I don’t expect Wendy McElroy to report anything accurately (she does write for FOX, after all). Still, her discussion of Mary Koss in a recent Foxnews column included two sentences, which were a simply amazing example of McElroy’s inability to get facts straight.
Mary Koss, for those who don’t know, is a professor who has done very influential work on designing surveys measuring the prevalence of rape. Debunking Koss is a favorite activity of anti-feminists: Katie Roiphe, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Warren Farrell are just a few of the anti-feminists who have spent a lot of ink attacking Koss and her work.
Anyhow, here are the two sentences:
So what did McElroy get wrong?
- The study Ms contributed to was published in 1987, not 1985. (There was a Ms Magazine article reporting on Koss’ research, published in ’85; but an article reporting on a study is not the same thing as the study itself).
- So where was the study itself published? In The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, not Ms Magazine.
- The study found that the 1 in 4 had experienced rape or attempted rape, not just rape. (Nor did the ’85 Ms Magazine article ever use the 1 in 4 statistic, by the way.)
- The study used standardized survey forms, not interviews.
- The women were asked dozens and dozens of questions, not just 10.
- There was a 10-question subsection related to sexual assault and coercion, which is I suppose what McElroy meant to refer to. However, McElroy is still mistaken, because respondents were NOT “deemed to have been raped if any question elicited a ‘yes’ response.”
- There were 3,187 women surveyed for the study, not 7,000 women as McElroy claims. (Including men, a total of 6,159 people were in Koss’ sample).
None of that is terribly substantial, I know, but it’s still impressive how many factual mistakes McElroy makes in such a short passage.
Also, I’ve been debating this with “Brad” (who I think may be McElroy’s partner or husband) on the ifeminists discussion board.
McElroy also cited this IWF critique of Koss’ study. I’ll tackle the IWF’s critique on Monday, and I promise that post will be more substantive.
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More on Wendy McElroy
More on Mary Koss
This post has been updated since I originally wrote it, to add in the sample size error, and to put in the information about the 1995 Ms article reporting on the research.
- Further thought on that Wendy McElroy column
- FoxNews' Wendy McElroy whitewashes a rape
- Rape Prevalence Statistics on Donohue
- Fact-Checking the Anti-Feminists; like following around an elephant with a bucket, no matter how much crap you clean up they keep producing more.
- Anti-feminist discussion forums down