Porn: One Rapist’s Story (explicit language)

An account from Men on Rape (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982), reprinted in Men Confront Pornography (1990, p.43-49)…

Regularly beaten by his stepmother and stepbrothers from the age of five, at thirteen [“Chuck”] ran away from home and began a life of drug addictions and crime. At twenty, after two painful years of marriage, he separated from his wife and daughter, and felt enormous rage toward women for a year. One night while high on alcohol, pot, heroin, and downers, he went into a pornographic bookstore and watched a twenty-five-cent peep show that portrayed a man raping a woman… That night he attempted his first rape. Within ten days, he had attempted three, succeeded in one, and was contemplating a fourth. He spent six and a half years in a state hospital as a mentally disordered sex offender and has been out for a year. He is twenty-eight…

I got married when I was eighteen and that was okay at first, but then I found out my wife was bedding down with family members…

I started hating all women. I started seein’ all women the same way, as users…

Then one night about a year after I split from my wife, I was out partyin’ and drinkin’ and smokin’ pot. I’d shot up some heroin and done some downers and I went to a porno bookstore, put a quarter in a slot, and saw this porn movie. It was just a guy coming up from behind a girl and attacking her and raping her. That’s when I started having rape fantasies. When I seen that movie, it was like somebody lit a fuse from my childhood on up. When that fuse got to the porn movie, I exploded. I just went for it, went out and raped. It was like a little voice saying, “It’s all right, it’s all right, go ahead and rape and get your revenge; you’ll never get caught. Go out and rip off some girls. It’s all right; they even make movies of it.” The movie was just like a big picture stand with words on it saying go out and do it, everybody’s doin’ it, even the movies…

I heard stories in the hospital of people saying society must condone it–they have it on TV and movies. I know five or six guys who say pictures of rape in a dirty book and believed it was all right to go out and rape; just still snapshots and that justified it to them. It said, go out and rape because it’s in a dirty book; there’s nothin’ wrong with it. That goes for child molesting, too.

37 thoughts on “Porn: One Rapist’s Story (explicit language)

  1. Since 1977 in the United States and Canada, there have been 7 murders, 17 attempted murders, 3 kidnappings, 375 death threats, 655 anthrax threats, 41 bombings, 173 arsons, 89 attempted bombings or arsons, 1347 incidences of trespassing, 1213 incidences of vandalism, and 100 attacks with butyric acid, in addition to other disruptive and violent occurrences – all due to a religiously-based anti-abortion movement.
    http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/about_abortion/violence_statistics.pdf

    If violence is a secondary effect of religion, should we ban the churches too? (This is only a small subsection of religiously-based violence. It doesn’t take too much searching int he newspaper to find more examples of people killing in the name of their god).
    Also, Churches cause secondary effects like traffic problems, especially on Sundays.

  2. So let me get this straight.The guy was abused all his life by women,was cheated on by his wife,did vast amounts of drugs.All of those things had nothing to do with his state of mind??And the blame for the raping is put on a peep show??I find that VERY hard to believe.Maybe some blame should be put on the women that abused him,cheated on him and who knows what else.Blaming porn or a peep show is just a way of blaming something other than yourself for your own actions.Perhaps his upbringing and how he was treated is the major cause here.I’m sure many psychiatrists and the like would agree.

  3. These incidents of violence are bad and we don’t support them. Religion can motivate bad acts, but it also motivates many good ones. The latter, of course, rarely show up on police blotters, but they do show up in shelters for the homeless, healed relationships, and other good works.

    Porn has little good to show for it. Its cost-benefit ratio is terrible.

  4. We’re not saying porn was the only factor in what happened, and we included the other factors to give a complete picture. The point is that porn can help inspire ‘damaged’ people to commit crimes. To sell such material is grossly irresponsible.

    What if instead of watching porn, Chuck saw a movie that suggested a better way to deal with this feelings than raping someone?

  5. Perhaps, but the close timing between the porn viewing and the crimes suggests a link. Why did he snap at that particular point and not during the year just prior?

  6. Perhaps the close timing “suggests” a link. But there is a lot of research to be done before we can say we *know* that there is a link, or it is responsible to believe that there is a link. To believe in a link merely because of timing is a fallacy called Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. That’s Latin for “it caused it because it came before it.” It’s a bad inference. You should have learned about it when you were at Harvard.

