Not long ago, scientists thought of the brain as being "hard-wired." Neural networks are formed at a young age and remain inflexible throughout the rest of one's lifetime, they believed. But one of the great discoveries of recent decades is that the brain remains highly adaptable, or plastic, even in old age. On its own, the brain seems to compensate for certain diseases and brain damage like Alzheimer's by rewiring around damaged areas. But there is a dark side to this phenomenon of "neuroplasticity": unhealthy behaviors are just as likely to alter the brain as are healthy ones. Addictions are a prime example. "All addiction involves long-term, sometimes lifelong, neuroplastic change in the brain," says Norman Doidge, psychiatrist and author of The Brain That Changes Itself. In his book Doidge catalogs some amazing stories of personal triumph, but he also discusses how neuroplasticity can be hijacked by one of society's most pervasive addictions—porn addiction. "The addictiveness of Internet pornography is not a metaphor," he says. "Not all addictions are to drugs or alcohol...
Tag Archives | pornography
Interesting profile of the man who’s application for the .xxx domain extension has got the porn industry seeing red, in Business Week:
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The Internet has made Stuart Lawley a wealthy man. In 1999 he got rich by taking a British Internet service provider public. The London Sunday Times has named him one of the 1,000 richest people in Britain.
Now he’s poised to make his next fortune selling Internet addresses to pornographers. Late last month the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international body that manages Web addresses around the world, gave preliminary approval for Lawley’s application to be the sole registry of Internet domains that end in dot-xxx.
If Lawley’s bid is approved—ICANN’s next board meeting is in December—he says his company, ICM Registry, stands to bring in $200 million a year selling Web addresses at $60 a pop. That’s six times the going rate for dot-com and dot-net addresses, but in line with niche domains such as dot-travel and dot-jobs.
On porn and the end of the world:
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The spread of porn is somewhat akin to Global Warming – both evidence that we are mistreating the Earth, but also has the potential to totally transform our behavior for the better. Porn is evidence that we’re being totally careless with our sexuality, but taboo-breaking could be useful if we don’t devolve completely. I’m not entirely optimistic about our chances.
The trouble with porn is that it is currently forbidden. Even though people decry the mainstreaming of porn – Jenna Jameson on Oprah – the mainstreaming is as senseless as any other cultural artifact. Jenna Jameson shows you can make a lot of money in porn and there’s even some glamor in it, but the real porn story is how this trickles down to everyone else. Just as people debase themselves eating cockroaches on “Fear Factor” to get 15 minutes of fame, porn is bringing the same impulse to the bedroom.
Chatroulette is struggling with users’ constantly exposing themselves, which drives non-creeps away from the site. Thus they are mounting a campaign to develop technology that can identify and block human genitals — it’s this era’s Space Race. Techcrunch reports:
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Russian website Chatroulette, founded by Andrey Ternovskiy, is perhaps most well known as a place to watch men expose their genitals.
Can Chatroulette become something more? Look for feature changes soon that will try to send all those penises to the background. The service may add software that can quickly scan video to determine if a penis is being shown. And users that are consistently quickly skipped over (presumably because they are exposing themselves or otherwise being disgusting) can be flagged as well. With those and other changes Chatroulette may be able to put people who actually want to talk to each other in touch much more often.
And that’s where real growth might happen.
Not quite your average New York Times story:
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LENEXA, Kan. — It was the final session for the women at Westside Family Church’s Victory Over Porn Addiction group, and the youngest member, a 17-year-old named Kelsie, had not had a good week.
“I slipped two nights this week,” she said, to nods of support from the other women in the group.
“I decided that every time I’m tempted I’ll just let everything out to God,” she said, “then pray specifically for someone else, do selfless acts, to get away from being selfish.”
The group’s leader, Crystal Renaud, offered gentle counsel. “Pray for yourself, too,” she said.
To the wide array of programs offered by evangelical megachurches like Westside, the group adds what Ms. Renaud says is something long overdue. While churches have addressed pornography use among the men in their congregations and among the clergy, a group for women who say they are addicted to pornography is new territory, she said.
Though J. Edgar Hoover's minions often probed the interstate transportation of obscene material featuring Bettie Page, the notorious pin-up model was nonetheless willing to help agents when it came to FBI inquiries about the production of certain "flagellation and bondage pictures," according to bureau records.
When a 1957 police drug raid on a Harlem apartment turned up a cache of obscene magazines and photos, paddles, a riding crop, a whip, and lengths of chain, rawhide, and rope, FBI agents contacted Page for some expert guidance. Specifically, they wanted to know if the apartment was a photo studio where obscene material was produced. According to the below memo sent to Hoover, Page told investigators that she "had never heard of that type of photography being made in Harlem." An agent reported that Page also advised that the "flagellation and bondage pictures that she had posed for" were shot "in photographic studios or photographers apartments."
The seized porn, which included "two books and four pictures depicting Betty Page in various poses," was shipped to Washington for "examination" by the FBI Laboratory, according to a second memo. At some point, agents planned to quiz the apartment's inhabitants about "what the source of these items was, and to what use they were putting them to."
NPR discusses the intimate link between sex and technology — how Internet porn kingpins shaped the web as we know it today and introduced some of the technologies we now take for granted:
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Coopersmith says America Online’s popularity was driven by its private chat features. “One of the nicknames for AOL in the industry was ‘the house that sex chat built,’ ” he says.
Adult sites also paved the way for the mainstream to adopt several technologies. They were among the first to integrate e-commerce systems to process credit card transactions. “The first part of the Web to make money was pornography,” Coopersmith says.
“You have a lot of some of the tactics, concepts and business strategies pioneered by the cybersex world that then flowed into the regular online world…For instance, creating these Web sites where you join for a fee and you have different levels of membership.”
More obnoxious practices were also readily embraced by some in the adult world, as many people’s junk e-mail folders can easily demonstrate.
Milton Diamond for The Scientist:
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Pornography. Most people have seen it, and have a strong opinion about it. Many of those opinions are negative — some people argue that ready access to pornography disrupts social order, encouraging people to commit rape, sexual assault, and other sex-related crimes. And even if pornography doesn’t trigger a crime, they say, it contributes to the degradation of women.
It harms the women who are depicted by pornography, and harms those who do not participate but are encouraged to perform the acts depicted in it by men who are acculturated by it. Many even adamantly believe that pornography should become illegal.
Alternatively, others argue that pornography is an expression of fantasies that can actually inhibit sexual activity, and act as a positive displacement for sexual aggression. Pornography offers a readily available means of satisfying sexual arousal (masturbation), they say, which serves as a substitute for dangerous, harmful, and illegal activities.