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Irish survey seeks to discover 'who are the furries?'

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A new ten-minute survey has been released, aimed at furry fans 18 and older.

The survey, which contains "items on personality, personal life, and basic demographics", was created to support research at University College Cork in Ireland, and is intended to "gather data on the kinds of people that make up the furry community":

The use of the internet to support a shared interest and activity is very interesting to me, and I also am curious about the more sexual side to the fandom.

My study will attempt to determine two things - 1) Who are the furries? (assessed by simple demographics) and 2) What is the place of the Furry fandom in the context of the existing literature on internet behaviours?

It was initially distributed on Inkbunny, where a researcher has been answering questions.

Compare: Latest survey results from the separate Anthropomorphic Research Project.

Comments

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Is "4992" the correct journal ID in the Inkbunny link above? It seems to be an unrelated "I'm leaving this site" post.

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Hmm, nope! There's a missing 7 at the end there. Thanks for the catch.

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I did that when I saw it on Inkbunny but from what I remember it was very poorly done. The questions didn't go into enough detail to get anything meaningful. The point where I first realised it was useless was when they asked about fursuiting. It asked if you owned one and if you wore one. Nowhere did it ask if you wanted to eventually own one, how you thought about fursuits or if you would want to wear one.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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I bet this was the point he lost most people.

and I also am curious about the more sexual side to the fandom.

Well, no shit.

Everybody's curious about the "more sexual side of the fandom," but most people have a bit more tact.

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I did get more clarification about the study on the SoFurry forums.
http://www.sofurry.com/forum/view/thread?id=21847&page=1

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Hi crossaffliction, I'm sorry to hear that you were offended by that particular part of the message - if it helps, I was aiming to be upfront and truthful about my own research interests with that statement, and not trying to be devoid of tact.

I'm also a 'she', although my research colleague is, indeed, a 'he'. :)

Thanks for your comments and your input.

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Sorry about the gender confusion.

It was less me offended than, well pointing out the obvious; it was nice of you to be so honest, but you probably did offend a lot of furries, yeah.

And, I kinda would like to see a study about what kind of comic books furries collect, or something fannish like that, though that may not tell much other than what kind of comic books we collect, admittedly.

Something fannish that ISN'T fursuits, I should say.

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what kind of comic books furries collect

This would imply that collecting comic books is common in the furry fandom.

Maybe it is; nerds are nerds and they've never been mutually exclusive nerds.

But I think a better "fannish" question would be something along the lines of what kind of animation they like.

Also, hurray, another survey I can't take because I was born in the wrong year.

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Eh, it was just a for example. I'll leave whyfors and whatnots to the experts.

I don't think even animation is universal. Some furries are readers, some are watchers, some are players, and some are all of the above or none of the above.

I think that was suitably vague enough to sound like a real furry answer!

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What comic books do you collect might be a bad choice because comic books are pretty much antiquated these days. Should be what Furry comics do you read, so that it can include web comics.

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It was a bad for example, okay!

Ahh!

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Actually, it was a good example that I used to use all the time in regard to why Furry surveys were deficient.

What's really needed are questions that get at the heart of what attracts people to the Furry interest. There's nothing in any of these surveys to show an interest in childhood literature, cartoons, comics and TV shows that hangs on into the adult years, and thus feels a need for more mature development of those idioms. That's why the researchers never get anywhere near the core of what Furry Fandom actually is or where it's coming from.

And there are many other essential aspects that are worthy of analysis which these so called researchers seem to be completely unaware of. You can tell by the questions that they perceive it strictly as some kind of deviant sexual behavior, and that's all that interests them.

Personally, I refuse to even acknowledge any Furry survey as valid until I see one that is interested enough to ask about comics and such.

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One reason for this might be because they're not interested in the fandom and its objects per se, but the people in the fandom and how they differ from others - for example, if they're more inclined to treat objects as humans. There are many interesting questions you can ask from that perspective, but it typically comes down to "how are furries different to non-furries?", not "what is furry fandom about?" The latter is a valid question, but you have to have a good idea of what you're looking for.

For example, if you have a firm concept of furry fandom as a media-based culture and believe that childhood literature, cartoons, comics and TV shows are important, and would so include those on a survey. You might not think to ask about childhood roleplaying, artistic creation (as opposed to consumption) or whether you made lots of friends at school. If you think furry fandom is instead about dressing up as animals, you might tend to ask instead about whether you wore costumes or acted as a child, or had a personality which inclines towards hiding your 'true self' from others, etc.

There are several standard tests available for use on people, and those are going to be used to get a baseline of "who are these people" before asking questions which have not been standardized and for which results cannot be so easily coded (recorded) or compared to others. When you ask lots of qualitative questions you have to distil the answers down; that inevitably involves more selection bias on the part of the experimenters, can be viewed as "soft science", and may be hard to publish. It also takes a long time.

