Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The canary in the coal mine?




Magazine rack in a Japanese store (Wikicommons - Corpse Reviver)



Hugh Hefner's death has ended an era that actually ended around the turn of the millennium. Gone are the days of porn in limited supply. During my teen years Playboy wasn’t sold in my town. You had to go to a drugstore 15 kilometers away and buy it in person, while hoping the cashier wouldn't blab to others. Then you had to find a place to hide it. Videocassettes were starting to come on market, but they had to be bought even farther away, and there was still the problem of finding a hiding place.

Fast-forward to the year 2017. From my computer I can access porn of almost any description in almost any quantity. And the access is fast, free, and anonymous. There is no comparison to the world of my youth, and even less to the world of 1953, when Playboy made its debut. That same year King Farouk of Egypt was described as a "self-indulgent playboy" with "carloads of erotica" (Gunther, 1953, p. 205). Carloads? That's nothing. Today, anyone with an Internet connection can stash away thousands upon thousands of erotic images.

This is a new sensory environment for humans. An analogy would be the increasing availability of food to native peoples in the far north. In the past their environment offered meat in limited amounts, and sometimes none was available. Hunters were thus highly motivated to seek out food and not let any go uneaten. Now fast-forward to the present. High-calorie snacks are available in any store, and they’re tasty with lots of salt, sugar, and fat—the very nutrients that were once in short supply. As a result, obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in the North.

No surprise really. And should we be surprised to learn that the increasing availability of porn today may have similarly adverse effects?

This question was addressed by a recent study on how porn consumption affects the male brain. Sixty-four men had their brains scanned, and the results were compared with the number of hours they spent viewing pornography per week. The results? Prolonged exposure to porn seemed to atrophy those portions of the brain that process erotic stimuli. The volume of gray matter was smaller in those subjects who viewed the most porn, and functional connectivity was likewise reduced. They seemed to require more porn (or harder porn) to achieve the same stimulation.

Taken together, one may be tempted to assume that the frequent brain activation caused by pornography exposure might lead to wearing and downregulation of the underlying brain structure, as well as function, and a higher need for external stimulation of the reward system and a tendency to search for novel and more extreme sexual material. This hypothesized self-perpetuating process could be interpreted in light of proposed mechanisms in drug addiction where individuals with lower striatal dopamine receptor availability are assumed to medicate themselves with drugs (Kühn and Gallinat 2014)

This interpretation is supported by a recent review of the literature:

Some internet activities, because of their power to deliver unending stimulation (and activation of the reward system), are thought to constitute supernormal stimuli, which helps to explain why users whose brains manifest addiction-related changes get caught in their pathological pursuit. [...] In short, generalized internet chronic overuse is highly stimulating. It recruits our natural reward system, but potentially activates it at higher levels than the levels of activation our ancestors typically encountered as our brains evolved, making it liable to switch into an addictive mode.

[...] previously established brain maps for "natural" sexuality cannot compare to the newly developed and continuously reinforced maps generated by continued compulsive watching of Internet pornography, and thus the addicted individual progresses to more explicit and graphic Internet pornography in order to maintain the higher level of excitement. (Love et al. 2015)

Of course, the arrow of causality might point the other way. Perhaps a man will seek out and view more porn if he already has less of the gray matter for sexual arousal. Only a longitudinal study can tell us which is causing what.

Let's suppose the first explanation is the right one. What can we do? Frankly, I'm pessimistic about legislative solutions. Give politicians the power to ban Internet porn (or Islamist extremism), and they'll use it to ban … the Alt-Right. Our political class lives in another age and sees reality through the lens of yesterday's issues and yesterday's priorities.

A second problem is that politicians try to ban child porn much more than the adult stuff. This is a classic case of going after a soft target that is secondarily important and perhaps not important at all. If porn has a desensitizing effect, it should cause pedophiles to lose interest in real children and focus on electronic images, since only the latter can be viewed in sufficient quantity to cause sexual arousal. So what’s the problem?

We should worry more about porn desensitization that disrupts relationships between adult men and women. A similar phenomenon has been noted with TV viewing: the more people watch TV, especially programming with romantic content, the more dissatisfied they feel with their marriages (Reizer and Hetsroni 2014). We may be becoming too good at creating virtual alternatives to reality.

