Mainstream media outlets cite unscientific SFSU project to prove rise in anti-Asian crimes

Mainstream media sources are referring to a San Francisco State University project to prove a rise in anti-Asian hate.

The project is based on self-reported data and offers no meaningful statistical insights.

Mainstream media outlets are citing a San Francisco State University project to prove a rise in anti-Asian hate. For a variety of reasons, however, the project offers no meaningful statistical insights.

Stop AAPI Hate — an initiative of the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and San Francisco State University — began gathering reports of anti-Asian hate crimes in March of 2020.

Mainstream media outlets are citing the report as evidence of a surge in anti-Asian racism since the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020 -- but the report offers no parallel data before that date, so it simply cannot substantiate such a claim.

The project’s site allows visitors to self-report incidents of alleged racism and discrimination. Although the site permits users to upload files and links to substantiate allegations, it is possible to submit a report with no accompanying evidence.

“Do you think specific parts of your identity were targeted in this incident?” asked one question on the report form.

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The group’s first annual report covers 3,795 incidents recorded by the site between March 2020 and February 2021. Of these incidents, the vast majority — 68.1 percent — involved verbal harassment or name calling.

The self-reported findings also indicate significant skews in terms of gender and age that could call the project’s statistical significance into question. Over two-thirds of respondents were female, and individuals above the age of 45 represented only 21 percent of the reports. However, individuals older than 45 years represent nearly 65 percent of the United States population.

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In an article for The Hill, one journalist reported that Stop AAPI Hate “received a shocking number of firsthand reports of anti-Asian hate across 47 states and Washington, D.C. — more than 2,800 of them.” An article for Slate cited the project to claim that “instances of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans were prevalent through 2020 as the coronavirus overtook the U.S.”

CBS News, NBC News, USA Today, CNN, the LA Times, Oprah Magazine, and PBS also cited the project in reports, many of which claimed the existence of a "rise" in "crimes" or "attacks.

National Association of Scholars Director of Research David Randall referred Campus Reform to his report on San Francisco State University’s extensive emphasis upon social justice education.

“The entire point of social justice education is to subordinate academic research to progressive activism — and producing this sort of website, intended to gather factitious data to support progressive policy, is exactly what they now think is their academic mission,” Randall explained to Campus Reform. “Certainly real academics would care more about best existing practices for collecting and reporting data, and seek to provide information to be used for any policy response whatsoever.”

“All citizens, especially including journalists, should undertake due diligence to determine whether a supposedly neutral source of data is really the product of progressive activism, especially that disseminated via the camouflage of social justice education,” he added.

Campus Reform reached out to Stop AAPI Hate for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft