Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp916-sebu-469150 July 15, 2003 17:44 Style ﬁle version Nov 28th, 2002
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 15, No. 4, October 2003 (
Men in His Category Have a 50% Likelihood,
But Which Half Is He In? Comments on Berlin,
Galbreath, Geary, and McGlone
When scientiﬁc methods are applied to various questions, the body of knowl-
edge generated inevitablybecomes more elaborate and specialized. This process of
specialization usually occurs hand in hand with rapid empirical progress. A good
example is provided by the recent explosion in genetics. Not very long ago, my
freshman course in biology permitted me to follow the gist of the scientiﬁc work in
molecular genetics. Such is not the case now. Without very extensive preparation,
I could not attempt to participate in this ﬁeld, even as a commentator.
Berlin, Galbreath, Geary, and McGlone (this issue) have provided what is
essentially a layperson’s commentary on the recent research in the ﬁeld of risk
assessment. One assumes they did so because they believe most readers of Sexual
Abuse are nonspecialists (i.e., laypersons with respect to this ﬁeld). Unfortunately,
the commentary by Berlin et al. suffers from mistakes due to the authors’ unfa-
miliarity with the specialized ﬁeld that risk assessment research has become.
While not so explosive as genetics, there have been recent advances in re-
search on the assessment of risk among serious offenders and sexual aggressors.
These recent advances were facilitated by statistical technologies that have pro-
vided the means to characterize the accuracy of assessment, select and combine
predictor items, and deal with differential opportunity to reoffend. At the same
time, progress in research on risk assessment has been facilitated by statistical
techniques to permit the combination of results from different studies to arrive at
conclusive statements about the existence and size of hypothesized relationships.
As well, research has attempted to ascertain the best way to measure outcomes
for sex offender recidivism. Among researchers, some consensus has emerged on
Department of Psychology, Queen’s University at Kingston, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Mental Health Centre, 500 Church Street, Penetan-
guishene, Ontario, Canada L9M 1G3; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2003 Plenum Publishing Corporation