Public Health Scientist Debunks 'Porn Addiction,' Criticizes Political Abuse of Term

Public Health Scientist Debunks 'Porn Addiction,' Criticizes Political Abuse of Term

WASHINGTON — Influential Washington-based publication The Hill this week ran an opinion piece by a public health scientist, debunking the unscientific myth of “porn addiction” and criticizing its rampant political use — chiefly by religious conservatives — to justify anti-free-speech legislation.

Joshua B. Grubbs, an associate professor of psychology and an investigator at the Center on Alcohol, Substance Use, and Addiction at the University of New Mexico, explained that the current onslaught of propaganda, from “earnest op-eds to toothless legislation calling pornography a ‘public health crisis,’ to calls for warning labels,” lacks grounding in “what careful scientific research has taught us about pornography use.”

In an essay titled “Is Pornography Really Warping Our Brains, or Is It a Moral Panic?” Grubbs explains that, as a psychology professor and addiction researcher, he has “made a career out of understanding pornography use and its effects, publishing dozens of scientific studies on the topic.”

In the course of that work, he notes, “the most consistent finding is that simple narratives like ‘porn is bad’ or ‘porn is good’ are flawed. Such assertions, and the arguments that underpin them, always miss key information and are almost always wrong.”

According to Grubbs, the science simply does not support the outlandish claims of “those who foment panic about pornography” by claiming that it “leads to addiction and mental health problems, damages the brain, results in violence against women, and drives epidemics of sexual dysfunction.”

“Claims that pornography is inherently addictive are without basis,” Grubbs concludes. “Some people do become out of control in their use of pornography, but the same can be said of exercise, shopping or even working. Yet, there is no rush to label most of these things as addictive because not every habitual behavior is an addiction.”

To read “Is Pornography Really Warping Our Brains, or Is It a Moral Panic?,” visit

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