Photo of the day

Undercover cop pointing a gut at a Reuters photographer during protests in Oakland.  More here.

An undercover police officer who had been marching with anti-police demonstrators, aims his gun at protesters after some in the crowd attacked him and his partner in Oakland, California December 10, 2014.  Photo: REUTERS/Noah Berger

An undercover police officer who had been marching with anti-police demonstrators, aims his gun at protesters after some in the crowd attacked him and his partner in Oakland, California December 10, 2014. Photo: REUTERS/Noah Berger

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The ends do not justify the means just because you are scared

I was reading somewhere yesterday that Dick Cheney was refuting the Senate torture report because “torture worked.”  Thank God “it worked” is not the standard by which we judge things in this country.   You know what would “work” for reducing crime?  Not requiring warrants.  Letting police do whatever they wanted to obtain evidence and get confessions.  But we don’t do that because 1) it’s not the kind of society we want to live and and 2) it’s wrong.  Just because people are scared of something, be it criminals or terrorists does not then mean that the ends justify the means.  Evil means are evil.  Period.  I’m prepared to accept an argument that some of of the time it might even be the right call.  But even then, we need to accept that the means are evil and need to be treated as such.  And torture is evil.

How many campus rapes and survey methodology

Nice piece from Dana Goldstein diving down into the data and survey methodology to discuss how the National Crime Victimization Survey can give us .6 percent likelihood of rape as opposed to the “1 in 5” from the Campus Sexual Assault Survey.  Well, as mentioned, a big part of that is how you define sexual assault.  But it’s not just that– Goldstein does nice work on how survey administration can make a big difference with sensitive questions (which sexual assault most certainly is):

Last year the National Research Council published a report suggesting that young adults may be reluctant to honestly answer questions about sexual assault posed to them during the NCVS. The required in-person interviews typically take place in homes, where parents or other family members might be present. And even during the follow-up phone interviews, someone else might be listening. The web-based nature of the CSA thus offered more privacy, which could have led to more reports of sexual assault.

In fact, it’s probably not just “could” but surely “does lead to more reports of sexual assault.  When it comes to asking questions on sensitive topics, web-based surveys are about the best we’ve got going because they don’t even involve another human and thus greatly reduce social desirability bias.  I suspect we’re still not truly near 1 in 5, but it is surely much higher that <1 in 100.

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