My misanthropy is reaching a new height as I finally accept that this article needs to be written. I’m not quite sure how humanity manages to be this pathetically stupid, but it’s time someone put it across forcefully, once and for all.
A couple of years ago, when I wrote How Not To Raise a Rapist, I based it not on feminist theory or my own theory, or something a friend told me. I based it on tested research that came from FBI profiling experience and psychology, as evidenced by the links and citations (links and citations indicate that a thing called research has been conducted – research occurs when you locate expert sources and report their verifiable information, instead of just opening your mouth and seeing what tumbles out). I would estimate that 30% of the responses to this post said, in essence, “No, that’s not correct. Rape is about X, and rapists become rapists due to Z, and all rapists are B.” No links, no citations. These people were just magically in possession of the truth.
I believe they honestly didn’t realize that they were spouting opinions as fact. I think they see rape as a Great Mystery, like whether or not there is a god, and therefore they are as entitled to their “beliefs” about rape as I am to mine. But the question of whether there’s a god is non-verifiable. No one can prove or disprove the existence of a god. But rapists are far more mundane, and psychiatrists have been talking to them for years, and law enforcement has been chasing them for years. Hard and soft data have been accumulated.
This confusion of uninformed opinion with researched conclusions goes beyond the topic of rape (that article was just one of the best examples around here), and it goes well beyond this site. I have never seen anything as frightening as the last couple of years in US politics. We are drowning in politicians who aren’t just trying to hoodwink us with the usual bullshit – these people seem to genuinely not realize they are full of shit. This is making Newt Gingrich look refreshing (because he’s full of shit and he knows it), and Newt Gingrich is a philandering hypocritical erratic dangerous pile of pus.
We are dealing with a medical industry that believes all sorts of things with no basis at all, because either the studies haven’t been done, or the studies don’t support the theories they choose to espouse. Example: we’ve just recently learned that eating cholesterol is not the cause of having high cholesterol, and high cholesterol may in fact be more closely related to corn syrups and sugars instead (oops! sorry you lost a loved one due to false info, our bad). The whole “obesity epidemic” cannot produce a shred of proof that merely carrying extra weight causes health problems (if it did, there wouldn’t be a statistically significant minority of fat people with excellent cholesterol, heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.), but the fat shaming comes from all quarters these days. And meanwhile, who’s looking for what really causes cholesterol-related issues, or what really causes all the things fat is being conveniently blamed for?
Public policies are being based on uninformed opinions, on topics where there is information to be had.
Now, in the absence of hard data, when some action is absolutely required, you have to go with your best guess. But these topics are not Great Mysteries. There is scientific evidence of what makes rapists tick (which lead to solid ideas on what might actually reduce rape in the future). There is hard scientific evidence of how bodies work, and most questions about bodies can be answered through scientific tests. There is hard, verifiable evidence on how and why the middle class is collapsing, but screw that: let’s blame welfare and food stamp recipients, or people of color, or the Occupy movement, or fatties! Or let’s deny it’s collapsing at all and say those who claim it is are just lazy whiners who want a handout (while utterly failing to notice that big business is pretty much entirely functioning on government handouts these past few years)!
I believe the failure to distinguish opinions from research is not actually a failure at all, but a deliberate derailment of the academic process of forming evidenced conclusions. You want to believe what you want to believe, so you won’t let anyone tell you different, no matter the evidence they have to back them up. Facing reality is a social responsibility. If you refuse to face it, you are a threat to society.
And this needs to be said.