Yes, Pornography is Harmful: Pamela Paul’s “The Cost of Growing Up on Porn”

For those of who have read the news about alleged “research” claiming that pornography doesn’t harm us, get a fresh dose of reality from Pamela Paul in her article, “The cost of growing up on porn.” She’s one of the few journalists who can see the hard-to-miss but easy-to-deny problems of pornography. She looks past some deceptive headlines to find out just what kind of research was behind some recent news about the harmless nature of porn. Hmmmm, a surprise! Or is it?

Be sure to read both pages of the article.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

43 thoughts on “Yes, Pornography is Harmful: Pamela Paul’s “The Cost of Growing Up on Porn”

  1. Pornography will bring a man (or woman) down to hell faster than any other tool of the Devil. One of the most productive things one can do with their life is fight against it. Remember, real men don't look at pornography.

  2. No, Weston, porn is 2nd to Mormonism. Remember? lol

    Thanks for the link, Jeff. I'll take a closer look when I have more time.

  3. Remember that a lot of people who actually view porn don't see it as a sin or wrong, rather than calling names, wouldn't it be better to show them that there is real happiness out there instead of just pleasure enhancements?

  4. I think video games are more harmful than porn.
    I see lots of people saying how it ruined their marriage etc. But the plural of anecdote is not data. I have yet to see a study that shows porn is harmful.

  5. Pops, I agree. Would you mind going out and getting some first hand experience with that? Report back and let us all know how it went.

  6. Pops, a casual scrutiny of the medical literature regarding injuries caused by falls from height will adequately address your skepticism.

  7. ie, there could be lots of people falling off tall buildings, and we might just be unaware of it. Only those who fall and enter the health-care system (or morgue system) are reported. Therefore, falls from tall buildings that result in injuries could be just an insignificant fraction of all cases where people fall off of tall buildings.

  8. "I have yet to see a study that shows porn is harmful."

    This depends on your definition of "harmful."

    If we're talking about a person's ability to go to a mormon Temple then it's certainly harmful. If we're speaking of whether a person can be a fucntioning upstanding person in their society and not become a sexual deviant then saying that "porn is harmful" becomes a much tougher thing to make a conclusion about. Whether people want to admit it or not, porn is a pretty common thing for males to engage in. The ease of access that the web affords has made it all the more common. Chances are that of the males that you know in your life very few of them abstain completely from it. It's rather difficult to say what effect this has on our societies. When we say things like, "Pornography will bring a man (or woman) down to hell faster than any other tool of the Devil." I don't really get what that means. It brings them to hell? Porn is a tool of the devil? :/ It seems more like it's a byproduct of the insanely strong sexual drives that humans and all living creatures (whose sustainability necessitates procreation/mating) possess. There's not a need to contrive some malevolent being that is behind it. Your body provides plenty enough explanation as to why men want to look at it. It's the same reason we're driven to eat things that make us fat. It's in our genetics.

    Don't get me wrong. That we have a natural desire (strong as it is) to consume something doesn't get us off the hook. As human beings we live in complicated societies and we often need to overcome those urges in order to weigh things out and decide what we want more. Porn is probably not a good thing to be consuming (definitely not in high amounts) if a person has or plans on having a successful relationship. There are a lot of byproducts that go along with porn as well. There's a lot of ethical concerns about why people get into such things (sex abuse, drug abuse, generally very low self esteem) that pornography further fuels and then there are certainly cases of people that let porn consume their lives to such a degree that it destroys most everything else in their lives.

    Basically in a nut shell what I'm saying is this. Porn can certainly be detrimental. Yet to act as though anyone that partakes of it is some sort of "loser" or monster, is pretty silly. Again, the vast majority of people you meet probably are looking at it. Trying to belittle them or act as though they are horrible for doing so helps nothing.

  9. "There are a lot of byproducts that go along with porn as well. There's a lot of ethical concerns about why people get into such things (sex abuse, drug abuse, generally very low self esteem) that pornography further fuels"

    For clarification in this statement I was referring to the "actors" that perform such things. Not implying that people engaging in the viewing of it do so for these reasons.

  10. "Whether people want to admit it or not, porn is a pretty common thing for males to engage in."

    The fact that males is an activity that males predominantly engage in is NOT true.

