Thursday 23 February 2012

RDFBO UK/Ipsos MORI Poll #3: How Bewitched are UK Harry Potter Fans?

RDFBO UK Press Release 3:
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.

At the same time, many who self-identify as Harry Potter fans had read other books that are incompatible with the writings of J.K. Rowling, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit (27% in each case), The Da Vinci Code (36%) and The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe (64%).

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.”


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.

Friday 17 February 2012

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Militant Realism Threat to Fantasy, warns Warsi

Ancient myths are being "sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere", Conservative co-chairwoman Baroness Warsi whined in an article for the Daily Telegraph.

The Muslim peer said Europe needed to become "more confident and more comfortable with its middle eastern fairy tales ".

She will also highlight the issue in a speech at the Vatican later on Tuesday.

"I will be arguing that to create a more divisive society, people need to feel stronger in their religious identities and more confident in their spiritual fantasies," she wrote in the Telegraph.

"In practice this means individuals not accepting reality and nations implementing policies that will allow special privileges to certain religious groups.”

Baroness Warsi, who is Britain's first female Muslim cabinet minister, went on to write: "You cannot and should not extract irrational beliefs from the evolution of our nations any more than you can make the Pope wear a rubber Johnny on his head"

She wrote that examples of a "common sense" taking hold of society could be seen in a number of things - "when people aren’t allowed to discriminate against poofters or when schools are not allowed to teach creation myths as established science; and where magic sky fairies are sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere".

She also compared the intolerance of religion with totalitarian regimes, which she said were "denying people the right to delusions”

Her comments come days after the High Court ruled that a Devon town council had acted unlawfully by allowing councillors to talk to their invisible friends at meetings.

On Baroness Warsi's article and speech, a BBC political correspondent said it was not the first time a senior Conservative had called for a revival of The Dark Ages.

"Last December, Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK was a Christian country and 'should not be afraid to torture heretics and burn witches like we did in the good old days”.

Original Article here

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Shortlisted for an Ockham

Don't you just hate that sycophantic drivel people come up with when they've been nominated for an award. You know the sort of stuff, "I don't expect to win, but it's a real honour to be shortlisted amongst these other really brilliant people".

What a load of old bollocks.

Anyway, turns out that I've been shortlisted for an Ockham award by the Skeptic Magazine (I should bloody well hope so too, I nominated myself enough times). You wont have heard of the dreary collection of blogs I'm up against. Some ranting liberal biologist with a weird cephalopod fetish, a mob of dissident tarts who whinge a lot, an annoying Scots git who gets other people to write his blog for him and some Irish clever trousers.


Anyway, after being robbed of the Orwell Prize last year, I have taken steps to ensure I triumph over this band of no-hopers. After acquiring his address from a surprisingly helpful PR consultant in Texas with time on his hands, I now have skeptical prodigy Rhys Morgan gagged and tied to a chair in my garage.

So French, Grossman, Ronson, Singh and Wiseman, I have a copy of Stuck in the Middle by Stealers Wheels on my iPod, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Bad Science Infographic

On increasingly frequent occasion I receive some ready prepared suggested content for my blog that I am assured will be just the thing for my readers. I don't normally oblige.

However, yesterday I received a rather nice infographic from @jenicarhee summarising the inherent human flaws that can exist within my beloved scientific method.  This one seemed worth sharing, so here its is ...

Bad Science
Created by: Clinical Psychology

Original Source here