Schroedinger’s Rapist

I came across this old post on two major studies of self-reported rape. When asked about having sex with someone against their will (rape by a less off-putting name) about 6% of men said they had (or had attempted to), about 4% of men had said they had repeatedly. In other words, about 4-6% of men are rapists. This is a little more than I thought it would be (my guess would have been about 2-4%). Of these rapes, 70% of them involved intoxication. (I would have thought this to be much lower, in the 30-40% range).

I think the first survey (Lisak and Millar) at this link is probably more accurate. The narrowness and exactness of the questions prevents the problem of subjective opinions on rape. The self-identification aspect of it prevents the problem of false accusations of subjective feelings on the point of the accuser getting in the way (‘I may have consented, but it felt like rape’). The non-judgmental tone (ie. the word rape is not used) would likely limit underestimation. All in all a good survey.

The second (McWhorter) survey I would think would be less accurate and overestimate incidences of rape. It is done of naval recruits and, not to knock the military, but men in the military are likely more highly aggressive with higher testosterone than the average man, and therefore more likely to engage in aggressive sex, of which rape would be one type. But other than a higher overall rape incidence (13% as compared to 6%) the breakdown of rape is similar.

Here’s some thoughts:

From this we can tell that most rapes are the products of a small minority (4%) of men. Only a third of rapists rape once, then never do so again. It would seem from this that anti-rape education might be effective against the 2%, but the majority of rapists and the majority of rapes are committed by a 4% who are committed to their raping. It seems unlikely that anti-rape education would be effective against the repeat offenders, as their actions do not seem to be ‘mistakes’ or a lack of understanding of consent, but rather purposeful actions.

The vast majority of men (94%) have not raped at all. Most men are good in this respect. Any anti-rape campaign that may seem to implicate all or most men as rapists or potential rapists would likely decrease their sympathy for those who are actually raped. As well, a high incidence of false rape accusations may do the same.

Given that a third of men have rape fantasies and only 4-6% rape, we then know that about 15% of men act on their fantasies, which means 85% of men who are inclined to rape do not do so. The large majority of men have base control over their primal urges and know that rape is wrong.

It would seem prudent for women to be somewhat cautious of men, particularity in certain contexts, but a generalized fear would be coutnerproductive.


As noted earlier, 70% of rapes involve the victim being intoxicated. Any reasonable person who actually wants to stop rapes would advise women not to become intoxicated to the point they are incapable of resistence.

Given that the large majority of rapes could be prevented by women simply not getting shitfaced, it would seem prudent for women to simply avoid drunkenness.


About 8-10% of rape reports are false, (although, it might be higher). Compare that to the 4-6% (possibly up to 13%) of men who are rapists.

Any women who would apply the Schroedinger’s Rapist heuristic should also be in favour of applying caution to the immediate accepting of rape accusation given that any particular rape accusation is more likely to be false than any particular man is to be rapist.


Given these thoughts, if I were to attempt a campaign to stop rape I would focus on two things: alcohol and repeat offenders.

The majority of rapists are serial rapists and the majority of rapes involve alcohol. What needs to happen is that serial rapists need to be reported and punished. If serial rapists are either removed from society or discouraged through punishment the large majority of rapes will be prevented.

Second, any campaign needs to emphasize to women to stop drinking to excess. Any other advice concerning self-defence, avoiding certain clothes, being confident, etc. all pales in comparison to simply not getting drunk. Any prudent women looking to avoid rape will avoid drunkenness.

I would also strongly condemn and discourage false rape reports. False reports add to the signal noise making it harder to find and deal with serial rapists who are committing most rapes. If people start believing that many rape reports are fake, they will be less inclined to accept accusations against a serial rapist.

Things I would avoid:

Advice to men such as “don’t rape” or discussions of the the finer points of consent. The advice of “don’t rape” is silly, as these serial rapists doing the majority of raping likely know what they are doing is wrong. Telling them what they already know is not going to help. As well, telling the 94% of men who don’t rape condescending advice of “don’t rape” (ie. assuming they are going to rape unless told not to) will likely make them less sympathetic and backfire.

