Daily Mail in Bullshit Mormon Zombie Porn Stats Shock

The Daily Mail are back on the trail of mandatory internet porn blocking, courtesy of a survey by the National Association of Head Teachers which claims that 90% of parents want a default setting on computers and smartphones which prevents the viewing of adult material.

And at the very end of the article, the Daily Mail provides a few statistics and a quote from Floella Benjamin, who’s now a Lib Dem Peer:

Research has shown that 90 per cent of children aged eight to 16 have viewed porn online, often unintentionally.

The average age a child first sees inappropriate images is 11 and around 80 per cent of teenagers regularly access porn.

Younger children are also at risk, as studies have shown that they now typically start using the internet when they are three.

Lib Dem peer Floella Benjamin, who used to be a children’s television presenter, attacked the ‘epidemic’ of violent online adult material.

She said children are ‘being led on a seemingly unstoppable march into a moral wasteland’.

Research has shown… eh?

Bollocks. Unlike the Daily Mail, I went to the trouble of trying to run down the original source(s) a little over a year ago and what I found at that time about the origin of these particular zombie statistics bears repetition:

* * *

As for Aitkenhead’s article* , most of it is taken up with a grab bag of anecdotes from a record producer (seriously!) and an assortment of therapists, i.e. completely unrepresentative and a few statistics grabbed from the internet.

The average child sees their first porn by the age of just 11. Between 60 and 90 per cent of under-16s have viewed hardcore online pornography, and the single largest group of internet porn consumers is reported to be children aged 12 to 17. There is nothing new, of course, about pornography. But this is the first generation to grow up seeing rape and sexual violence before even losing their virginity.

You’ll find these statistics widely quoted around the internet with one of the more comprehensive collections residing at ‘Top Ten Reviews’ (strapline: ‘We do the research so your don’t have to’).

* “Are Teenagers Hooked on Porn?” by Decca Aikenhead, Psychologies Magazine (July 2010)

It can take a lot of time and effort to run down the origins of a particular zombie statistic but, luckily, in this case Seth Lubove put in the necessary scut work for Forbes Magazine, way back in November 2005.

When Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) introduced the Internet Safety & Child Protection Act in July, aiming to slap a 25% excise tax on online purchases of porn, she cited a startling statistic: Children in the U.S. now typically get their first exposure to porn at age 11. It got picked up in several press reports. “The average age at which a child first views Internet porn is 11,” pronounced a Denver Post editorial. “The average age a child first views Internet pornography is 11, and those kids don’t look away,” intoned Matt Lauer on General Electric-owned NBC’s Today show.

“The Internet has changed the whole dynamic of porn,” declares Tim Wildmon, president of the fundamentalist American Family Association founded by his father, Donald Wildmon, in Tupelo, Miss. “The average age of the introduction to pornography is now 11 years old.”

However, there’s a problem…

Just one problem: The assertion is untrue, unsupported and likely of dubious origin, none of which has stopped porn’s opponents from using it. Sen. Lincoln lifted the factoid from a report issued in July by Third Way, a new Washington think tank that helps Democrats grab on to red-state issues. A press release accompanying the report, by Third Way staffer Sean Barney, proclaimed, “While it is as difficult as ever for a teenager to walk into a store and buy a pornographic magazine, it is as easy as ‘point-and-click’ for an 11-year-old child to view streaming pornographic video online.”

Okay, so where did these figures come from? As ever, its always best to let ‘follow the money’ be your guide…

Where did Third Way get that notion? From a May 12 story in the New York Times-owned Boston Globe headlined “The Secret Life of Boys,” which cites an outfit called Family Safe Media. The small firm in Provo, Utah, is in the business of scaring parents into buying software to protect their kids from Internet smut. Jared Martin, who owns Family Safe Media, says he got his porn statistics from Internet Filter Review, a Web site that recommends content-blocking software. It is run by tech entrepreneur Jerry Ropelato of Huntsville, Utah, who pens antiporn screeds, such as “Tricks Pornographers Play,” and publishes curious and uncredited stats (for example, “17% of all women struggle with pornography addiction”).

“Most of the statistics there have come from literally hundreds of sources, all reputable,” Ropelato insists. He says he got the age-11 item from The Drug of the New Millennium, a book about the dangers of porn self-published in 2000 by Mark Kastleman, a self-professed former porn addict in Orem, Utah, who counsels other porn fiends. “I don’t remember where I got that from,” Kastleman says breezily. “That is a very common statistic.” And there the trail goes cold.

