Christian Professor: Science Shows Watching Porn Shrinks Your Brain

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“The more people watch pornography, the more their brains shrink.”

This claim was recently made by Oklahoma State University professor, Dr. John Foubert, during a recent lecture on pornography at Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts college in Western NY.

If that statement doesn’t strike you as patently absurd, it should. A self-proclaimed fighter of porn using “data-based” strategies, Foubert travels around the country speaking to college students and other young people about the terrible dangers of pornography. During his talks, not only does he claim that porn viewing shrinks one’s brain, but that it decreases short-term memory, and causes erectile dysfunction. He repeats these claims in his Porn Research Fact Sheet on his website.

Being a natural skeptic, and a person who cares deeply about how science is used, I took a look at the studies Foubert uses to support his claims about the harms of pornography. As it turns out, he either has no idea how to properly interpret scientific data, or something much more sinister is going on.

So is it true that the more people watch pornography the more their brain shrinks? While an uninformed, surface-level reading of the research might lead to that conclusion, this is simply not the case. As evidence for his claim about shrinking brains, Dr. Foubert cites a recent study performed by German scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. The study, performed on 64 healthy men (with an average age of 29), consisted of three brain scans: the first scan was simply a structural brain scan, the second determined patterns of brain activity while the men were shown sexual and/or neutral images, and the third scan was a 5-minute “resting-state scan.” The researchers also asked the men to self-report how much pornography they watched on a weekly basis. The results? Researchers found that men who reported spending hours/week watching porn tended to have slightly less grey matter in the right striatum (the part of the brain associated with processing rewards for activity), and that the more frequent porn viewers seemed to have less activity in the left striatum when viewing sexually explicit images, as well as less connectivity between the right striatum and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In sum, the men who watched hours of porn were also men with slightly less grey matter in one part of the brain, and those who watched the most porn showed less of a neurological reaction when viewing porn (i.e. they were desensitized to pornographic images).

And what did the researchers conclude as a result of the study? One conclusion may be that increased porn viewing “could reflect a change in neuroplasticity as a consequence of an intense stimulation of the reward system.” In other words, increased and intense stimulations of our reward system (including rewarding it with porn), causes that center of the brain to show less of a response to what it is being continuously stimulated with. A second conclusion was that “alternatively, it could be a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding.” In layperson’s terms, some people may find more of a reward from viewing pornography than others, simply because of the way their brains are wired. None of this supports Foubert’s claim that the more one watches porn, the more his brain shrinks.

During his talks, Foubert also claims that porn decreases working memory. In the memory study, researchers showed four sets of images to healthy men: these sets of images were either neutral, positive, negative, or pornographic in nature. Participants were tasked with determining if the current picture was the same one they had been shown four pictures prior. The result was that participants performed slightly worse in the task when using the pornographic set of images. Researchers concluded that sexual arousal due to viewing pornographic images may interfere with working memory performance. What’s interesting is that participants were only found to do worse with the memory task when the images were pornographic. Does this show that overall working memory for other tasks is damaged by porn? On the contrary, it merely shows that working memory, when applied to sexual images, is worse than for other things. And this is due to the sexual arousal that happens because of such images. So rather than concluding that pornography is the cause of decreased memory, it is sexual arousal in general that leads to this decrease.

Foubert also claims that pornography causes erectile dysfunction. On his website he puts it this way: “60% of men who are addicted to pornography have erectile dysfunction with a woman, but not when they use pornography” (emphasis mine). He also pairs the general rise in erectile dysfunction with the availability of pornographic material (especially the internet variety) — all this to support the claim that “pornography causes erectile dysfunction.” But is this a correct interpretation of the data? Again, no. One would want to say that of course people who are addicted to something (like pornography) find it harder to function normally. We already know this from experience with a variety of other addictions. People who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or a host of other things, do not behave normally. Does this show that porn causes ED? No! It simply tells us what we already know: addictions cause problems. Period. End of sentence. Full stop. It doesn’t matter what the addiction is, problems ensue. But pornography, just like many other things used in moderation, is not necessarily harmful. Further, saying that an increase in porn availability is associated with higher rates of ED is nothing more than a correlative observation.

What does all this mean for Foubert’s claims about pornography’s ill-effects on the brain and erectile functionality? It means that he is quite literally wrong. It’s not a matter of opinion — the data and studies he cites simply do not support the claims he makes. There seems to be a pattern to his madness: he locates a study that shows an association/correlation between pornography and something else, and then he claims that pornography is the cause. This is to commit the cum hoc ergo propter hoc — with this, therefore because of this — fallacy. Just because some things are found together does not imply a causal relationship between the two. And you don’t need a Ph.D. in neuroscience to understand the difference between correlation and causation. This is something entry level science, statistics, and logic courses teach. A logical mistake like this may be forgiven in the beginning of such courses, but for a seasoned academic to repeatedly make it is not so easily excused. Either Dr. Fourbert is grossly incompetent as a scholar and social scientist, or he’s just lying to push his own agenda.  

