Comment author: Henry_Stanley 07 December 2017 11:36:50AM *  4 points [-]

Researching treatments for sexual offending has a chance to be the most cost effective option

I'm not convinced.

The Cochrane review on psychological treatments for sex offenders mentions a number of studies, each including hundreds of participants, that still weren't sufficiently well-designed to tease out a signal from the noise. Suffice it to say that this doesn't seem like a neglected area. It's not clear what low-hanging fruit there are re. psychological treatments; I doubt that the EA community is going to be able to run randomised controlled trials on hundreds of people at a cost of tens of millions of dollars given that many other scientists have failed to do so.

The other Cochrane review, on drug treatments for sex offenders, which shows that there's basically no evidence that e.g. testosterone-reducing drugs are useful and that there haven't been any RCTs published in two decades. So the fruit there are lower-hanging, but again, studies are going to be very costly.

As a meta-level aside, I'm also a bit worried about being too blasé about suggesting very radical interventions. From the Cochrane review:

It is a concern that, despite treatment being mandated in many jurisdictions, evidence for the effectiveness of pharmacological interventions is so sparse and that no RCTs appear to have been published in two decades.

So basically a bunch of places inject people with powerful hormonal drugs, against their will, with no evidence this will treat their problem. This is a clear human rights violation, and likely a violation of medical ethics too[1].

Given that we don't have any good evidence that testosterone-reducing drugs help sex offenders, I think it's a huge leap to then suggest investigating "testosterone reduction surgery" – by which I presume you mean castration. (You also say that sex offenders are likely to be willing to pay for their own treatment; something tells me most men aren't going to be willing to pay to be castrated.)

On an object level, this seems like a suggestion not worth taking seriously (there are a whole bunch of studies on testosterone-reducing drugs we'd need to do first before advocating sex offenders get castrated). And on a meta-level, I think outsiders with even the remotest sense of the unfairness of the criminal justice system would think us incredibly naïve to see us seriously suggesting performing surgery on sex offenders.


[1] http://jaapl.org/content/31/4/502.long - "When the promise of freedom is predicated on mandated treatment, the clinician must carefully assess the validity of informed consent."

Comment author: Marcus_N 07 December 2017 08:23:35PM 3 points [-]

This response is correct. Additionally, a major point I want to reiterate is that convicted sex offenders are a much narrower and more pathological group than any offenders who may exist in EA.

Even if medicalization and surgery was a successful and ethical intervention for convicted offenders—which you shed doubt on—it does not follow that such interventions would be helpful for other contexts, like corporations, academia, or EA. When sex offender are convicted using legal methods of due process, this is a much smaller and more pathological population than people who are accused under extra-legal processes, like corporate/academic kangaroo courts, or community witchhunts around he-said, she-said cases. This is not an apples-to-apples comparison of offenders or offenses.

Convicted sex offenders are a small and pathological group, and it is unlikely that there are many people who fit that profile in EA. It is likely that the vast majority of disputes over consent that might occur in EA will be misunderstandings, drunkenness, recklessness, or negligence, which does not rise to the level of intentional assault. It is both a statistical error—and a moral error—to suggest interventions designed for such criminal populations in one's own community. Unless, of course, one believes that their community contains a bunch of criminals.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 20 November 2017 06:54:43AM *  2 points [-]

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) 17 November 2017 04:27:35AM *  1 point [-]

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: 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) 15 November 2017 09:26:06AM 5 points [-]

Methodologies like Lisak’s—where respondents check a box on a multi-clause question

But that wasn't Lisak's methodology. That was the methodology used by other researchers in other studies.

leave room for doubt over whether the respondent read the question carefully and understands the terms in the same way that the researchers do. Any of the terms that you believe are diagnostic of rape, such as "force", "didn't want to", etc... might be interpreted differently from how you would interpret them.

I don't see how. Those are pretty straightforward terms.

