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Pornified 622

Posted by timothy
from the triple-ecks dept.
stern writes "Pamela Paul’s Pornified surveys the effects of pornography in America. On the basis of the book jacket, this might seem more appropriate material for iVillage than Slashdot, except for one thing: pornography pervades the Internet and drives the adoption of new technologies. You can’t fairly tell the story of one without the other." Read on for the rest of Stern's review.
Pornified
author Pamela Paul
pages 320
publisher Times Books
rating Worth reading
reviewer Stern
ISBN 0805077456
summary A study of the technology-fueled expansion of pornography and its effects on those who use it


Paul spoke with researchers and therapists, she surveyed the academic literature and commissioned her own study, and then, most remarkably, she tracked down more than 100 people who were willing to talk about their experiences with pornography. Men and women, detractors and fans, casual users and perverts. She arranges this material into chapters about how pornography affects men, on how it affects women, another on children, and so forth.

This is not a “gee whiz, look at all the dirty pictures” screed urging us to hang up our mice and go to church. It is more a summary of research than an opinion piece, and though the preponderance of the research presented is damning to pornography, defenders appear in most sections as well.

The book is remarkable in two ways. First, it presents a greater amount of hard data than I have ever seen on this topic before. Second, the interviews are amazing. Where does she find these people? The military man who masturbates by the side of the highway, the child porn addict who fantasizes about the girls he is teaching in Sunday school, the adult virgins with the almost clinically precise descriptions of what they expect in a woman (“I’m a big fan of full shaved,” etc.).

Pornified is worthwhile for this research and these stories, even if you disagree with the conclusions that Paul draws from them.

I found fascinating, for example, that a number of double-blind studies of the effects of pornography were completed over twenty years ago, but that the results were so damning that it has been difficult to follow up on them. The effects of dirty movies on the people who look at them were so profound that ethics boards at universities deny researchers the approval to show them to human subjects.

What are these effects? The book devotes chapters to this, and I can summarize only very briefly. For many people, porn has quasi-addictive characteristics, requiring escalation to maintain a constant level of stimulation. It dampens empathy, it changes expectations, and it damages relationships. The interviews in the book back this up; it contains example after example of people who started with modest porn searching online, then graduated to more heinous stuff.

And this is all about the Internet. Paul pays lip service to Playboy and smutty VHS tapes, but this is a story about X-rated websites, Usenet groups, and p2p file sharing.

Paul cites a study from 2000 that ties that the expansion of technological avenues for pornography to its growing more explicit, more dehumanizing, and more violent. In other words, alt.binaries.pictures.erotica was pretty tame. But then a.b.p.e.blonds and a.b.p.e.asians appeared, and these refined the expectations of their users, paving the way for the creation of a.b.p.e.bukkake and a.b.p.e.rape. And where the original newsgroup probably didn’t cause too much damage to anybody, the same can not be said for its increasingly brutal descendants.

Consider this — prior to the Internet, law enforcement believed that child porn had been basically wiped out. It was a crime from a previous age, like body snatching. But then came the Web. Between 1996 and 2004, child-porn cases handled by the FBI increased 23 fold. The research presented in Pornified argues that technology does not merely make it easier to serve an existing desire, it allows deep exposure that for many people results in stronger and more specific versions of the the original demand.

Paul presents most of this neutrally, but you can sense contempt for non-pornographic websites that link to porn sites, or endorse them. She doesn’t name any names, but the savvy reader will recognize Fark as one of her targets, and I suspect that Farkers figure among her interviewees.

Such “smut” can be defended, of course, and the book gives defenders their say. The obvious response is “porn has been around forever, so stop complaining that it is suddenly a threat to society.” But it seems to me that this response is disingenuous. You can’t compare an issue of Playboy and the Atari 2600 cartridge of “Custer’s Revenge” to the seamless infinity of smut that lives on the Internet today.

The second major response to the claims in this book follows the First Amendment. Regardless of harm, we must not start down the slippery slope of restricting access to objectionable material. Paul considers this, but her the book discusses concrete harm, and she argues that civil liberties are not absolute where one person’s rights hurt other people (not many argue for their right to cry “fire” in a crowded theater, for example).

Though Paul did not set out to explore the industry of porn production and distribution, in the course of her research, she did discover things I didn’t know. For example, she interviews one man who works in the oil industry and spends 25% of every working day surfing porn sites and submitting reviews to “porn aggregators” for a fee. It’s not about the money, though; he feels pride in his influence as a kind of porno tastemaker.

The material about pornography and children, and the chapter about sex addicts, were particularly strong.

Some of Paul’s interviewees play off the awkwardness of the topic, and one in particular starts something like a stand-up routine, criticizing the porn movies of the early 1980s for their lack of strong plotting. Personally, I thought it was funny that two women independently complained about the “cheesy... crappy” quality of black porn, relative to porn made for whites.

What’s bad?

The topic is a difficult one, and perhaps impossible to approach without prejudice. Some readers will dislike Paul's conclusions and will dismiss the entire book as a result. Also, in the interviews, some stories leave out details the reader is bound to want to know. One of the interviewees is the “former CEO of a large international corporation,” who “lost his job due to pornography.” How? What happened? Did he dress in a leather teddy at a board meeting? The chapter about porn and relationships was less interesting to me than the rest, but your mileage may vary.

Paul comes to strong conclusions, and each reader will have to decide for himself whether or not he thinks her recommendations are wise. Her main goal, however, is probably to change the debate on pornography so that it is no longer simply about morality and free speech, but also includes a discussion of whether or not technology-fueled porn hurts people. In this regard, I think she is apt to be successful.


