One thought on “Wrote a thing”

  1. Good piece…and maybe you’d be interested in a blast from the (near) past on this subject.

    When the last government introduced legislation on extreme porn, it was, i think it fair to say, taken aback by the strength of opposition (and that was but a shadow of what is coming together now on Cameron’s proposals).

    They therefore commissioned something called a “rapid evidence assessment” to look at the evidence that watching extreme porn caused harm. This was one of the more dishonest actions that went on during that debate. The review was done adequately, professionally, by three women who were exemplary feminist academics with a VAW pedigree. You would expect them to side with government.

    But actually, the dishonesty lay elsewhere. What they actually did was a literature review regarding effects of porn, rape imagery, etc. on subsequent behaviour…a bit like your Bobo doll experiment.

    After surveying a swathe of literature they concluded – surprise! surprise! – that yes: nasty stuff did lead people to think nasty things. The review failed, i have to say, to show that it led people to do nasty things outside the narrow confines of the lab…and now here’s the big, BIG hole in it.

    Such research is tied to a scope. The scope that the Home Office set these researchers was to look for evidence of harm caused by extreme porn.

    That is not the same scope as asking the researchers to look at whether on balance, say, extreme porn caused more harm than good. And here’s the rub. If you dug a bit deeper into what the researchers were looking at, in order to satisfy HO requirements, they had to ignore conclusions in some papers like…after watching rape depictions, male viewers were more sympathetic to the plight of victims.

    Now i’m not saying that’s definitive, conclusive or similar. I am saying that you are on the right track with your poking at lab research…as well as the way it is used and abused by government.


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