All that said, it's possible to contribute by identifying good questions. The ARP is always looking for new ideas, so if you have something that you've not seen in our past survey coverage of their surveys, drop them a line. Personally I think they've worked towards some really interesting conclusions about what drives furry fans, but it's taken five years and several survey cycles to get there.

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Why don't we just throw this out to the fandom and see what questions they feel are important to ask for anyone who is honestly interested in understanding who they are and what fuels their interest in Furry? Then we can put all the questions into one ultimate Furry survey.

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Because we aren't psychologists (most). We can point out problems in poorly done surveys because that's easy. But that doesn't mean that we will necessarily be able to ask the right questions. We're also so far from unbiased that the questions would be nearly useless. We also can't tell what we don't know about ourselves so it's entirely possible that any quiz the fandom makes itself will miss questions which are important, either because we don't know that about ourselves, because we take it as a given or because we don't realise it's important.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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You're assuming the survey is for the purpose of some psychological study by people who assume from the get-go that there's something wrong with us. The fandom has no such preconceived notions. The only use such a survey can have is for the fandom to be better able to know and explain itself, and for outsiders like these so called psychologists to have some clue what they're actually dealing with before they decide it's worth making fools of themselves by treating a fandom like it was some form of mental illness.

Because we aren't psychologists

As a serious Furry writer I regard the study of the human condition as part of my job. The fact that Furry creators use their art to tell humans something about themselves is one of the things that has traditionally validated the Furry arts. So we may not be psychologist per se, but we could certainly make productive use of the information.

But that doesn't mean that we will necessarily be able to ask the right questions.

One Furry might not ask all the right questions, but collectively there are a lot of really intelligent people in this fandom. If you can get the awareness of such a project out there and get a lot of Furries contributing questions, you're bound to learn a lot just from the questions Furries ask about themselves, as well as the answers they give and the personal comments they put with their answers. Far more than you'd ever learn from these multiple choice things that exist mainly to reinforce stereotypes.

We're also so far from unbiased that the questions would be nearly useless

I think that statement reflects the true bias. It suggests we are so unintelligent as to not know the things that are important to understand about how we came to be here. When in reality, no one can know that but us. And, as for myself, I've never seen a survey that wasn't so off the mark with its questions that its results wouldn't be totally misleading for anyone seeking to pass judgment on me. So obviously it's the so called psychologists who are biased. They decide what results they want to get before they start to calculate the questions to produce those results.

We also can't tell what we don't know about ourselves so it's entirely possible that any quiz the fandom makes itself will miss questions which are important, either because we don't know that about ourselves, because we take it as a given or because we don't realize it's important.

And some person who doesn't know me and probably can't even be bothered to read my blog is supposed to know better what questions are needed to get at the core of who I am? I think not. One Furry might not know all the questions to ask him/herself, but seeing what other Furries are asking themselves will certainly get them thinking about questions they might have missed.

While I was writing this response, I recalled that there actually is and has been a fans for fans created survey, called "The Furvey," which was not perfect when I took it a couple of years ago, but certainly could eventually be made perfect. Take a look at how infinitely more revealing it is than these multiple choice thingies.

http://symphonic-rp.livejournal.com/99661.html

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You're assuming the survey is for the purpose of some psychological study by people who assume from the get-go that there's something wrong with us. The fandom has no such preconceived notions.

No. I haven't assumed that at all. I'm treating it as an attempt to learn more about the people that are furs. The fandom does have such preconceived notions; you seem to have already decided that being a fur is not a form of mental illness. It's quite possible that it is.

I'm not suggesting furs are not intelligent but that we have biases. You've already demonstrated a bunch of biases in your reply to me. Maybe a group of furs could come up with better questions but only when they are looking at something they know. Psychologists should know more about asking the right questions and have read what has been done on other groups. I've read a bit of psychology and you'll find there are many things that people think they will know but don't, even about ourselves.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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You know what? Forget it. No one really wants to know about furs. Except furs, who don't need surveys to get to know other furs.

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Well, I am going to side with Perri here.

Jesus, Rakuen, liking cartoon animals a mental disease? A little strong, there.

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You're reading that wrong. I didn't say it was, just that it could be and it would be wrong to dismiss it out of hand. For example when yiff is brought into the picture and furs say that they prefer furry porn to normal porn then perhaps that shows incorrect attachment. At the very least it's an unusual paraphilia. That's not to say it is a problem, just that it's entirely possible and to reject purely on the basis that that's not a desirable conclusion would be wrong.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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It's more like an allergy. I must be allergic to growlithes. Every time you comment I feel worse. I'd better leave before this becomes fatal.

Note Fred's comment below. People join fandoms to have fun and to have a relief from mental and physical stresses. When other fans make it impossible for fans to enjoy the object of the fandom without being judged unfairly, it is no longer possible for them to get anything positive out of the fandom. It has reached that point for me with Flayrah.

