“Women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped, claim scientists at the University of Leicester.”

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Actually, that isn’t at all what the scientists found. But it is apparently what a reporter and editorial staff at the UK Telegraph wished the study had determined, for some reason. An article in the UK Guardian reports:

There is nothing like science for giving that objective, white-coat flavoured legitimacy to your prejudices, so it must have been a great day for Telegraph readers when they came across the headline: “Women who dress provocatively more likely to be raped, claim scientists.

Ah, scientists. “Women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped, claim scientists at the University of Leicester.” Well there you go.

Oddly, though, the title of the press release for the same research was: “Promiscuous men more likely to rape.”

The author of the study, which is still in progress, is quoted as saying the Telegraph’s report was grossly misleading. The article continues:

Women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped? “This is completely inaccurate,” Shaw said. “We found no difference whatsoever. The alcohol thing is also completely wrong: if anything, we found that men reported they were willing to go further with women who are completely sober.”

And what about the Telegraph’s next claim, or rather, the paper’s reassuringly objective assertion, that it is scientists who claim that women who dress provocatively are more likely to be raped?

“We have found that people will go slightly further with women who are provocatively dressed, but this result is not statistically significant. Basically you can’t say that’s an effect, it could easily be the play of chance. I told the journalist it isn’t one of our main findings, you can’t say that. It’s not significant, which is why we’re not reporting it in our main analysis.”

Read the whole thing here. Via the F Word.

–Ann Bartow

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2 Responses to “Women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped, claim scientists at the University of Leicester.”

  1. ruharper says:

    The author is a chap called Ben Goldacre – the thorn in the side of bad science journalism in the UK. You can find his own blog here: http://www.badscience.net which contains lots of examples of exactly this sort of thing.

    It’s better than the Guardian’s site, because articles are posted more frequently, and in their original form (sometimes longer than the Guardian wordcount will allow)

  2. Pingback: Feminists For Choice » Wednesday Click List

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