mentions the possibility for misunderstandings, it portrays sexual assault perpetration in a highly criminal and medicalizing light, even discussing extreme measures like stings and medication for perpetrators.

What the post doesn’t tell you is that all these studies are on different populations with different methodologies. The women who are traumatized by rape at a rate of 90%+, or suicidal, are not selected through the methodology in which 36.3% of women are pseudoscientifically categorized as sexually assaulted. You can’t combine those figures and think that 36.3% of women are sexually assaulted and 90%+ of those same women are traumatized.

(The original post does not explicitly multiply those two figures, but it does a lot of multiplication and ties together figures of survivors and rapists across studies with disparate methodologies, without acknowledging that it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. It fails to acknowledge that “rape” in one study and a rape in another study are different things due to different operationalization. This is misleading at best, and lying by omission at worst.)

Likewise, you can’t take the 6% of men that feminist researchers pseudoscientifically categorize as rapists, and compare them to criminal population and paraphiliacs. Those are completely different populations. In criminal populations, they have been subject to due process and found to have intent (mens rea, in legal terms). That is very different and a zillion times more reliable than the process that feminist researchers use to determine rape, and a much smaller population.

It must be the case that most of the audience here didn’t read the article, because I’m not seeing anyone else catching these problems. Were the original poster and the entire audience here sleeping during the lectures on validity) during Psych 101?

It is likely that most of the situations that generate these high victimization or perpetration numbers are false positives and misunderstandings, based on the model of feminist social psychologist Carol Tavris, who argues that men and women have different perceptions of consent due to self-justification, unreliable memory, and differences in sexual psychology (I highly recommend that talk because it is more useful for understanding sexual assault than all other feminist work on the subject put together, and it’s also important to underscore how not everyone who disagrees with the standard feminist model is some sort of red-pill PUA or rape-myth-believing rape apologist).

If Tavris is correct, then common events that feminists and their studies would categorize as sexual assault are actually much murkier and ambiguous: more like innocent misunderstanding, or non-innocent recklessness or negligence, not knowing or purposeful violations). And the more clearcut cases of rape, assault, and groping—which do happen—are rarer, and the sort of predators who commit them are also rarer. This view makes a lot of sense unless you think a large minority of men are basically horrible monsters, and the rest are entitled jerks, which is essentially what feminists seem to believe due to their bad experiences with men.

Do we really need to be planning stings for “sexual assault” that comes from he-said, she-said misunderstandings? Should we really be treating people who were over-optimistic, who misread some mixed signals, as tantamount to criminals deserving of medication? The article claims to not want to start witch hunts, but that is exactly what it is proposing.

And of course, the worst of the multiplicative excesses of the original article is accusing the community of containing 100-600 rapists, despite male EA being a totally different reference class from the male population in the study where 6% of men were pseudoscientifically categorized as rapists. This is not just scientism of the worst degree, it’s socially aggressive and creepy.

It is both inaccurate and dishonest to conflate non-central “sexual assaults” (many of which are actually misunderstandings and lack mens rea, per Tavris) with mutually drunk sex or with criminally-prosecutable behavior or Weinstein-style intentional paraphiliac predation. Lumping all these things together into the same category, and associating them with the stigma originally attached to stranger-in-bushes rape, is not helpful for anything except guilt-tripping. These kinds of errors are entirely overlooked and normalized in hyper-partisan feminist discourse.

Contra feminists, and contra the “anti-abuse” activism trend that is growing increasingly popular in EA, most human behavior is a lot more complicated than cartoonish villains and innocent victims. While granting that one-sided predation exists, it is likely that most situations of unwanted sexual contact are not entirely one-sided and lack mens rea. For instance, women do use sexuality to get ahead in business, which makes workplace advances less unreasonable than they would otherwise be.

As an analogy, feminist researchers have sworn that domestic violence is primarily male-on-female, but then Straus and Gelles came along and discovered that DV is much more gender symmetrical than feminists believed. And it looks like the largest category of DV is situational mutual violence, not the one-sided male-on-female terrorism and control that feminists claimed. Likewise, I think that we will eventually discover that most unwanted sexual experiences are a form of mutual misunderstanding and conflict, with a smaller prevalence of reckless and negligent behavior, and an even smaller prevalence of knowing perpetrators and purposeful predators.

