Link Found Between Pedophilia and Reading the Deseret News

The title of this blog post is about as accurate as this one from the Deseret News yesterday: Link found between porn use and supporting same-sex marriage.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by the ridiculous article, considering the source. The goal of the article is quite obvious: to try and correlate the two things in readers’ minds. It opens with this incredible paragraph:

Our take: Could adult men’s support for redefining marriage be a byproduct of regular exposure to pornography? Mark Regnerus, in a recent column on Public Discourse, shares some interesting research about this emotionally charged and controversial question. He concludes that “contrary to what we might wish to think, young adult men’s support for redefining marriage may not be entirely the product of ideals about expansive freedoms, rights, liberties, and a noble commitment to fairness. It may be, at least in part, a byproduct of regular exposure to diverse and graphic sex acts.”

So the Deseret News would like you to believe that people who support equal marriage rights are perverts whose political views are swayed by their porn consumption. What an insidious and disgusting tactic for a news organization to use.

I’m not one for ad hominem attacks generally, but Mark Regnerus deserves a bit of attention here as it his “study”. He and his research have been repeatedly criticized by sociologists for numerous reasons and his study is now the subject of a scientific misconduct inquiry.

If you read Regnerus’ actual article, you’ll notice a number of important points:

  • He admits that women support marriage equality more than men, but consume porn less. Surely that blows his theory out of the water, right? Oh no, not for this intrepid researcher! He throws women out of the equation entirely because they provide data that doesn’t support his intended conclusion.
  • He even admits, “While I realize that eight of the top ten states in terms of online porn consumption voted Republican in the 2008 presidential election..” Oops! Strike two! But he justifies it by saying he doesn’t want to get bogged down by state-wide data. Throw out more data!
  • Regnerus continues, “Data from the New Family Structures Study reveal…” Uh oh! Mr. Regnerus fails to mention that the study he is referencing is his own study, managed and run by himself. Strike three!
  • “But of the men who view pornographic material “every day or almost every day,” 54 percent “strongly agreed” that gay and lesbian marriage should be legal, compared with around 13 percent of those whose porn-use patterns were either monthly or less often than that.” Gee, Mr. Regnerus, do you think that maybe, just maybe, a certain segment of the population views pornography differently and/or is less ashamed of admitting pornography usage?
  • The number one porn-consuming state in the US, by a truly massive margin, is Utah. And yet somehow Utah contributed the second most of any state (behind California) to passing Prop 8.

This is the same kind of flawed reasoning that made some of our friends and family jump to assumptions about Meghan and I when we left the Mormon church. Why do people need to make judgmental and accusatory assumptions in order to reduce their cognitive dissonance?

I support marriage equality for these reasons:

  • It doesn’t harm anyone.
  • The relationship between two adults who love each other is their business, regardless of their genders. It’s certainly not my business or yours.
  • My marriage is one of the best and most important things in my life and I would not dare deny that to anyone else because of their sexual preference.
  • The pursuit of love is perhaps the most fundamental and important freedom we have.

The following are not reasons for my support:

  • Defending ‘traditional’ marriage. Society has rejected racism, slavery, sexism, animal cruelty, incest, and countless other ‘traditional’ acts and we’re better off for it.
  • Religious views. When churches start paying taxes like other corporations and stop claiming peculiar rights not granted to other institutions, they can get into the political sphere.
  • My consumption or non-consumption of porn.

Note to Deseret News: If there was actually a link, maybe it would be because people who aren’t ashamed of their own sexuality would like to extend that same self-respect to others?

14 thoughts on “Link Found Between Pedophilia and Reading the Deseret News

  1. I see this link between Deseret News and paedophelia more as the result of a form of the well-documented disorder of brain-rot. Scientists generally believe that there is a link between brain-rot and the reading Deseret News or even the watching of Fox News on the telly. Several same scientists have been able to trace a further link between a more pronounced brain-rot disorder and paedophelia, lending credence to the theory that there is a at least an indirect link between reading too much Deseret News and the eventual uptake of practising paedophelia. The phenomenon is much like that addressed in Spencer W. Kimball’s book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” in which Kimball documented a link between masturbation and homosexuality, now something that is widely accepted in the medical community.

  2. Great blog post! This is terrible journalism for such a large newspaper.

    However you have some sloppy research of your own on here. You say that Utah is the number one porn-consuming state “by a truly massive margin”. This is absolutely not true, at least according to the link you provided. Utah only outranks the next highest state by 0.044%. The authors don’t mention one state being significantly higher or lower than its neighbors, and the most they say in this regard is that there is a “weak” relationship between states’ conservativism and its porn consumption. Where did you get “massive” from?