The Japanese case

This desensitization may be most acute in Japan. In comparison to the United States, porn is more freely available there and less "compartmentalized":

Nudity is evident in both sexually identified and general circulation magazines. For instance, the weekly general-interest magazines will often include several photographs of nude women (plus ratings of local massage parlors). Although such magazines are oriented predominantly for businessmen, the inclusion of sexual photographs is also assumed to interest the business audience. In this regard, it is apparent that rigid boundaries do not exist for the publication of sexual material. In fact, nudity or sexual themes appear in Japanese teen magazines, sports magazines, fashion magazines, and so on. 

[...] Japanese public television is also different from its American counterpart. Overtly sexual material and nudity are permissible. For example, a Japanese television program known as the 11 P.M. Show can feature a strip tease, bare breasts and buttocks, reportage on massage parlors, expert authorities on sex, and so on. Similarly, the Japanese public-access movie channels can feature R-rated movies such as Emmanuelle (with some air-brushing). Finally, even Japanese commercials and advertisements have more flexibility in sexual content. (Abramson and Hayashi 2014, p. 179)


This ubiquitous porn is viewed by Japanese men, who are less polygynous than most human males and have lower blood levels of 5a-reductase—the enzyme that converts testosterone into the more physiologically active DHT (Ross et al. 1992). Lower testosterone activity seems to be an adaptation to monogamy and high paternal investment:

Numerous studies reveal a negative correlation between testosterone concentration and paternal care in diverse mammals including nonhuman primates and humans. Several researchers suggest that spousal investment accounts for the lower testosterone of married men compared to unmarried men, but findings that the lowest testosterone levels are observed in married men with children implicate paternal care as particularly relevant. Thus testosterone reduction may reflect a facultative shift in male reproductive strategy from intrasexual competition and copulation to care of young. (Shur et al. 2008)

Some Japanese authors have reached this sort of conclusion, seemingly echoing J. Philippe Rushton (although the book in question predates his publications by several years):

Finally, a number of Japanese authors (e.g., Komatsu, 1974) have also suggested that Asian populations are less sexualized than Caucasian or black populations. They cite secondary sex characteristics (less public hair, smaller breasts, etc.) as evidence. Unfortunately, the data on sexual frequencies (intercourse, etc.) are not particularly reliable, and it is not clear whether competing responses (such as nurturance) are mediating sexual expression. (Abramson and Hayashi 2014, p. 182)

Japanese men and women may thus be especially vulnerable to porn consumption. More and more couples no longer have sex, the percentage rising from 31.9% in 2004 to 36.5% in 2008 and to 47.2% in 2016 (McCurry 2017; Moriki 2012). The major reasons given are "tired from work," abstention from sex after a birth, and "sex is too troublesome" (Moriki 2012). These reasons are probably proximal, and in any case it is far from clear why they would be growing in importance.

There is some indication that the Japanese realize that porn is becoming a problem. But it’s not clear where this realization will lead. In this, as in many other things, they follow the lead of other Western countries, especially the United States. Concern about porn is thus limited to child porn.

References

Abramson, P.R. and H. Hayashi. (1984). Pornography in Japan: Cross-cultural and theoretical considerations, in N.M. Malamuth and E. Donnerstein (eds) Pornography and Sexual Aggression, pp. 173-184, Orlando: Academic Press.
https://books.google.ca/books?id=p1KLBQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=fr&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Gunther, J. (1953). Inside Africa, New York: Harper & Brothers.

Kühn, S. and J. Gallinat. (2014). Brain structure and functional connectivity associated with pornography consumption. The brain on porn, JAMA Psychiatry, 71(7), 827-834. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/1874574?=

Love, T., C. Laier, M. Brand, L. Hatch, and R. Hajela. (2015). Neuroscience of Internet pornography addiction: a review and update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433.
http://www.mdpi.com/2076-328X/5/3/388/htm

McCurry, J. (2017). Record numbers of couples living in sexless marriages in Japan, says report, The Guardian, February 14
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/14/record-numbers-of-couples-living-in-sexless-marriages-in-japan-says-report

