Nothing like Nordic noir to cheer us up!

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Stunning research in two studies, from Finland and Germany, has already been reported this year, both of which give a big boost to the heretical claim that kind people are much kinder – more caring in their feelings towards children and liked by them – than the present, all-pervasive, vilification suggests.

I’ll start with the one that looks at children’s own perceptions, not least because studies of this type are exceedingly rare, and provided they have been well conducted they are pure gold. This is a study based on the Finnish Child Victim Survey. That word “victim” doesn’t sound very promising, does it? But it was a survey with thousands of child participants, carried out in schools, that looked at children as victims of real crimes and mistreatment, such as theft and physical violence, as well as so-called “child sexual abuse” (CSA) by a much older person. Crucially, it was not assumed that the children would think they were victims. Instead, they were asked how they would characterise these contacts.

And guess what? Most 12-year-olds reported CSA as a positive experience. Go compare that with the dogma touted on sex offender courses that no child would ever want or enjoy it!  More about the Finnish findings in a minute.

As for the German research, it is one of those big, prestigious, neuroscience affairs that might be completely wrong – this is cutting edge stuff, after all, looking at the most complex structure in the known universe, the human brain – but which we would be foolish to ignore. It is a paper by Jorge Ponseti, an established figure in the field, along with a team of no fewer than 18 co-authors. The take-away point from it for now is the study’s tentative conclusion that male paedophiles, far from being aggressive and rapacious, appear to have a stronger caring, nurturing response towards the young than other adult males. It is good to see science at last catching up with what many of us have known all our adult lives just by being aware of our own more tender feelings towards kids. In fairness to science, though, nearly three decades ago (and as the paper notes) the Austrian ethologist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt expressed a similar view, suggesting that paedophilia might in some cases be based on an “eroticization of parental love”.

The implications are obvious and could in future hardly be more profound for how paedophiles are viewed in society if this pioneering study’s findings are confirmed through further research. This is so important that it needs a separate blog, which I plan to bring out in due course.

Turning back to Finland, what we have is a 2018 paper based on the large (n = 11,364) population-based sample of sixth and ninth grade schoolchildren conducted in that country in 2013 and published in 2014 (in Finnish) as the Finnish Child Victim Survey. The paper, by Lahtinen et al., focused solely on the CSA data in the survey. The sixth graders were mostly aged 12 and the ninth graders mostly aged 15 at the time of the survey, which was completed on a voluntary classroom-by-classroom basis in schools across Finland. Respondents’ gender distribution was equal. So-called “abuse” by adults (perceived by some respondents as abusive but not by others) was based on the question “Have you ever experienced sexual advances or intercourse with an adult or a person at least 5 years older than you?” Follow-up questions were asked about the age of the respondent and age of the other person at the time of the events. Over 70% of the reported incidents involved actual sexual contact rather than a non-contact proposition or exhibitionism.

The children, answering the survey on classroom computers, were able to give their responses anonymously, without pressure from therapists or law enforcement sources, and without time for their memories to be overwritten by distorting influences at a later stage, as adults. So this procedure avoided any colouring added by the culturally imposed notion that children are asexual and “innocent”, or by the preconception that any sexual involvement with an adult must amount to “abuse”.

Perhaps the most striking finding, as noted above, is that a majority (54%) of the 12-year-olds who reported sexual contacts with an adult described it as a positive experience.

This finding, being potentially embarrassing to the child abuse industry (which thrives on generating and elaborating victim narratives rather than discovering reasons to be cheerful) was not headlined in the report. Instead, it emerged in an emailed response to questions presented by an independent researcher to Monica Fagerlund, lead author of the Finnish Child Victim Survey itself. The email was sent back in 2016, long before the very recent appearance of the Lahtinen et al. paper. The independent researcher was none other than Filip Schuster, who will be known to many here for his extremely well-informed comments at Heretic TOC.

However, Lahtinen et al.’s published paper contains further data of an inconvenient nature for the victimological view, as will be clear to the savvy reader despite the authors’ attempts to talk the implications down, through caveat and spin.

The analyses focused on the subsample of 256 children and adolescents who reported having sexual experiences with adults or with someone at least five years older at the time of the incident. This subsample amounts to 2.4% of the total sample, a figure some might feel is very low, and indeed reassuringly so on a conventional view, given that a survey of children themselves would appear to be the most reliable method.

For the boys, the experience was often positive (71%), whereas for the girls it was less often so evaluated (26%). Almost half of the girls (46%) said the experience was negative, compared to 9% of the boys. These findings were much the same for the sixth and ninth graders.

The most popular reason for not disclosing the contact to an adult was considering the experience not serious enough (41%). Other options included: “I did not believe that anyone would be interested” (14%); “I did not believe that disclosing would help me” (14%); miscellaneous other reasons (8%) included “I did not want to”, “There was nothing to tell”, and “I enjoyed it”. More negative reasons accounted for barely a quarter of the total:  “I did not have the courage to tell” (14%); “I was too ashamed to disclose” (10%).

The authors commented in the paper:

The small number of answers to the question of whether a sexual incident with an adult was considered negative or positive does not enable testing statistical significance…. Most of the children reported these incidents as positive. This highlights the potentially contradictory views of an incident from the perspective of the respondent compared to that of society and the law.

I posted on Sexnet about the paper, asking specifically for members’ expert opinion on this statistical point. The size of the subsample (n = 256) is indeed small compared to the overall sample (n = 11,364) but to the layman the absolute number looks easily large enough to derive valid inferences in which considerable confidence can be placed.

