Research methodology scares a lot of people. There’s this idea that you need an advanced degree and very specialized education to design and conduct a research study. That isn’t always true – a lot of times, it’s just a matter of thinking logically about how to get and use meaningful data to help you understand a situation.
But researchers with advanced degrees and very specialized education, and working for hugely influential international policy-making and governance organizations – they know how to collect accurate data and analyze it appropriately. Right? Right??
There is a misguided assumption in a lot of media reporting on research that correlation equals causation. Correlation is a statistical relationship between two variables – for example, amounts of social service funding and crime rates – that assumes that one variable has some degree of dependence on the other. In other words, if one variable changes, there should be a change in the other variable if the two are correlated.
There is a problem with this assumption, however – (more…)
Columnist Barbara Kay at the National Post newspaper waded into the fray with this column, in which she states “[rape culture] does not exist” and presents statistics which she claims prove that statement. She also asserts that “[i]f these statistics do not convince you, then I suggest you are in the grip of a serious ideological virus. There is a remedy for it, called critical thinking.”
Okay, then. Let’s look critically at the statistics in Kay’s column. (more…)