Moriki, Y. (2012). Mothering, co-sleeping, and sexless marriages: implications for the Japanese population structure, The Journal of Social Science, 74, 27-45.
https://icu.repo.nii.ac.jp/?action=repository_action_common_download&item_id=1542&item_no=1&attribute_id=18&file_no=1  
Reizer, A. and A. Hetsroni (2014). Media exposure and romantic relationship quality: A slippery slope? Psychological Reports, 114(1), 231-249.
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2466/21.07.PR0.114k11w6

Ross, R.K., Bernstein, L., Lobo, R.A., Shimizu, H., Stanczyk, F.Z., Pike, M.C., and Henderson, B.E. (1992). 5-apha-reductase activity and risk of prostate cancer among Japanese and US white and black males. Lancet, 339, 887-889.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/014067369290927U

Shur, M.D., Palombit, R.A., and Whitten, P.L. (2008). Association between male testosterone and friendship formation with lactating females in wild olive baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis). Program of the 77th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, p. 193.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajpa.20806/epdf

21 comments:

B said...

Online porn is the human version of the experiment where they implant the electrode in the rat's pleasure center, and the rat keeps hitting the button until it just dies of dehydration.

Funny thing is, it probably only works with rats who are in a terrible, boring environment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Park#Rat_Park_experiments

Interestingly, what porn does is split users into two categories-either they end up not having sex with anybody, or having sterile, awful, loveless sex with everybody. Hefner was an example of the latter: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/12/hugh-hefner-i-have-sex-tw_n_643303.html

Either way, the result is that the male peons are conditioned from childhood to be docile, sterile and easily managed. With the females, they're already docile and easily managed, and sterility is achieved in other ways (through "empowerment" and free birth control.)

I was not surprised to find out that the Fabian, anti-natalist Rockefeller Foundation was heavily involved in both the normalization of pornography and universal birth control. Really, a genius move-all you have to do is sponsor the right academics, and the government and media take their cue from them to bring your ideas to mass implementation.

Peter Frost said...

Hugh Hefner was ruined by online porn. Playboy is now a shadow of its former self, and Hefner had to sell his mansion a year before he died. If he was in on a sinister conspiracy, it didn't work out well for him.

I have three problems with conspiracy-thinking:

1. Conspiracies do exist here and there, but they tend to fall apart over time. More importantly, they tend to produce unexpected results. The best laid plans of mice and men ...

2. Conspiracy-thinking leads to fatalism and apathy. What's the point in getting politically involved if one is up against a massive conspiracy of worldwide proportions? Why bother?

3. What looks like a conspiracy is often due to class interest and an ideological environment that has been created by that class. Do the Koch Brothers and Mark Zuckerberg hold similar globalist views because they're both getting memos from the same unseen power? Maybe globalism is good for their bottom line.

Sid said...

"Frankly, I'm pessimistic about legislative solutions."

We are already starting to see new cultural reactions to pornography. In a lot of places in the "manosphere," pornography is increasingly looked down on as something that drains men of their youthful vitality and libido, and as another vice and addiction which needs to be avoided. You really didn't see such attitudes a mere ten years ago.

One of the problems with enacting legislative solutions to pornography is that the two factions most opposed to pornography in the 20th century were Evangelical Christians and feminists. Christians believe that pornography is profane, while feminists believe it objectifies women and entices men to abuse women. The argument that pornography saps men and women of their sexual drive and capacity for intimacy is a fairly new one, or it's at least one that wasn't commonly accepted until recently.

Evangelical Christians don't command much political or cultural clout these days, and the argument that pornography is profane only is effective on people who accept a Christian moral framework, which is becoming less common. Feminists, on the other hand, still command significant political and cultural power, but the modern "social justice warrior" feminism you encounter among Millennials is usually quite comfortable with pornography, and you get the sense that a lot of women in that movement are as addicted to it as men are.

It will largely befall the secular right to spread awareness that pornography is deleterious, but we're still a ways away from mastering techniques to get people to stop watching pornography, and better still, never fall into the vice to begin with. For now, at any rate, it's going to fall on civil society and non-state movements to counteract pornography addiction.

Silent Bob said...

The problem with brain scans is that you need a large number of subjects to get stable results - 1,400 at least per James D. Thompson.

Peter Frost said...

Bob,

Could you provide a reference to that study?

luke jones said...