Having mentioned the authors’ caveat on statistical significance, I should perhaps add a word about their spin. In fairness this is pretty much confined to two sentences in the “Conclusions and implications” section:

These results, taken together with the finding that many of the children did not label their experiences as sexual abuse, indicate that more age-appropriate safety education for children and adolescents is needed to encourage disclosures to adults early enough… Early disclosure is crucial, both for ending the abuse and for preventing perpetrators from moving on to new victims.

Again, I posted on Sexnet about this, writing:

So blinkered has research become that the policy point here (more safety education needed) will probably seem utterly uncontroversial to most people working in the field. That is because, for them, the victimological paradigm has become incontrovertible common sense. But this is zombie science. It lacks an alert appreciation of the data before the authors’ eyes, which clearly indicate that a very significant (in lay terms at least) proportion of the “victims” are only thus designated by convention, not by the evidence. This is not to argue against the goal of reducing real victimisation. It is just to suggest that a bigger and very important picture is being missed.

I am pleased to report that Mike Bailey, psychology professor at Northwestern University, and Sexnet moderator, supported my interpretation of the stats, posting to say “You are correct that size of the sub sample with ‘CSA’ is adequate for statistical tests.” He also said the study was “unusually informative”, thanking me for posting about it and kindly saying “Your take on this study is trenchant and brave”.

This was too good to last, sadly. Before you could say “knee-jerk reaction” my long-time adversary James Cantor had piped up, making a complete snowflake of himself (or of his colleagues) by asserting that my criticism of the CSA industry was offensive and would deter discussion of the paper – as though the 300-plus researchers and clinicians on Sexnet would be scared to challenge me. Yes, that’s me, little me, the sole surviving, vocal, non-virtuous paedo perv on the forum, faced with the massed ranks of the abuse industry’s intellectual elite, including leading lights within the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA)!

But at least Dr Cantor admitted that he agreed “with the basic conclusion of the posted article”, which is something. As is the fact that Dr Bailey was prompted to post again, saying my reference to the CSA industry “raises an issue I’ve been meaning to write about for a while”.

And write he did, at considerable length, in a remarkable post admitting that “in the culture at large, we are biased in a way that exaggerates the harmfulness of child-adult sex, often in a hysterical way”. He proceeded to write his own four-paragraph critique of the CSA industry, saying, for instance, government funding for research on CSA “is extraordinarily biased towards searching for harm” rather than positive experience. Nor were there grants to study why there might be positive experiences, including the possibility that iatrogenic harm is avoided when children and their adult partners manage to avoid law enforcement in their relationship, with its crushing impact on the younger partner as well as the older one.

Bailey’s contribution was wonderful but there were also a couple of tough queries arising from the detailed stats that put the validity of the findings in some doubt. Follow-up emails by Filip to Monica Fagerlund and Hanna-Mari Lahtinen elicited some further information but not enough to settle the key issues. Hanna even sent me a friendly email out of the blue, saying that in order to get good answers to the questions being raised she would need “qualitative data such as written answers to open questions. Unfortunately we did not have such questions concerning sexual abuse in this questionnaire…”

Yes, unfortunate but understandable. There is only so much that can be packed into a single survey.

Not to worry, though, for I soon discovered that the Finnish Findings are strongly supported by the Danish Data! Yes, in this rapidly unfolding Scandinavian thriller series (a Netflix box-set can’t be far off) another study has turned up in the nick of time!

Like the Lahtinen et al., paper, this Danish one was based on a rare survey – vanishingly rare in the US and UK at least – of school students rather than adults. The article, by Karin Helweg-Larsen and Helmer Bøving Larsen, came out in 2006 and appears to have been somewhat overlooked – certainly by me, perhaps on account of its miserablist title: “The prevalence of unwanted and unlawful sexual experiences reported by Danish adolescents: Results from a national youth survey in 2002”.

On close inspection, though, which required a few calculations of my own, it looks very hard to justify any claim that the survey was entirely or even mostly about unwanted sex. Rather, it was about illegal sex below the age of consent, set at 15 in Denmark. The participants in the survey were 9th grade students, nearly all of whom were themselves aged 15. Unlike the youngsters in Finland, they were not asked whether they felt the experience had been positive or negative but they were asked whether they felt it had been abusive or not. Thus the experience may or may not have been perceived as enjoyable and beneficial but it seems reasonable to infer that those who did not feel it was abusive probably thought they had consented to what happened, in fact if not in law.

So how many of these apparently consensual encounters were there? The authors wrote:

“A total of 7.5% of girls and 2% of boys reported CSA where the older person was at least five years older than the child, but less than half of the respondents perceived these experiences as sexual abuse.”

The relevant data were to be found in Table II, albeit without the percentages I was looking for. After working these out, is became clear that fully 60% of the respondents (boys 65% and girls – of whom there were far more – 59%) did not consider they had been abused.

What all this amounts to is extraordinarily good news. The Danish survey strongly supports the Finnish one in allowing us to conclude that when children are allowed to give their own perception of their sexual experiences with much older people, usually adults, a high proportion of them in effect say they consented to what happened and look back on it as something good in their life.

The CSA industry does its best to hide these encouraging facts even as it unwittingly discloses them via surveys aimed at discovering an endless parade of victims for society to be anxious and miserable about. Instead of joyful stories of companionable intimacy, everything has to be turned into bleak Nordic noir. We must not let them get away with it!

