Logical Fallacy #1

Ok, Naomi Wolf. Let’s discuss some of this theory you’re working with over on Al Jazeera.

One thing at a time. There are so many issues I see in what you wrote about how porn may be “driving men crazy” that I’ll take it nice and slow. Ease into it, like a man eases into a hardcore porn habit.

I’m going to just talk about one issue for the moment, and it’s succinctly stated in this little paragraph, that’s basically restating… ummmm…. your argument:

“As with any addiction, it is very difficult, for neurochemical reasons, for an addict to stop doing things – even very self-destructive things – that enable him to get that next hit of dopamine. Could this be why men who in the past could take time-delayed steps to conduct affairs behind closed doors now can’t resist the impulse to send a self-incriminating text message? If so, such men might not be demons or moral ciphers, but rather addicts who are no longer entirely in control of themselves.”

Ok, so, you’ve just spent a few paragraphs building up the idea that porn addiction is the result of a chemical addiction to dopamine that’s released when men watch porn, and that technology is making it easier than ever for them to access the porn that they’re addicted to. I’m not enough of a scientist (and I’d dare say you probably aren’t either) to really extrapolate on whether you’re right or wrong about the addiction of pornography (though I’d venture to say that your argument falls short of convincing me because it ONLY talks about porn and not about other modes of sexual release, but we’ll save that for another time). But I am definitely enough of a thinking human being to see that what you’ve built up as the basis for your argument (the effects of jerking off while watching porn) is not the same thing you’re trying to make a point about (sending dirty pictures of yourself via text). Not the same thing, like, at ALL.

Again, I’m no neuroscientist. There may, for many people with exhibitionist leanings, be a similar release of dopamine in the brain when revealing pictures are taken and sent to other people, but you haven’t really bothered to find out, have you? You’ve basically set up an argument based on one sexual behavior you consider deviant and then tried to use that argument, with no brandishing of studies or science or even logical extension, to condemn another. But, Ms. Wolf, jerking off to a porno video is not the same thing as pulling down one’s pants, snapping a photo, and sending it to someone. They are just not at all the same thing. One is voyeuristic, one is exhibitionist. One is an act of consumption, the other is an act of production. One comes into one’s technological device to be used, the other is recorded upon it and then sent out. The first is made, most often, by professionals in a well-lit environment with lots of paperwork having been signed about age and consent–the other is a spur-of-the-moment cock picture. They’re just… They’re not the same.

I can understand using current news items (or in your case, slightly over-with-already news items) to back up a point you want to make. As a fellow writer, I understand that pitching articles can be a circus trick of delicate timing and balance, and when something really mainstream pops up that even marginally goes along with what you have to say, you have to pounce on it. There’s not always time for thorough research or interviews. But, Ms. Wolf, you should try to make sure the point you want to make at least matches the evidence you’re amassing. Just because someone really likes drinking wine, that does not make him a vintner. Nor does sending naughty texts of oneself make one a porn addict. This isn’t quite apples to oranges, it’s more… oranges to, like, planting an orchard or something. Vaguely related in that both tend to involve penis pictures (or oranges). But if you want to blame “extreme porn” for the behavior of certain male politicians, try at least equating them using some data or at the very least a logical argument. Otherwise… well… You get blog posts like this happening.

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