@B

1. You are forgetting that human sexual behavior is predominately heritable, NOT conditioned by outside source. Its neo-behaviorist nonsense to believe otherwise. The type of people that are hyper-promiscuous and/or go around having orgies are those that are born with exceptionally higher sex-drives and with innately less shame/disgust.

2. Japanese and other East Asians have innately sex-drives than other races, so their low levels of sexual-activity is expected. Other nations that consume almost the amount of porn as Japan aren't dealing with the same issues. Older generations of Japanese weren't any more sexually active. In contrast, black americans watch more pornography than whites yet are more fertile and sexually active in comparasion.

luke jones said...

@Sid

Here are some refutations:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/homo-consumericus/201001/pornography-beneficial-or-detrimental
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201307/your-brain-porn-its-not-addictive
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-sexual-continuum/201307/new-brain-study-questions-existence-sexual-addiction

http://pornpositive.com/

B said...

>You are forgetting that human sexual behavior is predominately heritable, NOT conditioned by outside source.

This is begging the question.

Am I expected to believe that someone who was sexually abused as a child or raised by a single mother with a parade of men going through her bedroom will not have his or her sexual behavior significantly affected by that experience?

Further, I notice that over the last three generations, illegitimacy rates among blacks and whites skyrocketed, which implies changing sexual behavior. Did heredity change drastically?

Finally, I personally am an example of somebody whose sexual behavior changed drastically as a result of a change in beliefs. Did my heredity change?

>Conspiracies do exist here and there, but they tend to fall apart over time.

The market can stay irrational (the conspiracy can keep going) longer than you can stay solvent.

> Conspiracy-thinking leads to fatalism and apathy.

Does gravity-thinking lead to fatalism and apathy?

>Maybe globalism is good for their bottom line.

Yeah, and maybe the guys running the Rockefeller Foundation think low birthrates and a complacent populace are good for theirs. I am not sure how Facebook's bottom line is supposed to be positively affected by the promotion of trannyism/homosexuality, except that the antinatal effects mean a target market with more immediately available disposable income.

luke jones said...

@B

1. It has been demonstrated multiple times that the way someone is raised has no lasting impact on how people turn out.

https://jaymans.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/the-five-laws-of-behavioral-genetics/

Illegitimate births have increased because the value of marriage itself decreased:
https://evolutionistx.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/gay-marriage-didnt-win-traditional-marriage-lost/

As for declining birth rates, why don't you read Gregory Clark's research

B said...

> It has been demonstrated multiple times that the way someone is raised has no lasting impact on how people turn out.

It's been asserted. Not demonstrated.

Specifically, Jayman quotes Turkheimer's second law correctly as "the effect of being raised in the same family is smaller than the effect of the genes" and then proceeds to mischaracterize it as "the Second Law talks about the “shared environment” – parents, peers, schools, neighborhoods – all the things children growing up in the same household share. The effect of all those things on any behavioral trait or other phenotype is nil."

This is obviously wrong.

We are seeing radically different behavior in 2-5 generations, without a corresponding change in heredity.

Further, I happen to live in a country where you have four genetically different groups of Jews (Ashkenazi, Sepharadi, Mizrahi and Yemeni) who are split into three different cultural groups (secular, religious Zionist and Haredi.) Behavior (marriage, childbearing, crime, education, profession, speech) largely follows the cultural split, not the genetic. People move from one group into another as adults fairly frequently (maybe 10% of the time) and change their behavior accordingly.

Re: illegitimate births, your point is a red herring. If behavior is genetically determined, how could such a fundamental behavior change so deeply in only a couple of generations? Illegitimate births used to be rare among blacks and whites, and are now common. However, they are still quite rare in religious communities of whatever color (I'm speaking of Mormons, Amish, the religious black towns I've seen in the South.) This is obviously behavior determined by beliefs, not by genes.

I don't need to read Clark's research, because, again, I have the privilege of observing Israeli society. Birth rates among the religious are almost as high as they've ever been. Birth rates among the secular (really, most of them are more religious than the typical American Christian) are slightly above replacement. We don't have declining birth rates, we have increasing birth rates. Not coincidentally, the people among whom they are increasing are those who believe masturbation, pornography and even looking at women on the street lewdly to be absolutely forbidden. The people among whom they are low are those whose values are those of sexual libertinism. You can even see this split inside families which have religious and non-religious members (many such cases.)

