Last week we wrote about a new Scientific American Mind cover story that makes the case for a link between internet pornography and lower cases of rape – something we’ve been skeptical of in the past, and remain so today.
A new study from researchers in Norway and the Netherlands offers evidence that suggests the opposite effect, that higher levels of broadband access actually increase the rate of sex crimes.
The study is titled,”Broadband Internet: An Information Superhighway to Sex Crime?” Here’s a full version. And here’s the abstract:
The question of whether the rise of Internet pornography has reduced incidents of rape is nothing new, and something we’ve covered before. Back in 2006, Levitt expressed skepticism over research done by one of his former students that suggests a link, writing at the time:
The kind of variation in the data that gives the result is that states that are quicker to adopt the internet saw bigger declines in rape. He then does a nice thing in the paper, going beyond just this one prediction to test other hypotheses, like do crimes other than rape fall with the internet (he says no) and does other sexual behavior change with the internet (he says yes). The concern is always, with this kind of approach, that there are other factors that might be driving both the adoption of the internet and the decline in rape. The challenge to those who want to refute Todd Kendall’s argument is to identify those variables. The challenge for Todd is to find other kinds of “natural experiments” that support his hypothesis.
Now comes an article in the current issue of Scientific American Mind, which posits that for “most people, pornography has no negative effects—and it may even deter sexual violence.” The article, titled “The Sunny Side of Smut,” is by Melinda Wenner Moyer, a science writer. Here’s a full version of the piece, via Moyer’s website. Though an interesting read, the article adds no new empirical evidence to the subject, and relies heavily on the data showing that rape decreased faster in states that got the Internet quicker. As Levitt pointed out, that’s not enough to go on.
On May 5, we asked readers to submit questions for Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, authors of the recent book A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire.
The response was, well… passionate. Many of the comments expressed anger over the authors’ research and resulting book. While some readers called into question the validity of their methodology, others complained that some of the terms they use in their book (“MILF,” e.g., and “Shemale”) were derogatory and insensitive. In the end, one thing was clear: when it comes to sex research, people tend to have strong opinions.
Now, Ogas and Gaddam respond, first with an opening summary of their methodology and results, and then with detailed responses to some of your questions.
Despite NBC banning sexually explicit ad content from the Super Bowl broadcast, Comcast customers in parts of Tuscon were exposed to about 30 seconds of a pornographic film which interrupted Comcast’s Super Bowl coverage on Sunday. According to The Huffington Post, Comcast suspects the work of hackers. The company is paying each of its affected customers a $10 refund. Blog . . .
A California state assemblyman has proposed dealing with the state’s huge budget shortfall by taxing pornography, including the production and sale of pornographic videos — by 25 percent. To an economist this initially sounds like a good idea: An ideal tax is one that doesn’t cause any change in behavior — doesn’t generate any excess burden on the economy. I . . .
Courtesy of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. Last week, we solicited your questions for Playboy editorial director Chris Napolitano. You responded with vigor. And now, so has he. This may be the longest Q&A in the history of the printed word. Unlike our previous Q&A subjects who picked five or ten of your questions to answer, Napolitano answered every last one of . . .
A one-time religion student at Columbia University, Chris Napolitano took a job at Playboy in 1988 as an editorial assistant in the fiction department. He went on to become features editor, executive editor, and in 2004 reached the top job, editorial director. (The editor-in-chief title remains reserved for founder Hugh Hefner.) In the spirit of Jim Cramer, Mark Cuban, and . . .
I have no idea what effect pornography has on you, but veterinarian Kannikar Nimtragul hopes that a daily dose of X-rated videos will do the trick on his client. (For an economist’s take on the effects of porn, see this earlier blog post.)