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Foubert sees pornography as the single-largest threat to Christianity in the world today. He thinks it has come about as part of the underhanded (pun intended) plots of Satan himself and sees it as his (and other Christians’) personal duty to rid the world of pornography. For Foubert, it is as simple as looking at Jesus’ statement that whoever looks upon a woman with lust is committing adultery in his heart. And it isn’t too easy to view pornography without lusting after the people on screen, therefore it is an intense evil that is to be avoided and eradicated at seemingly any cost.

So what cost is Foubert asking his audiences to pay? He wants us to ignore the facts, to ignore what is really going on in the world, in our relationships, and within our own minds. He is willing to mention science, but only long enough to twist it into a tool for terrifying young and impressionable minds around the country. When asked about his misrepresentation of the data, he said that he did “not appreciate” the questioner’s “tone.” Well, let me tell you what I don’t appreciate — religious fanatics like Foubert using his position in academia as a platform to present false information to students in order to scare them into accepting his worldview.

82 thoughts on “Christian Professor: Science Shows Watching Porn Shrinks Your Brain

  1. rather than concluding that pornography is the cause of decreased memory, it is sexual arousal in general that leads to this decrease

    Your brain has more important things to attend to? …

  2. > And what did the researchers conclude as a result of the study?

    If not, “People lie about porn” then these people don’t science.

    1. Thinking about it, maybe the people who reported the least porn actually watched the most and didn’t want to admit it. If this is the case then maybe you can get the opposite conclusion that Foubert came to.

      1. People report their church attendance at twice the rate it happens.

        They claim 40%: bums in pews are counted at just under 20%.

      2. I would be interested to see how the reported rates of porn viewing correlated to reports from pornographic websites that have compared how frequently people in each state used their sites. I wonder if people in those bible belt states that consumed the most porn would report viewing the least.

  3. Very biased article, that ignores the preponderance of the research, which I will provide.

    As for addiction related brain changes (including studies finding loss of grey matter or decline in prefrontal cortex functioning, as Kuhn & Gallinat found) there are now 39 neuroscience-based studies (MRI, fMRI, EEG, neurospychological, hormonal) providing strong support for the addiction model. The list of 39 studies with excerpts: http://pornstudycritiques.com/current-list-of-brain-studies-on-porn-users/#two
    In addition, this list contains 13 recent literature reviews by some of the top neuroscientists in the world, supporting the porn addiction model: http://pornstudycritiques.com/current-list-of-brain-studies-on-porn-users/
    Even more – At least 20 studies report findings consistent with escalation of porn use (tolerance), habituation to porn, and even withdrawal symptoms. All signs of addiction: http://pornstudycritiques.com/studies-find-escalation-and-habituation-in-porn-users/

    As for porn and sexual problems here’s a list of 24 studies linking porn use/porn addiction to sexual problems and lower arousal to sexual stimuli. The first 5 studies in the list demonstrate causation, as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions. https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/studies-reported-relationships-between-porn-use-or-porn-addictionsex-addiction-and-sexual
    Sexual problems must be viewed in the context that erectile dysfunction rates in men under 40 have jumped 500%-1,000% in the last 10 years. No other variable has changed in the last 15 years that could account for this astronomical rise – except streaming free porn. See this review of the literature – Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports (2016) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5039517/

    In line with the above findings, here are over 55 studies linking porn use to less sexual and relationship satisfaction: http://pornstudycritiques.com/studies-reporting-relationships-between-porn-use-in-young-men-and-ed-anorgamsia-low-sexual-desire-delayed-ejaculation-and-lower-brain-activation-to-sexual-images/#two

    As for cognitive effects here are 12 studies linking porn use to cognitive problems. Several of these strongly suggest causation as subjects either abstained from porn, or were exposed in experimental settings. One was longitudinal. The list with excerpts: https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/studies-linking-porn-use-poorer-mental-cognitive-health#cog

    In addition, 35 studies link porn use to poorer mental-emotional-physical health. The list with excerpts:
    http://pornstudycritiques.com/studies-linking-porn-use-to-poorer-mental-emotional-health-poorer-cognitive-outcomes/

    1. You meet H.L. Mecken’s definition: “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

      Sorry but I’m not impressed by studies cited by obviously Puritan websites. It’s like expecting creationist sites to talk honestly about evolution.

      1. Citing hundreds of peer-reviewed studies = puritan. Sure thing, dude. So what is it called when you cite nothing, fail to engage a single study presented, and can only respond ad hominem?

        1. No, you’re not citing “hundreds” of studies, you’re citing ONE website which supports your hatred of pornography. Try again, this time use some neutral or even hostile sources.