You can purchase Pornified from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Pornified

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  • by geomon (78680) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:06PM (#13492128) Homepage Journal
    Sure, you told your parents that you have them for computer games, but come on - we all know why they have both advanced so quickly.
  • by namekuseijin (604504) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:08PM (#13492149)
    yeah, sure, wasn't it for tons of popups suddenly opening up and showing some rather grotesque cumshot scenes in front of your momma, popup blocking wouldn't catch up.

    yay for pr0n as a new techs driving force!
  • New Tech? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:11PM (#13492172)
    This is a bit offtopic, but I gotta ask...

    [Porno] drives the adoption of new technologies

    Other than VCR/DVD/Internet (video in general), what other technologies has Porno driven? We see people say it here on the Slashdot forums quite often, but I wouldn't say its a large number of technologies if I can count the list on one hand.

    Maybe I haven't visited enough porno sites to know?

    • Re:New Tech? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 8127972 (73495) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:16PM (#13492231)
      How about these?:

      - The camcorder and video machine you use to capture those memorable family moments - baby's first steps, weddings, holidays - use VHS tapes. US pornographers' decision to adopt the cheap convenient VHS - rather than rival Betamax - when the two systems were introduced in the 1970s killed off Betamax while sales of pornographic films drove take-up of video recorders.

      - Your DVD player may be great for watching out-takes of the Mike Myers' comedy Austin Powers II: The Spy Who Shagged Me, but it is real sex movies which have driven DVD sales because, unlike videotape, users can skip quickly to and from their favourite scenes. The pay-per-view cable or satellite TV movie channel is only available on your TV because pornographers pioneered subscription 'premium' services first in hotels and then on digital networks.

      - Did you watch the BBC's interactive coverage of Wimbledon on Sky's digital network last summer? Watching four games at once or changing the camera angle so you can watch your favourite player more closely may look new but it isn't. Pornographers perfected the technology a decade ago for an entirely different 'sport'.

      And don't get me started about payment systems. CCBill likely makes millions off of porn.

      • Danni at danni.com is probably the first Internet Millionaire. before Bezos, or Musk or the Ebay guys, there was Danni, taking it all off and raking it in.
      • Since you brough up CCBill, Microsoft came to us to create a DRM service, not the other way around. The product became known as DRM Networks, and is now a mainstream provider, although the first two years was 100% porn.
      • The paperback book, whose popularity took off as a result of pornographic novels.
    • Other than VCR/DVD/Internet (video in general), what other technologies has Porno driven?

      Well, in addition to VCR/DVD you have to make content for that so you also have video and tape recorders that save content to tape, disc, film, and other digital media (stills).

      Personally, the Internet itself (broadband and all that as well) is a *huge* technology and has changed the landscape and interactions of the world.

      If you are going to say that the Internet isn't a "large number" of technologies I really suggest
    • The one I always hear is that the internet porn industry is at the forefront of browser popups and spyware.
    • I wouldn't say its a large number of technologies if I can count the list on one hand. - that's for sure, because we know what the other hand is doing ;)

      ----------
      Francis Griffin I know what you're doing in there, and it's a sin!
      Francis Griffin If you ever do it again, you'll burn in Hell!
      Chris Griffin But I do it every day. Sometimes twice.
      Francis Griffin Mark my words, lad.
      Francis Griffin You may think you're alone, but God's watching.
      Francis Griffin Don't do it again!
      Chris Griffin Go
    • Re:New Tech? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Panaflex (13191) <{convivialdingo} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:31PM (#13492412)
      How about the book? It well known that pornography was a problem expanded by the print press as early as 1688. The printer that published Isaac Newton was among the first to be charged.
    • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:36PM (#13492469) Homepage
      Back in 1991 or thereabouts, a friend of mine went to college at UCSC, where he was opened up to a whole world of new and amazing computing paraphernalia. We had previously both been computer geeks -- I on an Apple ][, he with a Kaypro, and both later on IBM PCs -- but this was the first time he had really been exposed to Unix, X terminals, big servers, fast Internet, and the like.

      I remember talking on the phone with him one time in particular, when he told me about the NeXT box they had down there. Now, at the time, NeXT hardware was amazing. 'Nuff said. We all wanted to fool around with these things. I thought he was a lucky bastard to be at a university that actually had one.

      "What are they using it for?" I asked him.

      "Not much, really," he said. "The hard drive's pretty much just full of porn."

      I mention this not just because it makes me chuckle, but because at the time it didn't surprise me at all. And it still doesn't. Throughout my experience with computers, and in particular the Internet, wherever you found a significant technological advance, somebody had found a way to use it for porn.

      So, you ask "what technologies has Porno driven"? And I would say to you: The Internet. Computers.

      Fancy browser programming, plug-ins, encryption, fat storage, streaming media, e-commerce ... all of these things have been pushed forward by the public's seemingly insatiable demand for porn. I'm not saying porn caused these things to be invented, though I suppose that's possible in some cases. I'm saying that people who sell porn make money, and they spend that money on technology, and in so doing they advance the technology industry. And I believe they do it to more of a degree than you realize.
    • Video on Demand

      My company builds VOD systems, and it is an incredibly complex process to get bits of video to your Set Top Box so you don't have to go outside to rent porn.

      You should see all the innovation in our code that is driven by on demand porn.
    • Re:New Tech? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Seska (253960)
      Every single media advance since the year 1000 has been pushed forward by porn.

      Johann Gutenberg made his printing press around 1448, and one of the very first books to appear in print was Il Decamerone, an erotic book. Photography was invented in 1832, and in 1874 London police confiscate 130,000 photographs and 5,000 slides from one guy.