Anything that looks like it is accusatory of the general male populace rather than rapists themselves. Again 94% of men don’t rape and won’t look kindly upon being lumped in with the 6% who do and the 4% who repeatedly do. You want the 94% to try to distinguish themselves as much as possible from the 4%. The worst thing for a campaign is if the 94% begin sympathizing or identifying with the 4% in any way.

Those are my thoughts on this issue for now.

7 responses to “Schroedinger’s Rapist

  • Dave

    (whoops… fixed link and reposted. Feel free to delete the previous one)

    A while back I came across some interesting data on the frequency with which women initiating sex with drunk men (as intoxication is often seems to be enough to label an act as rape). Reporting stats that way make things really interesting – i.e. in one sample that would mean you could count 1/3 of women as rapists whereas in the other about 1/2 of women could be considered rapists. It gets interesting when you switch the genders around in some of these calculations.
    Interestingly the study also talked about the probability of both parties involved in sex being intoxicated which, in my view and combined with the notion of “victim blaming”, is where the idea of Schroedinger’s Rapist really comes into play.

  • Just Saying

    Over my life, I have had sex with more than a few women who were at first opposed to sex, at least that is what they “said” but their actions were always “yes”. So is it rape if at the end she’s panting, “F**K me!” or “Yes, yes, yes!” at the end? Which begs the question, of when is a “No” really a no – I would argue that it’s when it’s coming out of a man’s mouth since women never say what they want, or mean.

    So when ever I head of “rape” these days, I figure it’s BS unless she was beaten black and blue or otherwise harmed – since that is what the feminists always say – it’s not about sex… Um… Well.. If that’s the case we should see some indication that it was actually violent – rather than a woman feeling that she was being a “slut” for having f**ked a guy, or several the night before…

    I figure either women are like men, and capable of making bad decisions – or not… If they are human they will do something they regret – but that doesn’t mean others are to blame – she is… So in my book I always have reservations since every case I’ve seen of “rape” was usually because either the woman was asking for it, or actively seeking it out. I don’t care how many others may scream at me, if I’m on a jury – I just raise and eyebrow and say – all I see is a woman regretting what she did and no reason to blame the guy or guys…

    The laws are bogus these days when women can accuse many men, and it can’t be brought up that this is the 8th time she’s done it… Till there is some sanity put back in the “justice” system, it is up to every man on every jury to inject justice back into the system and to stand by it…

  • errantbuckeye

    Given that the large majority of rapes could be prevented by women simply not getting shitfaced, it would seem prudent for women to simply avoid drunkenness.

    DING x3.
    Of course, saying “Look, you might want to ease up on the booze,” can prompt “Don’t tell me what to do, man!” And in that case, she’ll throw back on the man and tell him it’s her life and she can do what she wants. Sure, she can, but damn if she’d better know her surroundings and know what she’s doing. Getting trashed at the bar and stumbling home is a bad idea at any time of day, but it’s especially bad at night. Is stumbling into traffic worth that extra shot or two?

    What said really amounts to being sensible. Being sensible’s looking like a lost art these days.

  • errantbuckeye

    I was trying to quote the part about avoiding getting intoxificated. Looks like it didn’t work.

    [Ed: I updated it for you]

  • Free Northerner

    I should note, that the study I talked of at the beginning was not one of women reporting they were raped. In the study men were asked if they had sex with a woman who did not not want it. The alcohol question was:

    “(2) Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated (on alcohol or drugs) to resist your sexual advances (e.g., removing their clothes)?”

    This was men’s own estimation of when they raped a woman (through the use of other words obviously). So, false reports, or women claiming consensual drunken sex was non-consensual doesn’t come into play here.

    That’s why I think it is a good study.

    @ Just Saying: While there is an overabundance of false rape claims that are not punished enough, there are still legitimate rape claims and not all rapes require someone to have been beaten up.

    @ Buckeye: It’s too bad being sensible is so hated in this day and age.

  • redlegben

    @Just Saying, I had the same experience in life. I would be the same in a jury. Especially for a guy that has little sexual experience. That is the guy that is being targeted by women that regret their decisions. Guys with lots of sexual experience keep the women they have sex with on a string on insecurity. Feminism doesn’t enter the mind of the girl chasing a sought after man. If she dumpster dove in her mind after the fact, then rape comes up. It’s ugly out there for the ‘tweeners.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: