TORONTO, Canada—When even the firm conducting the phone survey of Canadian citizens feels compelled to repeatedly make the point that the poll results reveal an obvious refusal on the part of a majority of the respondents to answer honestly, you know you’ve hit a sweet spot in the nervous system of the populace.
What’s more, Canada.com, in its coverage yesterday of the results of the Forum Research survey of 1,624 Canadians about their use of and attitude toward pornography, was so struck by the obvious mendacity that it headlined the piece, “Only 1 in 8 Canadians admit to viewing porn in last year,” and opted for the clarifying sub-head, “As many as 7 in 8 Canadians are liars.”
Lauren Strapagie opened the article with a slightly more generous take, writing, “One in eight Canadians admitted to Forum Research that they’ve viewed or purchased pornography in the past year, but a more realistic analysis may be that we don’t like sharing our naughty habits with an automated phone call.”
And Forum Research, unable to ignore the apparent, noted in its announcement of the results released in Toronto yesterday, “In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll among 1624 Canadians 18 years of age and older, one eighth admit to having purchased or viewed pornography in the past year (16%), while a further one quarter preferred not to answer (26%), which may stand as a proxy for admission of use. “
Even the founder and president of the Forum Research, Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D, was compelled to observe at the top of his personal statement on the survey’s results, "We pride ourselves as Canadians on our open-mindedness, but even with the anonymity guaranteed by the IVR survey method, it would appear there is substantial under-reporting of pornography use. While uncommon among females, certainly, it must be assumed that more than one quarter of Canadian males have encountered pornography in the past year.”
Unfortunately, this emphasis on the refusal of the respondents to answer honestly only worked to obscure the survey's results, which, as Canada.com notes, “Should probably be taken with a grain of salt since they only represent 169 (don’t giggle) people — 140 men and 29 women.”
But what does emerge is a patchwork of attitudes that reflect a diverse and politicized society. For instance, as Canada.com reports, “Of all those surveyed, including those who said they don’t watch porn, 52 per cent were in favor of laws requiring internet providers to block pornography or require an opt-in requirement. Again, Christian Conservatives were the mostly likely to favor these laws, as were women." In other words, most of the same people who said they didn't watch the stuff.
To be expected, generational differences were also a factor in how people answered. “A full half of respondents agreed that pornography is harmful to society, ranging from just 39 per cent for those age 18 to 34 all the way to 70 per cent among those age 65 or older,” wrote Strapagiel.
In the end, for Forum Research president Bozinoff, those results appear to pale beside the answers given by the porn-watchers who admitted they watched porn.
“What is interesting though,” he says, “is what those who claim to use pornography tell us about how they use it. Relatively frequently, so not a novelty item. Mostly alone, so probably not a sex aid, and always (or almost always) the same kind, so not a smorgasbord. Moreover, those who claim to use pornography resent any attempt by the state to interfere with their access. To users, this is an area where personal liberty trumps the concerns of the state.”