      One wag predicted the non-dominance of .NET because it failed the pr0n test [slashdot.org].
  • by daniil (775990)
    kthx
  • by garcia (6573)
    What are these effects? The book devotes chapters to this, and I can summarize only very briefly. For many people, porn has quasi-addictive characteristics, requiring escalation to maintain a constant level of stimulation. It dampens empathy, it changes expectations, and it damages relationships. The interviews in the book back this up; it contains example after example of people who started with modest porn searching online, then graduated to more heinous stuff.

    What the fuck is this garbage? I've been wit
    • I'd like to read this pile of shit and actually give a true account of the book rather than an obviously biased and conservative viewpoint on it.

      Nope, doesn't sound like you've made up your mind about the book already...
      • by garcia (6573)
        Nope, doesn't sound like you've made up your mind about the book already...

        sarcasm ( P ) Pronunciation Key (särkzm)
        n.
        A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
        A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.


        See, I didn't believe that the "reviewer" gave an unbiased account of the book while trying to claim that he was going his best:

        The topic is a difficult one, and perhaps impossible to approach without preju
    • It is not your usual porn that is referred to here. The type of porn in question is the hardcore demeananizing porn that the porn industry seems to have led to. As is described, online porn seems to lead from soft to hard core porn, and it is the rape and bukkake that damage relationships. This also brings up another side in the viewer, as I won't watch anal, nor anything worse than that, while others may enjoy the rape or bukkake that plagues the internet.
      • by garcia (6573)
        The type of porn in question is the hardcore demeananizing porn that the porn industry seems to have led to.

        LOL. You know what, you're 100% right, the "porn industry" has desensitized us to "demeaning" sex acts but thankfully we have people like you, the author, and our conservative/family-first politicians to tell us that anything but missionary sex is bad.

        As is described, online porn seems to lead from soft to hard core porn, and it is the rape and bukkake that damage relationships.

        You are saying that pe
      • Why is bukkake [wikipedia.org] lumped in with rape porn in the original post, and why has no one challenged that? Sure, it's weird, but so are fursuiters or people who dress up like Batman. Just because it's weird doesn't mean it's morally equivalent to rape, faked or no. Sheesh. You know, some people enjoy a good bukkake.

        --grendel drago
    • I too am skeptical of the authors intent and "research". It seems like over dramatized "sensationalized" reporting that is meant to sell books, not produce good reporting.

      Sure 100 people's lives were destroyed, but COME ON, I could find hundreds of thousands whose lives have been destroyed by lack of medical care or tens of thousands whose lives have been destroyed by credit cards.

      Give me a break.
    • Garcia, That was very interesting!

      Have you graduated here yet My Wife [crazyass13.com].

      My point: How far do you actually take the openness?

      How far and how much is too much?

      You and I both know what country we live in so you have to expect (not accept) these conservative views.

      And with supreme court changes it isn't going to get better for you.

      • by garcia (6573)
        My point: How far do you actually take the openness?

        As far as anyone is comfortable bringing it -- as well as it remains within the law (we'll ignore such laws that define sodomy in order to make homosexuality "deviant" as that's an entirely different discussion.)

        You and I both know what country we live in so you have to expect (not accept) these conservative views.

        I have no problems with people expressing their opinions. What I do have a problem with is people using specific language that twists the meani
    • What the fuck is this garbage? I've been with the same woman for nearly five years and just married her this weekend. If anything, porn has STRENGTHENED our relationship through mutual viewing.

      I don't know why we bother with science when we can just ask one random person for a subjective opinion, and then draw a conclusion based on that single piece of anecdotal evidence. Sheesh.

      In other words, just because someone smokes cigarettes all their life and lives to be 90 doesn't mean that smoking doesn't dra

    • Let's rephrase your argument:

      I personally drank a fifth of vodka then drove home and didn't crash into anything. Therefore anybody who says that drinking and driving can have adverse effects is flamebait/troll.

      No? How about:

      I personally thought that Gigli [imdb.com] was the most masterful screenplay ever written and was personally touched more deeply than any cinematic masterpiece the world has ever known. Anybody who conducts a study on whether or not it was a popular movie is flamebait/troll

      You have prese

      • You know, the author's results look like they've been cribbed straight from the Meese Report. You can read some information about the Meese Commission [earthlink.net], about how the results of research were simply thrown out when they didn't fit the commission's prejudices.

        There was real science done on this; see the Presidential Commission of 1968 or thereabouts, which was swept under the rug.

        If the local porn zealots seem more vigorous than usual, it's only because we recognize the same discredited bullshit we've seen be
    • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:59PM (#13492722) Homepage
      You should be thankful that the reviewer didn't start blathering on about "erototoxins".

      While the anecdotes sound absolutely fascinating, the conclusions sound eerily similar to those of the Meese Commission [earthlink.net]. At first (1968 or thereabouts), there was a Presidential Commission put together under Nixon to research the effects of porn on people. In its final recommendation, the Presidential Commission called for (a) comprehensive sex education for everyone, (b) continued dialogue, (c) more research, and (d) citizen participation in all of the above. Hardly a stinging condemnation.

      That Commission was ignored, its report buried, and upon the election of Reagan in 1980, a new Commission was founded which would give Congress the answers it expected, by simply making shit up. To quote from the article, which quotes from the Meese Report:

      While admitting that establishment of a link between aggressive behavior and sexual violence "requires assumptions not found exclusively in the experimental evidence," the Commissioners go on to say , "We see no reason, however, not to make these assumptions...that are plainly justified by our own common sense"

      It's the same tired shit that's been thrown against the wall since the Reagan Revolution, in the desparate hopes that it'll stick this time.

      I wonder if I could write a similar book about people who overdose on Evangelical Christianity and require ever-stronger doses of legislative activism and repression of women to get their rocks off.

      Congrats on your marriage, by the way.

      --grendel drago
    • I've been with the same woman for nearly five years and just married her this weekend.