I didn't have a mental illness when I came in here. I was actually feeling pretty good. But I've got quite a depression going over this discussion. And I don't see where it's worth doing this to myself year after year – fighting constantly to be understood by people who expect me to fit some kind of mold that has absolutely nothing to do with who I am or why I'm here.

Fandoms were initially attractive because they respected fans as individuals. They have nothing to offer when they cease to do that.

Before I suggested you should friend me on LJ or SL if you wanted to know me. I take that back. I don't want to know any fur who goes around talking about Furry in terms of it being a mental illness. That's just not what I'm here for. And it's counter-productive to the positive things I am here for.

If Furry isn't making me feel good, it's useless. I'm going elsewhere to be around furs who understand and respect that. Which will leave you with the freedom to believe Furry is any kind of horrible thing you can engineer a survey to prove that it is. If that's what floats your boat, I won't be spoiling your fun. Just do it in places where I won’t be seeing it, okay?

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I think you may be missing the big picture here . . .

As a Wikipedia editor, reliable surveys which test to see whether furry fans have are, e.g. depressive, autistic or delusional are like gold dust. Why? Because they're the best way to prove we aren't. There's nothing like a statistical survey conducted by professional researchers to trump the words of a blowhard over at Vanity Fair. Without them, it's just a case of "he says, she says", and fans can't win that.

As a practical matter, the average furry does seem to be slightly different from the average non-furry, and over time these kinds of surveys have led to some very interesting findings and theories about why some of us find the fandom worthwhile (such as the possibility that we use characters as a means of forming a self-image which is better-suited to interacting with others). This is stuff that I don't think could have been found in any other way than asking people "well, how much do you like being around other people anyway, and how is your fursona different?"

Does that mean that being a furry fan means you're a social recluse or don't know how to get along with others? No. But a lot of us are young and some perhaps have not figured out who we are in the world. If furry can be shown to be helping some of us with that, I think that's an incredibly positive thing.

tl;dr: Researchers are not evil people out to make you look bad; on the contrary, they have a unique ability to disprove harmful stereotypes, and can help us learn things about ourselves as a group that we wouldn't otherwise know.

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As I already pointed out once, that's unfair to Vanity Fair; one of our surveyors was interviewed in that article, and she managed to make us sound sicker than Fox Wolfie Galen.

Seriously, we let Fox Wolfie Galen talk to a reporter and then blamed the reporter when we looked bad. The guy propositioned the reporter; this was not an isolated incident, either. Reporters have been sexually propositioned by furries on camera, and furries blame the reporters. Reporters don't normally get propositioned by their interview subjects; it's really weird. It's not that we're especially perverted as a fandom (heavens to Betsy, Perri Rhoades apparently quit the anime fandom due to perverts and now finds furry refreshingly normal); it's that we are very inappropriate with our perversions.

There is a time and place for fursuit sex; during an interview with a reporter working for a magazine that is both respected and available in most grocery stores in America is not that time and place.

And the whole Kathleen "I masturbate to fantasies of wolves eating me" Gerbasi being a respected individual in the fandom despite revealing that fetish to a reporter in a way that can easily confuse casual readers (along with a grab bag of other goodies; the wolf one just stuck out) just kind of pisses me off.

Blaming the messenger, is what it is.

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I'm gonna have to ask you for a citation for that Gerbasi 'quote', because I'm not aware of any instance where she's talked to Vanity Fair. Are you talking about this piece, from back in 2001? That's five years before she started doing any research on furries . . .

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Yeah, Kath ... erine Gates.

Well, I'm going to go talk to a lawyer about libel law and the Internet, then.

Got the wrong Kathy G., apparently. I can't edit comments replied to, so that really needs redacted. At best right now I can only say sorry for thinking you were a terrible person with a weird fetish and deplorable tact for the last couple years, actually, Kathleen Gerbasi.

Edit: Thanks, GR, and sorry, KG.

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As a Wikipedia editor, reliable surveys which test to see whether furry fans have are, e.g. depressive, autistic or delusional are like gold dust.

The key word there is reliable. I gave up editing Wikipedia because they make it quite clear sources don’t have to be reliable or true. The Wikipedia mantra is “Verifiability, not truth.” So it doesn’t matter if a survey is deliberately only advertised on specific sites to get a skewed view of the fandom only from the furs who frequent those sites, or even if there is no reason for the survey takers to publish honest results. All that matters is that something was published, and Wikipedia is free to treat it like incontrovertible fact that no one can challenge, even if it totally makes no sense.

I’ve been a Wikipedia editor, too. I regard it as an exercise in total hearsay. As far as Wikipedia is concerned, I don’t exist as a Furry, because no survey I’ve ever taken has acknowledged me in the results. No survey has ventured to explore the reasons I’m here. And there are far too many like-minded furs on my friends lists who feel equally shafted, degraded and totally misrepresented by these surveys for me to think I’m some mistaken fool who just thinks I’m a fur. But that’s how things would be if Furry fandom depended on Wikipedia to define it.