    P.S. In my previous comment, I irresponsibly forgot to mention one salient source of responsibility, aside from the abuse, drugs, etc. The source was the rapist himself. Ultimately the rapist has only himself to blame for his behavior. Blaming his hideous criminal behavior on porn is a cop-out.

  7. Again, the rapist has only himself to blame, unless someone held a gun to his head and made him watch a rape-porno. And what if he’d watched The Accused? He might have missed the point of the movie and raped someone because of that.

    Or maybe “Chuck” should learn to make better choices, and that’s the problem.

  8. Oh, come on. You can’t just handwave as a defense.
    The “good” effects of religion are subjective, just like the “good” effects of pornography. You wouldn’t let a porn defender get away with that.

  9. Doug, this rapist’s story is one piece of evidence that we are fitting into a larger pattern. The part reinforces the whole, and the whole reinforces the part.

    Do you really believe the stories we tell each other, the basis of human culture, have no influence over how we behave?

  10. We have gone to considerable lengths to address the arguments in defense of pornography. Here are some:

    http://nopornnorthampton.org/2006/12/28/sexual-freedom-and-sexual-justice.aspx

    http://nopornnorthampton.org/2006/12/23/academic-defenders-of-porn-need-to-engage-with-reality-explicit-language.aspx

    http://nopornnorthampton.org/2006/12/22/feminists-confront-feminists-over-pornography.aspx

    http://nopornnorthampton.org/2006/12/16/robert-jensen-scientific-method-stories-victims.aspx

    http://nopornnorthampton.org/2006/10/31/steinem-on-flynt-this-pornography-is-as-different-from-sex-as-rape-is-from-sex.aspx

    http://nopornnorthampton.org/2006/09/17/a-response-to-wendy-mcelroys-banning-pornography-endangers-women.aspx

    Additional pro-porn arguments are rebutted here.

    It’s not very useful to speak about religion in general, BTW. There are many religions and they are quite different from each other. Some may require human sacrifice, others may emphasize non-harming. To have a meaningful debate in this area, we would need to identify a single religion and study its effects.

  11. This really gets to the heart of the whole problem you have with your arguments: you’re not seeking truth or enlightenment, you’re just fitting everything into your already made-up minds, fitting the part into the whole, for example. It’s easy to find evidence to support what we already believe. If the scientific method tells us anything it tells us the value in constantly questioning our assumptions by seeking out the evidence that will refute them. That’s where the path to certainty can be found.

  12. When you believe one thing (the “part,” as you say) on the basis of the other thing (the “whole”), and you also believe the other thing (the whole) on the basis of the one thing (the part), you argue in a vicious circle. Circular reasoning is a fallacy. You should have learned about it during your time at Harvard.

    I try to keep my assumptions about the influence A has on B, no matter what A and B are, to a minimum. I prefer rigorous testing to shoot-from-the-hip guessing. So I don’t think I know the total influence of the stories we tell each other. Japan, for example, has a very violent component to its culture. Their movies, cartoons, and video games tend to be very violent. Their porn tends to be violent, too. They came up with the idea for Bukkake, for example. But the actual incidence of actual violent crime in Japan is quite low—much lower than that of the US.

    What you’ve shown us in Chuck’s case is a very basic, undetailed sketch. It doesn’t tell us, for example, what happened to him between leaving home at age 13 and getting married at age 18. Those are key years in a young man’s life, about which we know nothing. It doesn’t tell us of the circumstances surrounding his decision to get married. We don’t have any details about his wife’s infidelity. What we do know is very thin and sketchy and is not thorough in the least.

    So your blithe claim that the porn made him do it is totally irresponsible. Unless I misread your biosketches on WinningWriters, neither of you has a Ph.D. in psychology. Neither of you is qualified to claim knowledge of Chuck’s mental state on the night described, and no qualified person would be willing to make even the most basic judgments based on the information you supply.

    Do you imagine that if Chuck had watched a regular porn that night, he’d have ordered a pizza and had consensual sex with the delivery girl? Do you imagine that if he’d watched Taxi Driver, that he’d have gunned down a pimp to protect his favorite teenage prostitute? Do you imagine that if he’d watched Patch Adams, he’d have become a clown-doctor who brings joy to the world’s sick children?

