Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.
Why do we have presumption of innocence and slow, formal trials? We do it to protect the rights of the accused because we know from history and human observation that people do, periodically, lie about events to protect themselves and hurt those they don’t like. 'Believe Evidence' by Megan Fox provides the historical precedents that caused us to raise due process, presumption of evidence and separation of duties of investigation and judgement in the first place.
The Strengths of 'Believe Evidence' by Megan Fox
The discussion on the ‘silver bullet’ strategy in divorce court is invaluable. Why do people doubt rape claims, abuse claims and other allegations? Because lying about child abuse, spousal abuse and child sexual abuse in divorce is a named tactic - 'The Silver Bullet' strategy. When women do this on the advice of their attorneys in some fraction of divorce cases, of course we have to wonder if more than 5% of rape cases are fraudulent. Note that the odds of a fake rape claim go up when the consequences go down.
When a woman risks jail time for a fake rape claim, though this is typically far less than her victim of false allegations faced, the consequences prevent some cases going forward as someone recants. When there is no penalty such as in Title IX cases, the odds someone will lie to punish an ex or push forward with a likely wrongly identified assailant are much higher. When female professors like Ms. Kipnis and Lindsay Shepherd were prosecuted for gendered violence for things they said and wrote, you know that many innocent men were wrongly kicked out of college or had their reputation ruined by vicious women. This topic is addressed in the book ‘Believe Evidence’, too.
There are multiple chapters best described as history lessons. The blacks murdered by outraged white mobs in the pre-Civil Rights era. Then the book shares the far too many stories of men who had their lives ruined by false rape claims, including but not limited to the Duke lacrosse team and Brian Brooks.
The book touches on the fake hate crimes that have been depressingly common for years. That could be a whole book in its own right. The book does address the Jussie Smollett case.
The Weaknesses of ‘Believe Evidence’ by Megan Fox
Referencing the Kavanaugh hearings and increasingly absurd fake rape claims against him in this book is reasonable. Injecting that incident in almost every chapter, including the Biblical chapters, is not just overkill – it is a distraction that detracts from the book.
The multiple archetypes in religion and myth warn us that women may lie about rape to hide their infidelity or lie about rape to punish someone they want to hurt. The historical references like the black men lynched on the word of white women in pre-Civil Rights era are necessary and appropriate. Occasional hysterical name-calling like referring to false accusers as hussies detracts from a timely, desperately needed work.
The use of false allegations to murder critics, including Biblical prophets, is detailed in several chapters. The book starts with a number of Biblical stories. In fact, the first chapter is about Eve. The downside of this approach is that the author shoots herself in the foot. By presenting Eve as the source of human failing, namely because she lied and presented her husband with the apple, she turns off the vast majority of potential readers. In my opinion, skipping Eve and starting with Potiphar’s wife before moving on to Salome and John the Baptist would have been much better.
For these reasons, I cannot give Megan Fox’s book five stars.
Observations about the Book 'Believe Evidence'
I have a mixed opinion of her chapters on how to protect your sons and daughters against fake accusations. I’ve heard the advice to document everything elsewhere, so that isn't knew. The fact that this is yet another source suggesting the Pence Rules is a step back for women, but the book goes further than chaperoning by suggesting sex segregation of sorts. For example, women should only have female mentors and never be mentored by men because men have no recourse against false allegations. The relationship advice is mostly reasonable, though it leans conservatively Christian.
The book doesn’t discuss potential societal solutions like contributing to the defense funds of the falsely accused or organizations like FIRE that will defend them. Then again, it is understandable that the book focuses on personal solutions instead of responding to a flawed social movement by recommending a contrary one.
I wish there had been discussion of restoring presumption of innocence and defense of due process as principles; this defends justice and fairness against the ongoing threat of false allegations, mistakes by any involved in the case, or overzealous prosecutors who go forward though knowing someone isn’t guilty.
For example, the Dallas drug testing lab deliberately reporting anything cops presented as drugs, including billiard chalk, is one example. Hundreds of drug cases were overturned. We don't know how many people went to jail because of uncertain witnesses used by prosecutors to secure a victory for the good PR it provided.
I give the book 'Believe Evidence' four stars for being great when it addresses current events and puts it in historical perspective. The personal solutions are something you can implement in your own life, within reason.
This gives the book value regardless of your politics. The only reason it isn’t better is because it ends up preaching to the choir when society desperately needs a universal work on this subject to teach the lessons we seem to have forgotten.
© 2019 Tamara Wilhite
Larry Slawson from North Carolina on March 27, 2019:
Thank you for sharing. Might have to check this book out myself.
Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on March 26, 2019:
People do lie sometimes. The Torah tells us not to bear false witness. Why would we need to be told not to show a bad testimony, unless that was already happening? Thank you for being awesome Tamara.