2

The question Do democrat voters watch more porn than republicans? is currently on hold.

In the original question I assumed that clam in the title was what a typical reader would take from any of the news stories. I also assumed that this would be a problem because it is a clear example of the ecological fallacy and deserves a good debunking for that and many other reasons. But I used the Vox headline which, more accurately claims that Democratic states seem to watch more porn and doesn't make the major error of generalising that to democrat voters (though many readers would make that implication).

The mismatch of the headline and the title caused some questioning of the legitimacy of the claim itself. So I went back to the original source, Buzzfeed. They claim to have originated the research in collaboration with Pornhub and they make the explicit claim twice in the article that they are implying that the results tell us something useful about democrat voters. I assumed that this would validate the claim in the title (and avoid having to make an implicit claim about how readers would interpret the research, though that is important in cases like this).

To be clear, I seriously doubt the validity of the research and I think it illustrates a common and dangerous statistical error. I was hoping that a good analysis would help immunise readers against a range of errors. But I suspect some people are voting against the question for partizan reasons rather than because it is a bad question.

Should the revised version of the question be reopened as the claim now matches the title?

1

Clickbait Titles: Valid claims?

Regarding the general issue of article titles making a claim which the article itself doesn't reflect: I think this is a difficult issue.

On the one hand, you are right that it does spread false information, and is worthy of debunking.

On the other hand, the best an answer can do at skeptics is to point to the article itself, which doesn't seem like a good answer.

I think that if people actually believe the claim, there should be other sources for it. If there are a lot of other sources assuming the title is correct, it should be a notable claim.

This question

I think your edit already improved the question severely by including a claim from the article itself. Still, the best an answer can really do is point you to the article itself. Answers will be argumentative, not sourced.

A possible solution might be to separate the claim from this specific pornhub survey. There are some other claims about who watches more porn:

Still, many of these have a similar problem of title vs article mismatch. And the top google result for me for this question is your skeptics question, and most of the other hits reference the pornhub analysis, which at least suggests that this may not be a very notable claim.

  • The revised version does indeed quote an actual claim and not a subeditor's headline. But the point of the actual claim is to promote the ecological fallacy which deserves a proper debunking so readers can build up their immunity to future versions of it. This will not be clear just by quoting the content of the articles that reported it. But there are good debunkings out there which will languish unless the question is reopened. – matt_black Oct 18 '17 at 18:56
0

I think there are several issues here.

One is about headline writers. (I acknowledge @Tim who partially addressed it.) I think that is a big enough issue it deserves its own meta-question, so I asked one:


One is about implicit claims.

I think trying to work out what a typical reader would conclude is fraught with danger. If people actually belief it, it shouldn't be hard to find them explicitly saying so.

We have some existing meta-questions about this:


You write:

They claim to have originated the research in collaboration with Pornhub and they make the explicit claim twice in the article that they are implying that the results tell us something useful about democrat voters.

Great! Put THOSE claims in the question and lose the troublesome headline.

  • I still don't like the original question because we all know what the answer is before you've finished asking it. The data talks about states. Anyone drawing applying those conclusions to individuals in the states is wrong. – Oddthinking Oct 17 '17 at 10:29
  • I thought that I'd dealt with most of those objections in the revised version of the question which uses the explicit claims made in the Buzzfeed article rather than assuming an implicit claim or quoting the more accurate Vox headline. Given what the Buzzfeed quotes say, the headline doesn't need to change. If the headline is "troublesome" it is because that is what Buzzfeed claimed. – matt_black Oct 17 '17 at 11:51
  • @matt_black: I went back an re-read the updated post, wondering why I hadn't seen this. The examples you give are the headline (see the other meta question) and a single quote "And democrats came out on top". It seems... weak. I think reasonable readers would understand it was about states. Of course, there would be unreasonable readers too, but go find a quote from them - rather than us having to assume that they are out there somewhere, and arguing that they are wrong. – Oddthinking Oct 20 '17 at 0:59
  • I think I showed enough of the text to demonstrate that the intent of the article was represented by the headline. The statement in the internal quote may be "weak" but it shows this was not just a sub-editor making up the claim. This is clearly not one of those claims where the story was misinterpreted by the sub-editor for clickbait: the clickbait claim was the intent of the whole story. – matt_black Oct 20 '17 at 13:26
  • BTW, I also added plenty of other references to the original story that appear to show the dubious interpretation of the study. But you closed it anyway. ¯_(ツ)_/¯] – matt_black Oct 22 '17 at 12:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .