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经济学人:色情与政治

2014-03-05    来源:网络    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Science and Technology 科技

Pornography and politics 色情与政治

Rising to the occasion 应付自如

Electoral victory brings a surprising consequence: the winners look at smut
选举的胜利带来一个让人惊奇的结果:获胜的一方寻淫觅秽

I'm pretty sure I didn't vote for that!
我非常肯定自己没有为那投票

WHEN Barack Obama won the American presidency in 2008 his supporters cheered, cried, hugged—and in many cases logged on to their computers to look at pornography. And, lest Republicans crow about the decadence of their opponents, precisely the obverse happened when their man won in 2004.
2008年,当巴拉克•奥巴马赢得美国总统大选时,他的支持者们欢呼雀跃、泪流满面、并相互拥抱——而在多数情形下,他们登陆电脑查看色情信息。共和党们大可不必对他们的对手幸灾乐祸,在2004年小布什当选时他们的表现并无二致。

That, at least, is the conclusion of a study by Patrick Markey of Villanova University, in Pennsylvania, and his wife Charlotte, who works at Rutgers, in New Jersey. The Markeys were looking for confirmation of a phenomenon called the challenge hypothesis. This suggests that males involved in a competition will experience a rise in testosterone levels if they win, and a fall if they lose.
这至少是宾夕法尼亚州Villanova大学的Patrick Markey和他在新泽西州Rutgers工作的妻子Charlotte的研究得出的结论。Markey夫妇正致力于寻找一种被称为"挑战假说"现象的证据。这种"挑战假说"现象称,卷入竞争的雄性动物在获胜后会经历一个睾丸激素水平上升的过程——反之则相反。

The challenge hypothesis was first advanced to explain the mating behaviour of monogamous birds. In these species, males' testosterone levels increase in the spring, to promote aggression against potential rivals. When the time comes for the males to settle down and help tend their young, their testosterone falls, along with their aggressive tendencies.
这种挑战假说首次提出是用来解释单配鸟类的性行为的。在这些物种中,雄性的睾丸激素水平在春天会上升,以提升进攻能力震慑潜在对手。当这些雄性需要安家并照料幼崽的时候,随着他们攻击倾向的消退,睾丸激素也下降了。

Something similar has since been found to apply to fish, lizards, ring-tailed lemurs, rhesus monkeys, chimpanzees—and humans. In many of these animals, though, there is a twist. It is not just that testosterone ramps up for breeding and ramps down for nurturing. Rather, its production is sensitive to a male's success in the breeding competition itself. In men, then, levels of the hormone rise in preparation for a challenge and go up even more if that challenge is successfully completed. Failure, by contrast, causes the level to fall.
自那以后,Markey夫妇发现他们的研究结论同样适用于鱼类、蜥蜴、卷尾猴、恒河猴、大猩猩——还有人类。尽管,在许多这些动物中,研究结论还须做些微的转变。睾丸激素并不仅仅是在繁殖时期骤升然后养育时期骤降。恰恰相反,睾丸激素产生受雄性在繁殖竞争获胜本身影响。那么,对于人类而言,人类的荷尔蒙水平会在挑战时上升,而在挑战成功后会升得更高。相形之下,挑战失败则会导致荷尔蒙水平下降。

Previous research has found these hormonal ups and downs in male wrestlers, martial artists, tennis players, chess players and even people playing a coin-flip game. In evolutionary terms, it makes sense. If a losing male continues to be aggressive, the chances are he will be seriously injured (it is unlikely natural selection could have foreseen competitive coin-tossing). Turning down his testosterone level helps ward off that risk. Conversely, the winner can afford to get really dominant, as the threat of retaliation has receded.
先前的研究发现,在男性摔跤运动员、武术运动员、网球运动员、棋手、甚至玩抛硬币游戏的人们中,荷尔蒙水平都会上上下下。从进化论的角度将,这讲得通。假使一个失败的男性继续保持进攻性,那么他就会有严重受伤的可能。(自然选择不大可能会料想到竞争性的抛硬币)。减少睾丸激素水平则会让其避免那种风险。与之相反,复仇的威胁消退之后,获胜者则可提高荷尔蒙水平以获得实际支配权。

For most species, determining that this actually happens requires a lot of boring fieldwork. But the Markeys realised that in the case of people they could cut the tedium by asking what was going on in those parts of the web that provide a lot more traffic than their users will ever admit to, on the assumption that men fired up by testosterone have a greater appetite for pornography than those who are not.
对于大多数物种,确定上述研究成果非空穴来风需要大量枯燥的野外作业。不过Markey夫妇意识到,在针对人类的例子中,根据他们的臆测——被睾丸激素点燃的人类比那些没有被点燃的对色情有更大的胃口——他们可以通过询问提供用户可能会承认的更多流量的那部分网络发生了什么,来减少单调枯燥的调查工作。

To do this they first used a web service called WordTracker to identify the top ten search terms employed by people seeking pornography ("xvideos" was the politest among them). Then they asked a second service, Google Trends, to analyse how often those words were used in the week before and the week after an American election, broken down by state.
要做这些工作,他们首先使用了一种被称作WordTracker的网络服务来确认人们用来寻找色情信息的十大搜索词(xvideos在这些词里面是最文雅的)。然后,他们要求了第二项被官方屏蔽的"谷歌趋势"服务,来分析这些搜索词在美国大选一周前后使用的频率如何。

Their results, just published in /Evolution and Human Behavior/, were the same for all three of the elections they looked at—the 2004 and 2008 presidential contests, and the 2006 mid-terms (in which the Democrats made big gains in both houses of Congress). No matter which side won, searches for porn increased in states that had voted for the winners and decreased in those that had voted for the losers. The difference was not huge; it was a matter of one or two per cent. But it was consistent and statistically significant.
刚刚发布在《进化和人类行为》上的结论与他们观察的三次大选——2004年和2008年的总统大选,2006年的中期大选(民主党在两院都大获全胜)——如出一辙。不管哪方获胜,在投票给获胜者的州,检索色情次数上升——反之则反。几次观察得到的结论差别不大——只不过在1到2个百分点之间。结论是一致的,且在统计学上具有重要意义。

If the polls are right, then, next Tuesday's mid-term elections will see red faces in the red states for those furtive surfers who are caught in the act. In the blue states, meanwhile, a fit of the blues will mean the screens stay switched off.
如果民意调查是正确的,那么,在下周二的中期大选中将会看到,红州的红色面孔里面,鬼鬼祟祟的冲浪者正搜索色情。与此同时,在蓝州,一阵沮丧意味着屏幕将被关上。



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