The other way to get a false positive would be if someone agreed with one of those questions, but lacked the element of intention of mens rea. Rape refers to a crime involving mens rea

No, rape is defined by the BJS as "Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion and physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by the offender(s). This category also includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object, such as a bottle. Includes attempted rape, male and female victims, and both heterosexual and same sex rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape." I have no clue where you got this idea that mens rea is involved.

Feminists often discuss rape as an experience of violation by a victim, but this is a redefinition and case of the non-central fallacy

No it's not, because the badness of rape doesn't derive from mens rea. Don't wield fallacies like weapons if you don't understand them.

The high stigma of rape is calibrated towards cases where the perpetrator knows what he is doing

I don't see any reason to believe this.

Cases of reckless or negligent sexual conduct—even if they cause an experience of violation—should be placed in a morally separate category from intentional or purposeful violations

Again, I don't see any reason to believe this.

These issues are going to lead to a certain rate of false positives for Lisak's methodology, or Mary Koss' "Sexual Experiences Survey", or another methodology based on them. What is that rate of false positives? 1%? 10%? 50%? Who knows

And presumably an equal rate of false negatives, unless you can give some specific reason to the contrary (which you haven't).

I don’t know why someone might check those boxes as a false positive.

Then it sounds like you don't know what you are talking about.

Maybe someday someone will do a study and ask them what happened.

That's exactly what Lisak did.

But what I do know is that sexual practices are highly varied based on culture, class, and ethnicity. I think we should be careful to avoid generalization from our own consent practices and interpretation of terms about consent that other people may not share.

There aren't any cultures or classes or ethnicities which interpret "force" or "didn't want to" in some unique way that makes forcing someone who doesn't want to have sex to have sex something other than rape.

I have it on good authority that sometimes neurotypical humans lightly spank each without getting consent first

That's not BDSM. It sounds like you don't know anything about BDSM. It's also not forcing someone to have sex.

The problem with bourgeois-feminist sensibilities around sex is that they portray people with different norms as constantly assaulting and violating each other, when these people naively think they are fine. This variation in sexual practice and communication styles—such as some populations having a higher baseline level of verbal indirectness, mutual physical forcefulness, or token resistance—makes it harder to design a one-size-fits-all survey to demarcate rape.

Seems pretty easy to me. You take the standard definition of rape, and ask people if they do it.

A criminal conviction

But lots of rapists aren't convicted.

An explicit admission that uses the word "rape."

But there are lots of people, such as yourself with your strange invocation of mens rea, who use nonsensical definitions of rape to make it seem like a narrower concept than it actually is.

A qualitative interview, where followup questions can clarify what happened, and establish intention

Well that's what Lisak did.

and mens rea.

Which is nonsense, as I have pointed out.

Comment author: Marcus_N 16 November 2017 02:21:18AM *  -1 points [-]

Your response comes off as very defensive and lacking in substance, so I don't have much to say other than reiterating my previous views.

Intent is a critical part of moral and legal philosophy, and rape is a general intent crime. The stigma for rape comes from a time when rape was considered to be an unambiguous or obviously intentional violation, such as a stranger jumping out of the bushes. It is both inaccurate and socially harmful to apply this stigma to a wider range of situations that may involve lack of intent or male-female communication problems.

I think the statistical approach to rape is barking up the wrong tree. Lisak's work, whether quantitative or qualitative is especially untrustworthy, and sheds doubt on the entire field. Using a more conservative, and less-debatable criteria for rape is essential, because the more aggressive definitions have large externalities in terms of distrust between men and women, policies that destroy civil liberties, and tear apart institutions and communities with finger-pointing.

People can interpret terms like "want to" differently. Here is a study by feminists discussing a category of "consensual unwanted sex."

As for other people's sexual psychology and consent practices, our perspectives seem very different, so there is little point in discussing it further.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 15 November 2017 01:30:21AM *  5 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 *  0 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) 15 November 2017 01:22:23AM *  5 points [-]

If people are asked such questions directly, there is a very low rate of agreement.

