Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Now About Those Two Facebook Polls . . .

Recently I posted a two-question poll on Facebook (results to date): 

Do you think there are more instances of FEMALES not reporting sexual assault? Or more MALES who are wrongly accused of sexual assault?


This was followed up a few days later by a seemingly unrelated two-question poll (results to date): 

Which do you think is worse: kidney disease or heart disease?

The polls were in fact related, albeit tentatively. (Surprise!)

We will probably never know the exact numbers of sexual assault incidents or false accusations. But based on what I’m reading in the media, on social media, what I’ve discussed with coworkers over 40 years, and the many times I’ve listened and cried with girlfriends I’m comfortable saying that by and large there are more incidents of unreported sexual assault. And those responding to my poll think so too, by a ratio of  9 to 1.

That got me wondering: Judging by the numbers - sheer numbers alone -  should society devote more resources on that which has the higher number of victims? In this case, sexual assault victims.

This, in turn, made me wonder whether the same is true in the medical industry. Do we devote more resources to a disease that effects a greater segment of our population? Or one that targets a smaller group? According to recent data, heart disease effects more Americans than kidney disease, like 10 times more. Both diseases can be debilitating. Both disrupt lives, cause anguish, force lifestyle changes. Neither guarantees recovery. And when either disease claims the life of a loved one, the grief and despair are the same regardless of what caused it. So which is worse? The answer is probably subjective.

But heart disease is the number one cause of death in our country. Kidney disease is number 9. Where should we direct our research, our federal funding? Should we focus on the thing that targets more Americans? Or the one that targets more “important” Americans?

This same thinking brought me full-circle back to my original poll. Being sexually assaulted can be devastating. So can being falsely accused of sexual assault. Both disrupt lives, cause anguish, force lifestyle change. But instead of trying to decide which is worse, perhaps we should figure out how to prevent the one that impacts more Americans.

Both polls were open to the public and available for sharing.