More gossip and prejudice has been published about Furry Fandom than actual fact. If Wikipedia had its way, all reality would be defined by published gossip and the articles of the ill-informed.

Oh, and in a real encyclopedia, no definition of a fandom would waste time determining if some fans had mental or physical problems. It would just assume a fandom to be a random slice of the human population with its proper share of saints and serial killers.

Because they're the best way to prove we aren't.

I’m not really interested in proving what I’m not. Spending every waking moment of my online life trying to prove what I’m not doesn’t make for very much fun. Nor is it especially good for my health or my sense of self-esteem.

You know, I lost a real world relationship because I couldn’t prove I wasn’t Doug Winger. That’s how ridiculous this proving what you’re not stuff can get. If you just set it out there that people can accuse you of anything, and you’re just out of luck if you can’t find a professionally published article somewhere that states otherwise, proving what we aren’t will take up all our time, and Furries won’t be having a heck of a lot of fun.

There's nothing like a statistical survey conducted by professional researchers to trump the words of a blowhard over at Vanity Fair.

I dispute the logic that any professional researcher would be the slightest bit interested in surveying a fandom. These people are not professionals. They’re students who believe the gossip they read on the internet and are actively trying to substantiate it.

And Vanity Fair was, what? 12 years ago? Let it die, for Frith’s sake.

As a practical matter, the average furry does seem to be slightly different from the average non-furry

Well, duh. You needed a survey to tell you that? I’ve got news for you. Anime fans are slightly different from non Anime fans too. So are Doctor Who fans. And Old Time Radio fans. And Progressive Rock fans.

Fandom itself is a form of deviance - a bit of practical insanity that is necessary for stress relief, or for having an excuse to find people who are easier to socialize with because of a shared interest. You’re basically making a big deal out of what fandoms in general have always done, and treating Furry like it was the only fandom that had those properties and potentials.

Note, doctors don’t tell stress patients to become Furries. They say get a hobby.

the possibility that we use characters as a means of forming a self-image which is better-suited to interacting with others

Anyone really interested in that shouldn’t be looking at surveys. They should be studying my blog, or reading Spectral Shadows. I am the one who dared to do the big experiment and invited the whole world to observe it. And there are probably several thousand other Furries openly writing about the positive effects of being able to socialize through an avatar.

If furry can be shown to be helping some of us with that, I think that's an incredibly positive thing.

It is a positive thing. Furry can be excellent therapy for some pretty bad problems. Unfortunately, its positive benefits can easily be negated by this stupid tendency some of my fellow furs have to be judgmental and intolerant to the people who were attracted here by the claim that they wouldn’t be judged. This sets the people who came here for simple social interaction therapy leaving with anxiety attacks and strokes.

I have social anxiety disorder. You have no idea how hard it is, even with an avatar to hide behind, to put myself on public display like this. The Furry Community is great when I keep to an area where everyone knows enough to be encouraging of individuals with problems. But out here on the message boards, Furry Fandom is a worse hell than the real world. Because it’s one thing to be judged by the way you physically look. It’s quite another being judged for everything you can’t prove you’re not.

I’m not kidding when I say dealing with this aspect of the fandom aggravates my social anxiety disorder more than the real world ever has. When I pour my heart out onto this site and come back to see a negative approval rating on it, I just want to grab my traveling bag and never be seen again. Because that tells me I’m not among friends who understand or care. I’m not safe here. I don’t dare just say what’s on my mind with the assumption it will be seriously considered. I’m bucking people with agendas, and there is no way to feel safe or comfortable in that situation.

But at night, while I’m lying awake, because I’m too keyed up thinking about what new horrors I’ll find in my inbox in the morning, I wonder how the heck this happened. How did I end up being put in the position of defending my fellow Furries from being saddled with the stigma of problems that I may happen to have a few of, but a whole room of other Furries may not? Where the hell did the anthropomorphic animals disappear to that we were supposed to be sharing? When did this become about focusing on our personal problems and sitting in judgment of each other – or trying to provide the outside world with ammunition to judge us? What happened to that therapy I was getting so much out of?

So, yeah. Furry could be a good thing. It could be such a good thing that it would be worth telling the world about some of the good Furry can accomplish. But you don’t do that with surveys. You do that with documented case histories. Which is why blogs are such a good thing. Unfortunately blogs will also show you how all this fandom politics, stereotype generation from surveys, and general lack of sympathy for the fandom on the part of message board writers destroyed all that good.

You simply can not judge Furries as a group. We have no unifying factor, other than a shared interest in anthropomorphic animals. But that fact gets totally lost when people are looking at Wikipedia and seeing statements that read like “Furries are a certain percentage gay,” “Furries do body modification,” (even though there is only one documented Furry who does body modification) “Furries are a certain percentage prone to shyness and social anxiety disorder,” “A certain percentage of Furries regard Furry as a religion,” “A certain percentage of Furries wear fursuits" and so forth.