 

 

 

Jimmy the screamer caught in VICE racket

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Jimmy “the screamer” Cantori, notorious hit-person of the Toronto mob, has gone to ground after a dramatic shoot-out last week when he was sensationally injured in a verbal battle with “heretic” Tommaso Caroli and “sex queen” Judith Levine, goodtime girl and slayer of child-protection racketeering. Cantori is thought to be nursing a badly-wounded ego.

The rumble broke out in a seedy speak-easy called Sexnet, where clients claim to “exchange information and ideas” about so-called “sex research”. Hostilities began after Cantori had bragged of an ambitious scheme to beef up the mob’s muscle by recruiting thugs on the street to press-gang men into “therapy”.

Seriously! James Cantor, a research psychologist whose hissy fits, dubious science, egotistic self-promotion and evangelical moral entrepreneurship in “support” of paedophiles have featured previously on Heretic TOC (see “Scientific egos as fragile as eggs” plus here, here and here for my engagement with him on his research), has now come up with a wheeze to use a vigilante outfit called Creep Catchers to “persuade” their victims – guys looking for sex who are tricked into a meeting they think will be with a minor – that they should seek treatment.

This came to light when James – which I will call him from now on because I’m a hopeless hater and he may well actually be sincere in his misguided aims – alerted Sexnet to a TV documentary about Creep Catchers by the appropriately named VICE News. James, who was interviewed on the programme, said he thought VICE did a great job, and I readily agree it was very slick and totally compelling.

J. Michael Bailey, moderator of Sexnet and himself a leading academic psychologist, also agreed, but then added that he thought James’s contribution had been “very, very good”. Usually, I find myself in agreement with Mike (it helps to agree with a moderator! 🙂 ), but not this time. So I said as much, although Judith Levine got in first with a fine one-liner, saying she thought the vigilante was the one who needed therapy – meaning a bully calling himself “Justin Payne”, a name possibly intended to evoke the idea of meting out pain in the name of justice. He was the guy actually confronting his entrapped victims, taunting and shaming them while his partner in a two-man team captured the confrontations on video.

My response was to say that:

…yes, James is very, very good at fulfilling a culturally assigned role, which is why the media lap him up.  Where paedophilia is concerned, he is the velvet glove masking the iron fist. He makes it possible for educated, civilised liberals to believe that essentially coercive therapies are necessary.

That alone would have been a red rag to a bull on Sexnet, where a substantial chunk of the membership are paid to develop and implement such therapies: most of them are well-meaning but their careers are built on oppression, including “therapy” within “civil confinement” prisons in the US from which there is virtually no prospect of release, despite treatment courses designed to make offenders safe for life outside.

What would have enraged James even more, though, was my response, and Judith Levine’s, to news he gave about a further development. He posted to say he was scheduled to be on a panel discussion with Justin Payne in February and was “hoping to use the opportunity to call on Creep Catchers to funnel victims into therapy instead of harassment”.

I replied saying “Not sure how encouraging thugs to bully and press-gang people into treatment would play with a medical ethics board. If something else is intended, what would it be? Is complicity with the leopards expected to change their spots?”

Judith posted swiftly in support:

…does Cantor really want to wave a magic wand & combine entrapment with enticements to therapy? How about just getting rid of mandatory reporting?

James is actually on record as being against mandatory reporting laws, which require doctors and other professionals to report to the authorities anyone coming to them for advice or therapy if they disclose any offence. His objection is that such laws deter paedophiles from seeking help – a very strong point because some people are genuinely desperate or even out of control and really do need it. Nevertheless, Judith was right to propose focusing on the reporting issue rather than going down the maverick route of colluding with thugs. As I said in a follow-up, the police wouldn’t touch Creep Catchers with a bargepole and neither should he – though the forces of law and order would do well to challenge the vigilantes over their harassment and intimidating behaviour.

Back to the VICE documentary itself. In one of James’s televised interview points he claimed, as he has done elsewhere, that paedophilia is characterised by crossed wiring in the brain. He said that  instead of having parental or avuncular feelings towards children, paedophiles identify them as sex objects.

Where, I asked, was this  “instead of” coming from? Why would it be one or the other rather than both? I pointed out that at least 20-25% of “normal” men show significant sexual arousal to children in lab-based psychological tests. Most of these guys would presumably be family men, with nothing to suggest they are anything other than loving parents in the socially approved sense of loving. If they can be kind, caring, and affectionate, with an element of erotic attraction in the mix, why would this double response not also apply to preferential paedophiles?

Unfortunately, Mike Bailey seemed blinded by the hostile tone of my post, saying he had been “taken aback” by my attack on James Cantor, whom he described as a humane person who just wanted to stop paedophiles’ lives being ruined.

Right! Sure! As someone whose experience of James’s humane concern has been experienced through nothing but his icy refusal to acknowledge anything I have ever said on Sexnet, through to his cold, dismissive references to “O’Carroll’s” lack of professional standing and expertise, to screaming fits of outright abuse and demands that I be kicked off the forum, I begged to differ. After seven years of this from him since my forum membership started in 2010, I had concluded that nothing would make him happier than to see this particular paedophile’s life ruined; or, better still, terminated! I suspect I must have been murdered in his dreams a number of times and I’d rather not dwell on the methods he might have come up with.