      Ok. Turn off the computer and walk away from it! Now, please return to more important things, like your Honeymoon.....

  • by GecKo213 (890491) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:14PM (#13492208) Homepage
    ...drives the adoption of new technologies.

    I'd like to know what technological breakthroughs were driven by Porn? Cameras weren't developed originally for Porn. Scanners weren't developed for Porn. Image viewers weren't originally developed for Porn. I find that to be the epitimy of Bullshit. Most of the continuing development of Computers happen to be for Highly Intense mathmatics. Video Games for instance are probably more of a driving force in technology's improvement than Porn! I can render all the porn I want on my DNS/Mail/Server. It happens to be running Linux and is only a 300 mHz pII. Yes it's old, and may take longer to render a picture than my Desktop, (1.8GHZ) but it'll never be able to run say Medal of Honor. Never! I just find that comment as ludicrous! Does anyone agree with me on this?

    • I'd like to know what technological breakthroughs were driven by Porn?

      I don't know that they were actually developed for porn, but their widespread commercial (as opposed to military) adoption may have something to do with porn.

      Cameras were not originally developed for porn, but some of the earliest photographic images are of nudes and pornographic poses. Ditto for film-based home movies. And accelerating the spread of video recorders, cameras, and players was family reunions? I think mom and dad probably e
    • Didn't VHS win out over Betamax because of pr0n? I thought it was the early and massive adoption of VHS by that industry and killed Betamax.
    • Internet billing? Maybe more camcorder sales than you'd like to think.
    • Not "developed for" but "scaled up for".

      Using a new technology to distribute/create/view porn is what puts the dollars on the bottom line of the new product.

      In other words, sure VHS might have gotten where it did, but the sex industry drove the market faster than it would for Terrence and Phillip videos or "how to change carborators" learn at home classes.

      Once the tech is established somewhat, that's when the other markets open up. (Plus, if VHS was mostly porn, I'd buy a couple Disney movies real quick to
    • A Grain Of Truth (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blueZhift (652272)
      Actually there is a little grain of truth in there. While there have not been any technological breakthroughs that I am aware of that were driven by porn, personal observation indicates that new web technologies tend to be adopted earliest by porn sites as a group. So porn may not drive innovation, but does seem to drive adoption. This encompasses everything from using Javascript in clever ways to serve images (or nastier stuff) to using Flash for page elements and attempts to make it hard to steal site co
    • Does anyone agree with me on this?

      Half and half. While it doesn't spur much new technology it does add to the funding of a lot of technologies companies to R&D new technologies.

      The Internet is a great place for Joe Sixpack's dirty little feelings... he can express them under an assumed identity and get his regular "fix" or pr0n and such without being caught browsing in the local adult "book" store. I think a lot of Joes out there have bought PCs and (even more so) broadband because of the pr0n indust
    • by RatBastard (949) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:46PM (#13492580) Homepage
      They didn't say "developement", they said "adoption". And they are correct. Games only drive the need for faster computers with faster video cards. Games have done nothing for any other technology, not even broadband.

      The items that porn has driven into the mass market:

      • The VCR, especially VHS. Before the VCR you had to go to a porno thatre and sit in a dark room with abunch of other lonely guys doing things you didn't want to know about. With the VCR you could watch your porn in the privacy of your own home. Hell, you could even watch it with your wife, who would rather die than be seen going into a porno thatre. I was there. I saw it happen with my own eyes.
      • The CR-ROM drive. The first three products that came out for the CD-ROM drive were Bible-search programs, MYST and porn. Porn was the main reason many people bought CD-ROM drives.
      • DVD players/DVD-ROM drives. These made porn movies even easier to watch than VCRs as the discs were smaller, the image quality better (yay, the pimples on Ron Jeremy's butt are much more visible!) and you can skip to your favorite parts. And as of today, porn is one of the few genres in video to bother using the multi-angle option.
      • Broadband Internet: What do people use all that bandwitdh for? Porn. More than pirated movies, warez, and music, it's porn. Look around Usenet sometime. The busiest newsgroups are the porn groups in the ALT branch.
      Now, none of these technologies were created for the expressed purpose of make, selling, or dispributing porn. And the author didn't say they were. These technologies were first exploited by the porn industry.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:15PM (#13492223)
    one man who works in the oil industry and spends 25% of every working day surfing porn sites and submitting reviews to porn aggregators for a fee.

    Oil man's coworker: "Does anyone else smell Astroglide?"
  • by bloodstar (866306) <blood_star@yahoo.STRAWcom minus berry> on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:16PM (#13492232) Journal

    All this talk about how bad pron is makes me scratch my head. I understand that there is validity to a lot of the statements. But personally, I'm more worried about how quickly we had gangs of thugs running through New Orleans. Which is the whole point of the subject line. Europe has a very liberated sexuality. America does not. Perhaps there is some causation to Americas reaction to porn because of the cultural stigma attached to sexuality.

    Correlation does not equate to causation.

    • Europe has a very liberated sexuality. America does not.

      Oh, please. Where does this myth come from? Europe has a very infantile view of sexuality, where it's shoved in people's faces to titter over. Seen any European "sex comedies" lately? The US generally treats it as a private subject that should keep some dignity.

      I can't find the stats from a casual Google, but the US consistantly ranks at the top of the rate of sexual activity. In other words, we do it the most, but don't need to see it everywhere.

    • by milimetric (840694) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:19PM (#13492943) Journal
      Couldn't agree more. When I'm in Europe, there's like naked chicks everywhere, sexuality is bubbling out of people, men and women. I feel comfortable in that environment, have a wank now and then to relieve the need and go on with my life. Here though, I go through a sterile day at the office, a sterile lunch, sterile drive home, sterile people, sterile conversations, makes me nuts. I get home and I can't wait to jump on the web to see some photos of sexy women showing off their stuff.

