Terminally Incoherent

Utterly random, incoherent and disjointed rants and ramblings...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sociology of Pornography

I read an interesting article on pornography earlier today. In it Naomi Wolf claims that the wide availability of pornography in fact contributed to lowering of male libido in recent years.

Sigh... We should really require all these Sociology and Anthropology specialists to take a Statistics class or two at some point during their college career. If I had a penny for every time someone scores an article after making huge generalizations, based on logical fallacy I would be so rich, that I would hire Bill Gates to clean my toilet :P

You see, the name of the game here is Correlation vs Causality. Everyone who majored in science knows that Correlation ≠ Causality. To prove anything in science, you need to show the causality relationship. Correlation is absolutely meaningless.

But people in Humanities, and Business related fields usually have a shaky grasp of science. Thus if you are doing anthropology or sociology research, all you need to do is to identify a correlation. The more obvious is the correlation, the better. Once you have one, you can start making big generalizations and draw baseless conclusions.

This is also the case with this article. Did Ms. Wolf do a controlled long term study of effects of porn on relationships? Hell no, she simply assumed that since we have better access to porn these days, it must be affecting people's relationships. She based this conclusion based on conversations with college students and different couples.

There was no scientific approach, no rigorous data collection, no control group. Naomi Wolf simply talked to few people, and decided that porn makes people unhappy. She doesn't even try to hide the bias. She asked people loaded questions, which were constructed to support her conclusion irregardless of the response. Most of their conclusions are derived from her personal experiences as a middle-aged woman. Abso-fucking-lutely brilliant.

I believe that the lowering of male libido that she talks about is an illusion created by changing of sexual norms in todays society. Yes, we are much more open about sexuality now. But at the same time, we developed the notion of political correctness, tolerance and professionalism.

It is a huge oversimplification to say that pornography has any effect on relationships, male libido, or anything at all. This is the same as saying that video games cause violence. Or that alcohol causes violence and inflates that crime rate. Prohibition proved that we were wrong about that one. Why do people think that this is different in case of video games and porn???

Again, we need hard evidence supported by controlled tests, and clinical studies. We need reliable results that are possible to verify. Otherwise we are just playing the "what if" game. What if porn is bad for relationships? What if video games cause violence? And what if they do not?

I call bullshit on this article. "Men are less able to connect erotically to women" my ass lady! Show me some hard evidence for this? Selectively interviewing repressed girls who are disappointed with their sex lives, or undereducated, stoners who have no clue about life does not count as evidence. It is coincidental correlation.

Naomi Wolf likes romantic tension and mystery. An undergrad guy from Northwestern on the other hand seems to prefer close intimacy without the awkward tension, and second guessing your partner. Personal preference? Generation gap? Both? No, of course not. The fact that some random guy does not share Naomi Wolf's sexual preferences must be a proof that evil porn corrupted his mind.

Give me a fucking break!


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