Conservatives Are The Biggest Consumers Of Porn? Prove it.

Unfortunately, when the left gets involved in scientific endeavors, science always takes a backseat to their ideology. A perfect example of that would be a piece in the New Scientist called, Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers.

This article is getting a lot of attention, but there are rather obvious problems with the methodology used. See if you can spot them in the article,

“When it comes to adult entertainment, it seems people are more the same than different,” says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.

However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.

“Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by,” Edelman says.

Edelman spends part of his time helping companies such as Microsoft and AOL detect advertising fraud. Another consulting client runs dozens of adult websites, though he says he is not at liberty to identify the firm.

That company did, however, provide Edelman with roughly two years of credit card data from 2006 to 2008 that included a purchase date and each customer’s postal code.

After controlling for differences in broadband internet access between states – online porn tends to be a bandwidth hog – and adjusting for population, he found a relatively small difference between states with the most adult purchases and those with the fewest.

The biggest consumer, Utah, averaged 5.47 adult content subscriptions per 1000 home broadband users; Montana bought the least with 1.92 per 1000. “The differences here are not so stark,” Edelman says.

Number 10 on the list was West Virginia at 2.94 subscriptions per 1000, while number 41, Michigan, averaged 2.32.

Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year’s presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.

Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don’t explicitly restrict gay marriage.

To get a better handle on other associations between social attitudes and pornography consumption, Edelman melded his data with a previous study on public attitudes toward religion.

States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage,” bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior.”

“One natural hypothesis is something like repression: if you’re told you can’t have this, then you want it more,” Edelman says.

I was a psych major in college and had I presented this research to one of my professors with a title like, “Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers,” I would have gotten an “F”. Okay, I would have deserved to have gotten an “F.” You never know with these liberal college professors.

Okay, here’s the very problem: the title references conservatives, “Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers,” but nowhere in the research does Edelman measure the porn consuming habits of conservatives.

“Oh, but he compared the difference between red states and blue states!” Setting aside the fact that not all Republicans are conservatives and not all people who vote for a Republican President are members of the GOP themselves, Red States are not solely made up of Republicans and Blue States are not solely made up of Democrats. If a state went 51/49 for McCain, it’s entirely possible that the 49% that voted for Obama could be the ones watching most of the porn. Of course, the 51% that voted for McCain could be the ones doing it, too, but the point is that this study has no way of distinguishing one side from the other.

“But, John, why would Democrats in a red state be more likely to watch porn than Democrats in a blue state?” Maybe because in a Red State, they don’t have as much access to strip clubs as they do in a Blue State. Maybe that’s their way of striking out at those evil conservatives who they think are denying them a good time. Who knows — and this study makes no effort to find out. It’s garbage.

PS: Incidentally, this isn’t something that should be particularly hard to measure. Do a survey that asks 10 questions. The answers on 8 of the questions could be irrelevant while two of the questions would be, “Do you watch porn?” and “Would you describe yourself as conservative, liberal, moderate, or other?” Compare the responses and there you go, you’ve got something you can use.

PS #2: My guess is that if you did actually do a real study on this question, you’d find that conservatives watched porn, but at a lower level than the general populace and a significantly lower level than liberals. Unfortunately, a study showing that would never get any attention because it would show exactly what everyone expects to be the case.

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