      It's just like alcohol and everything else here. If you repress it, it will only bubble up in other places and hurt you. But I do agree, in the USA, pornography hurts people. It's cause everyone's so damn prudish.
      • That's a very good way of looking at it. We really do need to take into consideration the puritanical history of this country which really skews our views of sexuality, regardless of where on the spectrum you are.
        Makes me feel a bit better about my so-called addiction (really, I'm serious). Maybe I am a European stuck in an America's body. I certainly love European women because they ooze sexuality 100x more than most American women, that's for sure...
    • by Khomar (529552) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:24PM (#13492992) Journal
      But personally, I'm more worried about how quickly we had gangs of thugs running through New Orleans. (And yet Europe seems to be doing fine)

      Disasters bring out the best and the worst in people, and hurricane Katrina was a prime example of this. When was the last time Europe faced a disaster of this magnitude? Next time the Netherlands are hit by a category 4 hurricane that levels their dikes and floods their cities, then we will see exactly how well Europe fares. May it never be!

      Besides, your logic is flawed anyway in regards to "liberated" sex since New Orleans is one of the most "liberated" cities in the United States, by your definition. Sex is very prominently and openly demonstrated in Marti Gra, and yet "we had gangs of thugs running through New Orleans". By your logic, there should have been fewer thugs and gangs.

      Please understand: I am not trying to imply that the problems were a result of that lifestyle -- it is difficult for any of us to say that our communities would react any better to such dire circumstances.

  • by uncre8tv (610756) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:16PM (#13492234) Homepage
    anyone else remember that when you d/l'd porn line by line at 9600 you could see that the top line in a trinitron monitor usually lined up with the nipples on a full body shot?
    • > anyone else remember that when you d/l'd porn line by line at 9600 you could see that the top line in a trinitron monitor usually lined up with the nipples on a full body shot?

      Anyone else remember that when b00bies were printed onto dead trees, and then scanned in for BBS distribution, the quality was better?

      Maybe I'm dating myself (ahem, no pun intended :), but when Bob, Hugh, and Larry had to select the best 10 models out of 100 applicants for dead-tree publication (or even - gasp! - film transf

  • by putko (753330) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:19PM (#13492264) Homepage Journal
    Remember, when Bram wanted folks to test BitTorrent, he put up a porn flic -- he knew there'd be enough who'd want to get it that they'd download and install BitTorrent, and then wait for the porn to (maybe) download.

    I bet porn leads to people installing lots of software, good and bad.
  • They like their porn. When they are not surfing for techie news they are typing with one hand on a porn site. Deny it if you will we know your browser history. Check out http://pornwatch.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org]
  • by ravenspear (756059) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:24PM (#13492322)
    On the basis of the book jacket, this might seem more appropriate material for iVillage than Slashdot

    No, I'm pretty sure the /. readership usually welcomes any story that lets them post countless old porn jokes and anecdotes about how they can never get laid.
  • by Enigma_Man (756516) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:25PM (#13492332) Homepage
    What are these effects? The book devotes chapters to this, and I can summarize only very briefly. For many people, porn has quasi-addictive characteristics, requiring escalation to maintain a constant level of stimulation. It dampens empathy, it changes expectations, and it damages relationships.

    You might say the same things about many other non-porn things, like eating, or gaming, or dieting, or exercising, or anything pretty much. Some people are going to react in funny ways to anything. I've never heard of anybody that takes a stand against dieting, but there are many people with eating problems (anorexics, bulemics, etc) out there. To me, personally, this just looks like someone with religiously imposed morals trying to get their way.

    The well-adjusted folk of the world who can look at porn, play violent video games, and eat fatty foods without going overboard and ruining their lives wish that everybody else would just get a freaking grip already.

    -Jesse
    • The well-adjusted folk of the world who

      Except the person who made the claim has data to back up the conclusions, and you have nothing but your idea of what the world is like.

      Believe what you want, just realize your position is based on faith, guesswork, and assumptions, not true scientific study.

      You sound a bit like the "religiously imposed" folks...

      • No I don't, and you sound like an idiot. Here's why:

        Stern's summary of the book, relating to the point I made said this:
        For many people, porn has quasi-addictive characteristics, requiring escalation to maintain a constant level of stimulation.
        Many is a vague word, and implies "not all by a pretty good margin". My post stated that I'm one of those non-many people, and I wish the many people would get a grip, and that the writer of the book sounds like a religious person trying to get their way. This p
  • by tsu doh nimh (609154) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:29PM (#13492376)
    "The book is remarkable in two ways. First, it presents a greater amount of hard data than I have ever seen on this topic before."

    i bet.
  • This review is 100% Bovine Excrement and if the book content actually reflect what is stated in the article then the book is B-E as well.

    This biased, scientifically unfounded, completely fictional OP-ED on pornography and censorship [against the former and in favor of the later] doesn't belong on slashdot.


    This is /. - not The Fascist Information Network
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:03PM (#13492772)
      It's a shame that the parent post was modded down.

      I've met a number of clinical psychologists, and none of them would refer to a sexually dysfunctional person as "a pervert", which the author apparently does.

      Indeed, from my limited knowledge of the subject, sexual adjustment issues begin far earlier than a child's ability to even understand what a pornographic image is.

      Simply being exposed to a variety of angry, rude role models of either sex, at a young age, can cause predispositions that become (in adolescence) , sexual maladjustments.

      This is not a particularly high quality post or article. Anyone can become a physcologist in a relatively short period of time, it's just a handful of university classes.

