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Michigan funds campus sexual-assault programs that experts call ‘junk science’

Coached final memories are more, not less, vulnerable to manipulation

Michigan leaders apparently ignored writer Emily Yoffe’s exposé of the “junk science” behind “trauma-informed” practices in sexual-assault investigations in The Atlantic last year.

It just made available its fourth round of grants through the Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program, created at the behest of First Lady Sue Snyder (right, with Gov. Rick Snyder) after her 2015 “Inform. Empower. Prevent. Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault” summit, WJMN reports.

Snyder met with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos* last year to convince her that “Michigan can be a model for other states” on fighting campus sexual assault.

Both public and private Michigan colleges can apply for money “to help support ongoing efforts to reduce sexual assaults on campuses across Michigan.” They can submit up to two applications each for one-year projects that must end by Nov. 30, 2019.

The money has steadily grown from $500,000 in fiscal year 2016 to $600,000 in 2018 and now $1 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

MORE: Sue Snyder tells DeVos to act more like Michigan on campus rape

A committee that includes representatives from the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, state police and governor’s office will evaluate applications.

“Applicants are encouraged to research and develop their projects with state and national sexual assault experts, as well as model their proposals after evidence-based sexual assault programs,” according to WJMN.

Last year’s grant money went to projects that include “trauma-informed sexual assault training to first responders,” as well as “student-driven training videos,” mobile reporting apps and sharing networks among colleges.

Memory and neuroscience experts told Yoffe in her three-part Atlantic series on campus rape proceedings that there’s no scientific basis for claims in trauma-informed investigations.

MORE: Memory, neuroscience experts call trauma-informed practices ‘junk science’

These include the widespread belief that the final, coached version of reconstructured memories after traumatic events are more accurate than the initial, fragmentary version. In fact, they are more vulnerable to manipulation by authority figures such as Title IX officials and sexual-assault response staff.

Harvard psychologist Richard McNally even said that it’s “psychiatric folklore” to claim that the mind “protects itself by repressing or dissociating memories of trauma.” This is how sexual-assault activists and Title IX officials justify their interpretation of contradictory claims and hazy memories as evidence of sexual assault.

Support for unscientific theories in campus sexual-assault response is bipartisan.

The Democrat-led Massachusetts Senate approved legislation to impose this junk science in campus rape training last year, and high-ranking Republican John Cornyn introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate just before Christmas that would create a “demonstration program on trauma-informed training for law enforcement.”

Read the WJMN report.

h/t #RepealVAWA


MORE: Mass. lawmakers approve ‘junk science’ Title IX training

MORE: Republican senator promotes ‘junk science’ in trauma-informed training bill

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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