Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Fix - Damian Thompson

p92 Nonetheless, there is a common denominator: availability.

Here he is looking at opium addiction in China and for US G.I.s during Vietnam and to gin in London. Dumb argument and the one usually used by the anti-legalisation crowd is that availability creates addiction. Yes if something doesn't exist I cannot be addicted to it. But there are plenty of addictive things that are freely available to which not everyone is addicted - cigarettes are not illegal yet and there are non-smokers. Doctors have wide access to drugs and not all of them are addicts (although more might be than is admitted). What they also all have in common is high stress/anxiety and low self worth with high levels of deprivation and the desire to escape life.

p107 This dismissed the popular notion of sugar as 'empty' calories. On the contrary, they were bad calories. "A little is not a problem, but a lot kills - slowly," said the authors, who went on to propose that sugary foods should be taxed and their sales to children under 17 controlled.

Yes there is a chance of increased levels of Diabetes and that is a very great cost to healthcare. Cup-cakes are a danger to society. This is not to be scorned and is easily dealt with and this is not an infringement of civil liberties it is education.

p192 The most explicit video games create scenes of digital violence so extreme that they are closer to a serial killing rampage than even the bloodiest warfare. Some games even allow players to simulate an act of necrophilia on the body of a fallen opponent.

Paranoid madness - he does not cite any literature on the link between violence and video game violence and he does not even name the game. This is hearsay, urban myth made into print. They are pixels coloured red and you get to hear worse on the news (Saville for example)

p192 On the other side of the fence are the anti-gaming campaigners such as Baroness Greenfield, a professor of synaptic pharmacology at Oxford University who argues that digital technology is exacerbating autism spectrum disorders and leading to an increase in violence and distraction amongst children.

Greenfield does look like an authority with all her books and interviews and appearances. What she fails to produce is any real scientific evidence to any of her claims. She has yet to publish one peer reviewed scientific article that presents any evidence of her claims and she is often attacked by people such as Ben Goldacre for making spurious and unsubstantiated claims.

p197 The internet has an almost magical ability to arouse male sexual cravings.

If he actually was not a sexist unable to relate to female sexuality he would also know that women also have sexual cravings and that these are also arouses by the internet although in different ways. He might like the book The Joy of Cybersex written by Deb Levine to show him a positive female view of sex on the internet.

p198 you are wrestling with obsessions that until a few years ago you thought were confined to ferret-faced men in raincoats hanging around school playgrounds.

This is a ridiculous stereotype. A lot of those who are paedophiles look like respectable members of the community because that is how they are most likely to get an opening for grooming young children. He forgets all the Catholic Priests for example that would hit too close to home as a devout Christian and Catholic as well as religious correspondent.

p202 I don't think anyone would have anticipated the features of porn that unnerve us most today: the massive appeal of hard-core images, often involving teenagers or children; and its transformation from a bad habit into an addiction.

Again he presents no evidence other than empty rhetoric. If there is this sea of paedophile pornography we are all wallowing in then why aren't there more arrests and convictions?

p204 His two porn experts are Shana Olfman and Gail Dines, Dines is apparently the best-known authority on the effects of pornography on women. That is nice but again both citations of evidence are for books and not for peer reviewed scholarship. Personally I have never heard of Dines at all and I follow a large number of sexologists and academic sex-perts on social media and she is never part of any conversations. In fact reading Dines' list of articles she does not have a single peer reviewed article in her career. All her writing is for newspapers and other public media. Olfman's scholarly c.v. is equally thin.

p209 In November 2004, the US Senate held a committee hearing on "The Science of Pornography Addiction". Dr Judith Reisman, a prominent crusader against pornography, told the committee: "We now know that pornographic visual images imprint and alter the brain, triggering an instant, involuntary, but lasting, biochemical memory trail, arguably subverting the First Amendment by overriding the cognitive speech process. This is true of so-called 'soft-core' and 'hard-core' pornography. And once new neurochemical pathways are established they are difficult or impossible the delete."

The problem is that Resiman is lying and this is an obviously bat-shit nuts statement. Affects the First Amendment by overriding cognitive speech? So I am no longer capable of free speech once I have been hypnotised by the evils of porn? It doesn't even make any sense when you write it down. She is a law Prof. She has no knowledge of neuroscience and the experiments she talks about do not exist and what has been done is neuro-science imaging of behaviour and adaptation is highly suspect. Basically this is all nonsense quoted as expert opinion.

p210 He goes on to show that Resiman's testimony was shredded by real experts such as Dr Daniel Linz - so what he has done is presented something he knows to be bull-shit first and in a convincing way and then presents the refutation is less dynamic terms. This is typical of Thompson who uses rhetoric over reason and evidence. He takes a position and then tries to warp reality to fit what he wants. Up until this point it was merely annoying but this section of the book is appalling deceit. Regardless he cites Norman Doidge as being convinced that porn is as addictive as drugs. I might be convinced that Liverpool will win the Premiership next year or the New York Jets will win the Superbowl but it does not make it true or even likely.