      For a psychologist to classify patients or interviewees as "perverts" or to fail to mention that America (in general) has serious social and sexual issues, is a abuse of the entire field of psychology.

      This paper, and the author who submitted it, should be severely suspected of motivated bias, and a general lack of crucial investigatory and scientific methodological skills.

      It's a shame the parent post was modded down. I'd be suprised to see something like this republished in any professional psychological journal, anywhere.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:32PM (#13492415) Journal
    FTR: "I found fascinating, for example, that a number of double-blind studies of the effects of pornography were completed over twenty years ago, but that the results were so damning that it has been difficult to follow up on them (emphasis mine)

    WTF? I was always told it would make me go blind, but how much did they have to do it to go double-blind?
  • skeptical... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:33PM (#13492425) Homepage Journal
    I doubt that pornography has a bad an effect as this book review seems to make it out to be.

    For one, I bet that before the internet, the FBI simply wasn't aware of child pornography trafficking, maybe because of lack of resources, or infiltrants, etc. It's a lot easier to network up pedophiles on the internet, and trafficking is probably less riskier over the internet than postal mail or commercial delivery services. Maybe that's the point they're making, but I doubt that availability of child pornography makes more pedophiles.

    Secondly, I think internet porn is so pervasive, it's rediculous to talk to addicts, etc. and say this is what porn is doing. It's hard enough to get some suburban dad to admit to digital pornography use, esp. to a stranger. If you interview weirdos, of course you will get a biased sample.

    • Re:skeptical... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JamieGuy (174111)
      Secondly, I think internet porn is so pervasive, it's rediculous to talk to addicts, etc. and say this is what porn is doing.

      This is an excellent point. In 1954, Dr. Fredric Wertham (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fredric_Wertham [wikipedia.org]) published Seduction of the Innocent, an indictment of comic books. Among other things, he interviewed a number of juvenile delinquents, and found that they read comics. Well, just about every kid in the 1950s read comics; most of those of course weren't juvenile delinquents, but his
    • Re:skeptical... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Miniluv (165290)

      It's hard enough to get some suburban dad to admit to digital pornography use, esp. to a stranger. If you interview weirdos, of course you will get a biased sample.

      The first part of that statement is generally way off base. Its utterly shocking how much people will tell interviewers if they're assured of anonymity. The really interesting thing is that the patterns don't tend to change a ton when you survey more people (as long as your sample is well selected), its just that when 10K people tell you the sam

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The effects of porn depend on context. For a lot of young guys, porn forms their impression of sex, which of course is very limited. This can leave them stunted, sexually and emotionally. They end up putting the "pussy on a pedestal," by forming unhealthy obsessions over it. (Quote from the 40 Year Old Virgin)

    Parents need to be more open about sexuality, because that is where much of the unhealthiness beings. Much of society too needs to chill the fuck out too, and quit demonizing sex to teenagers.

    Go to a
    • Better porn? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Grendel Drago (41496) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:18PM (#13492936) Homepage
      Hmm. If boys get their ideas about sex from porn, and porn is awful... well, there are two options here; one, make it so boys don't get their ideas for porn, or make better porn. I suppose it'd be a little difficult to say "I want to make porn that won't give a fourteen year old unrealistic expectations of women!", though.

      'Course, women get their strange, sick, twisted ideas---about men on brightly shining horses carrying them off to castles where they'll play dress-up and "... and they were one" every dang night---from romance novels and the like. Girls get some pretty funky ideas about sex and relationships too, y'know.

      --grendel drago
      • Re:Better porn? (Score:3, Interesting)

        I had access to porn at a very young age (10 - 11 years-old)

        I don't think it has affected my view of women and sexuality at all. Or if it has it has done so positively.

        I have never forced myself on a woman. I have never hit a woman etc. I have never even gone out to a club with the express intent of getting laid.

        I met my wife when I was 15, we became high school sweethearts and have been together for the last 8 years and have two children together. I have never cheated on her. Never forced myself on her etc
      • Re:Better porn? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tmortn (630092) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @05:32PM (#13493695) Homepage
        A'FUCKING'MEN regarding women and their White Knight fetish.

        How about open and frank discussions about sex so that 14 year old boys are able to categorize crazy porn right up there with Buggs bunny in terms of unrealistic vrs realistic and so that 14 year old girls don't get the idea that wanting sex is something they are not supposed to ever admit lest every one think they are a skanky slut. These problems are not near what they once were... say when Kinsey did his report. But they are still very much present. Note the Meese commission suggested education was the largest need in response to porn... not the erradication of porn.

        By the way people here can argue the personal experience vrs data argument all day. But guys look at porn. In my experience even the least technically savy of men exposed to a computer connection and time alone know how to find pr0n. And most guys I know are not sexually dysfunctional. And the deffinition of dysfuntional is the inability to perform sexually without some kink/fetish present in the sex. So either I have a statistical aberation in my friends and aquaintances... or this book is a pile of manure trying to pass itself off as scientific. All in all the review seems to indicate the interviewies were self selected outliers who were not really chosen at random.... or at best were chosen at random from a non random pool.

        Not to say pron cannot be detrimental and that it is all harmless fun. But to portray it as a universal detriment of such magnitude when considering that porn surffing is damn near universal among internet denziens (particularly male) and that such detriment is so hidden it must be 'revealed' in this study is silly. If the problem were was big as this book apparently hints at then the problem would not be so unknown as to need to be revealed.

        Nothing to see here. Move along.... the people who value what this thing says are the same that once upon a time told their kids masturbation would cause fur to grow on their palms and make them blind. Incidently they are the same people that refuse to be open about discussing sex therby insuring that their childrens formative sex education will be at the hands of whatever they can find on their own. Thus ensuring that they are at high risk of forming false notions regarding sex that may take a long time to overcome later in life. Irony at its finest if you ask me.

