The Washington Post posted an op-ed about a week ago with the title Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis. The author is listed as follows: Gail Dines is a professor of sociology at Wheelock College in Boston and author of “Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality.” To not put too fine a point on it sociologists are generally full of shit. Sometimes they are correct. Oftentimes they are wrong. But they are always full of shit. The “reproducibility crisis” means we need to look at a lot of science with a skeptical eye, from the sexy findings of social psychology, to the medical studies which clinicians rely upon. Out of all these scholarly endeavors sociology may be the most insulated from concerns of reproducibility since it is such a brazen prostitute of a discipline, beholden to political considerations Über Alles.
Dines uses the words “association” and “correlation” several times. Here is the only reference to cause in the piece: “Pornography can cause lifelong problems if young people are not taught to distinguish between exploitative porn sex and healthy, safe sex.” They rest on associations and correlations.
If you’ve read Jim Manzi’s Uncontrolled you know that you need to be very wary of modest correlations in social science. I would not be surprised if Brazilian fart porn was associated with sexually deviant behavior. But my own supposition is that it is more likely that Brazilian fart porn is an indicator of serious underlying problems, rather than the cause of those problems.
But, we do have a massive social experiment going on today in relation to the impact of porn on society. Starting around 1995, and at various points of initialization over the next ten years in various locales, the internet became ubiquitous enough in the developed world that the tight constraint on “supply” of porn was removed, so that it met “demand.” This is pushing porn in more perverse and kinky directions. It also means youth over the past generation have had incredibly easy access to very hardcore pornography.
As you can see above in the early 1990s the FBI began receiving fewer reports of rape, concomitant with the decline in violent crime generally. The decline in rape has continued through the age of porn. I doubt there is a causal relationship. But it goes to show that there is no macrosocial evidence that porn results in increased rapes in the aggregate.