Monday, December 12, 2016

NPR publishes guide to spotting fake news--NPR should apply it to its own reporting about sexual assault

NPR, which  happily recites the fake news that one-in-five college women are sexually assaulted (and there is overwhelming evidence that this stat is fake news--see, e.g.here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) has just published a handy guide on how to spot . . . fake news. And, no, I'm not making this up.

NPR should follow its own guidelines, but, of course, when it comes to sexual assault, it doesn't--because any assertion intended to prove "rape culture" is automatically worthy of unconditional acceptance.

A few of NPR's guides for spotting fake news expose the utter folly in accepting the one-in-five stat:
Is the story so outrageous you can't believe it? Maybe you shouldn't. Respect the voice inside you that says, "What?"
Hmm. Let's see. The one-in-five stat means that even the safest, most secure college campuses are the most dangerous places in the world for one class of our citizens--young women. The fact that this is not just outrageous but obviously false hasn't even sounded warning bells with the purveyors of "rape culture." They just keep on reporting it.
Is the story so outrageous you do believe it? That's also a warning sign. Many stories play on your existing beliefs. If the story perfectly confirms your worst suspicions, look for more information.
Hmm. Let's see. The one-in-five stat means that even the safest, most secure college campuses are the most dangerous places in the world for one class of our citizens--young women. That's so outrageous, why would anyone make it up? It also means that college men, as a class, are rapists-in-waiting--a factoid that merely confirms our worst stereotypes about toxic masculinity and "rape culture." 
Did the writer engage with anyone who disagrees? Did they call a senator whose legislation bugs them? Did they try to grasp what the president-elect was doing, or merely repeat one of his more outrageous statements? If it's a broadcast interview, was the guest presented with genuine opposing views and challenged to answer? Those who wrestle with opposing arguments do you a service and often improve their own arguments.
The one-in-five stat is routinely parroted without challenge, as if any contrary position is not just erroneous but hate speech. Apparently, the only fake news deserving of challenge is that which doesn't advance a far left narrative.
Broaden your palate. Make a point to check sites that do not agree with your politics. You may discover stories that are wrong — but you'll know what other people are consuming, which will sharpen your own thinking.
When it comes to the made-up college rape epidemic, the only time the sexual grievance industry checks opposing views is to demonize anyone who dares to speak up for due process and keeping an open mind about accusations of college rape.
Are you told, "Trust me"? Don't. It's the post-trust era! Expect everyone to show where their facts come from, link to underlying articles, and demonstrate that they've argued honestly. . . . .
The exception: anything that spews from the mouths of sexual grievance-mongers.
Be open to the idea that some falsehoods are sincerely held. In spite of all the warnings here, some inaccurate news stories grow out of haste or misinformation rather than pure cynicism. (But they're still false.)
Nuff said. The one-in-five is a embraced with cult-like devotion--not just by sexual grievance-mongers, but by so-called mainstream media outlets like NPR.

The one-in-five stat is not fact-based reporting, it's advocacy to raise awareness about college rape. Raising awareness about problems is usually a good thing. The problem with this particular advocacy is that it's used not just to raise awareness but as a sword to curtail the due process rights of college men--too many simply don't get fair hearings. This isn't just my opinion, it's the opinion of a hell of a lot of liberal law professors and others concerned that the pendulum has swung too far. It is literally fake news that hurts one class of our citizens, sometimes egregiously, and outlets like NPR aren't concerned about it.