Red-Light States?

Sex And Religion

Ingraham presents a study finding that porn-related Google searches are more common in conservative states:

Cara C. MacInnis and Gordon Hodson of Brock University found that residents of more religious and more politically conservative states — often in the South — are more likely to Google things like ‘‘sex,’’ ‘‘gay sex,’’ ‘‘porn,’’ ‘‘xxx’’, ‘‘free porn,’’ and ‘‘gay porn” than their peers in more secular states. The study, published this month in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, analyzed state-level Google Trends data for 2011 and 2012, and combined it with measures of religiosity and political conservatism from Gallup surveys. “Overall,” the authors say, “a reliable positive association of moderate-to-large association size exists between state-level religiosity and searches for the term ‘sex.’” They observed similar patterns for Google image searches for sex with political conservatism.

Morrissey rolls his eyes:

The abstract proposes, “These findings were interpreted in terms of the paradoxical hypothesis that a greater preponderance of right-leaning ideologies is associated with greater preoccupation with sexual content in private internet activity.” Except that the researchers didn’t do the hard work of actually identifying and studying those specific populations of “right-leaning ideologies”;

that would require time and effort in crafting a study of several populations, along with control groups, and then perhaps reaching some conclusions that actually show real correlation and perhaps causation.

Instead, they based their studies on entire states’ Google trends without any control over which populations did the searching. There’s nothing in the abstract or the Post’s recap, for instance, that even posits that religious and/or political conservatives use the Internet overall at the same rate as other populations, or more or less so. There is no data presented at all that assigns that traffic to specific subgroups; the authors just assumed that the controlling factor had to be “right-leaning ideologies” without ever establishing that as a fact, or even a data-supported hypothesis.