    And even if Chuck’s porn viewing episode is directly linked to his commission of rape, you haven’t demonstrated the direction of the link. Did he rape because he watched the video, or did he choose that particular video because he was a woman-hating powderkeg, ready to blow? Why, out of all the things he could have done, did he watch a peep-show depicting a rape? Why would he be interested in watching something like that in the first place? No one who’s not already interested in rape would want to.

    The whole story sounds like a self-serving cop-out. It’s an excuse. Chuck doesn’t take any responsibility for his actions; he blames porn. The other rapists and molesters he cites do the same thing. I make it a point to be skeptical of people who blame their misdeeds on the media without taking any blame themselves. I don’t understand why you’re so credulous.

  13. If a fair and objective person compares NoPornNorthampton with Prospect Perspective, Talk Back Northampton or Mopornnorthampton, I believe they will conclude it is far easier to find evidence of all kinds supporting our position than that of the opposition. The volume, quality, variety, range, depth and logic of our evidence is much greater, and we have never shied from engaging with the heart of the opposition’s arguments.

    By contrast, the oppostions’s arguments tend to be marked by baseless speculations about future harms, and excuses for why they can’t be bothered to engage with the copious evidence, scientific and anecdotal, for our case.

  14. You are oversimplifying our position. We never claimed that porn was the sole cause of Chuck’s sex crimes. It does seem plausible, however, that it was a factor. Porn’s influence is also seen in posts such as these:

    Porn contributes to divorce; used by pedophiles and rapists

    Porn a factor in many sex offenses

    Robert Jensen: Influence of Pornography on Sex Offenders (explicit language)

    Role of porn in sex crimes

    Clearly many factors were responsible for Chuck’s behavior. However, you are too eager to pluck out porn and excuse its role. Your assumption–that Chuck will say anything to make himself look better–seems to exclude the possibility that people like Chuck can give us useful information about the crimes they commit. This is unreasonable, excessively limiting on research, and poor social science. Narratives from criminals should be examined critically, but not dismissed out of hand.

    Considering the kinds of lessons porn teaches, it is logical to think it plays a role in some crimes.

  15. I’m not saying that the hypothesis that porn is a factor is obviously wrong. I’m saying that the hypothesis hasn’t been adequately tested and so we can’t tell whether it’s true, or what the precise nature and magnitude of the contribution is, if there is one.

    As for the links: One Angry Girl discusses several studies linking porn to domestic violence and rape and divorce and pedophilia. But the studies generally fail to control for violence. In the one study in which porn is distinguished from violent porn, violence by itself is enough to generate the ill-effects. Porn by itself is not linked to them. Violence is.

    The study mentioned in link 2 indicates that porn is not cathartic for psychopaths. That’s the term the study uses. *Psychopaths.* The study does not say that porn turns people into psychopaths. It does not say whether it’s cathartic for non-psychopaths. It says that porn does not make already-dangerous psychopaths less dangerous. So what?

    I’ve commented extensively on Robert Jensen. I see no need to continue.

    The fourth link claims that there is tons of data, but doesn’t list anything specific. It says that there is a direct causal link between porn and sex crimes, but this claim is outside the scientific mainstream. The PDF you link to is long, but is unpublished and has not been subject to peer-review. Conclusions about its veracity are therefore hard to reach.

    Aside from anecdotes and poorly designed studies showing unkown or unspecified correlations, there seems to be little in the way of actual hard data supporting your claims.

    You claim again and again that my position is unreasonable because it’s too hard to do research if I’m right. I think this is an absurd criticism. It *is* hard to do research. It is hard to conduct a well-designed study. It is hard to gather knowledge about how the human mind responds to stimuli. That you wish it were easier does not make it so.

    If you think the stories of criminals should be examined critically, I’d like to see you start exposing these stories to critical examination. The fact that some crazy rapist or child molester blames porn, not himself, for his crimes should give you exactly zero confidence that the claim is true. He wants to point the finger away from himself. Porn is an easy target, so he points at porn.

    But why was the guy interested in child porn in the first place? Why was he interested in watching images of rape in the first place? Perhaps it was because of a prior interest in child molestation or rape. I watch police procedurals on TV because of a prior interest in police procedures.