It doesn’t matter that the numbers in front of these percentages might be like 1 or 2, just the fact that these things are on the page for a fandom is so shocking that the numbers totally disappear, and the reader walks away thinking all Furries wear fursuits, do body modifications, and are generally mentally ill.

I’ve been saying this for years. Furry Fandom does not owe its public stigma to Vanity Fair, or CSI. (And Uncle Kage says this too in his own way) Furry Fandom owes its public stigma to our constant insistence on telling everyone what we are not.

No other fandom does that. Can you imagine how bad things would be if Anime fans introduced themselves by saying, “Please understand, I know we have a bad reputation in the media, but most of us really don’t enjoy watching school girls get raped.”

That’s what you do to us at Wikipedia with these damned survey figures. You introduce us to outsiders as those people who feel compelled to explain that they don’t do every unspeakable thing in the world. Which in turn plants the idea in their heads that we do. Even if they were just somebody’s parents trying to read up on their kid’s interests and had no such prejudices before, you’ve made sure that everybody who walks into this community will be implanted with it.

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More gossip and prejudice has been published about Furry Fandom than actual fact. If Wikipedia had its way, all reality would be defined by published gossip and the articles of the ill-informed.

You're missing the point. We put those details in there because negative stereotypes were being bandied about as if they were common knowledge, and we had no hard data to counter them. I've seen Wikipedians willing to throw out gossip, but only if you've got something better.

Now, five years later, I see far less gossip. Am I merely looking in the wrong places, or did providing better references have a positive effect? We certainly started getting more positive coverage, though I would give most of the credit for that to a new generation of furs willing to talk to (real) reporters, and conventions large enough to attract such reporters.

I am not an expert on how anime fans introduce their fandom to others, but when it comes to Wikipedia, each fandom and subculture has documented oddities. The article about goths has a section about self-harm (and goes into extensive detail about press coverage which is far worse than the fandom's ever seen). Likewise, there's a whole article about D&D controversies - and anime/manga not only has one about fan service, but leads its own fandom article with a discussion of which otaku are the good ones.

More generally, most if not all "negative" fandom coverage has not been the result of furries being stupid, but of selective reporting by people who have a specific goal in mind. People can still do that, but it's a lot harder for them to sell such stories when much of what they say can be refuted.

I dispute the logic that any professional researcher would be the slightest bit interested in surveying a fandom. These people are not professionals. They’re students who believe the gossip they read on the internet and are actively trying to substantiate it.

You're not disputing "logic"; you're disputing an assertion - and had you been to, say, Anthrocon or Furry Fiesta, and seen how much effort is being put into writing, creating, distributing, reading and explaining the findings of surveys each year, I think your view would be different. Yes, in most cases students (usually graduate students) are involved, but that's true of most research; they're usually there to do the drudge work. Nuka is a bona fide furry as well as a student - do you really think he's out to make furries look bad and so ruin his social life? :-)

Of course, one of the researchers in the linked video says quite clearly that her curiosity about furries was piqued by CSI. But it doesn't follow from that that her goal was to prove that the stereotypes depicted there were true. You're assuming malice, and I honestly don't know why. By your own assertion, individual furries are able to make us look bad by themselves. Most researchers I've met are smart cookies, and if they were trying to dish out the dirt they could surely have done so by now. (There are plenty of jobs that get paid better for that, too, like political campaign consultant.)

You simply can not judge Furries as a group. We have no unifying factor, other than a shared interest in anthropomorphic animals.

No survey is going to find a single unifying factor. But they can find differing proportions between groups, which may signify items of research interest. For example, furry fans are not all male, but there appear to be far more male fans than female. Why is this? Does furry fandom appeal more to men than women? Do women leave early, or are they somehow dissuaded from joining? The follow-on questions to this sort of basic demographic information lead to research findings (which in this case might be useful to us in shaping a more inclusive fandom, if you see that as a positive thing).

There is always the "risk" of findings that make us look bad - even if it is just in our own eyes. But if we fear such knowledge, we will never gain any.

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A desire for knowledge and understanding is not the same thing as judging. If furries are just a normal slice of society then that should show up and there's nothing to worry about with people trying to understand the fandom. If it is associated with certain problems or serves as a coping mechanism for people then knowing that means that furs that need help may be more able to get it. Like Greenreaper has said, all fandoms have negative stereotypes associated with them. I think it's worth looking at ourselves, understanding what's going on and learning what the truth is.