As long as males and female can make advances on each other, some of these advances are going to be unwanted, some of these unwanted advances will be in good faith, and some will be in bad faith. This probably is unsolvable by anything other than physical separation, and no amount of feminist browbeating of men can change this, no amount of BDSM-style communication about consent, either. The current zeitgeist of accusations towards men will just cause predators to adapt and get better at silencing or blackmailing their victims, while well-intentioned men will get more suspicious of women and better at forming old boys’ clubs.

While I reject the one-sided picture that feminists paint of unwanted sexual advances, I do acknowledge that even good faith misunderstandings can lead someone to feel violated. I do agree with some of the prescriptions of the article, such as minimizing alcohol at mixed-sex parties, and the problems with men and women together in seclusion. Unmarried men and women in close proximity, or with alcohol, is going to lead to predictable male-female misunderstandings and conflicts, as Tavris documents. If workplace situations are so dangerous, then perhaps we should bring back some level of sex-segregation in workplaces. If feminists are going to engage in such a Victorian portrayal of female vulnerability, then they should go all the way and recognize that the patriarchy actually had solutions to a lot of the problems they are complaining of.

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 14 November 2017 08:02:28AM *  2 points [-]

The case in this article draws heavily on the field of sexual violence research, but methodological problems in this field and premature thinking on the part of the author make this piece suffer from several problems: it skips over important methodological questions, misleads the audience about the rates of sexual violence, and advises hasty and socially punitive solutions.

It sounds like most of the audience hasn’t read the article closely and they are greatly underestimating the problems with it. As someone familiar with a lot of the literature referenced, my perception is that this article is recapitulating the standard feminist model of sexual assault, and attempting to insert this bottom line into an EA impact framework. My comment here is going to be a detailed multi-part rebuttal.

Sexual assault research is not valid

To understand what’s wrong with the validity) of the sexual assault research field, we will first examine the biasing incentives, and then we will break down the methodology of these studies in more detail.

Social science has a reputation for being a soft science, and sexual assault research is the softest corner of a softest field. Most of the researchers involved identify as political activists, feminists, or victim advocates. That’s not the most neutral approach. They get funding from government bodies with agendas, and their findings are used for political reasons: to expand the power of the federal government over universities, cause media outrage, create kangaroo courts, and to provide campaign-fodder for politicians. Sexual assault researchers have been caught committing outright fabrications and academic misconduct, which nonetheless become the basis for policy. Feminist researchers who produce high prevalence numbers will get lucrative consulting gigs or awards.

There is a strong incentive for sexual assault research to produce figures like “X% of women have been assaulted,” or “Y% of men admit to being rapists.” This article itself relies on these sorts of claims to present sexual assault as a common problem, and sexual assault prevention as a high-impact cause.

The original post cites figures like "36.3% of women and 17.1%” have been sexually assaulted. Elsewhere you, may see figures like “1 in 4” or “1 in 5” women have been raped. The article also cites a figure that 6% of men admit to committing rape.

Are these figures really credible, though? Of course not. Let’s take a look at these studies with our skeptic hats on.

You might be forgiven for thinking that 36.3% of women label themselves as sexually assaulted, or that 6% of men admit to committing rape. This is absolutely not how these surveys work. If people are asked such questions directly, there is a very low rate of agreement. For instance, in crime surveys, few women define themselves as a victim of the crime or rape or sexual assault.

Feminist researchers and activists had a bottom line: they believed that the true rate of rape was much higher, and that women were underreporting their victimization. So they started searching for a methodology to “prove” what they already believed, such as a Mary Koss’ “Sexual Experiences Survey”, which asks people if they were in certain situations, and then categorizes some of these situations as rape or sexual assault (based on conformance to a legal definition, or to the researchers’ own definition). This methodology generates much higher prevalence rates, which is why subsequent feminist researchers started using similar approaches. Very few people have pushed back against this approach, such as Christina Hoff Sommers. My argument here will be a more detailed version of hers.