So the trail leads back from a Democrat think-tank that was in the business of triangulating ‘red-state’ (i.e. Republican) issues, to a newspaper and from there back to a company that sells net-nannies and finally to a tech-review website run from deep in Mormon country by a ‘entrepreneur’ with an obvious agenda and a penchant for extremely dodgy statistics. Finally, the trail leads back to a self-published book by another Utah resident, and self-professed former porn addict, which dates to the [turn of the]Millennium.

* * *

By no great coincidence, the ‘Top Ten Reviews’ website mentioned at the start of this extract is owned and operated by the same Jerry Ropelato.

As for Mark B Kastleman, in adition to hawking his book, he’s the co-founder of an  online sex addiction “clinic”* operating out of Salt Lake City, Utah in conjunction with a Dr Randall F Hyde who has, shall we say, a rather interesting history:

* Warning, some of the pages on this site bring up a pop-up window which purports to invite users to install a Brazilian version of the Adobe Flash browser plug-in, the text of which is in Portuguese. Needless to say, if you do visit the site and get the pop-up window, don’t click any of the buttons as it’s not clear what, if anything, this pop-up actually links to or installs.

Deeply wounded after the painful break-up of my first Gay relationship in July 1986, I scurried back to the security of Mormonism.  I tried re-orientation therapy one last time to make me a heterosexual, through the University of Utah Counseling Center.  A Mormon intern there named Randall F. Hyde (now an adjunct professor at BYU and chair of the Psychology Department at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo) put me through several sessions of extremely debilitating hypnotherapy, which culminated in a session during which Hyde hypnotized me and then had me split myself into “Gay Connell” and “Straight Connell”.  He then had me visualize Jesus coming down through the ceiling and utterly destroying Gay Connell to dust and then “a mighty wind” blowing all the dust away.  This is the single most emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually crippling experience of my entire life.  Some 18 years later I am still healing from that traumatic “therapeutic” experience.

Needless to say, if you do decide to risk a run in with the dodgy pop-up, the FAQ page has a very interesting Q&A:

Q: Can I ever regain the trust and respect of my spouse, children, parents and others? Will I ever come to trust and respect myself?

A: Yes! Through this program, you will learn the principle and practice of “Healthy Sexuality.” You will build new healthy brain circuitry that no longer objectifies and lusts after women. You will learn the art of true human intimacy and connection, intimacy that goes far beyond the purely physical sex act portrayed in pornography and the media. You will learn how to be a true brother, protector and friend to women, and a hero in their eyes. You will learn that “having sex” and “making love” are misnamed and grossly misunderstood in today’s world. Instead, you will learn that sexual intimacy is the most beautiful and glorious “expression of total commitment” that spouses can enjoy.

Q: Can I ever have a “normal” relationship with my spouse again? With women in general?

A: Yes! Through this program, you will learn the principle and practice of “Sacred Sexuality.” You will build new healthy brain circuitry that no longer objectifies and lusts after women. You will learn the art of true human intimacy and connection, intimacy that goes far beyond the purely physical sex act portrayed in pornography and the media. You will learn how to be a true brother, protector and friend to women, and a hero in their eyes. You will learn that “having sex” and “making love” are misnamed and grossly misunderstood In the world today. Instead, you will learn that sexual intimacy is the most beautiful and glorious “expression of total commitment” that husband and wife can enjoy.

“Sacred Sexuality”… yeah right, I think we can all guess what that entails from the account of his efforts to ‘treat’ homosexuality and worryingly, the same FAQ makes the following claim.

Q: Who in society is being pulled into pornography and other sexual addictions?

A: No one is immune. In our clinics, we have treated men and women of all ages and backgrounds. In addition, we regularly see teens, and even children as young as 5-years of age, suffering with these addictions.

Children as young as 5-years of age? What… The… Fuck????

Of course, if you know anything about normal child development then you’ll be aware that it’s perfectly normal for children at that age (5-6 years) to engage in genital self-manipulation/masturbation and mild sex play and/or exhibitionism – i.e. ‘playing doctors and nurses’, etc. – so the reference to ‘treating’ children of that age is, to say the least, rather alarming not least in light of Randall Hyde’s reported approach to ‘treating’ homosexuality.

And, of course, Kastleman’s claim that 11 is the average age at which a child first views internet porn dates back to the first self-published edition of his book in 2000, which means that it pre-dates BitTorrent by a year, Facebook by four years and YouTube – and every single porn tube site on the internet – by a full five years.

So what we have here is 100% pure unadulterated bullshit with just about the most dubious provenance imaginable, which the Daily Mail is content to repeat without qualification or making any inquiries as to its origins because it suits their agenda.