    As I said before, I make a point of being skeptical of people who take no responsibility for their own misdeeds and blame them on the media instead. You say it’s important to examine these stories critically, but you’re not critical or skeptical at all. You just believe whatever you think sounds right. So your research practices are horrible, and that’s why your arguments fail.

  16. If a fair and objective person were to compare this blog to the others you mention, he would probably take notice of the fact that none of them are intended to be as comprehensive as this one. TalkBack is devoted exclusively to the free speech angle, not to the defense of porn stores. The Prospect Perspective has no particular focus at all. Andrew thinks you’re overreacting, but it’s not like he has the same single-minded purpose you have. He likes to talk about the weather, and about baseball, and about his neighbors. And MoPorn is devoted solely to making fun of you. The objective observer would probably take notice of the fact that all those other blogs are maintained by people with real jobs.

    The objective observer would also notice that most of your “evidence” is anecdotal in nature, and would be aware of the problems with anecdotal evidence.

    He would also notice that your logic, if you want to call it that, is deeply flawed and misguided. In this discussion, you’ve committed the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy and attempted to argue in a circle. I’ve seen you commit other fallacies as well: correlation/causation; anecdotes to causation; etc. Your “logic” is tortured and awful.

    He might also notice, along with A/C, that your continuing problems with the proposed store stem from the inadequate design of the zoning ordinance you endorsed. If there are no secondary effects associated with sub-1,000 foot porn stores, why are you so worried about this sub-1,000 foot porn store?

    All and all, a fair and objective observer might well wonder why you’re making such a huge deal about all this. That’s exactly what I thought when I noticed the copy of your Open Letter to the Goldbergs you posted in the laundromat I use.

  17. Doug, if you read the sources I’m drawing from, you would see better how the criminals cited often have a sophisticated and balanced understanding of their condition. One does not get the impression they are just trying to offload blame for their actions, but rather they are trying to understand their lives and their actions. It’s a cop-out to just dismiss their experience and opinions out of hand, especially when their opinions are logical.

    If you have particular expertise in psychology or sexual illnesses, or have worked with sex criminals, please share your background with us. Otherwise, it’s hard to see why we should give weight to your sentiments, when many experts disagree with you.

  18. Porn is a big deal because it presents a grossly distorted picture of reality. It emotionally impoverishes the lives of people who view it, attacks the concept of marriage, and appears to be a factor in many sex crimes. Adult enterprises often damage the communities that surround them. A huge and unprecedented number of Americans view porn and appear to be mostly unaware of the dangers. Businesspeople profit from it and show little concern about the harms. We feel that shining light on this situation is the first step to improving it. There’s a better way to live life.

    You can make excuses for the opposition, and claim without evidence that they work harder at their day jobs, but the bottom line is their case is weakly supported by facts or logic. The vision of community and emotional life at Talk Back Northampton and Mopornnorthampton is particularly unappealing. If there’s better evidence for your case, let’s see it.

  19. NoPorn, I always read the sources you cite. They rarely contain anything sophisticated. The criminals you speak of take no responsibility for their actions. If they do, the passages are not reproduced here, nor are they easy to find. Please highlight them for me. In the passages you cite here, the criminals make no effort to understand why they were affected in this way by porn when so many others remain unaffected. They make no effort to understand why the were attracted to those images in the first place, when so many find child porn and images of rape to be repulsive. If you have a link to a source in which a criminal attempts a sophisticated understanding of the role of porn in his crimes, you haven’t posted it. If you have passages, you haven’t reproduced them. Please do–I’d like to see.

    I’d also like to ask you to explain your use of the term ‘logical.’ I’m not convinced you know what it means. You claim that logic is on your side, you continually employ well-known fallacies that more careful thinkers would easily avoid. Please define the term as you’ve been using it here.

    As for your experts, I often find it hard to see why I should regard them as experts. One source you frequently cite is administered not by a social scientist but by a woman who sells clever T-shirts. I spent three weeks trying to get you to reveal Dr. Kevin Skinner’s credentials, such as the name of the school who awarded him his graduate degree, to no avail. Although Dr. Reisman holds a Ph.D, her degree is in communications, not psychology. Her criticisms of Kinsey may be legitimate—I don’t know—but she clearly has an axe to grind; I wonder why you trust her so implicitly. And Robert Jensen is a journalist whose understanding of scientific inquiry is misguided and has been subject to much criticism. You seem to have a hard time finding uncontroversial, credible sources.