And not just me: any other Kind person on the forum who dared to utter so much as a squeak of modest dissent against his self-enforced towering authority would face a blast of withering scorn. He must have verbally murdered half a dozen of us over the years, leaving me as the last man standing. All the others have either wisely kept a low profile (two or three continue to do useful work through private contacts with key forum members) or else retaliated by giving  James a defiant blast of their own, followed by their swift demotion to non-posting status for failing to know their station.

I have huge respect for Mike and I could see no mileage in antagonising him by pursuing a vendetta on the forum against a colleague he has known for decades without, it seems, being troubled by his obvious volatility. Far better to row back a bit, then try a careful re-casting of my argument, this time without ruffling feathers. So, I apologised for my hostile tone but continued to maintain my original scientific point about “normal” men’s sexual response to children in lab tests. The information I had given was not only correct, which Mike admitted, but also relevant, which he had denied. This time, after my further explanation, he conceded I had a point, albeit he felt James did not really believe paedophiles never feel parental-type love for children. My reaction: no, maybe not, but that is effectively what he said in public and it is pure poison because it suggests that Kind people are wired up to be unkind – selfishly interested only in their sexual expression and callously indifferent to children’s feelings and best interests.

I carefully spelled out that the “crossed wires” analogy presents paedophilic mental experience as a polar opposite of the norm, rather than part of a continuum in which most paedophiles have a great deal in common with others. Thus “the paedophile” is presented in a dehumanising way as a freakishly different being. This, I said, seems to me to be on a par with the equally false and damaging claim (now largely corrected in the literature) that paedophilic “offenders” lack empathy.

It was hard to gauge what other sexnetters were thinking at this point. Posts by established academics on less controversial topics, such as a thread today on “copulatory vocalisation”, tend to be followed up quickly with colleagues chipping in further information, often with friendly banter and jokes thrown in. My posts used to be met with brusque dismissal or patronising little lectures on where I was going wrong – until both types of response were met with clear evidence that I know my way around the literature and can back up my arguments with facts. After that they tended to shut up, except for James as the ranting voice of determined hostility on one side and a few brave souls on the other who have broken ranks occasionally to offer respectful dialogue on friendly first-name terms, or even support.

Mike has always been one of these. And now he came to the rescue again. Pleased by my change of tone, he turned his mind to my argument, and this time readily agreed I had a point. Most of the others maintained what I take to be a grudging, resentful silence. Someone started a purely theoretical discussion with Mike as to whether paedophilia is or is not taxonomically distinct; two or three others called for a halt to the personal spat. James got a bit of support for his efforts to “help” paedophiles, notably from Dan Watter, president of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research; but these were very brief contributions that neither attacked me nor addressed my arguments. And that was about it. Except for Judith Levine.

She had said vigilantes such as Creep Catchers tried “to scare the living bejesus” out of people and their activities could not be condoned. James disagreed, saying “Whether we here like it or not, their actions have great public support and attention.” Opposing them directly would not work: “This method, history has shown time and again, will only fuel the fire and add to the anti-intellectual fervor of the day.” Judith came back strongly. She wrote:

…as a political tactic, every movement needs radicals to stand not only for what we might get now but what we really want & really believe in. Current “sex offender” policies and practices are not only ineffective and counterproductive…. They are wrong. Legal hyper-punishment is unjust, and vigilante violence is immoral. No one should condone them, even obliquely.

This prompted Richard Green to enter the fray in support of Judith’s record, citing not only her well-known book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex, discussed in comments here last time, but also her service as a Director of the National Center for Truth and Justice, which campaigns against what he called “problematic sex laws” and supports those falsely accused of child sex abuse.

Now into his eighties, Richard has a long and distinguished record of radicalism of his own as a leading academic psychiatrist who successfully campaigned against homosexuality being treated as a mental illness, and who made a bold bid to do likewise for paedophilia in a far less sympathetic political climate. As president of the International Academy of Sex Research he even stuck his neck out by inviting me as his guest speaker at the academy’s annual conference in 2000 – which is where I first met Mike Bailey.

Amazingly, by the time of Richard’s intervention on the Creep Catchers thread, it looked as though peace was breaking out. James posted in a remarkably emollient tone, even calling me Tom, which he has never done before. Wonders never cease! Alas, it didn’t last long. Like so many tactical ceasefires in so many conflicts, it would only take a single disaffected sniper to wreck the prospects of peace.

This time it was Nick Devin, Virtuous Pedophiles founder, who weighed in with a highly personal attack on me, saying I had always been mean to him despite his best efforts to hold out the hand of friendship. He had a point. I do not possess an effigy of Nick, but if I did it would be stuck so full of pins it would look like a hedgehog. Have I been unreasonable towards him? Maybe. But it’s hard to see clearly through a miasma of visceral loathing and contempt. Did I say I am not a good hater? Perhaps I should think again. Or maybe not. My view of Nick is not set in concrete, whereas a good hater’s would be.

Be that as it may, Nick’s “contribution” seemed to set James off again. Certainly, I cannot otherwise explain why he unexpectedly came back into the fray, like one of those horror-film monsters you think has just been despatched but suddenly stirs…

I won’t dignify what he said by repeating any of it. It was all utter crap, which I rebutted immediately, calmly and in detail, in a 2000-word volley that included reference to the opinions of sexnetters who have commended my contribution to the forum, including this, from transsexuality expert Anne Lawrence: “If Sexnet gave an award for clear, eloquent, well reasoned analysis, Tom O’Carroll would get my vote.”