You've even admitted the fandom is a form of deviance and that fandom members of different from non-members. Why are you so afraid of taking that further and learning whether that deviance is something to be concerned about or not and whether the furry fandom differs from other fandoms. Why become a furry instead of a Trekkie? You say you can't do that with surveys but seem to forget that blogs and stuff are more biased than surveys and that science is done to confirm things. It wouldn't be the first time if studying the fandom found people's beliefs of what it entails, even the beliefs of it's members, were actually wrong.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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I think it's worth looking at ourselves, understanding what's going on and learning what the truth is.

Furry is not about looking at “Ourselves.” At best it is about self-exploration. When one embarks on a Furry journey of self-exploration as I did, one does not discover, “Oh, I’m one of those.” One discovers, “Oh, I’m me, and me is not one of anything. Me is one onto itself. And none of the expectations of those who create categories entirely apply to me.”

I don't think you or Green would know the truth if it jumped up and bit you in the tail. This has never been about truth. Fandoms are about fantasy, a shared delusion that something insignificant is of weighty importance. And it's pathetic thinking you're going to get any kind of realistic results surveying people who live most of their lives with one foot in an alternate reality of their own creation. And tragic that you would use these results to . . .

. . . studying the fandom found people's beliefs of what it entails, even the beliefs of it's members, were actually wrong.

There are no generalities. No one can be wrong in a fandom that is working properly, because we all make up our perception of it for ourselves. But one person sitting in judgment of anyone else's perception can render everyone wrong. It destroys the fragile fabric of illusion that keeps Furries walking on clouds at the thought of how wonderful their lives are. It gives them a reason to feel threatened and unwelcome. And they end up right back in the anxious, defensive mode they previously enjoyed such relief from. i.e. one Furry’s sense of belonging should never be challenged by another Furry.

That is what your surveys do to me. They challenge my sense of belonging, because I can never live up to the results, or the expectations the results will generate that I’ll be expected to acknowledge and play along with. Therefore, your results do me no good at all. They stand only to do me harm, to destroy entirely my reasons for being here.

A fantasy can be a good thing. It can do a lot of good for the individual. We all need fantasies to get through the irrationalities of real life. But as a professional fantasist, as well as one who studies the human condition, I can tell you it's a really bad idea to look too close at your fantasies. They can disappear in the blink of an eye if you try too hard to prove them real.

And what's left when your fantasy of this fictitious society of Furry disappears, taking with it all illusions of the good you dreamed it capable of? Nothing but the stark, unbearable reality you created that illusion to escape.

Wise people enjoy their fantasies and use them to boost their ability to cope with an unlivable real life. These are the people who enjoy the highest quality of life, regardless of their poverty levels.

So go on dreaming that Furry is a good thing. And it will be for you. But don't try to prove it. Because I've already done that. I've already conclusively demonstrated that Furry can indeed work wonders for the physically and emotionally impaired. And that all that good will be taken away if you ever dally with those who insist on questioning the miracle.

Furry is anti-logic. It will explode if touched by standard logic. Just like watching Furry cartoons requires suspension of disbelief. Without the ability to accept that you are hearing a man shaped bunny talk, a Bugs Bunny cartoon is just so much irritating gibberish. The whole purpose of standard logic is to drag you down from that transcendent state of mind.

So, yes, there is much to be learned from Furry or about Furry, but not from surveys. What’s really at the heart of Furry is different for every individual. And the one that helps you understand and be comfortable with yourself is the only version of Furry that’s important to you, even if no one else in the entire Furry community understands that version.

For Furry to work as a positive, healing community, all must respect your unique version, and you must respect theirs. You can not attack anyone’s perception without putting your own at risk and ruining everything for everyone. And that, unfortunately, is why The Furry Community has been so filled with fail all these years. Because Furry message boards spend more time telling people they’re not doing Furry right than they do talking about anthropomorphic animals.

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I can't find any sort of argument hidden in here. You pretty much just seem to be wanting to say it is good and no one's allowed to look at it because it might upset you. Maybe you're fine with that but I find it scarily like the sort of defences employed by religious apologists and it just doesn't cut it with me.

All I could think of was a verse from one of Cradle of Filth's songs.
"Many never want to see
Many never want to know
The truth behind their fantasies
Their deepest needs
Let alone be shown them"
Ignorance is one thing but I can't abide wilful ignorance.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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That's very perceptive of you. I really didn't think you'd get the allegory.

But it isn't so much that Furry is a religion, as much as it is that every religion is a fandom.

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I'll cop to the bias that I'm not sure Rakuen Growlithe shares; I don't think most furries are, well, actually, I'll say knowledgeable about either studies or, frankly, themselves to be asking the questions. Intelligence isn't really the factor; there may be a lot of smart people in this fandom, but it's a question of how they are smart.

And, okay, there are also a lot of dumb people in this fandom, too.

I cannot recall a time I have heard a furry say something truly insightful about furry; that's part of the problem with these surveys. These people presenting the surveys have no freaking idea what furries are because furries either have no freaking idea themselves or are very bad at communicating ideas or trying very hard to not communicate the idea on purpose, or a mixture of any of the three.

