23 February 2012
Only 1 in 10 UK Harry Potter fans own a magic wand.
UK residents who think of themselves as Harry Potter fans show very low levels of witchcraft belief and practice, according to new research.
A poll carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for the Bleeding Obvious (UK) in the week after the 2011 Census focused on the beliefs, attitudes and practices of UK adults who say they were recorded as Harry Potter fans in the 2011 Census (or would have recorded themselves as Harry Potter fans if they could have been arsed to answer the question).
When asked why they think of themselves as Harry Potter fans, the research found that fewer than three in ten (28%) say one of the reasons is that they believe in the magic of witchcraft.
People are much more likely to consider themselves to be Harry Potter fans because they have seen one of the films on DVD (72%), because their parents had read them one of the books when they were younger (38%) or because they think that Daniel Radcliffe is a bit dishy (51%), than because of a personal belief in sorcery.
As many as half (50%) do not think of themselves as wizards or witches and less than a tenth (9%) claim to have a magic wand.
Indeed, many Harry Potter activities, including the playing of quidditch and the casting of spells, appear to be unsupported amongst respondents self-identifying as Harry Potter fans:
• One in six (15%) admits to having never spoken in parseltounge, with a further one in three (36%) believing that snakes can’t even talk.
• The majority (60%) do not own their own cauldron and a further 20% don’t even have a black cat.
• Around two thirds (64%) were not able to identify Gerald Gardner as the creator of the first “Book of Shadows”, when given only four answers to choose from.
• Over a third (37%) have never or almost never made a magic potion, with a further 6% saying they have never used a polyjuice potion.
• Only a quarter (26%) say that they regularly attempt to fly a broomstick, with one in five (21%) saying they do not really believe that you can actually fly on a broomstick.
The low level of Wicca belief and practice among those calling themselves Harry Potter fans is reflected in coven attendances. Apart from special occasions such as Halloween, half (49%) had not dressed up in a black pointy hat in the previous 12 months. One in six (16%) have not danced around naked at a summer or winter solstice in the previous 12 months, and a further one in eight (12%) have never burnt a wicker man.
Fewer than half (44%) of those self-identityng as Harry Potter fans had participated in any pagan ceremonies at all in the previous year.
Asked why they had been recorded as Harry Potter fans in the 2011 Census, only three in ten (31%) said it was because they genuinely believe in the dark arts with four in ten (41%) saying that it's just a nice old yarn that has entered the public culture and their not bloody stupid.
Overall, the findings suggest that a good number of UK adults self-identifying as Harry Potter fans can actually tell the difference between a very popular story book and reality.
Welcoming the findings of the research, and looking even more smug than usual, Richard Dawkins said:
"I fucking knew it.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for the Bleeding Obvious (UK) is a made-up charity invented by The Science, Reason & Critical Thinking blog.
2. Ipsos MORI conducted no such survey and will no doubt deny everything.
3. A copy of the real survey can be found here.
4. Richard Dawkins will be available to give sanctimonious answers to journalists at his own convenience.