B said...

Here's another example of radical behavioral changes which are obviously not caused by heredity (because this sort of insanity would be immediately washed out of the gene pool if it was genetic): http://quillette.com/2017/10/06/misunderstanding-new-kind-gender-dysphoria/

Anonymous said...

@luke jones

> It has been demonstrated multiple times that the way someone is raised has no lasting impact on how people turn out.

This is why I hope the truth of hbd stays underground. Idiots like you make sloppy, simplistic and incorrect statements like this.

Anonymous said...

"I was not surprised to find out that the Fabian, anti-natalist Rockefeller Foundation was heavily involved in both the normalization of pornography and universal birth control. Really, a genius move-all you have to do is sponsor the right academics, and the government and media take their cue from them to bring your ideas to mass implementation."

There's a good book about this phenomena by the Catholic intellectual E. Michael Jones called Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control. It's written from a Catholic perspective, but it is well researched and very interesting. I think Peter would find it interesting as well. People may dismiss it because it's written by a religious Catholic, but it's a topic that could only be written by a religious person these days because for secular scholars, their ideological presuppositions force them to conceive of sexual liberation and libertinism simply as good or as greater freedom.

Peter Frost said...

> Conspiracy-thinking leads to fatalism and apathy.

Does gravity-thinking lead to fatalism and apathy?

B,

I don't know about apathy, but it sure leads to fatalism. The law of gravity is one of those things you have to accept. No amount of political activism can change it.

B said...

I have to accept the law of gravity, but it does not mean that I can't build an airplane. Nor does not accepting it enable me to fly.

Peter Frost said...

Perhaps. My personal observation is that conspiracy thinking causes people to marginalize themselves. They become terrified to do anything beyond the anonymity of the Internet.

luke jones said...

"There's a good book about this phenomena by the Catholic intellectual E. Michael Jones called Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control. It's written from a Catholic perspective, but it is well researched and very interesting."

Actually, there are many reasons to doubt the claims in that book, mostly because its not supported by most scientific evidence:

http://gssq.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-male-sexual-deficit-social-fact-of.html

Despite the sexual revolution and modern birth control, there is little-to-no actual change in general sexual behavior compared to older generations. Modern Japanese are no more or less sexually active than they were in the Feudal era, yet this did not lead to any cultural collapse at the time. If pornography and libertinism causes infertility then why are Sub-Saharan Africans (who tend to be highly promiscuous and consume ALOT of hypersexual media) the most fertile people on the planet today? It doesn't add up.

luke jones said...

@Anonymous

"This is why I hope the truth of hbd stays underground. Idiots like you make sloppy, simplistic and incorrect statements like this"

Idiots like you are the reason why HBD is underground in the first place. You can't handle reality, so you bury the science to protect your precious myths.

https://jaymans.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/the-five-laws-of-behavioral-genetics/

Facts are facts. Parenting is bunk, deal with it.

B said...

@Peter-most people who marginalize themselves do so not because they fear that one of the Rothschilds will send goons to drag them off to Antarctica, but because they fear having a chat with HR about how their actions on social media reflect on the whole corporation.

JayMan said...

"This question was addressed by a recent study on how porn consumption affects the male brain. Sixty-four men had their brains scanned, and the results were compared with the number of hours they spent viewing pornography per week. The results? Prolonged exposure to porn seemed to atrophy those portions of the brain that process erotic stimuli."

Nothing genetically confounded about that, not to even mention miniscule N.

"Only a longitudinal study can tell us which is causing what."

No. Genes can become active at different stages of life (e.g., baldness).

"Japanese men and women may thus be especially vulnerable to porn consumption. More and more couples no longer have sex, the percentage rising from 31.9% in 2004 to 36.5% in 2008 and to 47.2% in 2016 (McCurry 2017; Moriki 2012). The major reasons given are "tired from work," abstention from sex after a birth, and "sex is too troublesome" (Moriki 2012). These reasons are probably proximal, and in any case it is far from clear why they would be growing in importance."

Or maybe it's simply just low sex drive. Natural selection will fix that right up.

JayMan said...

luke jones said...

"Facts are facts. Parenting is bunk, deal with it."

*Smile to my face*