Sunday, 19 May 2013

Here are three totally partial experts I am going to use to prove my point.

I really don't like Damian Thompson. When I say really don't like I mean don't like with a vengeance. He is a perfect example of what is wrong with journalism in the UK and in particular the type of journalism you will find in the Daily Mail. I know he writes for the Telegraph but he is there to try and drag in the high-brow end of the Mail readers. Imagine Quentin Letts with an ever bigger ego and slightly more sophistication, then you get the right idea.

Anyway Damian has his pet dislikes. They seem to be focussed on the common people didn't go to Oxbridge, those who are atheists or non-christians (non-Catholics are rather dubious characters), those that have the wrong sorts of addictions and those who are not members of a modern Gatsby society party that seems to flit from one luxury location to the next. He is an appalling social and intellectual snob whose views of women seem to me horribly outdated.

Anyway in his book the Fix, which I gave a lovely 1 star Amazon review he shows that one of the addictions he hates is the modern obsession with pornography (he didn't read his classics very well as porn is a very old obsession). So he rolls out three experts to show how terrible porn is. Here are their websites:

Sharna Olfman
Gail Dines
Judith Resiman

Now there are a few problems with these people as experts. First is the lack of peer reviewed publications and an extensive research curriculum, which always makes their views suspect and suggests that they might be biased and not based on evidence. Second two out of the three use personal .com or .org sites and not those of the academic institutions they "belong" to. Now I have personal sites but I am also on my organisation's site and that is where you will see my professional work. So why don't they?

You can read up on all three and Dr Olfman is perhaps the expert I would give the most credibility but Judith Reisman is a well known anti-porn campaigner with ideas that have been refuted by the evidence.

So why did Damian pick these three experts and not some with stronger evidence based credentials? Well that would be because there is no evidence for his position. In fact his whole book is short on evidence and is mostly a recycling of newspaper articles written by other non-expert journalists. This is a real example of churnalism.