Are Christian men worried about their penis size?

April 21, 2021

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Pseudoscience

A friend sent me an article (opens new window) about a paper published recently in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion called:

"Linking Evangelical Subculture and Phallically Insecure Masculinity Using Google Searches for Male Enhancement"

The US based study (opens new window) looked at rates of google searches for terms related to penis size, such as "male enhancement" and "penis enlargement", as well as for products such as "ExtenZe" and "penis pump".

It turns out that states in the US with a higher percentage of Evangelical Christians have a higher per capita number of searches for these search terms. The authors argue that their results are more reliable than previous studies that have used self reporting, and that they have controlled for several confounding factors, such as the percentage of men in each state.

The authors then go on to claim that even if the number of evangelicals in a state are small, that they will have enough influence on the other people in the state that the search history of everyone in the state will, to an extent, reflect those evangelical christian people’s beliefs. That part I’ve been having a problem accepting, along with their conclusion.

The big conclusion of the paper is that evangelical groups are focused on male dominance, and that this is linked to penis size via "phallocentric conceptions of masculinity". Having read the paper I can’t help but think that this is an unsupported leap. It may just be that the Christian focus on waiting until marriage causes men to spend their time before marriage worrying about what a potential future partner might think about their penis size. All of this worry could conceivably cause the unwary to purchase useless penis enlargement aids. This searching being driven by inexperience and worry caused by abstinence seems more likely to me than because of a belief in "phallocentric masculinity".

I say useless for these products, because the magicians Penn and Teller, in their amazing skeptical show Bullshit (opens new window) many years ago, had men test several penis enlargement pills and devices, and unsurprisingly none of them worked.