    You also fall victim to the same error as the researcher that you are criticizing, that of hypothesizing after the results are known. In Regnerus’s case, he chose only the group that showed the results he wanted AFTER collecting the data. In your own case, you defined your metric of conservativism after the data was collected. There are many ways to measure conservativism in which Utah does not come out on top, but you did not consider any of those other measures because they do not support your point.

    I don’t mean to be a troll here but this is important since your blog post is about misusing research and statistics.

    • Sorry, but that’s not what the data shows. Utah’s rate of porn consumption is significantly higher, even controlling for various demographic variables. The numbers speak for themselves. Utah’s rate of porn subscriptions, when controlling for broadband usage, is nearly triple that of its neighbor Idaho.

      There certainly are methods to show that Utah is extremely conservative. But I never attempted to make that point or use it as proof of anything. I’m really confused by your criticism. The only point I made, which doesn’t directly tie into conservatism, was that Utah was deeply involved in opposing marriage equality in the Prop 8 campaign. And I provided the data to back that up.

      • Sorry I wasn’t more clear. I’ll back up a little. I saw this chart on the website, but those numbers are just statistical noise without effect size. This phenomenon is more commonly known as “margin of error” when it is talked about in polling data. In this case, Utah is well within the margin of error of all or almost all of the other states that were measured. The fact that Utah’s number is three times as large as another number does not make it large or even outside of the margin of error. In any case, you absolutely cannot call it “a simply massive margin”.

        If you don’t believe my assertion that this does not say anything meaningful, please believe the researchers themselves. Nowhere in the study do they say that Utah is statistically significantly higher than any other. You can bet they would if that had been the case. That is too important a finding for anyone to leave out. In fact, what they emphasize repeatedly is that everyone appears about the same numbers-wise.

        I should have been more specific about what’s wrong with using contributions to oppose gay marriage as a metric of conservativism. But you can replace “gay marriage support” for “conservativism” in my original comment, and the point still holds. It is only one measure of support, and we know there was a mitigating factor in this case: that the LDS church essentially asked its members to contribute to the prop 8 campaign. So it seems more likely that it was the church’s anouncement — and not porn usage — that caused members to support prop 8, as you implied.

        Like I said, I am with you as far as your general point goes. It was irresponsible for them to word their article in such a misleading way. And I am someone who supports marriage equality, so please don’t take this as an attack on your worldview. But it won’t help to criticize things like this while doing the very things we are criticizing.

        • Thanks. I majored in statistics, so I’m quite clear on what a margin of error is. When referring to Table 2, the table of data I referenced, the author of the study called the correlation statistically significant (though it’s a correlation that doesn’t apply to my interpretation of the data). It’s true that he didn’t specifically say that Utah’s difference was statistically significant, but its difference from the other 49 states makes it clear that significance there is very reasonable to assume without more information about the study’s methodology. My guess is that the author was trying to make conclusions based on overall data without spending effort comparing individual states.

          Should I have probably used a different word than ‘massive’? Yes, but then again this is my personal blog and not a professional report. In my opinion from looking at the data presented, it’s a fairly appropriate word and accurately portrays the difference between Utah and the rest of the states in rates of porn subscriptions.

  3. Or, in keeping with the very teabonic knee-jerks who mounted their horses of outrage against “Pants” Day, Dec 16, we could call the Deseret News’s “news” **rediculous**. You do a nice job slicing and dicing, MacAskills.

  4. That’s another thing – this Deseret News article will only be further fuel to the fire causing Bishops to exercise unrighteous judgement and dominion over certain others. Very sad.

  5. Actually, Stanley Greenberg, who was President Clinton’s pollster, found the responses to five questions were very good indicators of one’s political persuasion. I’ve had trouble finding a link, but one of those five questions, iirc, was use of porn, which correlated with being on the Left.

    States with higher marriage rates, lower abortion rates, and higher white fertility all skew well to the right on the political spectrum. In 2004, 8 of the 10 states with the highest abortion rates voted for Kerry. The two which voted for Bush, Florida and Colorado (iirc), were “purple” states. It may be impossible to believe that conservatives aren’t all a bunch of ignorant redneck hypocrites, but people really do tend to mostly *try* to act in accordance with their professed beliefs.

    As for women’s lower porn use but higher support for gay marriage, that is simply a separate, confounding variable. If you looked at women’s porn use, higher rates of use also probably correlate with support for gay marriage.

    • You’re using a voluntary response sample for a question that is embarrassing to people. Religious fundamentalists would be less likely to admit to porn usage, but obviously represent a larger proportion of the Republican party than the Democrat one. The interesting thing about the study I linked is that it is hard data, not a voluntary response. So it’s not obscured by such factors.

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