    2. I don’t think anyone is saying that porn can’t be addictive. You seem to be arguing against a point that wasn’t suggested. Exactly which of your studies proves that watching pornography results in decreased brain matter? The only way to prove causation would be to measure the size of a subject’s brain, then expose him to copious amounts of pornography, then measure the size of the brain again to show shrinkage. Which study does that exactly? If you don’t show a before and after, then it’s impossible to show causation. Without it, all you have is correlation.

      1. The article concluded with: “What does all this mean for Foubert’s claims about pornography’s ill-effects on the brain and erectile functionality? It means that he is quite literally wrong.”

        I’m letting everyone know that thsi bold assertion is without support. There’s plenty of peer-reviewed studies to support Foubert’s position on addiction-related brain changes in porn users (40 studies – http://pornstudycritiques.com/current-list-of-brain-studies-on-porn-users/ ), and porn’s affect on sexuality, sexual function and sexual satisfaction (80 studies – http://pornstudycritiques.com/studies-reporting-relationships-between-porn-use-in-young-men-and-ed-anorgamsia-low-sexual-desire-delayed-ejaculation-and-lower-brain-activation-to-sexual-images/ ). That’s all I’m doing here.

        1. Heh. There’s another one. You claim to be focused on porn, but look at that. A study that involved both refraining from porn and masturbation together and claimed that they were both to blame. Funny how you don’t mention that. So now you’re anti-masturbation as well as anti-porn.

    3. 1. The article never claims porn is not addictive.
      2. The article never claims porn addiction cannot cause problems.
      3. The article never claims porn does not negatively impact personal relationships.

      You seem to be attempting to refute something the article never claimed, while failing to provide any evidence that contradicts the actual claims of the article: namely, that it is inaccurate to claim, as Foubert does, that the Kuhn study shows that “the more you watch porn, the more your brain shrinks.” As Kevin said, show us the article that proves causation with regards to brain shrinking, then you’ll have a point worth talking about.

      1. Kevin was trying to paint a false picture or maybe hedoesn’t know anything about the current state of research. My intention was to let the reader know that’s there’s a whole lot of research out there supporting the claims put forth by Foubert. Now they know.

        “Show us an article that proves causation for addiction-related brain changes”. Serious?
        When it comes to psychological and medical studies little research reveals causation directly. For example, all studies on the relationship between lung cancer and cigarette smoking are correlative – but cause and effect are settled.

        In light of ethical requirements researchers are usually precluded from constructing experimental research designs which would prove pornography causes certain harms. Therefore, they must instead use correlational models. Over time, when a significant body of correlational studies are amassed in any given research area, there comes a point where the body of evidence can be said to prove a point of theory, even though there were no experimental studies. Put another way, no single correlation study could ever provide a “smoking gun” in an area of study, but the converging evidence of multiple correlational studies is used to establish evidence. When it comes to porn use, nearly every study published is correlative. To “prove” porn use is causing r addiction-related brain changes (or other problems) you would have to do one of two things:

        1 – Have two large groups of identical twins separated at birth. Make sure one group never watches porn. Make sure that every individual in the other group watches the exact same type of porn, for exact same hours, and the exact same age. Continue the experiment for 30 years or so, followed by assessment of the differences.

        2 – Eliminate the variable whose effects you wish to measure. Specifically, have porn users stop, and assess the changes months (years?) later.

        As for addiction, the brain changes induced by addiction have been identified via decades of animal and human studies. In this list I gave you, the 4 fundamental addiction-caused brain changes were identified in 40 studies.These brains changes are very specific. http://pornstudycritiques.com/current-list-of-brain-studies-on-porn-users/#two
        ————————————————————
        As for causation studies – I already cited several, but you didn’t click on the links. Here are few that strongly suggest causation (ALREADY CITED IN ABOVE LINKS):

        These 5 studies demonstrate causation as patients healed chronic sexual dysfunctions by removing a single variable (pornography):
        1 -Male masturbation habits and sexual dysfunctions (2016)
        2- Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports (2016)
        3- Unusual masturbatory practice as an etiological factor in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunction in young men (2014)
        4 – Situational Psychogenic Anejaculation: A Case Study (2014)
        5 – How difficult is it to treat delayed ejaculation within a short-term psychosexual model? A case study comparison (2017)

        The other three studies where porn users stopped using:
        6) Trading Later Rewards for Current Pleasure: Pornography Consumption and Delay Discounting (2015)
        – This unique study also had porn users reduce porn use for 3 weeks. The study found that continued porn use was
        causally related to greater inability to delay gratification (note that the ability to delay gratification is a function of the prefrontal cortex). Excerpt from the first study (median subject age 20) correlated subjects’ pornography use with their scores on a delayed gratification task:

        7) How Abstinence Affects Preferences (2016) – Excerpts from the article:
        Abstaining from pornography and masturbation increases the ability to delay rewards, Participating in a period of abstinence renders people more willing to take risks, Abstinence renders people more altruistic, Abstinence renders people more extroverted, more conscientious, and less neurotic

        8) A Love That Doesn’t Last: Pornography Consumption and Weakened Commitment to One’s Romantic Partner (2012)
        – The study had subjects try to abstain from porn use for 3 weeks. When the two groups were compared, those who continued using pornography reported lower levels of commitment than those who tried to abstain.

