Video: UND Researcher Defends Campus Rape Junk Science

Sarah Edwards, a professor at the University of North Dakota, was one of the researchers responsible for that junk science paper claiming that a third of college males would rape a woman if they thought they could get away with it.

You can read a thorough debunking of the paper here from Professor Mark Perry.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”If we acknowledge that any group of human beings is more likely to admit that they’d commit a crime if they knew they wouldn’t be caught then the supposedly shocking findings of this study seem a lot less…shocking.”[/mks_pullquote]

Edwards appeared on Chris Berg’s Valley News Live show last night to defend the paper. Unfortunately, Berg didn’t press Edwards too hard on the gaping holes in her study, but there were a couple of interesting moments.

Addressing the tiny sample size, Edwards claims that it’s “just a preliminary study.” That might be a fair defense, except that Edwards herself has rushed to draw broad conclusions from it. “I think this is very representative of any college campus or most college campuses you go to,” she said of the study during an interview with Forum Communications reporter Anna Burleson.

As to the soundness of the study’s premise, Berg asked her about the reality of the scenario Edwards presented respondents with, which was whether or not they’d commit a crime (sexual assault/rape) if they were guaranteed not to get caught. Edwards glossed over the question, not really answering it at all, and I’m not surprised. If we acknowledge that any group of human beings is more likely to admit that they’d commit a crime if they knew they wouldn’t be caught then the supposedly shocking findings of this study seem a lot less…shocking.

Again, I’d like to see how many college females would admit that they’d make false rape accusations to punish an ex-boyfriend if they were guaranteed not to be caught. But Edwards doesn’t seem interested in asking that question.

Finally, Berg confronted Edwards with her use of that now thoroughly debunked statistic about 1 in 5 campus women experience sexual assault, and she defended her use of it by pointing out that President Barack Obama has used it as well.

Surveys may show one in five campus women claiming they’ve been sexually assaulted, but actual crime statistics show a much lower occurrence. Which are we to believe? Surveys where we must assume that respondents are telling the truth (including college males who might have thought it funny to suggest they’d be rapists)? Or crime statistics which are based on investigations and court proceedings aimed at establishing the truth?

I’m not surprised that Edwards would cling to the survey results, rather than actual criminal statistics, given the premise of her own study which seeks to interpret the real world based on responses to a fantasy scenario.

In the real world, nobody is guaranteed of getting away with a crime. That’s why we spend a great deal of money on the criminal justice system. To act as a deterrence to people who would commit crimes if they could get away with them.

But Edwards and her ilk would have us believe that their research, built on a supposed fantasy world where there are no consequences, matters in the real world where there are consequences.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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