So far we have reasons to distrust the field due to being greatly politicized or biased, but next we need to look at their actual methodology and see whether it is also biased. We can find the questions in the 2010 NIVS, Appendix C. I will excerpt some of them:

When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever…

  • had vaginal sex with you? By vaginal sex, we mean that {if female: a man or boy put his penis in your vagina}
  • {if male: a woman or girl made you put your penis in her vagina}? {if male}
  • made you perform anal sex, meaning that they made you put your penis into their anus?
  • made you receive anal sex, meaning they put their penis into your anus?
  • made you perform oral sex, meaning that they put their penis in your mouth or made you penetrate their vagina or anus with your mouth?
  • made you receive oral sex, meaning that they put their mouth on your {if male: penis} {if female: vagina} or anus?

Feminist sexual assault researchers count a “yes” on this question as evidence of sexual assault. But there are some obvious problems:

It’s ambiguous whether “unable to consent” modifies the whole list of situations, or just passed out. I think society generally agrees that sex with someone “passed out and unable to consent” is rape. But that question can be read in a way that someone could answer “yes” if they have had sex while drunk or high. But society does not agree with feminists that drunk or high sex is necessarily rape. In fact, it’s common for people to get drunk or high together as part of consensual sex.

Next question:

How many people have ever used physical force or threats to physically harm you to make you…

  • have vaginal sex?
  • {if male} perform anal sex?
  • receive anal sex?
  • make you perform oral sex?
  • make you receive oral sex?
  • put their fingers or an object in your {if female: vagina or} anus?

Surely an assent on this one is clearly sexual assault, right? Not so fast. Remember, we are reading this with our skeptic hats on, and our chivalrous hats off (and definitely with our feminist hats off). To people who are not bourgeois feminists, it’s likely that this is actually a loaded and convoluted question, which is not perfectly correlated with rape.

  • Physical force? It may shock feminist academics, but many consensual sexual relationships have some level of light physical forcefulness, which is sometimes referred to as “rough sex” or “passion.” Feminists themselves sometimes admit that sex is not always people gently caressing each other, on the condition that people engage in complex verbal rituals for consent if they want to get wilder. This is known as “BDSM” among people with high verbal IQ. However, much of the population doesn’t agree with feminists that rougher sex requires tedious verbal negotiations, and they negotiate it nonverbally. Sometimes this results in rape, but it is incorrect to equate physical force with rape by definition, because it’s part of the fabric of common sexual patterns. (As an extreme example, try to define consent in a mutually violent relationship, like portrayed here.

  • Similar problems with the wording of “make you.” Maybe it means rape, but it’s not analytically equivalent to “rape.” There is no guarantee that respondents understand it to mean rape. If the researchers were asking about rape, why not ask explicitly?

What is the false positive rate on these questions? 1%? 10%? 50%? Who knows, but it’s definitely not 0%. And that poses a problem for these prevalence figures, and any activists who are hawking them. They are being dishonest by not acknowledging this.

The same logic and methodological problems apply to the claim that 6% of men are admitted rapists. No, they aren’t. 6% of men answer convoluted questions on surveys that cause feminist researchers to categorize them as rapists. That’s not the same thing as being rapists.

Sexual assault prevalence rates are highly sensitive to methodology and operationalization. There may be no way to find the “true” rate of rape or sexual assault, because the answer to those questions is “it depends on how you ask the questions.” The way that feminists ask the questions is very convoluted and idiosyncratic, and an assent on a sexual violence survey has low external validity and does not generalize well to real-world situations.

If your female friend comes to you in real life and says that she was raped, then you have a large amount of information from her body language, and you can hear her story. This is a totally different level of evidence from someone checking a box on a survey and the researchers categorizing that response as rape.

Feminist researchers could have sidestepped a lot of these questions by using a less broad and more defensible definition of rape. For instance, they could ask “have you been raped,” or “have you ever raped someone.” There would be a lot less debate about what responses to those questions mean. However, this approach would have generated much lower prevalence numbers, and meant that the researchers got scooped by other feminist researchers using a broader definition. There is a general statistical problem that the larger the magnitude of your results, the less probable they are.

After looking at these studies with a critical eye, do EAs really want to bet that the approach here is optimal?

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 14 November 2017 08:32:51AM *  2 points [-]

I know about the replication crisis, I've read "Statistics Done Wrong" and I've read some Ioannidis. Perhaps I was too subtle, my way of addressing these concerns was to load up on as many review articles and meta-analyses as I could find, in all the areas where there was enough research for me to do so. In other areas, I looked for as many studies as I could find and included them all.

