Discover more documentaries, comedies and drama. Free for members. See our full catalogue of podcasts here.

Listen free for 30 days

The Butterfly Effect

Length: 3 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (574 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Join best-selling author Jon Ronson as he traces the story of one very strange butterfly effect: What happened after a teen in Brussels figured out how to make porn free and easily accessible on the internet. Traveling from the tech world of Silicon Valley to the San Fernando Valley, where most porn films were made, you learn the consequences of free porn, which turn out to be mysterious, shocking, sad, and, at times, even surprisingly sweet. A 7-part series takes you on a journey to places you’ll never expect. [Explicit]

This is an Audible Original Podcast. Free for members. You can download all 7 episodes to your Library now.

©2016 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2016 Audible Originals, LLC

Critic reviews

"It makes for a gripping listen, a story that unfolds in a madly unpredictable way." (The Guardian)

"A sympathetic look at performers and producers in the porn industry, that's never once prurient or judgmental." (Rolling Stone)

"On the radio, Ronson comes across like Hunter S Thompson as played by Alan Bennett - an odd mix of gonzo chutzpah and cuddly politeness. He charms and is charmed by his interviewees. As a result, he has a rare gift for revealing the human side of people who have been dehumanised." (Daily Telegraph)

"The Butterfly Effect has the same level of detail and widescreen storytelling that you would expect from a television documentary." (Financial Times)

"Fascinating." (VICE)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    398
  • 4 Stars
    98
  • 3 Stars
    36
  • 2 Stars
    18
  • 1 Stars
    24

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    348
  • 4 Stars
    94
  • 3 Stars
    37
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    18

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    357
  • 4 Stars
    92
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    16
  • 1 Stars
    21

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Jon Ronson's journalism at its best - and free!

I like Jon Ronson's writing style so I was curious about this free audio show when I signed up for Audible.
Even if I would have never guessed to be interested in the story of Pornhub, his research approach and sincere way of interviewing really makes it interesting and made me want to come back to it every day.
You do need to get used to Jon's voice, but after a few episodes it didn't catch my attention anymore. I'm glad I tried this show though before buying one of his audio books, because I might have regretted my purchase during the first chapters. Now I am used to his voice I know I'd be comfortable listening to him for 10 hours.

It's not as lighthearted as you would expect from the subject, but it really opened my eyes to how much effect a single website/platform can have on the rest of the industry. And this must go for many other, less "niche"/"extreme" companies. Always an interesting subject, the butterfly effect.

Since it's free for Audible members, just add it to your library and you can always decide to jump in when you don't know what to listen to next!

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A meandering and judgemental op-ed

It had the potential to be interesting, but instead it turned out to be a fairly inconsistent and oftentimes ironically judgemental piece. Example 1: What have sex dolls bought for dementia sufferers got to do with free porn? Nothing. Example 2: to a sex offender (who he views as harmless) the author says it would be terrible to have to live in a place with other sex offenders - in contravention of his distaste of the stereotypes he has just railed against.
There are quite a few interesting tidbits throughout, but they are fairly incoherently pushed together to seek to form a topic, which becomes a little frustrating.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A first rate introduction to the PornHub scandal

Gripping documentary on the consequences of Pornhub takeover of the global porn business. It doesn't give the solution but watch this space.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I loved it, I cried, but mostly I laughed.

I thought this was beautiful, which is something I hadn't expected to be writing in this review.

I wasn't really aware of Jon Ronson until today when I saw him, perhaps ironically, on YouTube. I fell in love with his style almost immediately, though at times it does feel a little 'gossipy'. I guess this is probably a technique adopted for the sake of drawing information from his interviewees and so my brain decides to accept that excuse and try not to cringe on the few occasions this occurs rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater and lose out on all the wonderful aspects of Jon Ronson's work.

There is a lot to love here in both the presentation style and the content being presented. Jon Ronson has a very relaxed style of presentation which is very engaging, somehow personal and confidential as if he was speaking directly to me whilst at the same time open and gregarious as if he's presenting a great gift to the world, and he is. The stories presented here are simply human stories, not sensationalised tabloid trash about the dark goings-on in the lurid world of a steamy sex industry. In my opinion each of the subjects of these stories is treated with equal sympathy and respect, even when there has been a little laughter regarding their stories initially as in the case of the stamp collector. I think this initial laughter and amused astonishment is a very human reaction to what seems to be a very bizarre situation and I'm glad these moments have not been edited away in fear of negative reception. In these moments I feel Jon Ronson becomes part of the story himself and probably represents many of us, the listeners, thereby giving me the feeling of being part of this huge, awful, flawed, judgemental, vulnerable, human family. I loved it.

In summary, this is a great book which is most often funny, sometimes sad, once or twice heartbreaking, but always packed to the brim with human dignity. It made a 47 year old man cry. Buy it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Listen for the interviews, draw own conclusions

The interviews are fine as they are but it's a bit difficult to get into when the premise of it seems wrong.
It a bit disingenuous to pretend like there was no free porn on the internet before the guy from Brussels has his great 'free porn' idea.
Somewhere, there's a story about the cost of piracy on porn actresses more relatable to the masses than Hollywood. The story might also focus on how ludicrous it is that algorithms dictate the industry in the same way as the social media platforms.
This isn't that sadly and the whole this feels rather dumbed down.


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Why

I have never heard a more annoying voice in my life. The content is great, the voice however is not.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Love this!

This audio show haunts me, the theme is so exciting and it's told in a brilliant way. Would definitely recommend!

9 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Butterfly Effect to be better than the print version?

I have not read the print version so cannot compare.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the inter-connectedness of the pieces.

Have you listened to any of the narrator’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I have not listened to the author before.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definitely.

12 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not Gripping

I'm not sure whether it's the subject of the story or that the producers of the podcast just didn't handle it well. I'm just not impressed by this given most of the other podcasts that are out there.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

fascinating insights

open honest unbiased insight in to the lives of people impacted by the adult industry both positive and negative

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Leigh
  • Leigh
  • 01-02-18

Incredible story; couldn't stop listening

What did you love best about The Butterfly Effect?

The narrator/author is intensely compassionate, thoughtful, and respectful. His interviews are fascinating, touching, and often funny. The people he meets completely open up to him. The narrator is Welsh, but don't worry if you aren't good with accents. He's got a very engaging radio voice that I found soothing and completely comprehensible (I'm from the States).
The case the author presents on the ethics of free pornography is nuanced, not preachy. There is some sexual content, but this is not a sexy or sensationalist piece. There are a lot of big ideas here about public health, economics, change, and the human psyche. Like most well-executed analyses, this series doesn't really align with a particular political agenda. This series may be of interest to all kinds of people. Also, the narration and production quality are great.
This series left me thinking critically, especially about how to discuss pornography with kids. I feel enlightened but not depressed.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for mike
  • mike
  • 31-03-18

Fascinating Subject

If you could sum up The Butterfly Effect in three words, what would they be?

Out Of Control

Any additional comments?

The subject of free porn might be too taboo for the media to cover but Jon Ronson takes it by the horns. He highlights the ripple effects free porn has caused from the struggling porn industry to the side effects it has on the youth. Backed up with fascinating interviews it will open your eyes and shock you.