Huh. The stars must be aligned. Or is it the fates? Or the demons? Something. There was another post by a Big Skeptic yesterday on the subject of False Allegations of Sexual Assault. Two in one day. How about that!
It almost looks planned, doesn’t it. Arranged. Timed to coincide.
This one is by Ben Radford. It’s very long and much of it is very particular, but he also does some generalizing.
False accusations are of particular interest to skeptics because skepticism has often been at the forefront of giving voice to the wrongly accused. From the Salem witch trials (in which innocent young women were falsely accused of being witches) to the Satanic Panic moral panic of the 1980s and 1990s (in which dozens of innocent men and women were falsely accused of sexually assaulting children and others) and hundreds of examples in between, skeptics have often been there to remind the public to ask for evidence before rushing to judgment. Indeed, the brilliant CSI Fellow Carol Tavris just recently wrote an e-skeptic piece about this in relation to recent accusations against Woody Allen.
Indeed, and how helpful that it was published not “recently” but the same day Radford posted his piece. His “Indeed” looks rather artificial there, as if he’s claiming a coincidence that isn’t a coincidence. (He remembers the Salem witch trials wrong, by the way. The young girls were the accusers; the accused were older.)
Anyway. Sure, false accusations are of particular interest to skeptics, and rightly so. But that interest shouldn’t obscure the interest of non-false accusations, and how many of those get dismissed or worse. False accusations are a bad thing, and so are true accusations that are not believed. It’s especially bad when accusations are not believed because the people making them have less power and influence and status than the people they accuse. This is a situation that’s not unknown, in fact it happens quite a lot.
Think of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia for instance. It’s notorious that they are treated like dirt and that their employers can abuse them with impunity. Then again, maybe some exhausted domestic worker has made a false accusation against an employer – although it seems unlikely, since no one cares about non-false accusations, so why would anyone bother to make a false one? But maybe it has happened. That’s a bad thing, but all the abuse is a bad thing too.
I find Radford’s attention to false accusations somewhat…pointed.