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Review: 'Furry Nation' by Joe Strike

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (9 votes)

'Furry Nation' cover If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.
—Terry Pratchett

I am probably not wrong in my belief that many furs have little idea of how the fandom got started. The furry fandom is based around the appreciation of, and I'll simplify here, anthropomorphic characters. Furs find their way here through that appreciation and are able to join in immediately. This is not a bad thing but it is sad that many of us are unaware of our shared history. As we learned above, if we don't know where we come from then we are lost.

It's not that there has been no attempt to describe the origins of the furry fandom; aside from the crowdsourced wikis (e.g. WikiFur), we had Fred Patten's Retrospective: An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom, 1966–1996 and Perri Rhoades' The Furry History Project. The first is not necessarily in the most easy to use form and both of the latter entries are chronological lists of major influences. Joe Strike's book departs from this format employing a mix of personal anecdotes, extensive research and several interviews with prominent furs to build a far more flowing, narrative history of the furry fandom.

Let's start at the very beginning

In Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea universe, magic gains its power through the use of true names. To know someone's true name potentially means the ability to control them. In our world, though diminished in comparison, words still have power and it is necessary to agree on what we mean by a word before we can use it productively. Appropriately, Strike starts off by defining what he means by the term furry and fur.

A furry human is anyone with an above-average interest in anthropomorphic character, whether or not they consider themselves furry–or have ever even heard of the fandom (a.k.a. "furry but doesn't know it yet");

A furry animal is any animal with any human characteristics, no matter what its origin: entertainment, mythology, advertising, kids' books or adult literature. To put it simply, Furry is about the idea of animals—what they represent in our minds—not their reality.

Strike's definitions improve on the standard definitions in several respects. First, he too recognises the distinction between anthropomorphism and zoomorphism which are both an aspect of the furry fandom – in the chapter at least, although this then fails to make it into the language of his definition. Secondly, he states that a person who meets the criteria for being a fur is a fur regardless of whether they consider themselves a fur or are even aware of the term.

I would accept his definition of a furry human with the simple change of "anthropomorphic character" to "furry character." When it comes to furry characters, his definition is, by his own admission, very broad. I would say overly broad. There needs to be a mix of human and animal characteristics, not just human characteristics applied to an animal (That's where zoomorphism comes in.), and that mixture should create a significant difference to the character. I have previously elaborated in my own definition of furry and will not belabour the point further.

There is one other lexicological point that Strike makes which I hope to see become the dominant convention. He proposes using "furries" strictly for furry characters and "furs" for furry fans. This is primarily to avoid confusion and it is something I can absolutely get behind.

The border is a line that birds cannot see

Not everything is always as clear or well-thought out as his definitions and sometimes it is just wrong. For example, in a chapter on fursuits, Strike writes, referring to Anthrocon 2015:

It was the largest ratio of fursuiters to total con attendence ever—29%

While it may have been the largest total number of fursuiters ever, in 2014, 45% of Eurofurence's 2071 attendees were fursuiters. That ratio grew even larger in 2015, when one month after Anthrocon, Eurofurence had a fursuiter ratio of 46%! If we're only talking about a ratio then smaller conventions might have exceeded even that.

This shows one of the biggest failings of Furry Nation, its insular view. When you are so fixated on the US that you ignore a fursuiter ratio that is 17% higher then clearly it's beginning to hurt the book. Even in the subtitle of the book it says it talks about "America's most misunderstood subculture." I can understand the desire to focus on a specific region, and the furry fandom did originate in the US, however, the furry fandom is now a global subculture. SoFurry, the oldest active furry art site, considering its origins as Yiffstar, is owned by an Austrian. Inkbunny, WikiFur and Flayrah are all owned by an Englishman. Five out of six of Furnet's servers exist outside of the US. The only two live action films produced within the furry fandom, Bitter Lake and Mascot Fur Life, were both produced in Europe. The most popular furry artist on Furaffinity, Wolfy-Nail, is a Russian living in Austria.