  • by sTalking_Goat (670565) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:47PM (#13492598) Homepage
    But then came the Web. Between 1996 and 2004, child-porn cases handled by the FBI increased 23 fold.

    But does this mean that child porn has actually increased or that the internet has just made it easier to find? I hate when people try to use a statistic like this to prove some point, becuase it doesn't really prove anything.

  • First, it presents a greater amount of *hard data* than I have ever seen on this topic before.

    No pun intended? Okay, *someone* had to point this out, I've got karma to burn - LOL :-)

  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by sxltrex (198448) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @03:50PM (#13492626)
    Does it have pictures?
  • one man who works in the oil industry and spends 25% of every working day surfing porn sites and submitting reviews to porn aggregators for a fee.

    Little wonder the fucking thing is trading close to $70/barrel on NYMEX. Just goes to show the disastrous effects porn has effected on the global economy!

  • Why does Slashdot link to BN.com? They sell it for $20.00 ($18.00 if you pay to become a member), but Amazon.com sells it for $16.50 [amazon.com].
  • by rinkjustice (24156) <rinkjustice.NO_SPAMrocketmail@com> on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:14PM (#13492889) Homepage Journal
    pornography pervades the Internet and drives the adoption of new technologies

    (I thought pc games did). Even so, it doesn't justify it's existance. Pornography is addictive, it distorts the viewers perception of reality, destroys families and eats away at the very core of our society because it dehumanizes people.
  • American Porn (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joel_archer (124897) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:18PM (#13492928)
    The best documentary on the business of pornograrphy (from "mom and pop" operations to Fortune 500 companies) is American Porn, produced by Frontline for PBS. It's hard to imagine that the need to feed thousands of websites and their user/subscribers with high quality/high bandwidth pictures isn't significantly driving both internet bandwidth demand and digital photography. BTW, you can watch a streaming video (MS Media Player or Real Player) of that entire documentary for free at Frontline: American Porn [pbs.org]
  • Chick pr0n? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redelm (54142) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:34PM (#13493096) Homepage
    OK, this sounds like a fair survey (if not assessment) of largely male-oriented pictorial pornography.

    What about literary [verbal] pornography largely consumed by women? Of course, I am speaking of the "Romance Novel" genre which sells surprisingly well (1/3rd? total books sales). What pernicious effects does it have on it's consumers: addictive behaviour, dehumanizing, altered expectations, ... ?

  • by 19usc2462bH (709297) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:44PM (#13493192)
    Gory and erotic images can affect your vision [economist.com]

    (From The Economist print edition August 18th 2005)

  • by dogfud666 (912941) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:49PM (#13493242)
    I haven't read the book, so I cannot vouch for it's accuracy nor it's tone. I can, however, say that from personal experience this is an issue. As a recovering porn addict I can also attest to the fact that it _is_ an addiction in the clinical sense. The chemicals released in the brain during orgasm have been estimated to be 6x as powerful as morphine. (alas, they do not last as long!)

    Before you too readily sneer at my assertion that I'm an addict, consider this:

    • I used to surf porn at work ~ when I knew there was a zero tolerance policy and I would well lose my job. I _wanted_ to stop. It wasn't _doing_ anything for me. But I _couldn't_. (and don't give me any shit about "if you wanted to you could." Know any alcoholics? Ask them just how easy it is to "just say no"...)
    • I'm in fucking IT (heh), so I know there is no such thing as "anonymous" access.
    • Yes, I've pulled the NIC from my system after one binge out of fear that I'd be traced.
    • Porn does kill intimacy. It objectifies the opposite sex. It conveniently numbs pretty much everything emotion-related. (as a survival mechanism for dealing with life not being happy, it works well)
    • Porn is NOT a problem for everyone ~ just as alcohol and illegal narcotics had zero appeal to me not everyone will get "hooked" on porn.
    • That said, it is a very, very powerful draw. Seemingly anonymous and free, (ha! tell that to the men and women in my SAA group that have spent hours and hours and hours and lost marriages/families/self respect!) it seems like a perfect "clean", and harmless addiction.
    • like any good drug addiction, it does need to have the ante upped. I started with soft core stuff, but with the availability via the internet I was able to progress...rapidly.
    • Does this make "the internet" bad? Of course not. I'm just saying that's how I got to it.

    Sound like insane behavior? Risking your job, your family (yes, I'm married and have 3 kids) for looking at some (not-even-real) titty? Sounds insane to me. Even when I was doing it and couldn't stop, it sounded insane.

    Does this remove responsibility for action? Absolutly not. I decided to do what I did. There were reasons for it, but ultimately I am responsible for my actions.

    Those who haven't experienced the insanity of an addiction cannot empathize, and really cannot understand. And I accept that. But for those of you out there who are struggling with this you're not alone. It is real. And no, you can't stop on your own. You've tried ~ remember? You've promised yourself never again (after being picked up/jailed/publically humiliated).

    All that to say, porn isn't really the core issue. As with drugs/alcohol/workaholism/etc, it was my way of dealing with life/stress/pain.

    Patrick Cairns: Out of the Shadows [amazon.com] is an excellent book dealing with both sex addiction as well as underlying issues.

    Need to get help? Sex Addicts Anonymous [saa-recovery.org] and Sexaholics Anonymous [sa.org] are both based on the 12 steps of AA and work well. It's hard work, but recovery is possible.

    I'm (trying) to blog bits and pieces of mine at http://cluelessrealist.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

    My .02.

    Peace.
    -adb

    • The difference (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chmcginn (201645)
      What you said - You had a problem, you were addicted, you couldn't stop on your own.

