Eugene Volokh catches an apparent problem in an article in Oregon State’s Daily Barometer:
According to a press release issued by the Women’s Center, 2,000 rapes occur every five minutes.
This amounts to the claim that, on average, every woman in the United States is raped once every 9 months, which is absurd. Eugene tracks down the actual press release, which says:
About 2,000 rapes are committed daily at the rate of about one every 5 minutes.
That’s completely different from the newspaper quote. But it’s still not right: One every five minutes would only be 288 per day. That’s a seven-fold discrepancy. I don’t know which of those numbers is correct, but that sentence is definitely wrong.
Eugene goes on to find some other statistics that make more sense. You can read the rest if you want to.
I’m more interested in one of the comments, by someone called dk35, who I think felt that Eugene was minimizing the problem of rape by focusing on the statistics:
Who doesn’t think rape isn’t a serious problem? What I don’t get is why you need statistics at all to convince people that rape is a serious problem.
What I don’t get is how else dk35 expects people to learn that rape is a serious problem. Divine inspiration? By being raped?
Here’s why you need statistics: I have never been raped. I have never even met someone who told me they were raped. There has been no rape in my life. By my direct observation and by second-hand accounts, the incidence of rape is exactly zero.
It is only through indirect evidence such as reliable statistical reports that I can be aware of the depressing frequency of rape.