    I think it’s interesting that you would ask me for credentials, after I spent so much time trying to get you to tell us more about Dr. Skinner. Did you ever get any information about him, by the way? You seem to be interested in credentials only when you’d like to discredit someone. You seem uninterested in the credentials of your sources.

    I also don’t see how my credentials are relevant to whether you’ve been examining your sources critically or whether your research habits are responsible. I’ve noticed that you frequently deflect criticism by attacking your critic without answering the criticism. That’s what you’re doing here. The real issue here is not my qualifications; it’s your atrocious research habits. You can’t admit that you merely believe these criminals because they agree with you, so you turn it around on me, instead. Why don’t you do the responsible thing and highlight the relevant passages for your readers, and explain to them why your sources are credible. Neither of you has an advanced degree in a related field, so by your own lights, your own opinions should be given no weight.

  20. Doug, what I’m suggesting is that you borrow (or buy) and read the titles cited in our Anti-Pornographers Bookshelf. There’s only so much we can quote here and stay within the limits of fair use, limits closely watched by your fans at Mopornnorthampton.

    It would be nice if we could get all our knowledge about the causes and effects of human actions from clean, tightly controlled lab experiments, but this is impossible. No lab can come close to reproducing the complex conditions that exist in the real world, and the number of interacting variables is very large.

    Rather than giving up in the face of these challenges, many of those who sincerely want to understand human conditions turn to disciplines like history. They weave together stories from a wide variety of sources–from scientific data to personal narratives–to create the most useful and credible master narrative they can. Good historians understand that many people have axes to grind and want to make themselves look good. These historians constantly use their judgment to evaluate the merits of the available evidence.

    Just because someone was, for example, a guard in a Nazi slave camp, should we completely ignore what he might have to say about the experience?

    Do you feel that historians are wasting their time, that they will never be able to give us useful knowledge about human affairs? Should we abandon all efforts to discern the causes and effects of World War I, since we can’t reproduce the world of 1914 in a lab? Should we similarly abandon all efforts to understand the effects of porn viewing, since it’s impractical to divide up large groups of people for years, keep one group “porn-free”, and monitor the totality of the lives of all the test subjects? And let’s keep in mind that porn viewing often begins well before a person turns 18. Is an Ethics Board going to let you include minors in your experiment?

    Science has its role, but clearly we need the tools of history and sociology to fully understand the impact of porn and adult enterprises. That means listening to peoples’ stories and getting what truth we can from them. It certainly doesn’t mean dismissing them out of hand.

  21. If there are so many passages in which the criminal attempts a sophisticated analysis of his condition, I can’t understand why you didn’t cite one of those passages instead of one in which the criminal blithely blames it all on porn without taking any responsibility for himself.

    I assumed that since you were trying to make a point, you had produced an example that illustrates your point. Since you say you didn’t do that, if I haven’t found the sophisticated analysis you behave as though I’m willfully ignoring, it’s your fault, not mine. If you’re having trouble fitting in both types of example within the bounds of fair use, you might consider reproducing only the sophisticated inquiries, not the cop-outs.

    As for the Nazi guard, his credibility would depend very much on what he said. If he said, “I killed lots of Jews for fun. It wasn’t my fault, though. It was because of anti-Jew porn which I went out of my way to find,” I would be unwilling to take the comment at face value.

    Sometimes we can know when something is causing something else. Sometimes it seems like something is causing something else, but if you take a closer look you see that the data is inconclusive. That’s what’s happening here. An objective observer, who, unlike you, had no axe to grind and no financial motive, would look at this data and find it to be inconclusive. And when the data is inconclusive, it’s irresponsible to behave as though it is conclusive. (It is also irresponsible to provide poor examples of points you wish to illustrate and then behave as though your critics are irresponsible for not doing outside research to find better examples than those you provide. If Chuck’s story is a bad example, blame yourselves. It’s your example.)

