'Everybody Lies' Author on How Searches Reveal Secret Porn Tastes

CYBERSPACE—When it comes to figuring out the sexual habits and preferences of American adults, has found, a deep dive into Google search data reveals some surprises—showing that the type of porn Americans search out online often bears little resemblance to how they behave, or anything they would admit to, in public, even in anonymous sex surveys.

Stephens-Davidowitz, Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, discussed his discoveries about America’s surprising sexual tastes in an interview with the online news site Vox on Tuesday. Here are some of the highlights of what he revealed in the conversation:

• Porn which portrays violence against women is surprisingly popular—among women.

“Porn featuring violence against women is also extremely popular among women,” Stephens-Davidowitz said. “It is far more popular among women than men. I hate saying that because misogynists seem to love this fact. Fantasy life isn't always politically correct.”

The researcher—who as a data scientist—also noted that women across all cultures and countries appear to enjoy porn that depicts violent acts against women at roughly the same rate. “It isn’t correlated with how women are treated,” Stephens-Davidowitz added.

• Huge numbers of men are more attracted to overweight women than “skinny” women.

“If you define being in the closet as picking partners based on what society wants rather than what you want, many people are in the closet,” Stephens-Davidowitz told Vox.

“Porn featuring overweight women is surprisingly common among men. But the data from dating sites tells us that just about all men try to date skinny women. Many people don’t try to date the people they’re most attracted to,” he explained. “They try to date the people they think would impress their friends.”

This discrepancy also leads to what Stephens-Davidowitz calls a widespread social “inefficiency,” as “a lot of single men and single overweight women would be sexually compatible. But they don’t date, while the man tries and fails to date a skinny woman even though he’s less attracted to her.”

• Married women are obsessed with finding out if their husbands are gay.

Women search Google for information on whether their husbands are gay eight times more often than they try to find out of their husbands are alcoholic, or clinically depressed. But this apparent fear of marrying a man who is secretly gay is usually just paranoia, the author said.

“It is far more likely that a woman is married to a man who is secretly an alcoholic or secretly depressed than secretly gay,” he told the site. “About 98 percent of women’s husbands are really straight. Trust me.”

Nonetheless, Stephens-Davidowitz did find that women asking Google about secretly gay husbands live in the Deep South, “where my research suggests there are indeed more gay men married to women.”

• Married men should be asking whether their wives are gay.

While Stephens-Davidowitz noted that the main question men ask Google about their wives is whether they’re “crazy,” based on the porn search data he compiled, they might want to ask whether their wives are secretly lesbians. About one-fifth of all porn viewed by women, including straight women, depicts sex between women.

• Other countries have offbeat tastes in porn, too.

According to Stephens-Davidowitz, in India, adult breastfeeding porn is more popular than in any other country. In fact, the number one Google auto-completion for a sentence beginning, “my husband wants” in India is “my husband wants me to breastfeed him.”

While in every other country, Google searches about breastfeeding ask about how to correctly breastfeed a baby. But in India, searches are split roughly 50-50 between “how to breastfeed a baby and how to breastfeed a husband.”

The one common theme running through all of the author’s research is that, judging by Google searches for porn, people’s sexual tastes and fantasies are far more unusual than they ever admit — except to the Google search engine.

“It is really amazing how much tastes can vary. There are women who just watch porn featuring short, fat men with small penises. There are men who just watch porn featuring women with enormous nipples,” Stephens-Davidowitz said. “The data from porn tells us that everybody is weird. Thus, nobody is weird.”

Read the entire interview with the Everybody Lies author by .