Wednesday, April 13, 2011


In regard to the Brown-Summer Camp matter, two fresh bits of information that again reveal how the dynamics now work, having become almost a Standard Operating Procedure in the Mania era.

Today’s article is here.

First, the noted/notorious civil attorney now reports that he has about 13 allegators who have come forward to his office. The DA with jurisdiction, meanwhile, reports that while he has opened up an investigation for these decades-old allegations, he has nowhere near as many allegators on his list. For as outrageous a crime as these things are supposed to have been, persons so inclined are heading for the civil attorney first, rather than reporting to law enforcement.

There could be many reasons for this, but given the wide disparity in numbers reporting to the one office or the other, I think it is reasonable to imagine that a number of persons do some calculating first: a criminal trial doesn’t provide any cash-back, it requires investigations and trials according to stricter standards of proof than apply at civil lawsuit actions (so often settled out of court by insurers’ legal departments out of simple fiscal efficiency), and there is always the theoretical possibility that one might be caught ‘lying’ to police in a law-enforcement investigation.

Second, the civil attorney has now signaled that he is not holding Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) to the victimological argument that he owes it to other victims or possible or potential victims to identify his ‘abuser’. This generosity might have many motivations, but clearly the attorney’s office now has enough business so that he needn’t risk antagonizing a US Senator further.

As you may have noticed, the Comments on the articles in the ‘Boston Globe’ are running mostly in a skeptical vein and also suggest that there are far more pressing issues facing the nation; this is true for this case and also for the Biden gambit up in New Hampshire last week.

Yet the ‘business’ of the Mania still continues according to the now-established paths. And this will continue for as long as remunerative cash settlements are considered attainable by civil attorneys; which in turn means for as long as the soberly calculating legal departments of deep-pocket insurers figure that it is still a) cheaper to ‘settle’ than to go to court and that b) juries in such civil court trials are still probably going to go with the allegators rather than not.

You may recall that in the immediately prior Post the editorial that was mentioned had relied upon the research of a single professor, one David Lisak. You can do your own search in one of the major engines and come up with material, and entering ‘David Lisak research’ will screen out the assorted media articles that simply regurgitate bits and pieces.

Several of his pieces, here and here for example, present ‘findings’ or assertions derived from the research. Where references are given, many of the studies date back to the 1980s and 1990s when the Mania was in its salad days and ‘advocacy research’ (i.e. you know you want to help because you are certain the problem is real, so you tailor your work to reach the Correct ‘findings’ and – incidentally – keep yourself and your institution on the Correct government and institutional grant-eligibility lists) was riding high (it still is).

But there is a short (12-pages) formal report on a study with field research; it predates 2002 and appeared in a victim-oriented research journal (a dodgy phenomenon you may be familiar with if you have read any of the Posts in the Victimology mini-series on this site).

In order to measure the prevalence of “undetected rapists” on campus, Lisak and company set up booths at a community-college and offered a stipend of three or four dollars to answer a set of questions that were carefully designed to cover the dynamics involved in his conception of date-rape – but without actually using the (incriminating) terms such as ‘sexual assault’, ‘rape’, and so forth; the questions were advertised to potential participants as being about “childhood experiences and adult functioning”.

Thus he set himself the task of interviewing persons who are being asked to incriminate themselves if they answer affirmatively (no mention of whether this information was then turned over to the relevant police authority).

But clearly, also, there is in many of the age-groups within this participant-pool the possibility that they would, knowingly or not, be answering questions about sexual behaviors that took place before they became ‘college students’ and that took place quite possibly in some rather non-bourgeois (if I may) neighborhood settings.

He admits that this type of field research is a bit beyond the pale, but notes that other researchers have created a professional precedent for it (though the precedents he cites stem from studies done on more general “criminal behavior” during the 1960s and 1970s before the Mania Regime was in place).

He is looking to establish that there is a great deal of never-reported and never-prosecuted sexual crime on campuses, that the perpetrators are not simply themselves the victims of miscommunication with the female ‘partner’, that such persons will probably have committed sexual and physical violence against children and strangers as well as against women, and that the self-admitted perpetrators share a number of very ungood characteristics with convicted and incarcerated rapists (who have been studied much more widely). Such a profile starts to look very much like the ‘classic’ profile of the Monster, Out-of-Control, Omivorous Male Sex Offender whose hypothesized existence was the original pistol-shot that started the Great Mania Stampede.

He finds himself right on all counts.

