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May 24, 2012 09:31am
Internet Joyless Without Porn
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Rich Moreland

Is the Internet Joyless without Porn? By Rich Moreland, May 2012

There is a new scientific study, and I use those words loosely, floating around the internet about (gasp!) porn addiction. Adult Video News’ Tom Hymes panned this misleading attempt at research in one of his columns and I couldn’t resist the urge to pile on.

The Australian Centre for Addiction Research is conducting an online survey to investigate internet porn addiction. Here’s the premise: people are addicted to viewing porn and the internet is abetting this socially debilitating habit. In other words, obsessive-compulsives go online to satisfy their uncontrollable urges. But, are these entrapped souls addicted to the internet or porn or both? That’s unclear, so any results published by the authors should be regarded with skepticism.

Nevertheless, the researcher’s statistics have made the news, and the scientists, Professor Raj Sitharthan and his wife, Dr. Gomathi Sitharthan, are convinced they are onto something.

The survey itself is flawed in its assumptions and methodology. In research, the sample (the subjects used in a study) must be identified and controlled in some way. In this particular study, the only qualification to be a subject is the willingness to tackle the questions. The researchers then pigeonhole the respondents according to their self-identified characteristics collected in the data. Might that include a ten-year-old when mom and dad aren’t watching or a porn-hating grandma who’s never seen a dirty picture?

I decided to add to their flimsily constructed sample using a bogus profile I made up, faking my age, profession, amount of education attained, and other pertinent information.

There are forty-two questions in total with the first twenty-six about internet habits: do I seek relationships online, check my emails before doing anything else, become defensive or secretive about my online habits, fear that life would be joyless without the internet? Well, you get the idea.

In fact, there is some validation to those questions. A friend of mine a few years ago fit the profile the researchers are trying to draw. He was incessantly online trying to hook up with women, but not those in porn. Frankly, he doesn’t even like porn, but his online use reflected the characteristics the researchers are investigating.

And, what about those twenty-six questions? Not once did the word pornography appear. Bottom line? The questions have nothing to do with adult entertainment, but everything with the intense preoccupation, if it exists, to social media.

That was my friend, a social media hound. But social media does not equate with porn.

The second half of the survey supposedly examines smut trolling habits, like fantasizing about viewing porn, age of first porn exposure, type of porn preferred for online viewing, amount of time spent looking at porn. Should the subjects self-confess to emotional stress (just answering the questions wore me out!) concerning their "addiction," help apparently is on the way. Item forty-one asks participants if they want counseling to overcome their pesky porn demons. Ah, the good deeds of science march on.

I wonder what the research team will do with my results? Throw them out I’m sure because I configured my answers to be confounding and misleading. The survey wanted to know the last time I looked at porn. I said daily, then for a later question I answered that I hadn’t seen anything in months. That’s only one example. But if I could do that so easily, could not others?

Incidentally, one of the questions is worth examining for the adult industry. Number thirty-five asks how much money the survey taker spent on porn and one of the answers was "none," which I marked because when I occasionally need to check stuff out it rarely costs me anything. But the question might tell us something about the degree of online piracy of adult material. An honest set of results for that item is worth a future column assuming the researchers attain any degree of accuracy on the topic.

At no point in the survey was there an opportunity to clarify that I use the internet for a variety of purposes other than porn—socializing, reading the news, getting sports scores, blogging, writing this column, and the like. That question should have been on page one because the researchers assume that respondents are at least porn curious, but more likely addicts. Perhaps that is generally true, but it is not scientifically assured in this study.

Because there is no way to validate exactly who the survey takers are or escape its assumptions, the study is pitifully flawed.

I encourage a review of the study’s conclusions, though I suspect they are constantly in flux as the survey can be taken at any time and probably multiple times. Here’s a press release that gives a flavor of what the researchers are discovering and a link to the survey.

Go online, check it out and throw them a few curves (sorry porn girls, not pun intended) of your own.

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