      What the author of the book (at least, according to the reviewer) said -- Some people have problems, they are addicted, they can't stop on their own... and everyone else's right to view this must be restricted to protect them.

      I can sympathize & understand the first statement. The second makes me want to scream.

  • A few points. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Irvu (248207) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @04:59PM (#13493362)
    1. Consider this -- prior to the Internet, law enforcement believed that child porn had been basically wiped out. It was a crime from a previous age, like body snatching. But then came the Web. Between 1996 and 2004, child-porn cases handled by the FBI increased 23 fold. The research presented in Pornified argues that technology does not merely make it easier to serve an existing desire, it allows deep exposure that for many people results in stronger and more specific versions of the the original demand.

      The problem with this argument is that it follows the racial-profiling logic. I have caught more poeple who look like x then x's are more likely. It is arguing from noisy evidence. As has been shown with suicide rates a rise in reporting or a change in who is making the arrests (the FBI versus local or state law enforcement) does not mean that crime itself has gone up. It could be the case that the FBI chose to ignore child porn issues before or that local law enforcement shifted from covering up cases or classifying them one way (child abduction) to another (child porn).

      As the recent scandals in the Catholic Church demonstrated many cases of abuse have gone unreported or underreported for years not because they weren't happening but because those in power, or those victimized chose not to pursue them.

    2. Paul presents most of this neutrally, but you can sense contempt for non-pornographic websites that link to porn sites, or endorse them. She doesn't name any names, but the savvy reader will recognize Fark as one of her targets, and I suspect that Farkers figure among her interviewees.

      1. If you can sense her contempt for one group or another then it isn't a neutral representation.
      2. As a methodological point, if she is drawing most of her interviewees from a single source (e.g. the Fark community) or selecting them by virtue of their kinks then she is biasing her results and her presentation and then we cannot generalize her sample to a larger audience (say all males) (more on this below).
    3. Such "smut" can be defended, of course, and the book gives defenders their say. The obvious response is "porn has been around forever, so stop complaining that it is suddenly a threat to society." But it seems to me that this response is disingenuous. You can't compare an issue of Playboy and the Atari 2600 cartridge of "Custer's Revenge" to the seamless infinity of smut that lives on the Internet today.

      But the comparison of Custer's revenge to the "seamless infinity of smut..." is a fallacious example. Your very choice of these two to compare shows a bias. You have offered a not-so-bad concrete example and an abstract exaggeration. A better (less biased) comparison would be between a specific piece of pornography (say a Jenna Jameson Video), and the naked dancers of ancient rome, or the Harem of Solomon. If you prefer literary comparisons we could compare some online erotic stories to the Song of Solomon from the Bible ("My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels
      were moved for him."). Comparisons of this time are useful and valid, comparisons of the type you presented are, by their nature, extreme and biased because of it.

    4. The second major response to the claims in this book follows the First Amendment. Regardless of harm, we must not start down the slippery slope of restricting access to objectionable material. Paul considers this, but her the book discusses concrete harm, and she argues that civil liberties are not absolute where one person's rights hurt other people (not many argue for their right to cry "fire" in a crowded theater, for example).

      Yes we do have limits where we bump up against the rights of others and, as Thomas Jefferson put it in his "Notes on the State of Virginia"

      But it does me no inju

  • Cause/Effect? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @07:19PM (#13494700)
    Just, in general, the review smacks of assuming cause and effect. For example:

    "Consider this -- prior to the Internet, law enforcement believed that child porn had been basically wiped out. It was a crime from a previous age, like body snatching. But then came the Web. Between 1996 and 2004, child-porn cases handled by the FBI increased 23 fold."

    It seems the reviewer is assuming that greater access to child pornography has triggered a surge, but even he used the word "believed." Simply because prosecutors didn't find any evidence of child porn activity does't mean it didn't exist. All I see here is that easy access to Usenet made it easier to find evidence.

    And in general the reviewer mentions certain anecdotes for their shock value while never making the case that easy access caused this behavior (if anything, I can see this behavior causing a desire to look at the porn in question, not the other way around). It seems it would be possible to find a verified normal, healthy person, throw porn at them and see if there's empirical evidence of a change in the person, but the only answer given is another anecdote that some schools think it would be "too dangerous," regardless of whether the porn in question is late-night Skinemax or Rape Fantasies, Inc. Is it more dangerous than, say, pharmecutical testing?

    And even if it can be shown that porn, any porn, is psychologicall damaging, I still don't see anything suggesting that a normal, healthy person would actually seek out this damaging material on their own, or at least wouldn't have a natural aversion to it if unwittingly exposed to it.
  • by doom (14564) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Wednesday September 07, 2005 @04:05AM (#13497682) Homepage Journal
    Allow me to quote a review by Kay S. Hymowitz [commentarymagazine.com], in the quite conservative publication Commentary:
    Still, especially given its promise, Pornified disappoints. Paul's argument is repetitive, and her prose dreary, a result in part of her overreliance on polls and surveys. She might have saved herself the trouble. As she herself concedes, most of the mind-numbing numbers she transmits are unreliable. Too often, they are also implausible. At one point she cites a Christianity Today survey in which 40 percent of clergy supposedly confessed that they were patrons of Internet porn-- a figure exceeding that for the general male population.

    Paul is also too quick to assume a direct connection between exposure to pornography and corrupted behavior. In her scheme of things, men click on "Live Asian Sluts" and then expect to make their experience imitate it. But surely this oversimplifies things. The obsessive, three-hour-a-day user or the callow teen may indeed develop a distorted view of women and sex because of pornography, but is that necessarily the case for the occasional curious web surfer? Paul shows little interest in such distinctions.

You know that feeling when you're leaning back on a stool and it starts to tip over? Well, that's how I feel all the time. -- Steven Wright

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