Monday, April 6, 2015

"A Rape on Campus" Retracted

Rolling Stone magazine has retracted, the explosive article A Rape on Campus written by Sabrina Erdley which describes a gang rape of a college student named "Jackie" at a fraternity. Almost immediately after the article was published questions as to its veracity were raised. Columbia School of Journalism was tasked with finding out the truth and they found the allegations to be fabricated by the alleged victim as well as sloppy journalism by the Erdley and Rolling Stone. More coverage at The New York Times, NPR, and Wikipedia

The problem of confirmation bias – the tendency of people to be trapped by pre-existing assumptions and to select facts that support their own views while overlooking contradictory ones – is a well-established finding of social science. It seems to have been a factor here. - Columbia report

Obviously rape happens as does abuse but when the only evidence required is an accusation it just encourages false allegations. In divorce court, the vast majority of abuse accusations are false yet they still happen because it is effective and, despite it being illegal, there is no downside whatsoever in practice for the person making the false accusation. The only way to reduce false accusations is to prosecute the people making the false accusations just a vigorously as we do perpetrators of rape and abuse. The justice system is supposed to be about justice for each and every individual not a support system for preconceived social biases. It wasn't that long ago that an accusation of attempted rape by a white woman against a black man resulted in a summary lynching. We have made some progress since then but not enough. 

No comments:

Post a Comment