The Controversy Behind Internet Porn and Criminal Behavior

Summary:Interviews with one convicted pedophile and UK researchers conclude that Internet porn makes monsters, while National Geographic sets to air a similarly dubious segment of their series "Taboo." Violet Blue thinks their fear of technology proves they're stuck in the past.

Internet porn is ubiquitous, and most people view it with a shrug and move on their lives. Especially Generation Y.

But UK researchers and now National Geographic have renewed their determination to prove the evils of Internet porn, despite a glaring lack of scientific accuracy and common sense. More than ever, these pundits appear tech-phobic, and their wild internet porn theories prove they’re stuck in a completely different world.

In America, National Geographic is preparing to run a sex- and Internet porn addiction scare segment (Taboo: Sex Addiction, May 9). Their choice of experts shines a troubling light on the aging brand’s credibility.

NatGeo relies on the claims of Doug Weiss, a Christian “sex addiction expert.” Weiss runs a big business on sex and Internet porn addiction – despite the fact that he has no curriculum vitae online, nor a single peer reviewed publication to his name.

In the NatGeo Taboo teaser, Doug Weiss frames himself as an expert on neurobiology – while getting his facts wrong about dopamine and sex, in addition to mentioning enkephalins, which have no known role in orgasm.

Add this to the past week’s assertion from UK researchers that Internet porn leads to the creation of sex criminals, and we may have reached the heights of hysteria.

The Daily Mail led the charge with Psychologists warn of 'causal link' between Internet porn and rise in sex offences.

In it, we’re told that psychologists and researchers claim that “the rise in deviant pornography online” is creating “an increase extreme illegal behaviour in real life.”

Look, I’m as concerned about the effects of Internet porn as anyone. And porn online, without context and used irresponsibly can make people miserable. But I actually read the research – and I make sure it’s real research, because I am serious about knowing the truth.

As like with NatGeo’s so-called expert, closer investigation reveals that the new online porn scare proponents come up less trustworthy than sleazy Internet porn rebillers. Or Facebook.

The Telegraph asserts as fact: Internet porn 'encourages sex offenders’ - Pornography on the Internet is normalising extreme fantasies and increasing the risk of sexual offences, psychologists have warned.

But the articles reveal the fraud in motion behind the headlines:

Dr Tim Jones, a senior lecturer in cognitive psychology at Worcester University and other psychologists, including Britain’s leading criminologist Prof David Wilson of Birmingham City University, carried out a research project which involved a series of interviews with a convicted paedophile known only as James at Grendon Prison, Bucks, which specialises in the therapeutic treatment of sex offenders. He is serving a 14-year sentence for multiple sex offences against children.

Based on this,

Dr Jones said he believed that there was a “causal link” between internet pornography and sex offences.

One person. They interviewed one criminal.

Personally, I think that to distort a topic this serious is criminal in itself.

There are currently two increasing trends in articles about the impact of lots of free Internet porn. I think we’re all interested in what’s being said here in general about the way Internet’s porn on tap is, or may be, changing how we relate to masturbation, sex, and our love relationships.

Aside from the technophobic foundation of Internet porn hysteria, there are two competing fears they’re trying to sell us.

One is that “drowning in internet porn” results in numbness, or even “the vanishing male libido.”

The other is that unlimited access to porn makes men into uncontrollable rapists. This new trend supports the harmful anti-porn myths that porn leads to harder stuff, and that men who “need” porn can’t have real relationships.

None of these assertions have been proven. And I’m certainly not going to believe a Christian profiteer with sketchy credentials or – a pedophile.

No, we don’t expect Daily Mail or Telegraph to present an unbiased or balanced perspective on any given topic – but they should.

We do expect NatGeo to do their homework. And because they didn’t, they’re just as guilty of creating digital age sexual hysteria akin to anti-masturbation “hair on your palms” myths as the newspapers making one pedophile the basis of anti-internet-porn claims.

But that’s boring, you say. It’s way more exciting to think that internet porn is making monsters and destroying relationships and will eat your children. For a readership hooked on horror stories, sure. But we have enough real-life horror stories, thank you. We don’t need to invent more.

Talking about the fallacies of so-called Internet porn addiction is way more interesting. Especially when it comes from practicing psychologists dealing with the fallout from anti-internet-porn foolery.

Psychologist and author Dr. Marty Klein just blogged an exasperated post about his clients and Internet porn in, Porn Addict or Selfish Bastard? Life Is More Complicated Than That.

One thing’s for sure. Internet porn is making some people act crazy - but it’s not the people that are watching it for recreation.

Photo by Kevin Dooley, under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic license, via Flickr.

UPDATE: Zack Whittaker from iGenration weighs in - 'Porn link to sexual deviancy': Why this criminologist is sceptical. See also: Explaining Porn Watching With Science.

Topics: Browser

About

Ms. Violet Blue (tinynibbles.com, @violetblue) is a freelance investigative reporter on hacking and cybercrime at Zero Day/ZDNet, CNET and CBS News, as well as a noted sex columnist. She has made regular appearances on CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show and is regularly interviewed, quoted, and featured in a variety of publications that inclu... Full Bio

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