Did you even read the study? The men were asked directly, and 6% of them admitted to committing rape. I don't see what your complaints about feminist literature even has to do with it. Lisak and Miller are both psychologists. Violence and Victims is a broad journal with no specific dedication to feminist ideas. You're just using "feminism" as a term for research on gender issues which doesn't conform to your opinions.

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

What the hell? BDSM is not the same thing as rough sex, and yes, you must discuss it verbally beforehand; not doing that is startlingly bad practice. And "rough sex" does not entail being physically forced to have sex.

6% of men answer convoluted questions on surveys that cause feminist researchers to categorize them as rapists.

Could you do us a favor and tell us which of the questioned behaviors does not count as rape?

Specifically, do you believe that having sex with someone by "using or threatening to use physical force (twisting their arm, holding them down, etc) if they did not cooperate" is not rape?

Or do you believe that having "sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated to resist your sexual advances" is not rape?

The way that feminists ask the questions is very convoluted and idiosyncratic

What is convoluted and idiosyncratic about asking someone "have you ever had sex with someone when they didn't want to?"

Comment author: Marcus_N 15 November 2017 07:12:45AM *  0 points [-]

Methodologies like Lisak’s—where respondents check a box on a multi-clause question—leave room for doubt over whether the respondent read the question carefully and understands the terms in the same way that the researchers do. Any of the terms that you believe are diagnostic of rape, such as "force", "didn't want to", etc... might be interpreted differently from how you would interpret them. You might think that the additional clauses would help clarify the matter, but actually the longer the question is, the higher the chances that the respondent will misinterpret it or focus on only one part of it.

Remember, most of the people answering these surveys are not feminist programmers or BDSM-practicing logicians. Words mean different things to different people.

The other way to get a false positive would be if someone agreed with one of those questions, but lacked the element of intention of mens rea. Rape refers to a crime involving mens rea. Feminists often discuss rape as an experience of violation by a victim, but this is a redefinition and case of the non-central fallacy. The high stigma of rape is calibrated towards cases where the perpetrator knows what he is doing. Cases of reckless or negligent sexual conduct—even if they cause an experience of violation—should be placed in a morally separate category from intentional or purposeful violations.

These issues are going to lead to a certain rate of false positives for Lisak's methodology, or Mary Koss' "Sexual Experiences Survey", or another methodology based on them. What is that rate of false positives? 1%? 10%? 50%? Who knows. But there is always going to be a cloud of doubt hanging over these methodologies.

Why might men answer positively on Lisak's study, if a rape had not occurred? I feel like you are trying to lay a trap with these questions rather than having open-minded curiosity. I don’t know why someone might check those boxes as a false positive. Maybe someday someone will do a study and ask them what happened. I don’t pretend to know what goes on in other people’s bedrooms. But what I do know is that sexual practices are highly varied based on culture, class, and ethnicity. I think we should be careful to avoid generalization from our own consent practices and interpretation of terms about consent that other people may not share.

I have it on good authority that sometimes neurotypical humans lightly spank each without getting consent first. In the wild, feral homo sapiens sometimes bite each other, scratch each other, or pull each others’ hair without verbally clearing it with each other. Is this nonconsensual BDSM behavior a “bad practice,” and must they change their ways? Is it sexual assault?

The problem with bourgeois-feminist sensibilities around sex is that they portray people with different norms as constantly assaulting and violating each other, when these people naively think they are fine. This variation in sexual practice and communication styles—such as some populations having a higher baseline level of verbal indirectness, mutual physical forcefulness, or token resistance—makes it harder to design a one-size-fits-all survey to demarcate rape.

What would be a better methodology for measuring rape perpetration? There are 3 methodologies that I would consider plausible:

  1. A criminal conviction.
  2. An explicit admission that uses the word "rape."
  3. A qualitative interview, where followup questions can clarify what happened, and establish intention and mens rea.