    It is very difficult to study the weather. Predicting the weather is difficult because weather systems, like human minds, are infected by a lot of “noise,” extraneous factors that alter the outcomes of events and are impossible to isolate. That’s why the 10th day on a 10-day forecast is almost always wrong. But meteorologists struggle on, attempting to study weather-related phenomena scientifically and attempting to improve their scientific methods of study. Where there are limitations, they acknowledge them and do their best. They do not say, well, let’s just research people’s stories about the weather.

    That’s not a legitimate way to collect meteorological knowledge, and it’s not a legitimate way to determine the causal role of pornography in sex crimes. The complexity of the human mind means you have to be more careful than usual about collecting evidence, not less careful. The standards of evidence go up, not down. You can’t tell what’s causing what in a complex system just by listening to stories. All responsible researchers know that; it distinguishes them from the irresponsible researchers. When someone says otherwise, you should be deeply suspicious.

  22. Our approach, Doug, is to keep providing more and more evidence from a wide variety of sources, such as this post from yesterday:
    http://nopornnorthampton.org/2007/01/05/rebutting-the-porn-as-safety-valve-myth.aspx

    Your approach seems to be to try to get people to ignore our evidence, no matter how much we provide or from what source. It’s unclear what, if anything, would ever convince you. This strategy of stalling and confusion has been used by others in the past to try to curtail debates about porn. It is not an honest engagement with the facts. The goal appears to be to paralyze people from protesting or taking action of any kind, so porn selling and consumption may continue untroubled by matters of law or conscience.

  23. My approach is to get people to recognize the actual limitations of the various types of evidence on which you rely. Anecdotes are poor evidence of causation because the anecdote, by itself, carries no information about its own typicalness. A careful statistical analysis is necessary to determine the typicalness of an given anecdote. You haven’t supplied any careful statistical analysis.

    A careful statistical analysis isn’t enough, though, since A being correlated with B is consistent with i) A being a cause of B, ii) B being the cause of A, or iii) some third factor, C, being the cause of both A and B. You need much more careful study than just a statistical analysis to show that A causes B.

    My approach is to point out these difficulties with anecdotal and statistical evidence. Your approach is to make use of these types of evidence in fallacious and irresponsible ways. You infer causation from mere anecdotes. You argue in a circle. You argue that post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    This entry is particularly bad, because the anecdote you describe is so thin and undetailed, and what little information there is suggests that there is much, much more to Chuck’s crime than his porn consumption. The abuse he suffered, his wife’s infidelity, his drug use, and his own free will are all potentially relevant, and the text you quote makes no effort to understand how any of these factors might have contributed. You merely point out that porn makes an appearance, and then rape does, and conclude that porn causes rape, igoring the other factors. This is gravely irresponsible.

    You make a big deal about the quantity of evidence you’ve managed to collect. In your comments on TalkBack, I’ve seen you brag about the number of words your blog contains. This is a wrongheaded approach to the evaluation of evidence. Most of your evidence is anecdotal, and is subject to the limitations of that type of evidence. Much of the statistical information here is from questionable sources, such as Drs. Reisman and Skinner. The scientific evidence you cite suggests that violent media, not pornographic media, is related to violent behavior. When the porn is violent, it is related to violence, but when it’s not, it’s not. So conclusions about the link between porn and violence are premature and not supported by the evidence, no matter how many words you’ve produced.

    My point, throughout all of this, has been that anecdotal evidence is ill-suited to support claims about causation, and that Chuck’s story is a particularly bad example. Whatever other criminals may do, Chuck merely blames his wrongdoings on pornography without taking any responsibility for them. His judgments should be regarded with suspicion.

  24. By your standard, you could probably tar most historical analyses as being “post hoc propter hoc”. However, reasonable people still give such analyses–the weaving together of many individual stories and bits of data–a fair hearing because complex human behaviors and environments are hard to model in a lab. If the rationale given for a sequence of events is logical and supported by the available evidence, it’s reasonable to give some credence to that rationale, at least until a better one comes along.

    You say you require a “careful statistical analysis” to evaluate personal testimonies. However, we have shown that beyond a certain point this unreasonably stifles debate, since it’s impossible to completely reproduce complex human conditions in a lab or control for all of the many variables operating in the world. We have also observed that ethics boards are already balking at approving some studies of porn effects, and are extremely unlikely to approve those involving minors.