        9) Longitudinal study on porn use in young males and academic performance: Early adolescent boys’ exposure to internet pornography: Relationships to pubertal timing, sensation seeking, and academic performance (2014) – Excerpts: Moreover, an increased use of Internet pornography decreased boys’ academic performance six months later.

        In addition, several longitudinal studies strongly suggest causation, as porn use negatively affected relationship (in all the longitudinal studies listed below:
        10) Internet pornography and relationship quality: A longitudinal study of within and between partner effects of adjustment, sexual satisfaction and sexually explicit internet material among newly-weds (2015):

        11) Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence from Longitudinal Data (2016) – First longitudinal study on a representative cross-section of married couples. It found significant negative effects of porn use on marriage quality over time.

        12) Till Porn Do Us Part? Longitudinal Effects of Pornography Use on Divorce (2017) – This longitudinal study used nationally representative General Social Survey panel data collected from thousands of American adults.

        13) Pornography Use and Marital Separation: Evidence from Two-Wave Panel Data (2017) – Longitudinal study.

        14) Are Pornography Users More Likely to Experience A Romantic Breakup? Evidence from Longitudinal Data (2017) – Longitudinal study.

        1. I’ve already responded to your above links. They’re terrible. You don’t show causation with case studies, but your website tried to do just that.

          1. You know people can read, right? They can all see that you have not responded to a single study out of the hundreds I have cited.

          2. I responded to the first study in the list of ones that supposedly tied porn to sexual dysfunction. I pointed out that it came to no such conclusions and merely suggested that a possible link between the two should be researched. But that was the very first study your site went with. Don’t bamboozle me with claims of hundreds of studies which all turn out to not show what you claim they do. This is the Gish gallop, this technique relies upon the fact that it’s a lot easier to throw out a lot of garbage than it is to meticulously respond to each and every fallacious point.

        2. Again, show us the multiple studies that strongly associate porn viewing with brain shrinkage. No one is arguing with you about porn being linked to negative social or biological outcomes — but one study on brain shrinkage isn’t good enough.

          1. One came out yesterday (but that’s missing the point) – Gray matter deficits and altered resting-state connectivity in the superior temporal gyrus among individuals with problematic hypersexual behavior (2018): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29421186
            The point is – addiction involves multiple changes not just a decline in dorsal striatum grey matter. It can also involve an increase in grey matter, as in the NAC and amygdala. I strongly suggest you learn addiction basics and read the studies cited.

          2. You mean like the collection of case studies that said that a possible connection between porn and sexual dysfunction should be researched to see if it’s real? You mean like that one that you’re citing as evidence that there is a link?

          3. We aren’t arguing about addiction — we are arguing about whether a normal amount of porn viewing (as in the Kuhn study) causes your brain to shrink. Kuhn herself said that claim would be going too far — as alternatively it could be that a precondition predisposed subjects to be highly stimulated to porn. Foubert claimed that “the more you watch porn, the more your brain shrinks,” and used Kuhn as reference — this is an inaccurate interpretation of her data, according to Kuhn.

          4. I strongly suggest you learn about how medical research works first. Case studies are worthless at providing evidence. Case studies are only really useful for asking questions. But your website uses them as the highest level of evidence.

          5. You don’t like cross sectional correlation studies; you don’t like longitudinal studies; you don’t like studies where medical doctors have young healthy men eliminate porn use to heal sexual dysfunctions; you don’t like studies where groups of subjects eliminate porn use. So what’s left, genius?

          6. Exactly how many studies do you want me to deal with? I dealt with two of them, you lied and said I didn’t refer to any. How many of your dishonest citations do I have to deal with before we can establish that it’s a mountain of lies? I know how this game works, every time I refute one of your citations you’ll just refer to the others that I haven’t dealt with yet. As I’ve said, it’s a lot easier to throw a link full of low quality information at people than it is to go into detail on each one and show the problems with them. This is the game creationists play. As I said, the Gish Gallop.

            you don’t like studies where medical doctors have young healthy men eliminate porn use to heal sexual dysfunctions

            Which is it? Were they healthy young men, or did they have sexual dysfunctions? In any case, that’s exactly what I was talking about. That is a case study. That is an example of a few people who do X, and then experience Y. A story of a few people is not evidence of a link. One of the papers you cited admitted as much in the abstract, but your website claimed it was evidence instead. Your website apparently doesn’t even read the abstracts of the papers it links to, it’s only interested in cherry picking things that it thinks support its agenda. You have to study many people doing the same thing to tell. Stories like that are popular in the world of medical quackery, because the tale of individual experience carries greater emotional weight with scientifically naive readers.