And then they ask questions that make me feel like I'm in some kind of half-assed cult rather than just really liking cartoon animals. And then the answers reinforce that position, because there isn't a "Are you in some kind of half-assed cult?" question I can answer no to. What I'm saying is there is a feedback loop; furries avoid answering the "what is furry" question directly, so outsiders find an indirect method based on their own wild theories based on the vacuum of information from the furries, which causes furries to act in a way that fits the pattern presented by the studies.

As far as the sexual perversion thing goes, I wouldn't mind being called a sexual pervert if they thought I was a sexual pervert for jacking off to cartoon animal porn on occasion, because that would probably be fair. But the constant being called a sexual pervert for the fursuit thing which I not only don't find sexually titillating, but find just as ridiculous as the next guy, is really freaking annoying.

And the sad thing is its not like we're hiding the cartoon animal porn very well (and, admittedly, no real reason to other than just general, maybe you should keep the porn out of sight reasons); it would literally take five minutes of Internetting to find this stuff, and yet I am willing to be 100 imaginary Internet dollars, despite this survey's stated "interest in the sexual side" there is not a single question about cartoon fetishism of any kind.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, and girl from the survey who may or may not be still watching, I haven't taken the survey from general apathy, not because you offended me. In your defense, you're not Kathleen Gerbasi, because an outsider telling a reporter from Vanity Fair that furry fandom is all about jacking off to fantasies of being eaten by wolves means you get to run the "prestigious" furry survey, anything bad was the reporter's fault. (Ed: Withdrawn, see above.)

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I cannot recall a time I have heard a furry say something truly insightful about furry

LOL, you're kind of on thin ice there, Mr. Furry who seems to have lots to say about furry ;)

I wouldn't mind being called a sexual pervert if they thought I was a sexual pervert for

If you happen to be a pervert, it can be really fun when people's imaginations run away with them. Then after you play a clean cut respectable person who has nothing to do with that, you can tease them with innuendos that drive them nuts with curiosity.

It's even more fun to prank people anonymously, for example, by showing up at a party in a fursuit and knowing them, but they can't tell who you are under the mask. Then you leave and later ask them about their week, and they tell stories about the crazy goddam thing that happened with someone dressed in a costume. You taunt them for being in a perverted Eyes Wide Shut orgy scenario, and they get all embarrassed about it, and you don't reveal you had anything to do with it. :)

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Well, thanks for implying I am insightful, anyway. Not sure if you meant to do that.

In my experience, non-furries like there furries perverted. Not sure if it makes them feel better about there peccadilloes or it makes them feel more liberal minded or if they just think its hilarious.

It goes back to my first post, I guess. I get non-furries want to talk about the sex stuff because that's outside there normal day-to-day lives. But, you know, that is a part of us, so, it's kind of like can we talk about something else? That and fursuits, though kinda opposite reason. I don't really get fursuiting, sexual or otherwise, either, so I can't really add anything; go ask Patch, I guess.

Somebody let me geek out about "Kung Fu Panda 2" for thirty minutes, then maybe I'll be in the mood to babble about your crap. Maybe.

Note: I used "there" for "their" at least twice, and that embarasses me, but I'm on a cell phone touch screen and editing with that SUCKS.

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Well, thanks for implying I am insightful, anyway. Not sure if you meant to do that.

The opposite, that's what "thin ice" means... haha. Unserious swipes aside, I just commented to say that broad brushes don't work very well.

Fursuits are awesome. I didn't care to read whatever else is getting commented about here, so carry on I guess.

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After only 2 years of learning about the fandom, I have a pretty good idea of what furries are, and will eventually write a lengthy piece on that.

Well, I'll be...

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@Mister Twister

As someone who has actually done that, I can tell you your time would be better spent totally indulging yourself in the fun activities of your choice.

After 8 years of this I have finally accepted the truth. Writing about the fandom is a stupid waste of time that accomplishes nothing.

For God's sake, it's just a geek fandom among a hundred other geek fandoms nobody cares about unless they're in them. And if you're in them, you already know what they are. You don't need a survey or some fan's diatribe to inform you of what you're already enjoying.

The Growlith is onto something, though. But he's slightly off the mark.

Furry Fandom isn't the mental illness. This obsession with trying to explain everything to the internet is the mental distortion. Any time a fandom goes beyond simply enjoying the object of a fandom with fellow fans, it's not the fandom you're participating in. It's an unhealthy obsession with having others validate your point of view, which in the end eclipses your enjoyment of the object of the fandom and gets you wasting your life on message boards, typing enough to fill volumes on a subject that is of no serious consequence.

Writing volumes on Furry Fandom proves one thing, if you ever had a life, the internet stole it away from you.

