Saturday, 30 April 2016

Comment At "The New Lens" Article On "Revenge Porn"

Here. I was out in Miaoli this morning and, among other things, read this article on my phone while standing in a crowded train all the way back to Tainan (I missed my booked return train, so I ended up on the next one with no seat). Apparently, the standards of journalism at "The New Lens" are credulousness and innumeracy...


This is very poor journalism that demonstrates the author's innumeracy and credulity, both of which are disqualifying characteristics for a journalist. To take just one from several possible examples:

"Tanya Chen, founder of Womany points out that within a year, the “Write Down Your Pain” column has collected more than 600 stories written by the victims, which reflects the prevalence of sexual violation and abuse in Taiwan."

1) No it doesn't. Six hundred stories "written by the victims" doesn't even tell us how many supposed victims there were, merely that six hundred stories were written by them. Those six hundred stories could have been written by six hundred different victims, or they could have been written by sixty or even just six victims; the number of stories and the number of victims are not necessarily the same.

2) Even if the number of stories about being the victim of revenge porn accurately reflected the number of actual victims of revenge porn, that still wouldn't tell us anything about the prevalence of "sexual violation and abuse" in Taiwan for the simple reason that "revenge porn" is not the only form of sexual abuse. There is also, for example, rape - which is what most rational people would initially construe from the term "sexual abuse", rather than the posting of nude pictures on the internet.

3) Assume there are indeed six hundred "victims of revenge porn" in a year in Taiwan. In a population of approximately 23 million, that is 0.000026 %. Yes, six decimal places. Which means that the prevalence of revenge porn victims specifically as a proportion of Taiwan's population is closer to 0% than to 1%. Yet the author writes as though Tanya Chen's "data" indicates that this phenomenon is widespread throughout Taiwan.

4) No attempt has seemingly been made to sort out real claims of "revenge porn victimhood" from those which may actually be, for one reason or another, false. So these claims could all be real, or some of them could be real and some of them could be made up rubbish, or all of them could be made up rubbish. We just don't know because the author relates no attempt to actually evaluate the likelihood of any of these claims, let alone actually investigate them on a case by case basis.


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