August 02, 2005

"Third Way", the "porn tax", and Secure Computing lying with statistics

Last week, a think tank called "Third Way" released a report, well, I'll quote:

New Third Way Report Finds Children Are Major Users Of Internet Pornography; Porn Sites Target Kids
Group Endorses New Bill To Require Age Verification and Impose "Smut Tax"

The first point of this "report" was:

# Online pornography is proliferating online at an alarming rate - from 14 million web pages in 1998 to 420 million today.

These are lying with statistics, which I've debunked before. The misdirection is to neglect that the web itself has grown since 1998.

But it's been widely echoed credulously by the press:

Report says porn Web sites "exploding" as Internet goes unchecked

July 27, 2005, 5:57 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- A report released Wednesday by a group of Democrats seeking a moral authority some say their party has lost says the number of pornographic Web pages has grown 3,000 percent since 1998 and federal laws must be changed to keep children away from them.

The think tank Third Way says there were 14 million pornographic Web pages in 1998 and 420 million today. Even amid broad discussion of morality issues, politicians are surprised by the sudden growth that has allowed adult Web sites to dominate the Internet almost unchecked, Third Way spokesman Matt Bennett said.

So, as a good little blogger, I have fact-checked the press, and exposed the censorware company sleaze.

But - WHO CARES! It shows the structural bankruptcy of blog evangelism. What good does it do for me to say this to a tiny audience, of the choir (and opposition-researchers!)? The only way this could ever possibly make a difference is if an A-lister or similar echoed it. Otherwise, I'm just shouting to the wind. It's a meager pleasure to indulge myself with ineffectual ranting.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on August 02, 2005 11:49 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Add a few other misdirections:

Ignoring population growth when stating a rise in a population based metric.

Ignoring inflation when stating an absolute rise in price/cost of something.

Ignoring demographic distribution when highlighting gender/racial/religious bias (which may be completely unrelated to a selection bias).

And in the case you mention, I'd hypothesise that 'children' includes the teen age group which may well be highly motivated to fuel the supply of proscribed content.

Did you know that a worringly high proportion of women, 5 in 10, are of below average intelligence?

Posted by: Crosbie Fitch at August 3, 2005 12:27 PM

I think the big "mis-direction here is to create the idea that porn sites are trying to "lure" children to their porn site. Simply not true. Children do not spend dollars and draw too much "heat". That is why many of them have icons of filter companies on their site. They are not selling filters they are making a statement for "self protection.

I think the article is "mis-overestimating" the urgency of the problem.

What ever happened to Tipper Gore ?

Posted by: Bob Turner at August 3, 2005 05:35 PM