Is Porn good or bad for society?

Kate Harding doesn’t care. She doesn’t want to take it away, even if it is bad. She does, however, demand evidence for any claims to the contrary. (source)

10 Responses to Is Porn good or bad for society?

  1. blueollie says:

    I am amused; the real null hypothesis is “porn has no effect on society” and the real alternative is that “porn causes harm”. The burden of proof is to reject the null hypothesis and I’ve seen no evidence on that (though I’ve seen LOTS of bluster)

  2. Jim says:

    Kate Harding is a hack that does not let logic, facts or consistency get in the way of her political beefs. This piece is just another example of her unwillingness to actual read the research she is commenting on or her unwillingness to actually interview the researcher or another researcher that could actual shed light on the subject.

  3. blueollie says:

    To be fair, Harding does point out that if one is to conclude that “an increase in porn use lead to a decrease in sexual assault”, one would have to consider the confounding factors. That is just “design of experiments 101”.

    • Jim says:

      I am not sure if you are familiar with Hardings work or not but this is not the first time by a long shot that she is talking out of her ass about academic and/or scientific research. Its not that she has a point but more along the lines as she knows a very few terms that have something to do with discrediting research. She flat out never read a piece of research she has commented on but instead she reads articles about the research. She might be correct that there are other factors but she would not know if the research accounted for it or not. This is her MO for as long as Salon has employed her which is now a few years and at dozens of similar articles. That the site employers her is the reason I gave up my membership to the site.

      • Its a problem that’s endemic through much of the feminist blogosphere, even down to pop culture sites like Jezebel. They’re very quick to play the “bad research” card against studies they don’t like (particularly any study that has anything good to say about porn), and often the criticism is a fair cop. However, research advocated by feminist sources, for example the dodgy “prostitution research” of Melissa Farley, gets widely trumpeted, with no comment as to methodological problems.

  4. Kate Harding comes across as rather petulant about the whole issue, like she was really hoping some kind of harm could be found so that we can ban the kind of stuff that offends her.

    I also get the feeling from feminists of her stripe that while they don’t support censorship, they feel that when it comes to pornography, people shouldn’t exactly be opposing censorship either. Or that they believe censorship of pornography is no longer an issue. Of course, the latter assumption is clearly not true – one need look no further than the Extreme Associates, John Stagliano, and Red Rose Stories obscenity cases in the US, the upcoming Abby Winters obscenity trial in Australia, and the draconian laws recently passed concerning “extreme porn” in the UK to see that this is still a very important civil liberties issue (and one that many feminists are all too often on the wrong side of), which is why pointy-headed sexual liberals like myself keep harping on the censorship issue.

    And speaking of misrepresenting research, I note that Kate Harding’s column comes just one day after Tracy Clark-Flory’s Broadsheet column hat-tipping Pamela Paul’s anti-porn editorial in the Sunday Washington Post. In it, Clark-Flores passes on a rather large untruth that direct research on the effects of porn exposure were banned after 1979. The claim made by Pamela Paul is that research ethics committees were concerned with the overwhelmingly negative effects on test subjects. In fact, such research was done throughout the 1980s and beyond, with equivocal results at best. Shameless self-plug, I blogged about this at length here:

    http://bppa.blogspot.com/2010/03/latest-from-liberal-media.html

  5. “To be fair, Harding does point out that if one is to conclude that “an increase in porn use lead to a decrease in sexual assault”, one would have to consider the confounding factors. That is just ‘design of experiments 101’.”

    That is a fair conclusion; correlation =/= causation. But in the context of claims that availability of porn should be *increasing* rates of sexual violence (and that claim is regularly made by the anti-porn movement), that is an important piece of counter-evidence.

  6. tullepigen81 says:

    I would neither say it’s good or bad, it’s just always been here and will continue to do so.

  7. Rogier says:

    Harding doubts the notion that, as she writes, “More porn equals less rape.” If you google that phrase, the first result that comes up is an old blog post of mine with exactly that title. http://www.bakelblog.com/nobodys_business/2006/10/more_porn_equal.html

    Our Salon scribe thinks she is being clever by asking if, when pondering the decreased incidence of sexual violence, other factors than the increased availability of porn have been accounted for.

    Why, yes Kate, they have. According to Clemson professor Todd Kendall’s 2006 study,

    “A 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. States that adopted the Internet quickly saw the biggest declines. And, according to [Kendall], the effects remain even after you control for all of the obvious confounding variables, such as alcohol consumption, police presence, poverty and unemployment rates, population density, and so forth.”

    See http://www.slate.com/id/2152487/?nav=ais

    Harding will not be convinced, I suppose, as she also demands that the research control for such factors as “I don’t know, increased numbers of hourlong crime dramas on TV? Increased use of the word ‘awesome’? Increased appreciation for Prince’s musical genius?”

    I’m sure Kendall corrected for none of THOSE things, so Harding can still twitter along in the belief that she has uncovered some serious flaw in the existing data or the interpretation thereof.

    “Whatever,” indeed.

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