Re: Some prison statistics

Chuck Kuecker (
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 15:27:00 -0500

At 12:54 PM 6/17/99 +1000, tim wrote:
>> How does one run an experiment involving rapists?
>Numerous ways. Experimental psychology on language perception, learning,
>personality, intelligence, MRI, skin conductance and eye blink/pupillary
>respose data, EEG. What experiment do you have in mind?

Actual testing of rapists - will they or won't they rape in a given situation.

The other tests measure indirect response to stimulus. The researcher has only his intuition and the answers the test subjects give to guide him to a conclusion of the true state of the subject's mind.

>> Like most social
>> experiments, this cannot be truly scientific for ethical reasons.
>Why not?

I was referring to the standard 'social' experiment - polling, situational testing, and the like. This is IMO not 'scientific' in that you cannot have true controls and repeatable tests, just statistics. Perhaps the statistics are valid in themselves as results if a large enough sample is used.

Testing rapists to see if they will or won't rape strikes me as the kind of experiment that was conducted in the concentration camps. During the experiment you will have some crimes and injuries committed. Unethical. Unless you actually see the subject commit a rape, you have no idea whether he was just 'kidding'. The presence of observers definitely will change the subject's behavior. How could an experiment like this ever be set up to be truly scientific, ethics aside?

I suppose one could find 'volunteers' to be victims - but this makes me very uneasy even to think of it. (shiver)

>All conclusions are opinions. So far you are merely claiming that you want
>to delete the scientific data so that your opinions can have less

True scientific experiments can be repeated again and again. Once you try something with a living, reasoning subject, you have perturbed all future resposes in ways you can never fully comprehend. This might work with animals low enough in intelligence as not to be able to remember from one test to the next. I don't think we are to the point of being able to breed a strain of 'rape on demand' humans.

>> Of course, if you give a serial rapist license to take sex anytime he wants
>> it, he will, in the absence of some mental condition that prevents pleasure
>> except during forced sex. I am assuming that the sexual partner is willing,
>> if not, again it's a rape.
>Oh so it is about sex and not power (except in the case of a rare mental
>condition). Yes. That was exactly my position.

I was just pointing out that if you leave something desirable laying about, most people will pick it up. Those with strong moral conditioning may pass it by regardless of the temptation. I imagine the huge majority of rapists have little or no moral 'backbone' when it comes to their particular habit.

There are gradations and gradations. Some may get pleasure from sex only if forced, some may enjoy both forced and consensual sex, some may use rape as a tool to gain power, and these may come in any blend of the other two types.