He interviewed only males, at a “mid-sized, urban commuter university” which I think is basically what the average person would call a community-college; but “university” gives that sexy (so to speak) cachet that connects it to the Ivy League and so forth – much wider applicability and folks won’t think to observe that community-colleges might hold a lot more students from less middle-class backgrounds.

All told, he conducted 4 studies, five hundred or so males at a time, between 1991 and 1998. Thus he interviewed 1,882 males, with a mean age of 26.5 in an age range from 18 to 71, with a fifth of them over 30 and almost 8% over 40. Which again gives you the sense of a community-college rather than a more conventional ‘university’ campus setting.

He properly goes to some length to justify the formal validity of his questionnaires, although I wonder if offering cash to students at a community-college (even such a sum as 3 or four dollars), especially to males who may consider the whole thing as a consequence-less fantasy-lark to limn whatever immature imaginings they might entertain, doesn’t undermine the all the subsequent validations from the get-go.

Of the 1,882 men, 120 or 6.4%, he reports, met his qualifications for “rape or attempted rape” (which definition he had expanded to include “oral sex”).

Of the 120, 76 of them (63.3%) admitted to multiple instances, working out to 439 “rapes” apiece for these 76 males. He then discovered that these 76 also went on to commit other types of “violence” (although again, definitional parameters are fuzzy, especially the catch-all “battery”).

In his Discussion section he notes that the “repeat rapists” (those 76) were responsible for almost a third of the “violence”, although I note that many of them – according to Lisak’s count – used “intoxication” rather than “overt violence”.

He does not miss the opportunity to mention that his findings about these 120 men are “more consistent with the data on recidivism among sex offenders” than it is with the “still-prevalent” image of “a male-college student who, under the influence of alcohol, mistakenly crosses the line”.

Of course, the “data on recidivism among sex offenders” is pretty much discredited now, but this was a decade ago and the Mania was still riding high.

He moves toward his policy objectives: in regard to cases that even then law enforcement were classifying as “difficult to prosecute” he hopes that his statistics and discoveries (such as they may be) will spackle up law enforcement to “investigate” the deeper and broader “social networks” of the accused, perhaps with the presumption that the stats will probably reveal more instances of any sort of sexual or other violence. Again, even if his discoveries and stats actually indicated a wide-spread problem, police would need to conduct investigations of near-Soviet levels of intensity in order to handle these ‘gray-rape’ cases.

And there is the problem of there being only that small percentage of “serial rapists” among the larger male sample (the ‘male only’ bit being yet another questionable bit itself).

And the problem that this wasn’t actually a ‘university campus’ sample but a notably less conventional community-college sample, and among a remarkably broad age group – many of the participants falling outside of the 18-22 year-old age range of the conventionally-understood college student.

All in all, hardly justification for a federal-level ‘emergency’ (within, of course, the decades-old larger Sex Offense Emergency). And actually indicative of the type of sly (but soooo well-intentioned) manipulation that results from the academic counterpart of ‘advocacy journalism’* which I call ‘advocacy science’. Frankly, at one of the very few points about which I concur with at least the terminology deployed by the elder Bush, I would call this type of thing “voodoo science”, although with all respect to the religious beliefs of others I would more readily term it “Soviet” science in the sense that the researcher knows before he/she even starts the ‘study’ exactly what Correct findings must be found. Or else.

As with so much of Mania ‘research’ (and who can forget the vaudeville of ‘repressed and recovered memory’, whose eager troupers have now reinvented themselves as ‘traumatolgists’ and who now claim that their prior incarnation and incantations were ‘misunderstood’ ?) you have to look between the lines. After all, if this type of researcher is going to do Soviet-type research, then the stuff should be read by persons who are willing to adopt the quietly skeptical and astute Tire-Kicking approach of old-time Soviet citizen-readers.

Which probably goes for far too many mainstream media reports and editorials as well.


*The popular author Tom Wolfe, back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, proposed a “New Journalism” that eschewed what he considered to be dry, factual reporting and instead called for basically scripting ‘news’ so that it had interesting villains and bad guys and vivid first-person angles with lots of gory detail, so as to capture the attention (I would say to stampede the emotions) of the reader. This of course dovetailed neatly with the then-popular agitprop doctrines (such as propounded by the ex-Marxist ‘organizer’ Saul Alinsky) of manipulating public opinion (which ‘just doesn’t get it’) toward precisely the goals of the agenda you are agitating-for. And to cash-anxious media would promise wider circulation among a public that, thanks to TV shows as well as movies, was increasingly accustomed (and limited to) processing ‘information’ emotionally rather than critically analyzing it. Dr. Goebbels to Editing One stat!

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