            Apparently they carried weight with you.

          7. I want you to to deal with ALL, not just the 5 case studies you don’t like – but the 250 or so other studies I have cited that include many longitudinal studies, and correlation/cross sectional studies. You can’t pick and choose a sentence out of context from a single study – you must deal with the preponderance of the research on porn’s effects.

          8. Yep. It’s the Gish Gallop. You hand me a list of random studies that don’t show anything like you claim they do, and you claim victory unless I show you in detail how each and every single one is just that. I’ve given you paragraphs of explanations on how you’re getting the basic science wrong and you just wave the other garbage around triumphantly. What reason to I have to believe that the rest of it is any better? You haven’t bothered to respond to most of what I’ve said, you just keep talking about the hundreds of studies that you have. Why should I believe that you’d accept explanations of why the rest don’t show what you claim they do? Why doesn’t your website start with the best studies? Why does it have so much meaningless chaff if they have such convincing evidence? Why so many case studies, why so many things that fail to draw a difference between porn and sexuality? A list of the best evidence available should contain… evidence. I know you don’t care about what the studies really say, but I just can’t get over that the first study I looked at explained, in the abstract, that it did not show any connection at all, and instead suggested that other people should investigate it. But it was cited as evidence.

            You really don’t get to talk about “the preponderance of the research” when your list begins with a study that outright explains that it does not show what you claim that it does. None of your supposed evidence has been evidence so far. Every single one I look at fails to show what you claim it does in one way or another. I mean, I just love the one that has people stop masturbating *and* looking at porn, and you conclude that the porn alone was the deciding factor. Another one compares porn to things not related to sex at all, and you conclude that that shows that porn is bad, not that it might have anything to do with sexuality in general. But how can you tell? The study gives you no way to know.

            I’ll make a deal with you. You pick the five best studies that you think most solidly support your position. You give them to me, and we’ll see how good they are. If they fail to deliver on your promises then I think we can say that you don’t have the convincing evidence that you claim you do.

            Or else I think we can conclude that not even you believe in the preponderance of the evidence that you claim to possess. If it’s so overwhelming then picking just five legitimate studies should be pretty easy. But the fact that every single one I’ve looked at has been dishonestly represented in at least one if not more ways (again, in the worst case your website outright lied about what the study’s own abstract said) suggests that you have a collection of studies that you haven’t even read or understood, and that you’re trusting that no one else will bother either. So far you haven’t demonstrated that you’ve been able to deal with a single one of the studies. You just find a list of links convincing.

          9. Not a word about porn:

            Abstract
            Neuroimaging studies on the characteristics of hypersexual disorder have been accumulating, yet alternations in brain structures and functional connectivity in individuals with problematic hypersexual behavior (PHB) has only recently been studied. This study aimed to investigate gray matter deficits and resting-state abnormalities in individuals with PHB using voxel-based morphometry and resting-state connectivity analysis. Seventeen individuals with PHB and 19 age-matched healthy controls participated in this study. Gray matter volume of the brain and resting-state connectivity were measured using 3T magnetic resonance imaging. Compared to healthy subjects, individuals with PHB had significant reductions in gray matter volume in the left superior temporal gyrus (STG) and right middle temporal gyrus. Individuals with PHB also exhibited a decrease in resting-state functional connectivity between the left STG and left precuneus and between the left STG and right caudate. The gray matter volume of the left STG and its resting-state functional connectivity with the right caudate both showed significant negative correlations with the severity of PHB. The findings suggest that structural deficits and resting-state functional impairments in the left STG might be linked to PHB and provide new insights into the underlying neural mechanisms of PHB

        3. So the short answer is you can’t. Thanks for that. However, the issue here is that Foubert claimed the study he cited proved pornography CAUSED brian matter shrinkage. The people who RAN the study disagreed with Foubert’s ridiculous finding. Your uninformed assessment of my understanding of scientific research is an irrelevant red herring. Also, no one cares to read through your dissertations in a blog post comment section. It’s likely you “don’t know anything about the current state” of the internet.

          1. You can’t call Foubert’s thoughts ridiculous when the authors of the study believe porn used caused a decline in gray matter.
            Kuhn & Gallinat published this review – Neurobiological Basis of Hypersexuality (2016). In the review Kuhn & Gallinat describe their 2014 fMRI study:
            “In a recent study by our group, we recruited healthy male participants and associated their self-reported hours spent with pornographic material with their fMRI response to sexual pictures as well as with their brain morphology (Kuhn & Gallinat, 2014). The more hours participants reported consuming pornography, the smaller the BOLD response in left putamen in response to sexual images. Moreover, we found that more hours spent watching pornography was associated with smaller gray matter volume in the striatum, more precisely in the right caudate reaching into the ventral putamen. We speculate that the brain structural volume deficit may reflect the results of tolerance after desensitization to sexual stimuli.”
            ———————–
            More from Kuhn: http://www.dw.com/en/pea-brain-watching-porn-online-will-wear-out-your-brain-and-make-it-shrivel/a-17681654
            Said the study, “This is in line with the hypothesis that intense exposure to pornographic stimuli results in a down-regulation of the natural neural response to sexual stimuli.”

