11/17/2007

How the Web Prevents Rape

This article is looking at the impact that internet pornography is having on the rape rates across the nation, and surprisingly enough, it is finding that the two are inversely related. Therefore, the studying is saying that as the level of internet porn availability increases in a particular area, the level of rapes in that area decrease. The interesting thing about this study is that it has almost 50 independent studies it can survey all at once, because the internet became extremely popular in each of the 50 states at different times. This interesting correlation is not only being studied at universities by economists and psychologists, but it is also being studied by law enforcement around the nation. What exactly should be done about this correlation is still up for debate. Should we expose people to more pornography in order to decrease rape rates? The experts have their opinions, but what do you think?

6 comments:

Logan said...

Um, NO! Psychological studies have proven for years that the human mind is extremely susceptible to all incoming information, and that the overall sum of thought and behavior is a collection of all of input data received from your senses. In computers they use the term GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) which roughly means that if you put something in the system, eventually it comes back out.

Now, does that mean that everyone that has seen violence or sexually explicit material will someday be a murder and a rapist? Absolutely not. But it does mean that the propensity to deem such activities as normal instead of abnormal increases with perpetual exposure.

First we abhor it, then we tolerate it, then we embrace it. An example is in the military, for years they had trouble getting new soldiers to get over the psychology of pulling the trigger on another human being. They developed shooting games like paintball and first-person shooter video games to assist in the desensitization of their fighting force, and have since reported much lower rates of hesitation when it is a real battle.

peyton said...

I disagree as well. I liked the support from the violent movies in the article, although the author did not completely rely on it in the end.

Dr. Tufte said...

I laughed so hard at the second to last paragraph in the original source.

Anyway, Logan and Peyton should have gone and read the underlying research (although that isn't required to comment). Section IV of the paper spends a few pages on earlier evidence.

The gist of that is that 1) earlier estimates of the correlation of pornography and rape were biased towards finding a relationship, and 2) the author (Kendall) is not the first to find evidence of substitutability after correcting for that. Also, there is considerable evidence ingrained in the public consciousness that rapists often possess pornography; but there is very little awareness of how many people possess pornography but don't commit rapes.

Gavin said...

Extra Credit - Dr. Tufte
Dr. Tufte that paragraph is funny, "pornus interruptus?" Here is the real truth, short-run trends are different than long-run trends. The marginal value changes as consumption increases. The internet is not a long-run substitute for rape, it is a compliment. In the short-run it appears to be a substitute for rape. Watch dateline NBC "How to Catch a Predator" series and you will see that the internet both increases the damage caused by fantasizing, and creates access to a new market, children. The logical fallacy in this argument is drawing conclusions from short-run results.

William said...

Dr. Tufte,
I personally would have to disagree with you and the article. I first hand know of a family friend that started out just looking at porn and then it progressed to a lot more (he never raped someone), but his obsession became so great that he lost his marriage and everything that was of value to him.

I think porn is a serious issue that we all too often laugh and joke about and think it is okay. Porn does not affect just adults but many children are addicted to it. The average age that a person sees their first porn is age 11. I think we need to address this issue instead of just laughing it off or allowing more of it. Many times porn does not just stop at porn and can be easily progressive.

If you would like more information about the effects of pornography please visit www.xxxchurch.com.

Dr. Tufte said...

Gavin: perhaps so. I don't think you should rush to judgment on the basis of that show though - we don't have a sample of how it would have performed in year's past.

William - I'm not laughing this off at all (although that one paragraph did make me laugh). But, I would still stand by my claim that this result is the current "state of the art" and that what we seem to be doing here is rehashing the same arguments that this paper just shot full of holes.