The author of this article is a bit too addicted (pun intended) to appeals to authority. Sentences like these, in a scientific article or expository essay, throw me off:
"Dr. Eric Nestler, head of neuroscience research at Mount Cedar Sinai in New York and one of the most respected addiction scientists in the world, published a paper."
Alarm bells started ringing. Surely, we don't need to know that he's "the most respected". We need to know if his ideas are provably respectable....
And then, "In this paper he said that..."
That is almost certainly elliptical, with the real meaning being, "his paper couldn't conclusively prove or demonstrate this, but he said it, and he is "most respected", so he must be right."
But in spite of all those potential biases, the author treads mostly carefully, with good intentions and some apparent academic integrity so that the article is a compelling read. That said, the author is a bit high handed and sensationalist at times, drawing on Shakespeare and Lincoln for powerful poetic effect, which should surely be unnecessary if he hopes to sway us by power of reason and not emotion (or the lobe and not the limbic, to put it in his own words). But we can forgive him, I think, for climbing high on his soap box. He, after all, believes that we're at war.
If you read the article, you'll find that somebody is talking about their experience as a sex therapist. This to me, trigger a "conflict of interest" alarm. It's also trigger a "skewed" perspective simply because the therapist spend a lot of time treating individuals with bad sexual problems, not spending time with healthy individuals.
I was very surprised to see no mention of the one addiction that we've had for a century: smoking. Does it too similarly shrink the frontal lobes? It seems that any article that revolves around addiction would have mentioned smoking.
The article is interesting, but it failed to connect a few issues, and I don't feel the conclusion follows from the evidence.
The author presented much evidence that people can become addicted to sex or food, but really failed in connecting viewing pornography to becoming addicted to pornography. 85% of college aged men are viewing pornography? Why are so few people becoming addicted (actually, they gave no figures on addiction rates, I only presume it is a small percentage)? Is this due to personality defect, or different viewing habits? Or looking at the other addiction put on the same level, food, 6.5billion people eat, why are there so few food addicts?
I think more research is neccessary before I believe viewing pornography is the only factor leading to addiction, or that viewing pornography will hurt society. I do believe though, that once somebody has a sex addiction, porn will be harmful to them and their addiction would be harmful to society.
On answering why there are so few food addicts? I would suggest cost, availability, and social pressure would be some factors that temper overeating. Ever meet a broke starlet from an impoverished nation? Skinnay.
"Dr. Norman Doidge ... describes how pornography causes re-wiring of the neural circuits. He notes that in a study of men viewing internet pornography, the men looked “uncannily” like rats pushing the lever to receive cocaine in the experimental Skinner boxes".
So if the subjects resemble rats to the observers, that proves it's the same as cocaine addiction?
He started off well, but the axe he brought to grind was too heavy for him to lift.
1. Yeah, it's true that there are some people who have addiction "issues" with porn to that point that it negatively affects their lives. Some people have obsessive/addictive reactions to lots of other things as well: alcohol and other drugs, gambling, food (I'm referring to eating disorders, not our need to eat to stay alive), WoW, etc.
2. For most addictive things, there develops an "industry" around them that thrives on sensationalizing and over-stating the problems caused. As one example, this article tries to create a link by association between declining birth rates and porn.
3. The rise of anti-<whatever> groups usually leads to calls for legislation, and such legislation quite often has nasty unintended consequences (cf Prohibition, the war on marijuana use, etc). Even if that article is partially accurate about the effect of porn on some people, the correct actions to take, if any, are probably not the obvious ones.
Great article. As the irrelevant and otherwise ad hominem responses in this thread demonstrate, it will be a while before internet pornography is widely understood as the highly addictive substance it is and should be regulated more strongly in the same way "traditional", non-electronic porn is (i.e. through zoning, much stronger penalties for allowing access to minors, etc.)