    Various studies show that alot of women watch porn. One study I'm aware of found that 66% of women watch porn.

    I wrote a blog article about how pervasive porn watching is among women:

    I also recommend reading this article about how Churches are dealing with women who watch porn:

  11. I have yet to see a study that shows porn is harmful.

    Head stuck in the sand, or just don't know how to do research?

  12. Thanks for the links. I didn't realize it was that amongst women. The point I guess was that use of the stuff is common, not the exception.

  13. @ Mateo: I'm glad you enjoyed the links.

    The reason why I brought that up is to destroy the myth that porn watching is exclusively a male thing.

    I'd like to see that myth die and for people to realize that it isn't a male or female thing.

    Its a problem that many people face. And its about time the LDS community realize it instead of making it appear that only one gender struggles with it.

  14. Bookslinger:

    That's a nice logical point. It would be more complete to make an argument using medical data, physics (to determine impact velocity), and an engineering argument based on the structure of the human body and the impact surfaces.

  15. I see no one has bothered to post a link to the study that shows porn is harmful. I guess that comment about head stuck somewhere seems to apply to someone else.

  16. "Head stuck in the sand, or just don't know how to do research?"
    And your link to this non-existent report would be forthcoming soon? Or do you just have no idea what you are talking about?

  17. The accusations of "do your own research" are seriously cracking me up. 🙂 What do you guys even mean by this? Also if you can't establish what you mean by "harmful" then the whole argument is pointless. If you're trying to show that it causes physical detriment to the human body then you'd be hard pressed to show this. If you're stating that it causes relationship problems then you'd probably be using correlation data that points at divorce rates that involved pornography or something.

    It really seems like people are just talking past each other when one says, "porn is harmful" and the other person says, "porn has not been shown to be harmful". It's very likely that you're both right because neither of you is defining what is meant by your statement and you could easily be referring to different aspects of a very vague generalization.

  18. I say "do your own research" because the assertion that "no study" has shown harmful effects of pornography is a sophomoric tactic. Of course there are studies showing pornography to be harmful, just as there are studies showing it not to be harmful. This dichotomy is addressed in the literature, e.g. this study (which also includes dozens of references to studies of both kinds).

  19. How bout this for harmful: rape.

    How does porn affect the rate of rape?

    Well in Japan, where porn was illegal until some time, the rate decreased by two-thirds ("from 4677 reported cases with 5464 offenders in 1972 to the 1995 incidence of 1500 cases with 1,160 offenders")

    This, from a shcholarly study:

    Another quote: "Correlated with an increase in pornography we found a decrease in gang rapes in Japan. Again, similar findings had been reported elsewhere. In West Germany, from 1971 to 1987 group rape rates decreased 59% from 577 to 239 cases."

    If you have any doubts, please refer to the discussion section of the link, as it anticipates some of the questions I had for it myself.

    Now when I read Jeff's post, I completely agreed with it. But after reading that study, I'm having trouble upholding the position that porn does more harm than good. In fact, I would go so far as to say that porn has done very great things (almost like how religion has some bad aspects to it, but has very positive effects as well?).

    Anyways. Some may say that porn will bring a man down to Hell, and I completely agree that it can take a relationship to a nasty turn. But have you ever met somebody or been friends with someone who has been raped?

    It is Hell. And following the data from the (really lengthy) scholarly study done on porn, I'll take the decrease in the rate of rape. If porn is harmful to an individual, so what? Rape, I'm sure we can agree, is a million times worse than watching porn.

    For lack of opposing evidence, and instead, supporting evidence; it has my support.

  20. @open minded

    Good point. This of course doesn't prove that rape is inhibited by porn use but does show a correlation. That's primarily where the problems arise in these sorts of discussions is that people want to claim that science and statistics are on their side and that thing x is "definitely Bad" or "Definitely good!"

    Very few people in prison are atheists, but I wouldn't say that believing in god makes people criminals. 😉

    I'm not saying this to attack your claim. Your claim is just as valid as the one being made by the "Porn is super bad" crowd. In the end this issue really is a religious one. Porn by itself is pretty hard to show that it's ALWAYS harmful for people just like saying that Alcohol is always negative, or Pre-marital sex is always bad. It's a generalization based on religious dogma and only works if you know that there is a universal rule book by which all humanity subscribes. This is a claim that I have yet to see demonstrated.

