Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lies, Damn Lies, and Infographics

You may have seen this graphic:

…which purports to show that for every 998 rapists, there are 100 rapes reported, thirty people tried, ten people jailed, and only two people falsely accused.
The numbers, particularly the last one—only two false accusations for every 100 true reports—are very interesting to me. Where did the illustrator get them? According to Sarah Beaulieu, who published it, “Statistics from Justice Department, National Crime Victimization Survey: 2006-2010 and FBI reports.”
Sounds good.
But wait.
One of the key challenges about sexual assault statistics is that it’s nearly impossible to gather accurate and consistent data about incidence and prevalence.  This infographic doesn’t do a perfect job, but it combines data from several sources, both domestic and international.
* * * * *
For those of you who have asked, here is the background on the stats we used:
  • Some reports suggest that only 5-25% of rapes are reported to authorities. Other suggest that close to half are reported. We assumed 10%, which is dramatic, but possible.
  • Of the rapes that are reported, approximately 9 are prosecuted. 
  • Of the prosecuted, 5 result in felony convictions. This is across the board for all felony prosecutions, not just rape.
  • Assuming that 2% of reported rapes are false and a 10% reporting rate, the graphic assumes that 2 of 1000 rapes are falsely reported (assuming a rape can’t be falsely reported unless it’s reported in the first place)
No links, nothing. We have to trust Beaulieu that this is what the statistics show.

More here:
http://blog.bennettandbennett.com/2013/01/lies-damn-lies-and-infographics.html

Matt's thoughts:
I wonder what would happen if we examined Israel's facts and figures regarding various issues, especially war issues, with similar diligence? This question could likely be asked a million times regarding a million varying subjects.