The last word went to Mike Bailey:

There is no thought to excluding Tom O’Carroll from SEXNET. He knows a lot about some important topics, and SEXNET would be poorer intellectually without his presence.

That said, both Tom and his critics sometimes–too often–can’t keep themselves from digging/insulting each other. This is to their own detriment. The only people that appeals to is themselves (for retributive purposes) and the people who already agree with them. It is mostly annoying to others, and keeps others from reading their reasoning carefully. Which is a shame, because all are very thoughtful and taking important, mostly reasonable, positions.

I would be a fool to argue against any part of this, which is why, despite one or two ceasefire-breaking little salvos of my own, here, I do not rule out reconciliation with both Nick and James. But it has to be on a basis of intellectual and personal respect. Mutual, of course. They have both been invited to comment and will be treated courteously by me if they do so and, I hope, by other heretics.

A plague on both your APA houses

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Young pedophile commits suicide

Heretic TOC’s first anniversary blog promised something important was on the way. The life-threatening mental anguish of minor-attracted teenagers to which today’s shocking photos draw attention surely measures up to that criterion. This blog has had a strict no photos policy until now, explicitly to avoid any possible association with images of child abuse.

Ironically, it is precisely such abuse that Heretic TOC now feels an urgent need to expose: abuse not by adult molesters or rapists but by two organisations that ought to be helping young people instead of making their lives unbearable. These are the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, two of the most important organisations in the world in the field of mental health. A plague on both their houses for failing to measure up!

The photos tell their own story very powerfully, so I will try to keep this reasonably brief. Showing them is part of a wider effort to draw attention to the present scandalous situation and to put pressure on these organisations to mend their ways. That is why Fight Back recently launched their message into the public arena.

As Fightback says, “both APAs have recently released press releases in response to right wing fundamentalist complaints that the new DSM 5 classifies pedophilia as a sexual orientation. The press releases ignore the mental health of people with the diagnosis and instead advocate their prosecution.”

Peter Hooper, occasionally a commentator here, was quick off the mark with his own excellent blog on this theme a couple of days ago, Mistakes can have a very high price. Rather than me reinventing the wheel, you can read his analysis. His website is called Take A Risk NZ.

I will just add that recognising paedophilia as a sexual orientation is a really big deal. The scientists have been moving towards a consensus in recent years that paedophilia is indeed a sexual orientation; the problem lies with the organisations’ politically minded “leadership”, who really amount to a craven followership of whichever lobby they are most scared of offending. The issue is important because there are already laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Paedophiles of any age who stay within the law would benefit hugely if discrimination against them in employment, housing, access to sports and leisure facilities, engagement in community activities, etc., were to be made illegal via logical application of current law to a newly recognised orientation.

Such a development could have a massive impact in lifting the psychological pressure now bearing down on MAPs, and especially on young ones. Those of us who have survived a decade or more of adult life may find the going tough, but at least we have gained some experience of how to get by and even thrive, despite the worst society can throw at us. Without such experience the young are more vulnerable: it can easily appear to them that the future will be utterly, permanently, relentlessly bleak. Being brought under the protection of anti-discrimination laws would reduce depression, suicidality and other manifestations of poor mental health among MAPs so that the young and the rest of us would have less need for therapy. Having said that, the APAs should be working much harder towards delivering better mental health provision than the “treatment” currently meted out, which is often hostile, oppressive and punitive.

Young teen pedophile commits suicide

As for whether Heretic TOC’s contribution will do any good, yes it can, especially as it is part of a wider effort. Richard Kramer, of B4U-ACT, has been vigorous in his critique of the two APAs in a recent debate at the influential Sexnet scientific and clinical forum, and I have put in my own two penn’orth there as well, and so has one of this blog’s contributors, Peter Loudon – well, at least 10 penn’orth in his case! Additionally, you other heretics here can all do your own bit by tweeting links to the photos and blog info, plus networking in any other way you can think of: Facebook, links on other relevant sites, etc. It will be great if this goes viral.

A positive sighting of 118 black swans

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The appearance of a new book that credibly documents 118 cases of child-adult sexual relationships remembered in adulthood by the child as having been a positive experience ought to be the occasion of great rejoicing. Personally, I will do my best to celebrate following the publication last month of Positive Memories, by T. Rivas, and I hope all heretics here will do likewise.

So, if you have a bottle of champagne handy, now is as good a time as any to crack it open and be of good cheer. Or it would be, but for the lamentably unavoidable fact that the overwhelmingly “dominant discourse” is so loud right now, especially here in the UK, that our celebration will be like two or three cultured friends trying to have a sensible conversation in a restaurant while a stag party full of noisy, rowdy drunks at the next table is drowning out everything you are trying to say. On a day when  yet another British TV celebrity bit the dust over child sex offences, any sort of celebration feels unreal – both insensitive to others’ pain and an exaggeration of what a single new book can be expected to achieve, no matter how good it is. Incidentally, the current atmosphere in Britain is nailed superbly by sociologist Frank Furedi in a recent article, “After Savile: policing as entertainment”.

But, hell, let’s give that book some space. Let’s shout over the background noise. The author’s name will be familiar to a good many here, thanks to his association with Ipce, under whose auspices the paperback now appears, and which made his collection available online a while ago as a free PDF download. Those who possess portable document readers will thus already have been able to read the book’s contents from the comfort of their armchairs, but old troopers like me will prefer to have the print edition in their hands.

