On a regular basis, the New York Times launches an attack against the military. Or more accurately, against the men and women (especially the men) who serve in the military. We get stories about their high drug abuse rates, high crime rates, high insanity rates, and high suicide rates. Usually, when you start digging, you discover that the rates are never comparable to a similarly situated civilian population: i.e., one made up primarily of men between 18 and 35. Because these “studies” and “stories” compare apples to oranges, they are lies, damn lies, and statistics.
The New York Times was at it again last week, with an editorial based upon some questionable statistics that purport to show that the military is the scourge of women because it has an unusually high number of sexual assaults. I say questionable because, as with all the other “bad” military stories, we have apples and oranges comparisons between a general population composed of adults and children, male and female, old and young, and a specific population composed mostly of young males. In addition, because many sexual assaults in both the military and the general population can be known only if the women report them, the fact that the military recently made it easier to report assaults (as the editorial acknowledges) may skew the statistics. By being good, the military ends up looking bad.
The worst part of the New York Times editorial, though, isn’t the editorial at all — it’s the comments from readers. America’s First Sergeant looks at some of those comments and reveals the fallacies and biases that underlie them.
In Marin, people boast about being New York Times readers. In their minds, stating that they read the NYT is a short-hand way to say that they’re smart and informed. I have to confess that, when I hear that they read the Times, “smart” and “informed” are not the first words that spring to my mind. If you read Am’s 1st Sgt, you might get some idea of the adjectives my brain generates when I hear the “I read the NYT” boast.