Academic Woo-Hoo of the Week: Ruining Porn

Warning: This post can’t achieve a PG-13 MPAA rating even with a heavy use of asterisks. As regular readers know, we have some regulations informal guidelines about content here, but sometimes the news, like the latest junk about Anthony Weiner’s junk, compels testing the outer limits. The whole thing reminds of the scene in Ghostbusters—the classic original, not the unfunny, estrogen-fueled remake—where Dr. Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) objects to Dr. Venkman (Bill Murray) having slept with Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver).

Stantz: “It’s against regulations to sleep with a client!”

Venkman shoots a sharp, disapproving look at Stantz.

Stantz: “Well, really it’s more of a guideline.”

With that preface, would you believe this article actually appears in the current issue of Evolutionary Psychological Science:

Duration of Cunnilingus Predicts Estimated Ejaculate Volume in Humans: a Content Analysis of Pornography

By Michael N. Pham, Austin John Jeffrey, Yael Sela, Justin T Lynn, Sara Trevino, Zachary Willockx, Adam Tratner, Paul Itchue, Todd Shackelford, Bernard Fink, Melissa M. McDonald

Abstract

Humans perform copulatory behaviors that do not contribute directly to reproduction (e.g., cunnilingus, prolonged copulation). We conducted a content analysis of pornography to investigate whether such behaviors might contribute indirectly to reproduction by influencing ejaculate volume—an indicator of ejaculate quality. We coded 100 professional pornography scenes depicting the same male actor copulating with 100 different females, affording control for between-male differences in estimated ejaculate volume. Coders visually estimated ejaculate volume and recorded the time the actor spent engaged in cunnilingus, penile-vaginal penetration, and in any physical contact with his partner. We found support for the hypothesis that a man who spends more time performing cunnilingus produces an ejaculate with greater estimated volume, even after controlling statistically for the age and attractiveness of the actress, and time spent in physical contact with his partner. Additionally, we tested the ejaculate adjustment hypothesis for prolonged copulation and found no support. Prolonged copulation does not facilitate production of an ejaculate with greater estimated volume, even after controlling statistically for time spent in physical contact with a partner. This research is the first to use content analysis to document that pre-ejaculatory copulatory behavior predicts estimated ejaculate volume and also is the first to document a relationship between the time spent performing cunnilingus and ejaculate quality.

A few observations. First, it sounds like a fancy excuse for a bunch of pervs to watch a lot of porn under the guise of “science,” along the way proving there’s no subject that academics can’t ruin for everyone. Second, eleven authors? Yup, that pretty much confirms point number one, though one suspects this might just have been a faculty meeting or off-campus retreat that went badly wrong and the dean decided to cover it all up by making a journal article out of it. Third, what about out-takes? Seems to me there is a raw data quality problem here. I mean, they don’t really think these scenes are all done in one continuous shot, do they? Not unless Richard Linklater has taken up porn, and made a sequel to Boyhood called Manhood. (Sorry, sorry, I just can’t help it.) Fourth, like most scientific findings, doesn’t this study need to be replicated? (Good news for college fraternities everywhere, not to mention the unemployed Anthony Weiner.) Can we please have the full list of titles that were viewed?

Finally, unlike most journal articles that will cost you $36 as a non-subscriber (which would be everyone, as no real human being actually subscribes to most of these specialty academic journals), you can have the whole of this article absolutely free. The irony-deprived “scholars” behind this article have unwittingly reinforced why the Internet has ruined porn by, um, removing the barriers to entry. (Sorry: just couldn’t help it.) And that’s enough to ruin Anthony Weiner’s whole day, since his evident next career as film star “Carlos Danger” doesn’t pay very well any more.

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