Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bogus Study Claims More Conserv Pervs

From ABC News: Porn in the USA: Conservatives Are Biggest Consumers

This study, published in its original form here, originates from Ben Edelman, an assistant professor of business at Harvard Business School. His credentials look to be impeccable, but certain conclusions from the study are bunk, and others didn't take a PhD from Harvard to figure it out.

First, Edelman's research indicates that urban areas show the most paid subscriptions to pornography websites. Is that any big revelation? Young singles and people with greater disposable income are much more likely to live in urban areas.

Second, Edleman notices marriage decreases porn subscription purchases significantly - again, no surprise there. Why buy a menu when you can go to the restaurant?

Edelman then notes that in regions reporting the highest number of church attendances, subscription rates do not decrease. According to the paper, however, "a statistically significantly smaller proportion of subscriptions begin on Sundays, compared with other regions." Well, duh. A community that reports the most church-goers -- even assuming these church-goers are the same ones buying subscriptions -- will not have as many purchases on a Sunday. Activities are different, and if anything else, guilt and facade of righteousness will keep subscribers at bay for the day.

It is certainly possible that the subjects of this survey are actually self-described "Christians" (nothing in the survey confirms it) but anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of research from the Barna group knows that few people claiming Christianity actually profess any strong values or ethics consistent with the teachings of Christ.

Edelman's final analysis is where it gets most interesting. Writes he:

Subscriptions are slightly more prevalent in states that have enacted conservative legislation on sexuality.
Doesn't it make sense that in a court system where the vast majority of decisions are reactive rather than proactive, it naturally follows that such laws would exist where pornography is already a problem? Edelman fails to differentiate between "problem" (cause) and "solution" (effect), and concludes that the states are just as "bad" as other states because they've shown a greater propensity to restrict access to pornography, when in fact the opposite is true.
In the 27 states where “defense of marriage” amendments have been adopted (making same-sex marriage, and/or civil unions unconstitutional), subscriptions to this adult entertainment service are weakly more prevalent than in other states.
Regardless of his results about pornography, no distinction is made between heterosexual-themed and homosexual-themed content - this could easily reflect negative attitudes towards homosexuals by either hypocritical/struggling religious persons, or by secularists who see no problem with pornography but still oppose homosexuality. Subscribing to porn sites says nothing about positions on homosexuality.
[S]ubscriptions are also more prevalent in states where surveys indicate conservative positions on religion, gender roles, and sexuality.
It is here that Edelman makes his biggest error. By applying the characteristics of his sample to the characteristics of all members of the state, he commits a grave logical error (known as "composition") which may seem easy in statistics, but is seldom warranted unless there is great uniformity between data sets being compared. (Edelman uses Pew research for his population statistics.) His point is supposed to be that conservatives are just as likely to buy porn subscriptions as liberals.

Even more galling, Edelman tells ABC that "some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by." This statement is utterly devoid of evidence, and presumably not backed up by either statistical or anecdotal evidence within the paper, since he presents none. This is his normative opinion of the way things are.

Now, granted, I will allow that his claim may in fact be quite true. Christians still struggle against the sinful flesh. But when one is presenting one's self as the author of a study that used scientific methods and statistical research, one cannot use it as a platform to tout intuitive or normative views of society.

Edelmon's methods for determining religiosity are expressed as follows:
In states where more people agree that “Even today miracles are performed by the power of God” and “I never doubt the existence of God,” there are more subscriptions to this service. Subscriptions are also more prevalent in states where more people agree that “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage” and “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior.”

None of these are an indication of religious devotion, conviction or ongoing practice of an individual's faith.

Edelman concludes:
"On the whole, these adult entertainment subscription patterns show a remarkable consistency: all but eleven states have between two and three subscribers to this service per thousand broadband households, and all but four have between 1.5 and 3.5. With interest in online adult entertainment relatively constant across regions, there’s little sign of a major divide."

Again, the good professor demonstrates an appalling discrepancy in his reasoning by assuming that because perverts exist equally in states known to be "red states" (IE, having more religious values, or voted for a conservative candidate) the conservative individuals within those states must themselves be partakers of pornography.

Edelman's methodology itself is questionable. He worked off of multiple data sets, but primarily Pew (for state demographic information) and information from a consulting firm, which gave him an anonymous list of credit card information that included zip codes. There is a hideous error lurking here; Edleman's data pool is already polluted. He was not conducting a purely random study of persons in given regions to determine their propensity towards pay-to-play sin online. He was working from a pool where involvement with pornography was a foregone conclusion. Does it surprise him that perverts are equally distributed across the continental United States? Can the fact that lustful citizens have equal representation in most states really take anyone by surprise? This study says absolutely nothing about the likelihood of "red staters" or "blue staters" to buy porn. ABC News' jubilant conclusion (in brief, "conservs are pervs too!") is once again pure media bias oozing through.

Another site made other more polarized observations about the article (I do not advise clicking on the link as the author seems to be under the impression that pixelating a pornographic image makes it okay), noting:
[T]he study tracked only paid porn services and completely overlooked the vast quantity of free porn consumed online. That decision, it seems to us, immediately throws all the survey’s results into question. ... While we think it’s quite possible that conservatives buy more porn, we’re also think it’s quite possible that liberals actually consume more porn. The difference, we think, is that conservatives pay for it, but liberals don’t. After all, why would anyone think that the same people who want free healthcare, free welfare and free mortgages wouldn’t also want free porn.


According to Edelman’s study, some of the factors that influence porn purchases include age (people over 65 consume less, people 15-24 consume more), education (those with college educations tend to consume more porn), and location (urban residents consume more porn).

Every demographic study shows that Democrat voters skew younger than Republicans. Shouldn’t we then assume that Democrats consume more porn?

We’re always told that Democrats are more educated than Republicans. Shouldn’t we then assume that Democrats consume more porn?

Democrats dominate urban areas and Republicans dominate everywhere else. Shouldn’t we then assume that Democrats consume more porn?

In conclusion, it's ironic to see once again that to secular progressives, the exclusive cardinal sin in a world of relativism is hypocrisy. If you consulted Prof. Edelman's opinion on the subject of porn, I'm sure he would be unwilling to describe it as sinful or harmful, and hasten to add that he only viewed it as the subject of research for his study. (Scientists just love to claim objective research -- and probably tax deductions -- on "research" like this.) Still further, isn't it ironic that Edelman and the left as a whole have been pushing this so-called sexual "liberation" for decades? Starting with the so-called "sexual revolution" of the 1970's, standards have declined, pornography has become mainstream, boundaries on public content have been increasingly loosened...all of the lasciviousness and prurience the left has wanted. (With it has come a new wave of fathers abandoning responsibility, increased diseases, teen pregnancy and abortion, but that's beside the point.) Why, as tolerance continually conforms to liberal standards, do liberals then mock their opponents for falling prey? Should they not embrace the "enlightenment" of their would-be enemies? Or do they, like the devil, enjoy beating their enemies over the head with their own standards?

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