These methodologies would establish the lower bound of rape perpetration, and I don’t think anyone could debate them, because they don’t have interpretive gaps. I think that this is better than trying to establish the upper bound in a questionable way. Unfortunately, the ecosystem of activists, bureaucrats, journalists, and politicians, need the high stats for political reasons. It might be worth thinking about how to approach sexual assault prevention without using prevalence statistics.

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: Marcus_N 15 November 2017 01:57:20AM *  1 point [-]

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: 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: Marcus_N 15 November 2017 12:13:30AM *  5 points [-]

Truly acknowledging the problems with social science in general, and these studies in specific, would involve greatly softening your argument and shelving most of your prescriptions and impact analysis.

Sometimes, the best a field has to offer isn’t good enough to support policy recommendations, and epistemic humility requires acknowledging this. This body of research just isn’t strong enough to do the things that you want to do with it. I think that both you and the audience here has the sophistication to recognize the flaws in this research, and the lack of recognition is explained by biasing factors.

If you find feminist sexual assault research plausible based on your experiences, if you think that a large minority of men are rapists, paraphiliacs, harassers, or frotteurs, then that’s OK—everyone has their experience. But please mark your true reasons for believing those things, rather than acting like it’s scientifically solid enough to be a basis policy and community interventions. Then other people can make up their minds based on their own experiences.

Although you report following the review articles and meta-analyses, it is notable that all the evidence you discovered lines up perfectly with standard feminist narratives and your own experiences. From there, you jump into some very divisive prescriptions without seriously examining the countervailing evidence or the methodological problems. This is hasty at best, and morally questionable at worst—especially if, as you say, you were already aware of the methodological issues with social science.

Here are some of the things you either did not encounter or address. I am not claiming that you should have addressed any particular one of these, but they are critical parts of this debate:

  • The decades of criticism towards feminist rape statistics by Christina Hoff Sommers, among others.

  • The false accusation research.

  • The reality of how people communicate consent, which is primarily nonverbal and implicit, counter to the ideals of feminists and the BDSM community. This paper (unfortunately paywalled) cites a bunch of studies finding things like large percentages of women believing that they are giving consent to sex by doing nothing, or not resisting.

  • The problems of self-justification, unreliable memory, and sex differences in communication pointed out by feminist sociologist Carol Tavris.

  • The research on token resistance. Token resistance is often considered to be a misogynistic PUA red-pill rape myth, but it turns out that the concept has been extensively studied by feminist researchers, who find that women are often very internally divided about sex. One study found that 39% of women had engaged in token resistance, though later research complicated this figure. If indeed there is such a thing as token resistance, or “nonconsensual wanted sex”, or “consensual unwanted sex”, then this validates the common male complaints about women giving mixed signals, and Tavris’ claims about misunderstandings. It also causes significant problems for 3rd parties adjudicating he-said, she-said situations if communication is not straightforward.

  • The collapse of many of the high profile rape accusations backed by the media, such as the Rolling Stone story where a reporter went looking for a sympathetic rape victim, and the story fell apart. This proves that media coverage of sexual assault is inaccurate and biased towards feminism.

  • The college kangaroo courts for sexual assault in universities, which are based on the same sorts of scare-mongering statistics used in the original post. This leads to immense violations of due process (e.g. Sexual Assault Injustice at Occidental: College Railroads Accused Student, and Stanford Trains Student Jurors That ‘Acting Persuasive and Logical’ is Sign of Guilt). The policies are the direct result of the adoption of the same sorts of propagandistic statistics you are citing.

I would be surprised if you have never encountered any of these arguments, and you’ve never heard of Hoff Sommers, or the Rolling Stone story. If not, then your research is so deeply steeped in feminism that it has led you astray and caused you lose sight of any other perspectives. Addressing a single one of these issues would have caused your piece to be a lot more balanced. As it is, the original post comes off as the standard feminist anti-rape narrative inside a thin shell of effective altruism.