  21. You're right. It only shows a significant decline in rape correlating with the increase in the availability of porn while refuting the impact of other cultural trends being the cause of the decline.

    I don't believe in black-and-white conclusions, though.

    So I stick with porn does more good than bad. If I was still the evangelist I once was, I would've ended up denouncing it anyways though, so saying it's a religious argument is…more realistic.

  22. What I enjoyed most about this is that all these people get on the band wagon of Porn is of the devil or 'bad' but when asked for their source for these ideas, well, the answer back is…nothing. No links, no studios shown, nada! They play the game of saying everyone should do their own research. LOL which is code for, I have no idea why I say the things I do nor can I back up anything I say, so I will leave it to you to research why it is I say what I do. Kinda pathetic.
    Typical sheep, who can not think for themselves.

  23. It isn't as cut and dried as some here would have you believe. Try, for example. It's a metastudy of numerous studies, some concluding that pornography is harmful and others concluding that it isn't. There are almost six pages of references to keep you all busy if you really care to do some reading to find out what the studies really say, rather than picking one to your liking and pretending it represents the complete body of literature.

  24. @ the last Anon,
    Awww… you ruined our ability to jump to baseless conclusions by providing that link! 😉

    Good info, and rather thorough. As is typically the case in life, things hardly ever boil down to a simple snarky soundbite.

  25. This topic is similar to other accusations about media or the world in general. I remember recently seeing this article about how

    soy milk is making kids gay
    and its the same sort of thing. You're taking a VERY complex issue with all sorts of factors and claiming that one variable in the mix is SURELY the cause of a particular thing (even though you have the vast majority of people that use said thing that are NOT falling in line with your claim.) Also these sorts of claims often ignore the other possibilities. Perhaps people with aggressive sexual inclinations tend to seek out pornography that feeds that desire? There are a lot of possibilities and variables at work.

    There is certainly a possibility of severe addiction when it comes to porn. This is true of a LOT of things in life and generally if a person is horribly addicted to something it's going to have a very detrimental effect on other areas of their life.

    I'm not saying porn is good for people and that we should embrace it. I just think the claims that "yep, we know for a fact that porn does thing X" are a bit misguided.

  26. Yes, thanks for that link. Seems there is evidence that porn is not harmful. Whowouldathunkit?

    I didn't see any evidence of this though "Pornography will bring a man (or woman) down to hell faster than any other tool of the Devil"

    Can someone please point me to the evidence that;
    1. Porn is a tool of the devil.
    2. It will bring a man (or woman) down to hell.

    I can't wait for the study that shows that. LOL

  27. Cherry-picking again, I see. In the presence of studies showing both harm and lack of harm in different circumstances, the obvious conclusion is, "It depends on the circumstances."

    When it comes to the devil and the hell part, the unfortunate bit is that you are the study. Good luck with that.

  28. For all the jumping up and down that people do about porn it is amazing that they just can not point to any evidence that it brings people to hell, is from the devil and it is the Great Destroyer of lives they say it is. It is this very sheep mentality that causes others to question the sanity of Believers. It is a very real demonstration of their inability to give verifiable evidence that supports their fantastical beliefs. So like the anonymous above, they resort to the argument that is more fantastical, that of, We will know when we are all dead, then who will be laughing then when you are in hell? An argument that presuppose there is some fiery furnace where people suffer eternal damnation. Dante anyone?
    Good luck with that to you sir. Because when facts are not on your side, the best you can hope for is luck.

  29. …they just can not point to any evidence that it brings people to hell, is from the devil and it is the Great Destroyer of lives they say it is…

    Don't you need to start with evidence that there is such a thing as hell and a devil? If you don't believe those, why would you give a rip one way or the other?

  30. @ Papa D:

    The general Conference did talk about how porn affects men and women but I think it would be more helpful to the Sisters of the Church if the General Authorities directly to them about the harms of watching it as well.

  31. Ok, so that article I referenced is the exact one she talks about in the link. That is what I get for not reading the link prior to posting. Its really good, read the whole thing. (if you have the stomach for it)

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