Rivas has trawled the published academic literature for relevant case descriptions, plus other material from relatively reliable sources such as published biographies. In addition there are accounts represented as factual on websites and internet discussion forums. All information is fully sourced except for some websites that are no longer accessible. Accounts from all four gender combinations are represented: Boy-Man, Boy-Woman, Girl-Man, Girl-Woman. I know of no other work that brings together such a range of cases into a single handy reference book such as this. In addition to the 118 “relationships”, there are also additional cases: these include positively experienced “loose” contacts, which were sexual but without the commitment of a love relationship, plus some examples of platonic relationships, which were loving but without any sex.

The author, who is available to answer questions by email (ipcetrivas@gmail.com) discusses ethics, the role of parents/carers, and more.

Now, for the scholarly types here (a goodly proportion, I would guess), there is a bonus. In addition to announcing Positive Memories here, I can tell you about what may have been the first debate about it on a research-oriented online forum, i.e. Sexnet, after I had introduced it there. A representative from Virtuous Pedophiles (boo, hiss!) responded with a couple of highly sceptical questions clearly designed to expose the book’s supposed shortcomings. That’s fine, all research should be put to the test of close scrutiny. In order to answer these questions I consulted the author, who came up with excellent answers: his book passed the test. Needless to say, this ruffled the feathers of our sanctimonious (sorry, virtuous) colleague, who lashed out against me personally as a convenient alternative target.

I won’t dwell on that. Such squabbles are boring. I hope heretics will be interested, though, in a question the VP asked just before his desperate final resort to mud-slinging. This was after Rivas has answered the initial questions. The VP (Nick Devin) then wrote: “The anecdotal evidence that you have produced of long-term benefit to children is presumably intended to serve as a response to the anecdotal evidence of harm.”

Devin’s presumption was wrong. Unlike the academic researchers who make up a high proportion of Sexnet’s membership, he has no understanding of science and is only a member by virtue (if you’ll forgive the pun) of being a specimen paedophile – same as me, really, but at least I’ve done my homework. What follows is the answer I gave him. I have given it a title just to set it apart. Enjoy!

Anecdotal evidence: its use and abuse

No, this is a complete misunderstanding; but it is a very useful one because the differences between the two ends of the spectrum of anecdotal evidence on harm/benefit, or rather the different uses to which they are being put, is of fundamental importance, and you have given me an opportunity to clarify the position. If I get anything wrong I am sure there are scientists here who will be pleased to correct me.

It is important to understand that evidence in scientific issues will vary in its significance according to the present state of knowledge or belief, as illustrated by the classic example of the black swan. White swans are common and at one time it was believed there were no black swans. In these circumstances it requires the discovery of only one black swan in the world to disprove the theory that there are no black swans. In other words, you do not require a huge set of observations of many swans. One example will suffice, provided it is well described and credibly attested, otherwise there will rightly be scepticism over its status as a real black swan. Even in the absence of a reliable observation, though, the dubious traveller’s tale, or mere anecdote, will have some scientific interest, because it could very usefully prompt more formal scientific investigation.

This is roughly the position we are in with regard to adult-child sexual contacts sometimes being beneficial. Theo Sandfort, back in the 1980s, set out to examine formally whether there were any black swans in this field, in terms of positively experienced man-boy sexual contacts. He only needed a very small data set (even a single rock solid example would have sufficed) to prove the existence of his black swan. In fact, his data comprised 25 positively experienced man-boy relationships, which were very credibly attested, in a high-quality study. So, voilà, we had some black swans!

Or did we? Could it be that the swans were actually white but had just got caught in an oil slick? That’s what some suggested, on the basis that there had been no follow-up. The boys had been asked what benefits they felt from the relationships at the time, but would they feel differently 10 or 20 years later? It was a reasonable question, especially in light of the tremendous propaganda against such relationships to which teenagers and young adults are subjected these days.

This brings us to Rivas’s new book. It is less scientific than Sandfort’s work in some ways e.g. Rivas is not a trained scientist so far as I am aware. But it is more so in others e.g. his data set is much bigger (n=118, compared to Sandfort’s n=25) and, crucially, his data have been gleaned from retrospective accounts which are not open to the objection levelled against Sandfort’s work: Rivas takes account of the younger participant’s long-term assessment, whereas Sandfort does not. Note also the answer Rivas gave to Nick’s sceptical question as to how many of his sample later became paedophiles: answer, none, because Rivas had anticipated the objection and excluded such cases.

Bearing these points in mind it would be grossly unscientific, I suggest, to brush aside Rivas’s work as mere anecdote. This is a systematic and careful study which amounts to far more than just a “traveller’s tale”. Neither mere anecdote nor the Rivas study (which is much better than that but not fully scientific) can prove the existence of the black swan. However, taking Sandfort and Rivas together, they provide powerful evidence as to its likely existence, and therefore they provide a very sound – unanswerable, I would say – rationale for conducting research of a more compelling kind.

Now, let’s turn to the other end of the spectrum: anecdotal evidence of harm, rather than benefit. Why do we need it? Here we are talking about white swans. Nobody doubts their existence. Numerous formal scientific studies, including meta-analyses, have been undertaken which copiously demonstrate long-term harm in some cases, especially coerced encounters.

