A Billion Wicked Thoughts: Fact or Biased Opinion?

A Billion Wicked Thoughts: Fact or Biased Opinion?

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By Stefanie Saint on May 31, 2011

In another instance of nerds using research as an excuse to check out porn on the internet, a pair of computational neuroscientists decided to examine porn on the internet and detail their findings in a book titled A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire.

 With the use of a computer program, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Goddam were able to compile an estimated 100 million sexual queries from public sources. They analyzed “web searches, a million Web sites, a million erotic stories, a half-million erotic videos, millions of personal ads, millions of online dating responses, millions of paid subscriptions to adult sites, tens of thousands of comments on erotic sites, tens of thousands of digitized romance novels, and much more.”

The most intriguing result for us was that the findings seem to be based on assumption, stereotypes and flawed research.

A few points of interest according to Ogas and Goddam:

While every kind of porn imaginable can be found online, 80% can be divided into a mere 20 different sexual interests. The top five sexual interests based on what people search for are ‘youth’, ‘gay’, ‘MILF’s, ‘breasts’, and ‘cheating wives’, which isn’t too surprising. Ogas analyzed these results and explains why we find these five sexual interests get us so damn horny. According to Ogas it boils down almost entirely to evolution. Even though we’ve built skyscrapers and traveled to the moon, when it comes to our most intimate desires our little brains, controlling our engorged organ, are firmly in the driver’s seat.

Men search for overweight women three times as often as they search for underweight women.

Straight men like cocks too. The number of searches for "pussy" just barely beats out searches for "dick," 1,096,614 to 938,134. Big Dick is a popular category of porn on all of the major heterosexual adult tube sites, including PornHub, the most popular adult video site in the world.

Gay men and straight men have nearly identical brains, and their favourite body parts, in order of preference, line up exactly: chests, buttocks and feet.

Unsurprisingly women are still fascinated with plot and character development when they watch porn. A typical woman’s porn doesn’t include sex till halfway through, while men’s porn gets down and dirty much sooner. (Though we have no idea what constitutes 'women's porn;)

The dominant modes of erotica for women are character-driven stories of romance and sexuality. The most popular erotic site for women is fanfiction.net, which is a collection of amateur written stories [which are often written about male characters found in pop culture, like Edward from "Twilight"]. (There is no data for who is actually visiting these sights, male or female or why researchers chose this particular site as ‘the most popular site for women’ and didn’t include others that were based solely on erotica.)

The researchers did discover a few commonly held beliefs around porn are surprisingly inaccurate. They uncovered that porn addicts do in fact exist, but appear to amount to less than 2% of the population. Most porn viewers tend to search the same thing while porn addicts enjoy a much broader spectrum of naughty scenes.

While Ogas and Goddam’s research is one of the largest ever compiled there are still many questions to ask. Can we deduce sexual desire and fantasy via searches on the web? Or the difference between curiosity (my Google search shows ‘teddy bear porn,’2 girls 1 cup’ and even ‘guy fucking a car’) versus actual porn that arouses and stimulates.

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