Entertainment

Don’t Believe This Viral Video About Porn Addiction

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An animated drawing hand doesn't make something true.

 

All the internet needs is some well-crafted font, an animated drawing hand, and a confident voice-over and there's the makings for an authoritative, viral video. Add some spin about the "truth" about human sexuality, and you set in motion not only a video that many eyes will see, but one that could change an opinion.

Adding to what seems to be a trend of snappy hand drawn videos, a three-minute short from ASAP Science is attempting to explain the science behind porn addiction. The video doesn't make any culture-shaking claims. It references the oft-cited fact that porn reshapes the human brain, reconfiguring exactly what it is that humans desire during sex. Then it claims porn addiction leads to a high tolerance to sexual stimuli and eventually leads "addicts" to think the sex that happens in real life is completely boring. "It will lead to you finding your mate less attractive. The good news is, it doesn't have to be permanent," the video concludes.

From the looks of ASAP Science co-creators Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown's other videos — the science of love, what it feels like to be kicked in the balls — it doesn't seem like they have an overtly religious agenda, just a misguided one. Because what "The Science of Pornography Addiction" misses is, well, the science. The DSM has never classified compulsive pornography watching as an addiction. And a recent study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that the biggest reason droves of people are perceiving they are addicted to porn is mostly because they're religious or morally disapprove. The highest predictor of someone calling themselves a porn addict, the study said, is a cross around someone's neck.

This is in line with the research of Dr. David Ley,  who in a study published in Current Sexual Health Reports, found that fewer than two in every five research articles about high frequency sexual behavior describe it as being an addiction. He claims that, in reality, people who watch the most porn are just those with the highest libidos. The real pathology isn't the addiction, it's the outlook on explicit material. But throwing around buzzwords like neuroplasticity and dopamine, as the ASAP Science video does, sure convinces an audience.

It joins a legion of decades-old anti-porn propaganda that's been floating around before the 1969 Stanley v. Georgia ruling which first allowed Americans their right to private smut. These groups that make videos about "the epidemic of porn," as the video labels it, are often religiously-affiliated.

The pseudoscience is cut from the same cloth as last month's viral hit, "The Economics of Sex," a video put forth by the Austin Institute. The video claimed to be  a real economic insight into why men are ravenously sex crazy and women are batshit Wedding Channel crazy. It lamented the skewed supply and demand of modern women's sexual availability with that of men's desire to marry them. Not only was it an economically inaccurate portrayal of human relationships, but it also portrayed women's social progress as their own demise. 

The "Economics of Sex" video currently has almost 600,000 views and "The Science of Pornography Addiction" is leading with almost two million hits. The videos are viral, but they're also terribly irresponsible and insidious. Propaganda videos might have existed in the 1960s, but they weren't on YouTube. Today's whiteboard videos succeed at disseminating exactly the sexual pseudoscience that allows more moralistic groups to condemn basic sexual behavior, like porn watching and casual sex, year after year. Give an idiot a marker and some flash animation, and anyone will seem like an expert.

[h/t Policy Mic