    When we reach the limits of the methods of hard science, the best judges for our anecdotes are fair, well-informed human minds, with a sincere interest in what makes people happy over the long-term. Porn is too important and widespread a phenomenon to ignore simply because we can’t measure it like gravity or model it like DNA.

    Here’s a field experiment for you. If you or your friends consume porn, watch over the next few years for how it affects your emotional life, your perception of women, your relationships, and your overall happiness. Compare that to your peers who don’t consume porn.

  25. You keep talking about how historians collect and evaluate evidence. I didn’t realize you were doing history. I thought you were interested in the psychological impact of porn in the present-day, not the history of porn. That’s why I thought you kept citing social scientists and psychologists as sources, not historians.

    I don’t know how historians do it. I had a couple of history classes in college, but none of them were upper division. My knowledge of the actual methods of actual historians is sketchy and inadequate. But if some historian draws conclusions about historical causes and effects based on anecdotes as thin and undetailed as this one about Chuck, then I think the historian’s reasoning is fallacious. I’d be pretty surprised if a responsible historian would be willing to do that. If I learned that this is how historians conduct research, I would come to be very skeptical of what I read in history books about causes and effects.

    The fact that a careful statistical analysis is not ethically or practically possible does not elevate the evidential status of anecdotes. Anecdotal evidence has the limitations it has whether there are better alternatives or not. Please keep in mind that I don’t say that anecdotes are always evidentially useless, but you have to be very, very careful about how you use them. You have to be critical of the source, and you have to be careful about what you infer from the content of the anecdote. The fact that you would be willing to give this anecdote credence shows that you’re not being careful at all.

    Even if this story shows that there is some relationship between rape and porn-which I don’t concede-it can’t tell us *what* relationship it is. Why would he have wanted to look at a rape in the first place? Why would he have responded to it in the way he did? The fact that he was willing to put a quarter in the rape-porn video machine is evidence that he was already messed up. The fact that he wasn’t disgusted by it is evidence that he was already messed up. And, at least as far as you quote him, Chuck doesn’t make a serious attempt to discover why he was interested, or why he responded the way he did, if that’s why he did it. He’s blaming his crime, and all sex crime in general, on porn. This example is awful.

    Apparently ethics boards won’t authorize studies about porn. Again, this doesn’t raise the status of anecdotes. The fact that the human mind is complex means that we have to be more careful about drawing conclusions from anecdotes, not less careful. I don’t understand why this is hard for you to grasp. I don’t understand why you would think that *this anecdote* licenses any inference at all.

    Whatever else may be happening in other stories that you haven’t reproduced here, this story is just a cop-out. This story shows a guy who used his free will to do something awful and is blaming something else for his behavior. He’s avoiding responsibility, not accepting it.

  26. NPNAdmin, way to maintain argumentative integrity. Doug has resorted to a string of cheap personal attacks against you, rationalization via repetition, and willful ignorance of the copious evidence you have provided. I also read your sources, and after careful consideration, am now anti-pornography. Thanks for being the better debater.

  27. I didn’t imagine that you would regard it as a cheap, personal attack to remind you that you went to Harvard.

    Your educations are of a much higher caliber than mine. Yet you continually claim that you do not and *cannot* understand why inferences from correlations and anecdotes to causation are questionable and suspect. You’ve called an argument of mine that was a simple Modus Tollens form a “maze of logic.” Just here, you complained that I used the proper, Latin names of several argument forms and fallacies.

    I don’t think you really misunderstand this stuff. I think you’re playing dumb. Calling public attention to the extreme high quality of your educations, which I discovered from less than a minute of browsing your other website, is my way of saying, “cut it out.”

  28. Dear Dee and NoPorn,

    Do you have anything else to say about this “string of cheap, personal attacks”? If so, I’d like to hear it.

    If not, I think you owe me an apology. To accuse me of engaging in a string of cheap, personal attacks, both here and in your “comment showcase,” without saying what the string consists of so that I can either defend myself or apologize, is itself a cheap, personal attack. It is, therefore, and egregious violation of the “blogger ettiquitte” you claim to be a champion of.

    Please have the courtesy to be specific. Or, if you can’t, please have the courtesy to disavow this spurious accusation.

  29. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.. 🙂

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