            Simone Kühn continued “We assume that subjects with a high porn consumption need increasing stimulation to receive the same amount of reward.”

            Kühn says existing psychological, scientific literature suggests consumers of porn will seek material with novel and more extreme: “That would fit perfectly the hypothesis that their reward systems need growing stimulation.

          2. The author of this article reached out to Kuhn directly and she said Foubert’s conclusion is not supported by her study. So there’s that. How do you know that watching porn isn’t a RESULT of less gray matter? How do you come to the conclusion that it’s the cause? You can’t. At least not by any study you or Foubert have cited. You lose. Good day.

          3. Key words: “does not imply causality.” Either you don’t understand what it is Kuhn has written in the studies you cite, or she disagrees with herself. I’m going with the former.

          4. I’m citing what Kuhn said in peer-reviewed literature and in her press release. She’s not going to give some random person ammunition in a email.

            1) Does not “prove”, but Kuhn said in her review that they suspect it was causation: “We speculate that the brain structural volume deficit may reflect the results of tolerance after desensitization to sexual stimuli.”

            2) Kuhn said in her study and press release she leaned toward causation:
            “That could mean that regular consumption of pornography more or less wears out your reward system.”
            “We assume that subjects with a high porn consumption need increasing stimulation to receive the same amount of reward.”
            “That would fit perfectly the hypothesis that their reward systems need growing stimulation.”

            3) While causation cannot be “proven”, it would a unbelievable coincidence that subjects who used more porn would be “born with” 3 addiction-related brain changes: (1) less dorsal striatum grey matter (desensitization), (2) less reward circuit activation while briefly viewing sexual photos (habituation), (3) poorer functional connectivity between the dorsal striatum and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

            4) While you can keep harping on “Causation” 38 other neuro studies support the addiction model. You keep ignoring that pesky fact.
            http://pornstudycritiques.com/current-list-of-brain-studies-on-porn-users/#two

    4. It’s not biased to point out that an anti-porn crusader lied about studies which he claimed proved various things which they did not do. If your beef is with the anti-porn crusader then maybe you should speak to him about picking better sources and not lying about the ones that he does use. However, about your sources…

      They’re not good. Take the first item that’s supposed to “link” porn use to sexual dysfunction. It provides no evidence, it is a study that suggests that porn use *might* be related, and suggests that the possible connection should be studied further. Your site of choice pushes hard on the idea that the inclusion of case studies makes the evidence for causation stronger, but the reverse is true. Case studies provide little evidence at all, the paper includes them to suggest that the possible connection should be studied to find out if such evidence exists. A case study is nothing but an anecdote. A case study says that first this happened, and then this happened. It provides no evidence that the second event was caused by the first. To explain it more simply, if I were to provide a case study that said that while I don’t normally eat breakfast, last Thursday I did, and later on in the day I was hit by a bus, I would not have provided evidence that eating breakfast leads to being hit by a bus. If someone wanted to show that breakfast eating leads to an increased risk of bus hitting they would need to study many people. That’s exactly what that paper suggested someone else might do in order to see if there’s any evidence of a link. But this series of case studies was the first paper that your website led off with for that claimed effect. If it starts with such thin gruel is it really worth pursuing further?

      I’ve noticed something else with your site of choice. The distance between the site and the studies it claims to be promoting. It sometimes, for instance, makes claims about a study and then links to a different anti-porn website which makes further claims about the study, and then links to the actual study which makes far less broad reaching claims about its results.

      But there’s a fundamental problem in all of this evidence that you should really be embarrassed about. The website pretends that it’s all about porn porn porn, porn is so much worse than other things, porn is different than other things… but you know what porn is never compared to? SEX. One study about delay discounting (which your websites generalize into gratification delay) compared porn to food, which your anti-porn websites try to spin into a lurid tale of how addictive porn is. But why food? Why not compare porn to sex? Why not ask people in that study to abstain from sex or porn and compare those two groups? As it stands it compares sexual drives with the drive for food. Not porn specifically.

      What these studies are really doing is saying that humans have a strong sex drive. What they’re really concluding is that we naturally place a high emphasis on sex. This should surprise no one. There’s a reason religiously motivated individuals like the puritanical crusader in the OP focus on sexual issues to control their followers. No matter what they tell people to do, they’ll continue their sexual behavior. But if a leader can adequately guilt their followers into believing that the behavior is wrong, they gain control over them. They have to come back seeking absolution for the behavior.