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 13 November 2017 10:57:42AM *  20 points [-]

Thanks for this post. It's brave, thorough, fair, and well-researched--a breath of fresh air compared to 99% of internet discussion on this topic.

People seemed to appreciate it when I laid out my points of disagreement with the last post of this sort, so I'm going to try doing the same for this post. Feel free to let me know (including via PM) if you think it's a bad idea for me to do this.

Like the last post, I think this post could benefit from less uncritical acceptance of social science research. That said, my sources aren't any better. So my comment is just an attempt to present a coherent worldview--take it with a grain of salt.

I think this post underrates the degree to which effective altruists are likely to be unrepresentative of the population at large. In particular, all the EAs I've met are really smart. And all the discussion I see in online EA communities is really intelligent. I don't think there's any IQ data that backs up these observations directly. But the 2015 EA survey found that Less Wrong was the most popular way to discover EA, and survey data on Less Wrong users seems to indicate that the average IQ on Less Wrong is around 140. My impression is that Less Wrong is responsible for a lot of "founder effects" in the EA movement (the fraction of EAs from LW was even higher in the 2014 EA survey), and that being a magnet for high-IQ people goes along with this.

Why does this matter? Because the sexual behavior of high IQ people seems to be much different than the sexual behavior of the population at large. Check out this graph from this blog post. High IQ male teens are about 3x more likely to be virgins than average, and high IQ female teens are about 5x more likely.

Why is this? There are a few possible explanations. Personally, I suspect it's a combination of smart people prioritizing other things, and having lower libidos. (Consider that only 20% of female graduate students at MIT masturbate, compared to 70% of the female population at large--source.)

You quote a study which found that frottage offenders targeted an average of nine hundred people each. That's definitely an interesting stat, but I think you have to be extra careful when extrapolating from "institutionalized sex offenders... mandated to receive specialized treatment" to EAs, especially given that all the research I've heard about indicates that prisoner IQs tend to be well below average.

Furthermore, I would expect that sex offenders who actually get imprisoned are much more blatant than average. So that's a reason why it could be unsafe to extrapolate data from imprisoned rapists to your "average" undetected rapist.

That all said, I believe you when you say there have been cases of sexual assault in EA, and I think you have good ideas about how to stop it. Here are some of my thoughts. In some cases, I'll be emphasizing points you already made, because our worldviews overlap a fair amount.

I think that sexual assault prevention presents a different challenge relative to a lot of other causes EAs are interested in. We are used to seeing causes as bottlenecked on money or talent, but sexual assault strikes me as a cause bottlenecked on experimentation and tribalism. It's a topic that's difficult to have a two-sided conversation about due to the current political environment. People tend to retreat in to bubbles lead by the most motivated individuals, who are often extremists. Sometimes the extremists suggest interventions which may actually hurt their cause, because they don't have good awareness of how people in other bubbles are thinking.

I was really impressed by how aware you seem to be of these issues. But, I think it's important to recognize that your willingness to write a ~30 page essay on this topic is an indicator that sexual assault is something you're unusually sensitive to. (That doesn't mean you shouldn't work on it; I'm glad it's something you feel motivated to work on. I'm just saying you should keep this in mind.) Furthermore, I think it's interesting to contrast your suicide stats with the fact that sexually harassed employees are only 1.63 times more likely to have turnover intentions. See also this article about women in Washington DC who prioritize their career over making sexual harassment allegations.

This isn't meant to excuse sexual assault or sexual harassment. It's meant to indicate that sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape are offenses of much different magnitude. Similar to how shoving someone, punching someone so hard they get knocked out, and murdering someone are offenses of much different magnitude. Unfortunately, it seems to me that a lot of feminist discourse serves to lump these offenses of different magnitude together using terms like "rape culture". Equivalently, imagine someone shoved another person during a bar dispute, and we condemned their action as indicative of "murder culture".

Why does this matter? As you state in this post, our legal system doesn't work that well for sex offenses. Our legal system works on the presumption of innocence and tries to gather evidence that a person committed a crime. But for sex offenses, there typically isn't much evidence to gather.