In these circumstances anecdotal evidence is not used legitimately, as it is in black swan cases, to direct the attention of science towards interesting possibilities. Quite the opposite: it is used by lobby groups to whip up emotion that actually obscures and denies existing scientific findings. Notoriously, horror story anecdotes are routinely preferred in public discourse to the solid evidence presented by Rind et al. showing that “CSA” (even when coerced cases are included) does not typically lead to severe harm. Indeed, Nick, you have been criticised on this very forum yourself for privileging anecdotes that accord with your beliefs over science that does not. Judging by the following, you do not appear to have paid any attention:

In terms of my view of whether sexual relations between children and adults are harmful, I understand from my time on sexnet that the data is thin.  There is, however, a great deal of anecdotal evidence of harm, even where no force is involved.  Some of these cases are detailed in The Trauma Myth by Susan Clancy, as well as in other places. 

Your one saving grace here is that you have referenced Clancy, whose work is not properly characterised as merely anecdotal. She carried out interviews with more than 200 adults over 10 years in a methodical and careful study. However, like Rivas’s accounts, her selection cannot be taken as representative. In Clancy’s case recruitment was from among people who pre-defined themselves as having been “abused”, many of whom were already in therapy. That does not mean her work is useless (it is very persuasive on iatrogenic sources of harm), but it does mean it cannot be used to refute Rind et al.

The only problem is problematisation itself

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What about a 8-9 years old boy or girl who has sex play with children who are 4-5 years old?

This question was part of a post on the Sexnet forum in response to my own posting there of the kindergarten oral sex story. The implication appeared to be that such an age difference would necessarily be problematic. I think it will be worth posting my reply in full. It includes a very telling personal story briefly mentioned in the comments here a few days ago. Here, with slight editing, is what I said:

What’s the problem? As Roosevelt said (or near enough!), “We have no problem but problematisation itself.” Judith Levine copiously demonstrated in her book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex that problematising children’s sexuality serves only to create victims rather than offering protection. Let me, though, instead of quoting from Levine, give you an idea of what she and I mean in a very up-to-date example that surfaced earlier this month following the kindergarten sex story:

Ashley1988:

“I have experience as one of those kids. When i was 9 I was caught naked with 7 year old half brother. I had no idea what sex was being raised in a Mormon family. We were not touching or anything. Just comparing our bodies because we thought it was funny that they were so different.

“I was snatched out of bed at 2 am and brought to the police station by my step mother. I was interrogated by the police on camera. I got yelled at and called a sex offender and predator. I was even had to take a lie dectector test which I of course passed, but it didn’t matter.

“I was signed over to state custody, and placed in a facility for sex offenders that included men more than twice my age in a distant state. While growing up there I was sexually assaulted and raped. The group therapy sessions consisted of admitting that you are a sex offender or you could never get placed any where better. If I tried to explain it wasn’t sexual they said I was a sick perverted slut justifying my behavior and/or minimizing.

“I signed myself out the very day that I turned 18 and got a cheap apartment. I am now almost 25 and now I refuse to let anyone see me naked. It terrifies me, nobody has seen me naked since that day when I was 9, not even doctors. Other than the 68 year old man that raped me. Therapists also terrify me since they were the ones calling me a horrible sex offender. I would never be anything like those sex offenders I had to grow up with, but had to pretend I was to survive or be allowed to go to a safer place.

”I also have a deep fear of men and so I have only dated women, but still refused to let them see me naked.

“Please don’t ruin these kids lives by making things into them being sex offenders. When adults overreact they end up traumatizing them.” In Jezebel.

If you read Levine you will see that this sort of horror story has become endemic in modern America. You might ask, what about when a kid really is abusive? I would say they have better ways of dealing with things elsewhere. But that can wait for another day.

Back to Heretic TOC, here and now:

This blog’s spies report that Jimmy “the Screamer” Cantori, notorious hit person for the Toronto mob (aka James Cantor), has today been screaming like crazy on Boy Chat of all unlikely places, posting over 30 comments. Dipping into a selection, it soon becomes clear the style is very much the Screamer’s, so it is most unlikely this could be an imposter – as he once accused Heretic TOC of being.  The big question has to be, why BC? Is this meant to be a public “education” exercise? If so, some might feel the Screamer’s bombastic, you-schmucks-know-nothing, style does him no favours. What does him even fewer, if favours can go into minus zero territory, is his refusal to engage with criticism based on a close reading of his work.

“Observer” posted on BC saying “Cantor, Blanchard, and others of the Toronto Centre for Pedophile Pursuit have made up their minds that sexually expressed older male/boy attraction is a mental defect/illness, and the only data they seem to consider is that which confirms their bias. Tom O’Carroll…has a running battle going on with Cantor, and also duels with him on Mike Bailey’s Sexnet mailing list.”

The Screamer replied:

“I’m in a battle with O’Carroll? Mostly, O’Carroll is just in a battle with his own personality. I have nothing to gain (or lose) by communicating with him at all. He merely summons my name up when he needs a purpose.”

Ah, that would be like now, I guess! And thanks, Jimmy, for the free psychoanalysis about me being in a battle with my own personality. If I hesitate to disagree with you, it is probably because my numerous schizophrenic “alters” are battling for who should go first!

He adds that he “stopped participating in Sexnet a while back”.

