Ron Lindsay wrote a post commenting on Ben Radford’s post. It’s good.
The concluding paragraphs:
That false reports happen is not disputed. Nor does anyone dispute that for the individual falsely accused, it’s a very unfortunate, sometimes tragic, situation. But is this a widespread problem? That’s the key question. One might think so from the attention Ben has given to it and his use of the adverb “often,” but, actually, the evidence seems to indicate it is not a widespread problem. For example, a British study last year indicated that there were 35 prosecutions for false accusations of rape during a 17-month period while there were 5,681 prosecutions for rape in the same period of time. The suggestion that false accusations of rape are commonplace does not appear to be supported by the evidence. Moreover, this suggestion can be very harmful if it persuades people that reports of rape should be treated with special suspicion.
Here’s the bottom line. All accusations of sexual assault should be treated seriously and investigated thoroughly. There is no a priori justification for treating the accuser with suspicion instead of compassion. The determination of whether a sexual assault actually occurred should be based on the evidence uncovered during the investigation of that case, not on generalizations about the behavior of people derived from other, distinct cases — however prominent or obscure.
That’s actually quite a good recommendation for a lot of practices and situations: you need to look at the specifics, and think about them, rather than generalizing about categories and then acting accordingly. You might even say that’s good skeptical practice. Never mind speculations, never mind what patterns you see, never mind stories; consider the particulars.
You know what else that’s good advice for? Treating people like equals. Never mind treating women like fluffy bunnies who are interested in shoes and shopping and nothing else; treat individual women as individuals, not as examples of a Feminine Essence. The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to other categories.
(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)