A story out of he US which is both horrific and also an interesting test of the numeracy of our journalistic class. That second being perhaps not all that great.

A California surgeon and his girlfriend have been charged with two sexual assaults, and investigators suspect there could be “hundreds” more victims.

Grant William Robicheaux, 38, and Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, allegedly attacked two women they met at a bar and a restaurant in 2016.

Prosecutors told the BBC “thousands and thousands” of videos of potential victims were on the defendants’ phones.

Of potential victims, sure, in the one sense. But not in another, not as a likely outcome:

Reality show surgeon, 38, and his girlfriend, 32, who are charged with raping two women on film, ‘used their good looks to snare more than 1,000 victims and traveled to Burning Man for prey’
Grant William Robicheaux and girlfriend Cerissa Laura Riley were arrested and charged this month, two years after a couple of alleged victims came forward
Pictures and videos found on the Newport Beach couple’s phones suggest they could have taken advantage of up to 1,000 women

The modus operandi is alleged to be that they would meet a likely looking victim then ply them with drink and or drugs until they could isolate her and then assault.

This takes some time.

Now think about time. To reach 1,000 violated we’re pretty much insisting upon one victim per day, every day, for three years. For thousands at least that for at least 6 years.

Umm, no, not really then.

Now think through what the prosecutors actually said according to the BBC. That they had thousands of videos of women who might, potentially, have been victims. Hmm, if you’re stalking so as to drug and abuse then yes, you might take pictures of those you’d like to, those you’d consider, those you might.

But that doesn’t justify the Mail’s leap to a thousand or more who were in fact so violated. That second assumption just doesn’t really work given time, days and years and all that.

Nor, to be honest, does the idea that 1,000 were so attacked and only two mentioned it. Numbers might not be the strong point of our domestic press really.

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One of the defining traits of Fox Radio News is to employ presenters who can deliver “DOZens!” and “BILLions!” with the same eye-rolling lilt. They are not there to inform but to instill outrage by exaggerating, and they know it. They are “fair and balanced” in the sense of embracing exaggerations by both the right and the left. (The first sentence of every lead story must be a cliché, and the final story must be backed by a snippet of a pop song that somehow relates, but now we’re off topic.) Now, recall that you are commenting on a nation… Read more »