Last week I wrote a post about a claim in the LA Times that of the more than one hundred arrested in the past four years by the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit Child Exploitation Section "all but one" were "hard-core Trekkie[s]". I thought the claim was improbable, so I called and spoke to an officer in the unit, who denied the specific accuracy of the claim, but not the high percentage of pedophiles arrested who were Star Trek fans (LA Times Claim About Pedophiles Wrong).
Yesterday, I received an email from the author of the article:
After your email, I double-checked the statement with Lamond's boss,
Det. Sgt. Gillespie, and he stood by it "one hundred percent." I had
also heard the same thing from two other officers in the unit.
Gillespie knew of your conversation with Lamond, and thought there had
been some misunderstanding somewhere along the line.
It is important to note that they are not saying that every Star Trek
fan is a pedophile -- just that it was a surprisingly common element
among those they had arrested. The investigators said that many
suspects were into other fantasy or role-playing games, and that it
wasn't only Star Trek that caught their interest -- as you noted.
Thanks for reading so carefully.
"[S]urprisingly common element"? It is truly an amazing fact. After all, I could go to a science fiction convention and be less likely to find that 99%+ of the attendees were "hard-core Trekkies".
And, yes, correlation doesn't imply causation and the fact that "all but one" of the people arrested by the Child Exploitation Unit is a "hard-core Trekkie" doesn't mean that all Star Trek fans are child molesters, neither of which are issues I addressed. All I addressed was the sheer unlikeliness of such a high correlation.
I don't know about any misunderstanding with regard to Det. Lamond's statements to me over the phone. He was quite clear that there was a significant correlation between their arrestees and Star Trek fans. He did, however, deny the "all but one" figure.
I've left a message on Det. Lamond's voice mail to ask him about whether there was any misunderstanding and to look further into this issue, such as defining what the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit considers to be a "hard-core Trekkie". However, many hours later I haven't heard back from him.
I still consider Det. Lamond's statements to me to be more credible, but the LA Times is standing by its story.
If I hear from the Toronto Sex Crime Unit I will followup, but I wouldn't be surprised if they won't answer these questions.
UPDATE May 30, 2005. 1200PT
Det. Lamond tells another reporter that the "all but one" claim is hyperbole: Hopefully the Last Post on the Star Trek/Pedophilia Connection.