My advice to Furries is to enjoy Furry art, Furry cartoons, Furry novels, Furry comics, Fursuit parades, or any other form of Furry entertainment that floats their boat. But to never waste a minute writing about the fandom for that stuff, because the fandom isn't real. It's something we all make up in our imaginations about thousands of people we will never meet or get to know.

We only know our friends, acquaintances, and the relative few who write for the internet sites we frequent. They are not the fandom, nor are they in any way exemplary of it. It's all prejudicial BS that we become convinced is real and needs to be written about in hopes that someone will validate it and prove that we're right. But that never happens, because everyone sees it all with their own prejudice, and they're not interested in ours.

Personally, I've made the determination to kick this unhealthy obsession to the curb. I no longer care what anyone thinks Furry Fandom is. If I'm not writing my stories or telling folks about what Furry movie, novel or event on Second Life I just enjoyed, I ought not to be writing in regard to Furry at all.

I have more important and more rewarding things I should be doing. But they're not getting done because I'm here again writing this post, even though I keep telling myself to stop.

Pathetic, aren't I? Take a lesson from this. Don't be pathetic like me. Don't write about Furry Fandom. Review Furry movies and such to your heart's content, but keep your fantasies about the people who enjoy those movies to yourself, where they'll be safe.

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Why did you write so much?? I broke my eyes by just looking at the sheer size of your response!

Also, being an anthropologist in training, explaining cultural groups is a lot of fun for me. And besides, there are a lot of things I would like to get out of my system.

Well, I'll be...

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Why did you write so much??

It's a horrible social disease that is communicated by message boards. Trust me, you don't want to catch it.

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Perri is right. As an example, I present my own sad story of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization in anime fandom. The C/FO was started in 1977 as a club to promote Japanese anime throughout s-f and comics fandom. By 1980 it had imperceptibly shifted to promoting anime to the general American public. We measured success by the number of chapters that the C/FO had: Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Chicago, Toronto, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Atlanta, Vancouver, Denver, etc. At its height in the mid-1980s, the C/FO had three dozen chapters including one in Japan itself, at Mitsawa Air Base for American airmen. But by the late 1980s, politics ruined the club. It degenerated into a series of "our chapter is better than your chapter" rivalries.

As one of the leaders of the C/FO, I expected most members to ignore or drive out the petty dictators. I was very disappointed when most members dropped out of the C/FO instead, leaving it to the dictators. And then I realized that the dropouts were the ones who were right. The C/FO's importance had been to promote Japanese anime, not to build an international club. When the C/FO got in the way of enjoying anime, it was the anime that was more important. Most members were dropping out to make personal contacts with other anime fans via the Internet; they had no interest in saving the C/FO from local big-frogs-in-small-ponds.

So it is with Furry fandom. Devote your time and interest to communicating with other Furry fans and helping to expand the fandom from within, not to trying to gain new recruits or to explain who and what we are to outsiders.

Fred Patten

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>trying to gain new recruits
Errr... since when I said I wanted to do that?

Also, how are you not a dictator yourself if you are against my freedom of speech?

Well, I'll be...

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I'm not quite sure I agree with this, in part because I don't see how you can "expand the fandom from within". You can make the fandom better for existing fans, which may in turn attract new fans, but these people come from outside the existing group. (Unless we grow by making babies; the demographics of the fandom suggest that's unlikely.)

I've been crazy enough to think we can provide services to both internal and external audiences. WikiFur is both a tool for existing furry fans, and a means of explaining who and what we are to outsiders. In part, so is Flayrah.

Let's view furry fandom as a non-profit organization. How can we best serve our target audience? You are right that building a club is a means, not an end. However, communicating to outsiders is part of our goal if it enables us to reach members of our audience who didn't know we were here, or removes obstacles to providing service to them (e.g. church won't rent a hall to costume fanatics).

The C/FO provides a great cautionary tale about the dangers of being overly competitive, though. Leaders of fan websites/groups/events should remember that their mission is to provide the best services, not to destroy the opposition. Of course, one way of providing better services is by replacing other providers, but another way - and probably the better one - is to help them, if you can.

Flayrah is a good example; we actively share our content and publish it under a free license so that other providers can re-use it. Certainly, we might have a larger direct audience if we kept our content to this site, but we would have a much smaller influence. Besides, we simply don't have the resources to provide all the formats (like podcasts) that are demanded by users of our services.

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They're not going to get good representative results if they only post on InkBunny. Many of my fellow clean furs prefer to stay on DA or even FA to avoid some of the content InkBunny allows.

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If you want to avoid content you can just block the keywords, that way everyone wins. That's why Inkbunny (and SoFurry) have that feature. Anyway the survey was also advertised on SoFurry.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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If you don't like the content like people who don't like this content don't like this content, keyword filtering is about as helpful a suggestion as "Stick your fingers in your ears and go 'LALALA, NOT LISTENING.'"

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And on the Irish Furry Board, naturally. :-)

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Norn from London, UK, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.