Twitter as an artform

Occasionally, just occasionally, debate* on twitter is elevated into somthing greater. Perhaps even an art form.

To put the following thread into context, Masterhindsight seems to be someone who has a set stock of “arguments”, and keeps repeating them over and over. He seems unable to actually debate by taking stock of others refutation of these arguments, and logically countering – he just keeps repeating the same statements.

So for your enjoyment, I give you:


Why false rape is not the problem.

It seems that every discussion about rape involves someone trying to derail the discussion by talking about false rape claims. This post is intended to show that these claims, and the results from them, are insignificant when compared to the larger problem of rape.

First I’ll state some statistics. (See the bottom of this post for references):

  • Reporting Rate for rape (Proportion of people who are raped that report it to the authorities) = 20%
  • Rate of false rape reports = 3% (Similar to false reports for other crimes)
  • Attrition rate for rape reports (proportion of reports that DO NOT result in a conviction = 87% (Which means 13% of reports DO result in a conviction
So if we consider 1000 actual rapes.Of these, only 20% will be reported = 200 rape reports.3% of rape reports are false – so with 200 actual rape reports, there will be around 6 false reports.

Of the 200 actual reports, only 13% will result in a conviction = 26 convicted rapists. So out of 1000 actual rapes. Actual women having their lives changed for ever by the trauma of rape – there will be only 26 convictions.  974 Rapists will go free. And some of those will rape again.

Of the 6 false reports if 13% were also convicted that would be 0.7 innocent men in prison. However, in reality very much fewer false reports will make it to a conviction, since if the report is false there can be no corroborating evidence. Such cases will almost all be weeded out during the investigative stage. The conviction rate for false reports will be a small fraction that for actual rapes. So the number of unjust convictions per 1000 rapes will be insignificant.

Of course even one miscarriage of justice is one too many – but set against 1000 actual rapes and 974 un-convicted rapists, it seems obvious to me where the real problem is, and where we as a society needs to focus our attention.

We need to stop men raping, and we need to put those who do behind bars.

References for statistics

  • What is the reporting rate for rape – that is what proportion of people who are raped/seriously sexually assaulted actually report the assault to the authorities. This article puts it at 20%. I’ve read figures as low as 10% but for the sake of this post, I’ll take the higher figure.
  • What is the rate of false rape reports? Here is is stated as 2% to 8%. Higher figures you may have seen will usually be based on police data of “unfounded” or “uncorroborated” cases, rather than actual false reports. Even the 8% in the range above is biased upwards by this type of reporting. However for the sake of this post, I’ll assume the 2%-8% range is valid, and pick a midpoint at 5% (EDIT: More recently, a DPP report has fairly convincingly demonstrated the lower figure of 3% is more realistic for the UK. Post amended accordingly.)
  • What is the “attrition” rate for rape cases (the proportion of rape reports that do NOT result in a conviction). I’ve read figures as high as 94%. This article claims 87%. Again, for this article, I’ll take the lower figure.