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By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, DC, March 9, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pornography researcher has ripped the credibility of a 2009 study by a University of Montreal postdoctoral student that made headlines worldwide by claiming there were no adverse effects from pornography.

In her Sunday column for the Washington Post, Pamela Paul, author of the 2005 book “Pornified: How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families,” attacked Simon Louis Lajeunesse’s findings as “flimsy 'if only it were true!’ research” that “isn't an acceptable substitute for thorough study.”

Lajeunesse, an associate professor at the University of Montreal's School of Social Work, declared that researchers beginning the project ”couldn't find any” young men who did not consume pornography - and therefore, that “guys who do not watch pornography do not exist.”  After interviewing 20 heterosexual male university students who consume pornography, Lajeunesse concluded that pornography did not affect their perceptions of women or their own sexuality. (See LSN coverage here

But Paul pointed out that Lajeunesse has yet to publish an actual report, and added that the “findings, such as they exist, were based on interviews with 20 undergraduate males who detailed their views on sex, gender and pornography in one to two lickety-split hours.”

In contrast, Paul said, she herself spent quantitatively more time with five times as many interviewees than Lajeunesse: at least four hours with the hundred men she interviewed. She pointed out that unlike the twenty men in Lajeunesse’s study, who had to meet face-to-face with a social worker, her subjects had the option of speaking their minds honestly through a telephone interview.

Studies that apply the scientific method even more rigorously than Paul's own research has already been done, the expert noted, and yielded conclusions that are far afield from Lajeunesse’s overblown findings. 

She pointed to a 1979 study by Jennings Bryant, a professor of communications at the University of Alabama, which she called “one of the most powerful peer-reviewed lab studies of the effects of porn viewing on men.”  

“Summary of results: not good,” said Paul.

“Men who consumed large amounts of pornography were less likely to want daughters, less likely to support women's equality and more forgiving of criminal rape.”

When she asked Bryant why no follow-up research has been conducted, Paul says the professor responded that, because the study so clearly revealed the psychological harm of pornography on human test subjects, the ethics boards refused to give permission for follow-up studies.

“If you can't demonstrate that what you're doing to research participants is ultimately beneficial and not detrimental, and you can't eradicate any harm, you're required not to do that thing again,” explained Bryant.

Paul revealed further anecdotes in her research that contrasted strongly with the young men in Lajeunesse’s research, who insisted they were not affected by pornography.

“In dozens of interviews with casual and habitual porn users,” she said, ”I heard things such as: ‘Real sex has lost some of its magic.' ‘If I'm looking like eight or 10 times a day, I realize I need to do something to build my confidence back up.’‘My wife would probably think I was perverted and oversexed if she knew how much I looked at it every day.’”

She points out that the website iVillage.com has a message board devoted to “relationships damaged by pornography,” which as of the publication of Paul’s article contained more than 32,280 messages.

Paul noted that, even as one young man told her that “porn may have destroyed my relationship with my girlfriend,” he admitted: “I always feel that I'm over porn, but I find myself keep coming back to it. … It's a very difficult habit to break.”

“Let's not ignore people like him, even if it's tempting to say, as one headline did, 'All men watch porn, and it is not bad for them: study,'” concluded Paul.

“That's just one more fantasy warping how we live our real lives.”

Read Pamela Paul’s opinion column in the Washington Post here.    
 
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
 
Hijacking the Brain —  How Pornography Works

'Pornography Harms' Website Launched 

New Research Attempts to Question the Negative Effects of Pornography 

New Major Study Catalogues How Porn Harms Marriages, Children, Communities and Individuals 

Experts Link New Study on Aggressive Sexual Behavior to Pornography Usage 

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