Because the legal system doesn't work that well, we have to fall back on the court of public opinion. My issue with a term like "rape culture" is that it pushes us closer to a world where a person receives the maximal sentence in the court of public opinion even for the most minor offense.

Why is this a world we don't want to be in?

  • The punishment doesn't fit the crime. This undermines the legitimacy of the effort to fight sex offenses.

  • In the traditional legal system, a person can commit a minor offense, pay their debt to society, and stop thinking of themselves as an offender. But if a person who commits a minor offense has no chance of re-integrating with society, that creates an incentive to attack the legitimacy of the entire system. See above.

  • It frames a minor sex offense in a way that's likely to cause greater psychological harm. See also Lila's comment.

  • Outrage is like antibiotics: The more it's overused, the less well it works.

However, even if many women tolerate sexual aggressiveness well, I suspect the EA movement has an unusually high density of women who don't. As I mentioned, high-IQ women seem to have much less sexual desire, and high-IQ people in general seem to be more anxious. So you may not be all that unrepresentative relative to the EA population.

This ties in to the whole Red Pill/pickup topic. There's a lot I could say about that, but one major point is that it is targeted at average-IQ women who like going to bars--sorority girls who say things like:

Don’t ask for permission for a first kiss. Dear lord, I hate that nonsene. Things are great and then whoa, I’ve got a pushover on my hands. No, you can’t kiss me, pussy. Goodbye.

Personally, I know of approximately 0 sorority girls in EA. And more broadly, I don't see attitudes like this expressed frequently by women in the EA movement.

I could write another long comment on my issues with Red Pill ideas, and why I think feminist writing fails to engage productively with them. But I don't have a ton of confidence in my views, and I'm also not sure how many guys who read that stuff will end up reading my comment. So for now I'll just make a few points directed at those guys:

  • In the same way reversed stupidity is not intelligence, reversed censorship is not intelligence. Just because feminists furiously condemn red pill ideas using arguments that are bad does not mean that red pill ideas are correct.

  • In general, the epistemics of red pill discussion sites aren't that great. Ideas are selected for based on whether they spread virally within the echo chamber rather than whether they're factually supported. Reading something frequently enough can cause you to believe it's true even if it isn't. (This is how propaganda posters work.) If you want an evidence-based dating guide, prominent evolutionary psychologist (and effective altruist) Geoffrey Miller has a book and a website.

  • If sexual gratification is what you seek, there's a lot of data showing that it's easier for a man to get laid in environments with more women than men. Effective Altruism is not such an environment.

Comment author: Marcus_N 14 November 2017 08:53:41AM *  4 points [-]

Thanks for this post. It's brave, thorough, fair, and well-researched--a breath of fresh air compared to 99% of internet discussion on this topic.

I have seen several responses saying things like this, but in reality, the research in this article goes only as far as collecting the standard feminist narrative on sexual assault, which is not original and can be found in many places if you are familiar with this subject. The only thing that's new is attempting to marry this perspective to EA, despite the methodology being highly partisan and significantly different from EA methodology.

Among the problems:

  • uncritically taking feminist sexual assault prevalence research at face value, without addressing the many methodological criticisms
  • mixing and matching studies with very different populations and methods to maximize the perception of male perpetration and female victimhood
  • failing to address the debate on false accusations
  • failing to discover any of the complicating lines of research, such as the token resistance research, and the research on self-justification and unreliability of memory
  • discussing drastic and hasty interventions like stings and medicalization
  • accusing an entire community of males of containing hundreds of rapists based on poorly-executed studies on a totally different population

While the article is being criticized for being too long, in some ways, it's actually too short to support the extraordinary claims it is making, which are perhaps not fully recognized as extraordinary due to feminist research not being held to the same standards as other fields, and all sorts of glaring errors being normalized.

Here is my detailed rebuttal which is only enough to cover some of those problems, and here is an additional comment on the lack of balance in the original post.

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