      Your puritanical sex-negative website only shows that people continue to enjoy sex. It tries to construct this terrifying narrative of all the problems with porn, but if you look into them they evaporate and one is left with one deception after another. My favorite has to be trying to conflate sexual desire with porn, pretending that porn is the only thing that activates sexual desire and that eliminating it eliminates all such desire. Your website tries so hard to argue that porn is different from sex, but it links to studies that compare porn to things that aren’t sex instead.

    5. “Sexual problems must be viewed in the context that erectile dysfunction rates in men under 40 have jumped 500%-1,000% in the last 10 years. No other variable has changed in the last 15 years that could account for this astronomical rise – except streaming free porn.”

      How about the decline of sperm counts in Western countries, which suggests that environmental exposure to commercial chemicals is affecting fertility and male health? That’s just one off the top of my head. No other variable — rubbish.

      https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article-abstract/23/6/646/4035689?redirectedFrom=fulltext

      1. That’s called the post-hoc fallacy, isn’t it? Combined with simple ignorance: “I personally can’t imagine any other explanation or contributing factor, so this must be it!”

        Come to think of it, that’s the basis of a lot of creationist arguments, too. This idiot might as well blame the Islamic State for erectile dysfunction.

  4. … and causes erectile dysfunction.

    Being, like Matt, a natural skeptic, and a person who cares deeply about how science is used, I did some research of my own and concluded that pornography causes erections.

  5. It should also be noted that most anti-porn activists believe that there is no safe or healthy level of use; ANY looking at porn, even once = addiction, period.The fact that all known scientific research on addictions contradicts this is irrelevant, of course.

    1. What I’m really interested in is that both one of the studies referenced in the OP, and at least one of the studies cited by an anti-porn comment, fail to distinguish between pornographic sexuality and any other kind of sexuality. For example, one of the studies listed in the website being splashed around the comments that supposedly shows that porn is addictive looked at a specific kind of gratification delay behavior and compares how it changes when people deny themselves food (I assume it’s just a favorite food, but without access to the whole study I can’t tell) to how it changes when they deny themselves porn. Why compare porn to food? Surely the logical thing is to compare porn to sex, to see if porn is any different than any other kind of sexual behavior. A study cited by the OP compared short term memory in people viewing pornography versus people viewing other kinds of images. But does it truly examine the physiological effects of porn, or of sexual arousal? I see no attempt to tell.

      Despite the focus on demonizing porn, it feels very much like they end up demonizing sex in general. I see no attempt to separate the two. Another study cited down below was supposed to show that porn was responsible for something bad by having people stop viewing porn *and* masturbating. But the conclusion is, of course, that the porn was the thing responsible. Surely not the gratuitous masturbating. That can’t possibly have a physiological effect…

      I have to conclude that this is simply sex-negative thinking. The arguments used against porn leave no space for any kind of healthy human sexuality, with or without porn.

      1. Ah, it’s not just religious loons that demonise the evil god Porno. Feminists too:

        “The intense debate over the sexual politics of pleasure and of violence against women continues to be played out in the women’s movement, particularly over the issue of pornography and sexual sadomasochism. In general the arguments have clustered around two positions: one emphasizing women’s sexual colonization and victimization, and the other emphasizing women’s sexual repression and passivity. By juxtaposing the arguments in this essay, the author suggests that both sides tend to categorize each other essentially as either virgins or whores. This dichotomous thinking has served to increase the polarization on these issues.”
        https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0277539587900197

        “The nation’s widely acknowledged leader of the feminist anti-porn movement is a Wheelock College professor of sociology and women’s studies named Gail Dines. An English native and self-described Marxist, Dines heads a tax-exempt organization called Stop Porn Culture. The organization, which has not reported raising more than $50,000 in any year since its 2007 founding, believes that pornography is “misogynistic both in its production and consumption,” and works to challenge the industry and culture.

        To Dines, the Internet has made the problem of pornography, “incomparably worse.” She told ThinkProgress that the web “allows for anonymity, affordability and access,” and believes that was quite intentional. “A lot of people believe the Internet drove porn,” she added, but, in fact, much of the research and development for today’s technology was “driven by the porn industry.”!”
        https://thinkprogress.org/this-is-the-way-the-war-on-pornography-ends-466fc4b53109/

        1. There’s other people, many but not all of them self-identified feminists, who are “challenging the [porn] industry and culture” by making different kinds of porn, not just the “standard” crap the feminists cited above rightly condemn. That’s another fatal flaw in all this anti-porn rhetoric: it refuses to acknowledge that not all porn is the same. In fact, I’d venture to say the Internet has made porn better, by creating a medium where porn can be published without having to appeal to the “mainstream” and sell the most copies; and that has enabled people to make, and find, a wider variety of porn that’s more to individual or niche tastes.

