Just a reminder: Music is still evil

The fellas at the Freakonomics blog weigh in on reports of a new study that draws a link between music with "sexually degrading" lyrics and early teen sex. It doesn't take a respected economist to point out the difference between correlation and causality, but it helps, because without such prominent rebuttals, potentially misguided attacks can lead to detrimental consequences.

The study, to be published in the journal Pediatrics, surveyed 1461 teens about their sexual activity and their music listening habits as they pertained to "more than a dozen musical artists representing a variety of musical genres." The researchers determined whether the sexual content in the songs were degrading or non-degrading.

From this, they concluded that "listening to music with degrading sexual lyrics is related to advances in a range of sexual activities among adolescents, whereas this does not seem to be true of other sexual lyrics. This result is consistent with sexual-script theory and suggests that cultural messages about expected sexual behavior among males and females may underlie the effect. Reducing the amount of degrading sexual content in popular music or reducing young people's exposure to music with this type of content could help delay the onset of sexual behavior."

Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner writes on his blog that "there does seem to be a correlation between sexual music and sex. But does that make the relationship causal? Wouldn’t it make sense that the kind of teenagers who want to have a lot of sex are the same ones who want to listen to sexual music, and the ones who don’t want to have a lot of sex (or at least refrain from doing so) are the same ones who don’t listen to such music?"

Exactly. That doesn't stop national media from jumping on it as it has with every other "music is evil" campaign.


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