The Correlation Between Internet Porn & Sexual Assault

Since Terje has been nagging me to repost this:

In the midst of all the hooplah generated by Commissar Conroy’s Communist Censorship Crusade, I thought it useful to remind people of the scientific data which has examined the relationship between online access and pornography viewing, and instances of sexual assault.

The data seems fairly unambiguous: after controlling for all external factors, a 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported cases of sexual assault. No other category of crime experienced similar decreases, the logical conclusion being how porn might serve as a substitute for rape.

So. There you have it.

Via Reason who also note that “Just about every social indicator that one might anticipate being affected by the mainstreaming of porn (divorce and abortion rates, sex crimes, sex crimes against children, teen pregnancy, etc.) has for about 15 years generally been moving in a positive direction. That of course would be the very period during which pornography became widely available on the Internet.”

11 thoughts on “The Correlation Between Internet Porn & Sexual Assault

  1. I think correlation vs. causation is what you really have to try and dig out of that data to make it convincing (which would be hard but not impossible). I’ll bet some of those indicators reverse as the economy gets worse (e.g., divorce rates). Of course, that has nothing to do with the availability of pornography either.

  2. I presume that controlling for all external factors would include the individuals economic situation.

    As for the need to identify for causation this is really something the proponents of censorship should be having to do. If the data correlation runs in the opposite direction then clearly they have their work cut out. What they are left with is an asthetic argument over the occasional ugliness of personal freedom. Although given that pornography is generally viewed behind closed doors it is merely an imagined asthetic because unless you are a participant you don’t even see it. And if somebody doesn’t like the thought of people masturbating in front of a computer then they ought to think about something else.

  3. “As for the need to identify for causation this is really something the proponents of censorship should be having to do.”

    Unfortunately, whilst you and I might believe that, it isn’t clear to me that some of the proponents do. That’s why I’d like to see at least a weak test of causality. I imagine a simple test of this could be done by pulling out matched groups with different levels of exposure and seeing whether the behavior of the groups differs.

  4. What may be more important is omitted variable bias.

    The fact that multiple phenomena are trending downwards tends to imply that increased freedom of expression vis a vis the internet is good. What other factor could be common to all?

  5. Rudd has got to go:

    Taxing without legislative authority.

    Banning internet sites and violating our right to implied free speech as per the Commonwealth constitution.

  6. I assume you’re referring to the “alcopops tax?”

    I must say, it is a bit of an oddity that the tax can be collected before it’s passed through both houses… there’s a couple reforms we need right there:

    1) Taxes cannot be collected until the relevant legislation has passed; and
    2) Taxes may not be backdated prior to the date upon which the legislation was passed.

  7. terje: when i first saw that alcopops thing i thought it was pretty bad. but the previously passed legislation allows them to change the tax rate. so it’s not really collecting a tax without a law. what i find disturbing is that the government can pass that kind of legislation 🙂 what is to prevent the government from passing an enabling law that will let them make law by fiat

  8. Drscroogemcduck,
    The opposition would not let it through the senate.
    Also, I think the High Court Judges would rule that it violates our constitution, which mandates that bills must all pass through both chambers.
    and maybe the GG would use the reserve powers to call for an early election.

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