The reason America needs more political diversity in the social sciences is not because moderates and conservatives in academia need an affirmative action-style spoils system. Rather, it’s because the knowledge-creation process—the system by which scientists create knowledge and that knowledge is disseminated to the public and incorporated into political decisions—functions better if there is disagreement and debate among the scientists. Findings are more robust if they have been repeatedly challenged and refined over time.
Conservatives upset with the state of academic research have often emphasized the way non-progressives are discriminated against [and] suppressed in many fields. And that may be true. But a more productive approach may be to highlight the way that their absence undermines the integrity of science itself—and, in the long run, the quality of public policy decisions. [source]
Opposition to pornography has become associated with “prudish right-wing fundamentalists,” but as with many things, the growing body of social science research confirms that this debate should extend far beyond the boundaries of belief.
A recent editorial in National Review about Rick Santorum’s opposition to pornography links to several such important studies. I’m less interested in Santorum’s desire to combat porn by government muscle than I am in bringing facts to an honest national conversation. Follow the links if you want some truth:
Likewise, Santorum’s views on pornography are a natural extension of his views on marriage as a public good — a sacred, lifelong bond between man and woman, designed to unify the couple and create children who, in turn, will make faithful, committed spouses one day. Interestingly, Santorum’s position is consistent with a rapidly growing body of social-science research. The older idea of pornography as a harmless rite of passage for boys, and a potential boost for the sex lives of married couples, are being challenged by data which show a potential for real and measurable harm. Studies have revealed a clear connection between regular pornography use and a host of negative consequences, including: sexual deviancy (lower first age of intercourse, obsessive masturbation), belief in the “rape myth” (that women cause rape), and loss of interest in sex. More frequent users of pornography report higher incidences of having sex for money, substance abuse, conduct problems, and having feelings of sexual desire “almost all the time.” Among young adults, pornography use correlates with higher numbers of casual-sex partners and lower relationship satisfaction. Both infidelity and divorce have been linked to the use of pornography. But there is a striking dearth of longitudinal research on the latter relationship. NIH should fund a comprehensive, long-term research project devoted to the impact of pornography use on marriage and the family.