This is not perfect either. Ioannidis has warned about some specific vulnerabilities in meta-analyses and review articles. There isn't something perfect for me to do. I could have chosen to do nothing because the research is flawed. I decided that the subject is too important to ignore and I made the best of it.

A social sciences research disclaimer has been added. I thought that research quality issues were common knowledge in this social network. Maybe it is. Maybe that's mind projection fallacy. Now they have note about research quality.

Comment author: xccf 14 November 2017 02:45:47AM 2 points [-]

I agree with all of this. Perhaps I'm too quick to extrapolate from my own experiences--I know that I've accidentally creeped out women in the past, and I always feel really bad about it afterwards, but this could be a bad mental model of the typical case.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 14 November 2017 06:11:37AM *  4 points [-]

Yeah. There are a lot of different people using a lot of different definitions of sex offender. There are definitions like the undetected rapist study I linked which sticks to such obvious and stereotypical behaviors that it leaves out at least half of the ways one can do obvious bad things (Example: why didn't they ask about spiking drinks?). Then there are people who advocate asking for explicit consent for everything every time, starting with kissing. In practice, most of the people in my experience use things like context and body language to communicate about kissing rather than verbal consent. I have no idea how to resolve this mess of definitions. I guess people need to tell each other what consent philosophy they want to use in addition to stuff like sexual orientation. Maybe we need a norm of advertising our consent philosophy in prominent places the same way we do with gender, marital status and orientation.

Then, there's the fact that most guys are not hit on by other guys, and have not seen what the range of behavior looks like. A lot of them are surprised that it's very common for me to be asked things like whether I want to make out, whether I want to go home with him. I am coy rather than fast (referring to the distinctions Dawkins makes), so I can't really understand this but it doesn't bother me. I tend to assume those men are seeking fast women rather than relationships. Otherwise, I have no judgment. However, if some guy comes up and tells me to smile, my radar beeps and I want to recoil. Why? Because every guy who has ever said that to me has harassed the heck out of me afterward. I've been conditioned to hate it.

Plus, there's this weird variety in pickup lit which includes everything from perfectly healthy self-confidence tips to explicit instructions to commit sex offences.

A lot of guys I know don't have any idea what's normal. Some of them are terrified of trying at all or have given up. It's very sad.

I'm not fully aware of the male experience of this bizarre minefield of information. I might see only the tip of the ice berg. I can tell that it is a very confusing thing.

I really want to do something about this. I would benefit if all the men in my social network had a solid understanding of healthy boundaries. I think they would feel a lot less lost if they had that, too.

What are your thoughts on what needs to happen?

Comment author: xccf 14 November 2017 02:14:20AM 2 points [-]

Why do you feel it's important to have a more accurate guess regarding the number of sexually violent people in EA? I'm in favor of trying to measure the rate of sexual assault using e.g. the EA survey, because that is a metric we can track in order to measure whether things are improving. (Ideally using a question such as "Were you assaulted in the past year?", so our metric will be responsive year over year.) But it seems to me that time spent refining our guess based on priors would be better spent implementing measures to reduce sexual assault.

Comment author: Kathy_Forth 14 November 2017 02:34:20AM *  0 points [-]

I don't think we can have an accurate idea of how much sexual assault is happening in EA without a separate high-quality survey. This is because there are so many definitions of sexual violence which contradict one another, that to ensure an accurate picture of what's going on, we'd have to wrangle with definitions for a long time - and we'd end up asking a set of questions, not just one question.

I'd love to see a yearly undetected sex offender survey given to both men and women regarding how much sexual violence they committed against EAs in the last year, and a yearly sexual violence survey given to both men and women to ask how much sexual violence they received from EAs in the last year. If they added this to the yearly survey that would be awesome!

Then we'd have a way to track progress, and that's important. The survey would have to be designed very carefully from the beginning though.

The reason I want to write a separate article about the number of sex offenders in EA is because it appears quite controversial. If we can get closer to having a consensus on sexual violence related matters, I think this will make us more effective at reducing it. The purpose of the article is not to create a more accurate number. I'm not even sure that's possible. The purpose of the article is to address the controversy, explore the complexities, and encourage people to compensate for the various biases that may be interfering.

Edit: I've set up a collaboration with the yearly EA survey team!

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