November 5, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Letter to the Editor: Anecdotes are not evidence by Jennifer Robbins

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: October 26, 2003: Dayton Daily News reports on Peace Corps Safety and Security: Speaking Out: Letters to the Editor and Guest Commentary: November 5, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Letter to the Editor: Anecdotes are not evidence by Jennifer Robbins

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Thursday, November 06, 2003 - 9:32 am: Edit Post

Anecdotes are not evidence by Jennifer Robbins

Anecdotes are not evidence by Jennifer Robbins

Anecdotes are not evidence

Letter to the Editor

I'm saddened that the Dayton Daily News feels it has to stoop to such absurd sensationalism as it has in the Peace Corps series. After reading a tabloid-esque string of anecdotes about rape, violence and murder, I am ashamed to ad- mit that I once respected the DDN.

Any half-educated person knows that anecdotes are not evidence.

DDN reports 283 assaults in 2002, but in that year there were more than 6,500 volunteers worldwide. In other words, fewer than 5 percent of volunteers reported an assault. Worse, DDN reports 250 deaths over all Peace Corps' years, but fails to mention that 170,000 volunteers served in that time.

Good journalism would print the statistics, not the anecdotes, or at least it would print anecdotes of those who felt safe in statistical proportion to those who didn't. And it would include the percentages of American tourists and students abroad in the same countries who've reported assaults for comparison.

The Peace Corps gig is a tough one, but not because it's unsafe. To tell people otherwise is a disservice to a noble and much-needed organization. It also foolishly perpetuates the American stereotype that developing countries are brimming with violence, when in fact, the majority of their cities are safer than Los Angeles.

It's impressive that your reporters spent 20 months, interviewed 500 people and traveled to 10 countries to put this story together, but, having done all that, they can't possibly have come out with such an absurdly one-sided view of the Peace Corps or the service wouldn't still exist.

This leaves me with the impression that the DDN started researching the story having already decided the Peace Corps was irresponsibly dangerous, and hoped that by spending all that money and time it could "break" a national news story even if the story never existed.

Jennifer Robbins


[From the Dayton Daily News: 11.04.2003]

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Dayton Daily News: Letter to the Editor

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Investigative Journalism



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.