Yes, that would be right after he had zilch to say in response to my series of detailed critical questions about so-called white matter deficits in the paedophilic brain. He says he has nothing to gain or lose by communicating with me. But unless he is capable of giving good answers to my questions there is one thing he will lose whether he answers or not: scientific credibility. As reported here, the highly rated blogger Neurosceptic, himself a neuroscientist, said he felt my questions were “highly astute” and that he basically agreed with everything I said. The questions I raised in The dubious analogy of the ‘extra arm’  and Hand to hand on handedness need to be answered, and answered well, or the Screamer’s reputation is toast.

‘Virtuous’ paedophiles burnish their haloes

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Practical Ethics, a blog appearing under the auspices of Oxford University, recently carried a piece titled Pedophilia, Preemptive Imprisonment, and the Ethics of Predisposition, inspired by the trio of articles (Guardian, New Yorker, LA Times) discussed here last month in Three reasons to be cheerful. This blog item, by Kyle Edwards, is interesting, but my main focus today arises out of the comment thread that followed, especially as regards contributions made by Kyle’s pseudonymous namesake Ethan Edwards.

Ethan Edwards is a virtuous paedophile. Or at least, that is what he and another guy, Nick Devin, call themselves, based on their resolve never to “abuse”. They even have an organization, Virtuous Pedophiles, founded last summer. The goals “are to reduce the stigma attached to pedophilia by letting people know that a substantial number of pedophiles do not molest children, and to provide peer support and information about available resources to help pedophiles lead happy, productive lives. Our highest priority is to help pedophiles never abuse children.”

Heretic TOC and fellow heretics here are of course also determined never to “abuse” children, but unlike Virtuous Pedophiles we take the view that sexual contact between an adult and a child who is a willing participant is not intrinsically abusive and may be a very positive experience. We must refrain from such contacts because they are currently illegal, not because we think – as Virtuous Pedophiles clearly do – that they are always immoral and wrong.

Fine, we know there are plenty of minor-attracted people who accept society’s low opinion of paedophilia. Doubtless there are many who beat themselves up about their feelings even if they “do nothing wrong”. Responses of that sort should prompt our sympathetic interest. That is one reason why I have personally given what modest assistance I can to a couple of guys in the UK who are developing a British equivalent of B4U-ACT, an American organization which engages with mental health professionals in order to work towards better, less stigmatizing counselling and treatment for minor-attracted people, especially those who are struggling to cope with their feelings. These professionals, it has to be said, include those who have an anti-abuse agenda, but we should not forget that some paedophiles, in their frustration, do give way to coercive tactics, and they do need help to stop that.

I have also enjoyed good relations with B4U-ACT in the US, one of whose members until last year was Nick Devin, who has also been known to me for well over two years as a fellow participant on the Sexnet forum. My contact with Nick was cordial to start with, but I have found it increasingly difficult to sustain this sense of goodwill over time, as it has become gradually more apparent that his views and mine are not so much a bit of a mismatch as diametrically opposed. The problem, from my point of view, is not so much that Nick is a self-flagellating subscriber to puritan sexual ethics. No, it’s more that he has turned out to be rather smugly self-congratulatory, and all too ready to flagellate not himself but those of us who view the relevant ethics differently. His buddy Ethan turns out to be another halo-burnisher. Nor am I alone in this assessment: as one friend put it to me, Virtuous Pedophiles would be better named Sanctimonious Pedophiles.

Their most revealing and charmless aspect, though, is the finger-pointing. Not only do they claim the moral high ground, they have no qualms over bad-mouthing fellow minor-attracted people, including those whose only crime has been to take a reasoned, principled view of the issues that differs from their own. In a website FAQ they say, “We believe that sexual activity between adults and children is wrong. Because some pedophiles have a selfish interest in having child-adult sexual relationships accepted, we think that their arguments should be greeted skeptically.” In the Practical Ethics exchanges, Ethan even used our determination to stick to our guns against us. Whereas some would discern moral courage in taking a stand against the crowd, Ethan says: “I suspect a correlation between how sensitive a man is to the feelings and needs of children and how sensitive he is to criticism and hatred from society around him. A man who doesn’t care about everyone hating him might also not understand the complexities of children and how harm still lurks even if the child doesn’t object.”

My full reply to this baseless and offensive accusation is still there on the thread, for anyone interested to see: you may actually be surprised by my attempt (futile, I now fear), to be conciliatory. At this point I’ll just confine myself to one salient observation: virtue is traditionally seen as the opposite of vice, and Virtuous Pedophiles appear to be defining themselves as directly oppositional to “vicious” paedophiles who do not share their views. That would be all you heretics out there, as well as me. Vicious! Purveyors of vice!  These Virtuous Pedophiles are not merely sanctimonious and holier than thou; their language also reveals them to be virulently, vehemently, viscerally judgmental. They speak of being hated on all sides themselves, while apparently unable to see that they are giving out their own message of hatred against us, a hatred which seems every bit as passionate and forceful as the worst we hear from the most committed anti-“abuse” fanatics. Indeed, with their insistent crusade of Virtue against Vice they resemble the zealots of the old Social Purity movement.

Nick and Ethan both appear to be so heavily invested in their determination to be “virtuous” that they cannot bear to contemplate alternative conceptions of what a good life and a good world might look like. Hence their strong emotional need, if they are to see themselves as virtuous, to cast us radicals as vicious. It looks as though they are caught up in what Freudians would recognise as a classic projection of evil onto the demonised Other.

So much for their attitude, which is deeply unprepossessing, but not necessarily of great importance unless their dour doctrine can gain some traction. Will it? And to what effect? I aim to return to those questions in due course.

 

 

 

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