Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Addicted to Love?

Not till the science says you can be:Thank you for your balanced treatment of the "sex addiction" issue in your recent article, "Sex and the Single Psychologist" [April 7]. Given the great deal of media attention that this issue receives, the public should know that mainstream psychology and psychiatry do not subscribe to the views of Patrick Carnes, Al Cooper, and others who view sexual addiction as "a progressive form of insanity."

I was delighted to learn that researchers at Iowa State are conducting a methodologically rigorous, large-scale study to shed some light on this controversial issue. The press eagerly seized upon the results of Dr. Cooper's informal online survey in 1998 and reported it as scientific fact. At that point, a responsible scientist would have made strenuous efforts to qualify those results and to begin developing a grant-funded research program with the potential of producing credible, replicable findings. Instead, Dr. Cooper attempted to explain away the serious methodological shortcomings of his original survey, even though his own subsequent analyses showed that his sample [was] significantly different than the population of Internet users as a whole. Dr. Cooper has subsequently gone on to develop a career based more on shameless self-promotion than the responsible conduct of sound empirical work.

I am glad that Dr. Cooper has come to acknowledge the positive benefits that the Internet can have on sexual self-expression in his personal life. I read his 2000 book and found its tone to be consistently sex negative and at times downright alarmist, communicating the idea that sex and the Internet is a terribly dangerous combination. Perhaps his recent experiences as ADOCFORYOU on Match.com have tempered his views somewhat, and he is now able to acknowledge the multitude of ways in which the Internet can help people explore their sexual identities, meet sexual partners, and engage in erotic experimentation, rather than seeing "Sex and the Internet" purely as an emerging field of pathology that warrants his expert clinical attention.

Ken Weingardt, Ph.D.
Clinical psychologist
South San Francisco

Not the hair Newsom; theharp Newsom:I was at that show and I thought it was a pretty horrendous affair, but what you failed to mention in your piece [Garrett Kamps' March 31 OK Then column on South by Southwest] was that Joanna Newsom played almost twice as long as anyone else. Devendra Banhart just bailed after saying the word "hippies" a few times, spilling his beer and leaving a long slot for Newsom to fill. While the sound of the band downstairs was annoying, so was the fact that no one could get into the show because the Fire Department wouldn't let anyone in ... oh, and let's not forget that Newsom's sound adviser meddled with her sound throughout her set. I'm not surprised people were talking -- her performance failed to capture their attention.

Libbey Adams

Editor's note: The following exchange references a satirical article written by Dan Siegler ["Puni discontinued," March 24] that "canceled" his ownPuni comic strip for a variety of imaginary insults to journalistic ethics, and a letter that one Linda Stansberry subsequently submitted, complaining of the "cancellation" [April 7]. As you can see below, Ms. Stansberry now contends her letter was an attempt at satire. I'm not sure what she was trying to do, really, but I guess we'll go ahead, waste a bunch of space, and let her natter on some more.

Spin or explanation? You make the call: Flattered as I am that you chose to run my letter, I'm forced to point out that if I didn't understand the meaning of the term "hoax," I wouldn't have bothered writing in. A shoddy non-joke of a joke, the article on Siegler's termination was so badly written you should be grateful you received any response at all. That was my point. Because my letter was facetious to begin with, there was no need to misspell most of it. Or perhaps that was simply an oversight. Once you let your letters editor go, perhaps he or she can fulfill your gaping absence of a competent copy editor.

Soulfully yours (and I hope you get my name right),
Linda Stansberry
San Francisco

Oh, yes. By all means, be well:Mr. Siegler's "termination" was a joke/hoax, written by Dan. Clearly, in the letter you wrote and we published, you did not recognize this reality. I'm sorry if you feel hurt because we published the letter; we were hoping that it would make readers (including you) chuckle. Be well.

John Mecklin
Editor, SF Weekly

Hey, Linda: Meta this abstract:Relax, my feelings weren't hurt. I've been using the column, and my reply, and your reply, and so on ... as part of the final project for my course on writing satire, metasatire if that's possible. If you're interested, I'll send you the abstract. I'm glad you got a chuckle (as did I) out of both of my letters. Well, actually, it would have been better for my project if I'd been able to piss you off, but as a tribute to your publication's professionalism (something I have always admired), you didn't go with it. Maybe the ability to irritate is one I'll hone in the big leagues ... grad school.

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