  6. “During his talks, not only does he claim that porn viewing shrinks one’s brain, but that it decreases short-term memory, and causes erectile dysfunction. He repeats these claims in his Porn Research Fact Sheet on his website.”
    Well, to be fair, he’d forgotten he’d mentioned it in his lectures…

  7. I bet we could all agree on several things: a) porn can be addictive, b) porn in moderation does not cause any negative health issues for many people, c) we don’t know everything about the effects of porn use, d) its not good to lie about stats, research, etc. to bend to your own agenda, and finally e) the dr.’s “motives” for lying are probably a lot less sinister than we think.

    1. Most certainly the Dr. thinks he is helping save the world from the ploys of the Devil…that could be branded as noble intent I guess. 😉

      1. Haha, yes, agreed. Now let me tread from my initial safe waters into more murkier territory: my own opinion (which seems to be a flexible, fluid thing – maybe that’s a good thing) … my opinion: that the good Dr has at the very least picked a “somewhat okay” thing to lie/exaggerate about….no? Devil aside, porn isn’t good (with some exceptions)

  8. Ohhhh…. every time I move my head, I feel my brain bouncing and rattling around inside my skull… so this is why it’s now the size of a peanut.

  9. I commend Jordan for his pointing out the numerous studies that conclude that habitual porn use causes harm. Most habitual porn users realize the harm they are inflicting upon themselves but can’t stop or don’t know how to stop. For those who don’t want to read studies but just want an easier way to stop, I recommend the book Power Over Pornography. It uses a cognitive-behavior-based methodology that is quite effective.

      1. Yes, I read the article. In my opinion, jordanyutes’ comments were better researched and included more credible sources. A handful of the studies may be questionable but the overwhelming majority of the studies show that porn is harmful.

        1. …except that they don’t. The topic is porn; the studies are about “addiction,” which is not the same thing. Unless you’re one of those crusaders who think that ANY use of porn is exactly the same as addiction. And the science not only doesn’t support that, it directly contradicts it.

  10. What gets me is that people ignore what I think is the most important question, has he show this Satan god of his actually exist? If he has not, then everything he says and wants is just his personal opinion, dude.

  11. Your last sentence is ironic especially as the same can be said about your worldview.
    Wonder what you’d make of findings that constant lying changes the emotional responses of the brain. Yes this was a real study.
    You probably wouldn’t agree with these findings either but then again the researches religious affiliations weren’t mentioned.
    Will post the link.

  12. There are legitimate reasons to argue against pornography. Most of the production and distribution is controlled by criminal elements. There is a lot of coercion imposed on the participants, both female and male. Much of the sex is unsafe and unprotected (STDs can be transmitted through oral sex).

    Instead of myths about brain damage, erectile dysfunction and hair growing on palms, the anti-porn people should consider the real problems with porn.

    1. Many Jews control the porn industry in order to undermine Christianity which they see as a threat to Jewish survival due to historical reasons. Google “Jews and porn.”

  13. I like christians how trust science whe it agrees with their religion and when it doesnt its because satan is trying to test their faith.

  14. Aha! Finally we all now know why these kind of creatures have brains like a peanut, and smaller! They watch(ed) too much pornographic footage made from their mother’s being being (ab)used by her sons, daughters and sisters being (ab)used by their fathers and brothers! We all knew already that incestious practices are normal between these sort of creatures, but this creature at least admits that his practices of watching all the results of his (ab)use of children results in being brainless (one can’t argue that having the size of a peanut as brains is sufficient to be referred or quailfied as a human!)!
    And ofcourse he needs a scientific sause to make it look true and fact for his followers, how else would they believe him? They all know that he’s just a religious crazy idiot who is babbling from a book they all know is a fantasy and rubbish. They drive cars, developed by humans and not by god, they all have fridges developed by men and not by god, they all wear cloths created by men and not by god…. unless they believe that their god made cars, fridges, cloths and all the other stuff they don’t want to go without… as good christians!

    In all honesty and seriousness, there is no proof whatsoever that watching porn is creating a decrease of braincells, as there is no proof whatsoever that watching porn is creating an increase of braincells, watching porn does though increases the desire to enjoy one’s body, to experiment with your partner, make sex become better and more enjoyable, and above all, watching commercial porn makes normal(!) people more aware of the facts of abuse that is sort of common in the commercial porn-business! The exploitation of porn actors and actresses is huge, and sickening when you consider as a normal(!) person that a. they are underpayed, b. subjected without consent to practices that are horrible and inhuman, and c. underaged! Were the latter is often produced by individuals who sit in the front-benches of religious institutions!

    Nomal(!) people do not get addicted to porn, braindead idiots get addicted to porn and can’t do without, like religious idiots!
    My opinion!

  15. It has been proven that the decline in piracy caused the increase in global warming. I would also like to throw out there this thought: A predilection to pedophilia causes one to become a priest.

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