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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Thursday, January 09, 2003
6:49 PM

Nun update... I recently faulted Andrew Sullivan for hyping a previously published study unearthed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch claiming at least 40% of nuns were the victims of sexual trauma. More on this from Amy Wellborn, whose link generated a lot of comments at her site. She also linked to this letter to the editor:

The front page subheading states "An estimated 40 pct. were victimized, some by priests, other nuns, survey found." However, nowhere in the article is there evidence for this 40 percent estimate. According to the tables in the article, 18.6 percent of the nuns who responded to the survey reported that they were sexually abused as children, and the majority of these incidents were at the hands of family members. The percentage reporting any instances of sexual exploitation or harassment during their religious life is lower (12.5 percent and 9.3 percent). Thus, the 40 percent claim and its association with "priests and other nuns" appears to be deliberately misleading.

Another subheading alleges that the study has been "kept quiet," when in fact, the results had been previously reported in two religious research journals. To attribute one's own lack of awareness to an alleged conspiracy when the research has appeared in print twice is both bizarre and suggestive of serious bias.

One commenter at Wellborn's site (In Between Naps):

After my husband pointed out the "40%" headline, I did the math - the only way they came up with that number was to add up a bunch of unrelated "issue" percentages. I also have a real problem with including as "sexual victims" the nuns who fell in love and entered into relationships with priests and willingly violated their own vows.

Yeah, somewhere in the original story it starts talking about sexual trauma, abuse, harassment......This is how feminists produce scare statistics; the mildest offense is counted as part of the worst one. So, for example, domestic violence includes "emotional violence" which, by the way, truly does exist, but in advocacy politics includes a really dirty look.

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