Two researchers, Dr. Nikolaas Tinbergen and Dr. D. Magnus, played a trick on butterflies. After figuring out which marks on female butterfly wings were most eye-catching to their mates, they created their own cardboard butterflies and painted them to look like super-females. Their wing patterns were based on the wings of normal butterflies, but with more exciting marks than would ever be found in nature.
And the butterflies fell for it. Even though real female butterflies were around and available, the males kept trying to partner with the cardboard versions. It wasn’t getting them what they wanted—which was the chance to mate—but they had been tricked, so they ignored the real females and kept trying to charm the decoys.
Does this sound familiar?
The human mind is an amazing thing, but it’s susceptible to tricks. Butterflies get confused by cardboard, and humans get confused by pixels on a screen. Obviously tricks work both with butterflies and with humans, but we humans fall prey to something even more insidious than those dumb bugs: we tend to determine what normal is by the fallacy of appeal to common practice. The fallacy uses the fact that most people do X, Y, or Z, as evidence to support doing X, Y, or Z. It is a fallacy because the mere fact that most people do something does not make it correct, moral, justified, reasonable, or even something that makes the organism happier or healthier over the long term.
In 2014, comedian/artist/pro football player Terry Crews released his autobiography, Manhood: How to Be a Better Man or Just Live with One. In the book, Crews made public details of his long standing addiction to pornography, which he relayed had seriously impacted his marriage and his life, and which he was only able to overcome around 2009 and 2010 after entering rehabilitation; he now takes an active role in speaking out about the condition and its impact. Yes, it’s an actual problem, and it harms people.
I never thought about it much myself, but one day at Zion National Park, I saw a girl with a shirt on that said “Porn Kills Love.” I immediately thought that she must be some sort of radicalized Mormon. Actually, I immediately thought that an annoying person had ruined one of my HDR sets (pictured below) by walking into frame, but after that I saw what she was pointing to on her shirt and though that she must be LDS. As it turns out, the shirt is made by Fight the New Drug, which is a secular organization.
Apparently, females can also get pretty messed up in the mind by porn (guess I never considered that), and both FTND and http://dirtygirlsministries.com/ help those who want it, and have information that’s interesting, especially if you’re a stats junkie. It’s worth it to explore them in more detail. Note: there’s also information on abuse, so don’t go in looking if you’re not comfortable with that sort of information.
With love, always,