A Harvard Business School assistant professor who had access to customer receipts from dozens of adult websites found something titillating: The more conservative and religious a state is, the more likely its residents are to buy Web porn.

As someone who helps big companies like Microsoft and AOL with internet fraud, Benjamin Edelman, Ph.D., had access to two years of credit card data from 2006 to 2008 that included purchase dates and each customer's ZIP code. Using that with existing demographics, he found that of the 10 states where porn is most consumed, eight of them gave their electoral votes to John McCain. Out of the 10 states with the lowest consumption, only four did.

"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman told ABC News.


The horniest state, by Edelman's count, is Utah, with 5.47 adult content subscriptions per 1,000 homes with broadband. (Montana, he reported, was number 50.) States that have passed legislation to ban gay marriage had porn subscription rates that were 11% higher than in states that haven't.

Some media outlets have been quick to point out the statistical difference isn't huge. However, according to Edelman, it's still there. Instantly, pundits on both the left and the right began seizing upon the discovery and undermining it.

Maybe it's hypocrisy, or maybe Utah's preachers are right about sin encroaching from every side. Or maybe Americans like porn in relatively equal measures, but ones who identify as conservative are more likely to live far from cities, requiring them to access their adult entertainment online. The numbers aren't telling.

Regardless, Edelman's figures said that if you're selling web porn to people who profess conservative values, you're more likely to do well. According to the ABC News story, "states where a majority of residents agreed with the statement 'I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage,' bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement 'AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behavior.'"

Edelman did find that where a postal code was more likely to be called home by church-goers, porn subscriptions dropped by a teeny bit on Sunday. So there's that.

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