Sunday, October 19, 2014

Studies show conservative religious states have highest web porn searches in country

“Whatever You Have Said in the Dark Will Be Heard in the Light” (Luke 12:3)

Good Day World!

Conservatives love to banter around terms like “family values.”

They often claim to be God-fearing folks with high moral standards. Some are. But even more are down-right hypocrites.

An online search traffic study from behind closed doors in in the Bible belt suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own.

If Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states.

For almost two centuries, what happened in the Bible Belt, sexually at least, stayed in the Bible Belt. Oh sure, there was the odd scandal involving a small-town preacher and the pretty young wife of a deacon or youth minister, or a big-name televangelist who, for example, asked male followers to get vasectomies and then  examined their swollen willies.

And there were the shocking-shocking-I-tell-you revelations of evangelical leaders feeling up young female interns or paying male call boys or even  behaving like Catholic priests.

But most people, for some reason, have had a hard time considering the possibility that conservative religion might actually augment sexual obsessions rather than icing them, that there might be a  pattern of correlation between authoritarian religion, sexual repression, and sneaky sex. 

Enter the Internet, where everything is secret—or not.

In October, two Toronto researchers, Cara MacInnis and Gordon Hodson,  published a study in which they used Google Trends to analyze porn searches.

Individual search records are protected by privacy laws, but it is possible to compare the popularity of search terms across various regions or states, which is what they did.

Specifically, MacInnis and Hodson linked state level information from Gallup polls asking about religious and political attitudes together with a variety of sex and porn-related search terms.

Their study design involves a number of different comparisons and it considered the effects of other variables like poverty and population. Based on related research, they hypothesized that states with higher levels of religiosity and conservatism would have higher rates of search for sexual content.

They made this prediction, and the data bore it out. More religiosity and conservatism meant more searches on words like  sex, gay sex, gay porn, or  sex images.

Business professor Benjamin Edelman at Harvard  found that states with more traditional views of sex and gender have higher rates of paid porn subscriptions—meaning people who are willing to put porn on a credit card.

What’s shameful is not the fact that people find sex arousing and seek it out, even when they feel compelled to do so on the sneak. The problem is hypocrisy and the way that it distorts public policies and parenting, causing real harm to real people.

For over a decade, conservatives forced abstinence-only education on young people, insisting that hormone-ravaged teens could “just say no” when they themselves can’t.

This epic public health failure contributed to the United States having the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world, with  devastating economic consequences for young mothers and their offspring.

Some thrive despite the odds; many do not.  We can do better. (Condensed version. Full article here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

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