Knowing all that, it makes you begin to wonder what else might be missed. So, when reading Strike's generally-excellent chapter about misrepresentations of the furry fandom in the media, one wonders how much is a problem with the media in general and how much is a problem with American media. Media bias is probably an issue worldwide but I do think it might not be as severe outside of the US.

One example of positive media coverage that Strike points out is a six minute Anthrocon report done by NBC News where "the reporter bravely tries on a tail." It is a pretty positive report and that's great but, as with the fursuiters, keeping the focus on the US misses out on even-more-positive, contemporaneous coverage. That same year, ARTE TV produced a sixteen minute long report on Eurofurence where the reporter wore a full fursuit!

Rampart in chase of She wolf pacts, Forged on heat with setting Suns

Another thing that sometimes gives a strange feel is the treatment of sex. The chapter covering yiff is actually pretty good but the comments elsewhere in the book give the sense that, if Strike does not personally dislike yiff, then he is not comfortable with non-furs being aware of it. This is strongest where he criticised the film Fursonas as not helping furry's reputation for criticising Uncle Kage and then showing Bad Dragon merchandise. That may also have something to do with his relationship with Kage and not just the sex.

Notably absent from the sex chapter is almost any mention of bestiality/zoophilia. That's not to say it is never addressed in the book but, despite his chapter on sex beginning with "it would be equally honest to pretend [sex] doesn't exist," there is a bit of dishonesty where he claims that bestiality is "an absolute and 100% no-go in furry fandom." Now, whatever anyone's personal opinion, bestiality is an, albeit polarising and controversial, aspect of the furry fandom.

Bestiality is not an integral part of the furry fandom, that much is obvious by just going back to any of the definitions of furry. However, what Strike tries to ignore is that there is an overlap between them. Some of the public looks at yiff art and sees that it can overlap with bestiality, particular feral work; in fact one feral artist's Fur Affinity page states, "Please keep in mind my feral art for me is absolutely non-zoophilic. Please don't bring up the topic." Even coming from the other direction, the connection is still made. In his essay Why Zoophilia is a Furry Issue, JM notes that one classification of zoophilia by researchers includes furries as a subset. Furthermore, probably the largest work on the topic, Hani Miletski's book Understanding Bestiality and Zoophilia also makes a couple of references to the furry fandom.

Given the fact that the connections between the furry fandom and bestiality are noticed from both sides and that between 13-18% of furs identify as zoophiles, it is clear that it is not a "100% no-go" in the fandom. Further complicating the issue will be those furs who tolerate it, although do not have an interest themselves, and the issue of distinguishing fantasy from reality. While it is certainly possible to draw the necessary distinctions between furry and bestiality, it takes a lot more work than the incorrect statement that was provided. If he was not going to properly address the topic, it would have been better to leave it alone entirely rather than putting forth a statement that doesn't reflect reality merely to try and score PR points.

Foremost is reason. Reason is non-negotiable.

For most of my criticism, the issues are not major detractors from the book. Yes, there is confusion between what is fact and what is opinion and, yes, it doesn't do a good job of seeing the global picture. However, even taking that into account, there is a lot of good content about the media, fursuits, yiff and more that can still be enjoyed, even if the details are not always perfect. But there is one chapter which almost only pulls the book down; the one entitled "The Spirit Is Willing, but the Flesh Is Furry."

This chapter describes certain furs' spiritual beliefs, however it is done in an entirely credulous manner without the slightest critical analysis. This is a problem because those beliefs are not supported by any sort of evidence. When he says the belief that "you're an animal born by error in a human body" is easy to mock, he doesn't bother to go into why that is the case. That belief assumes the existence of souls. It assumes different species have different types of souls. It assumes souls pre-exist and are added to matching physical bodies. It assumes that somehow the wrong soul can be put in the wrong body. There is no evidence to support a single one of those claims.

Now one might say these are just harmless delusions, let the people have their opium, but they don't always remain that way. A recent report tells of a German man arrested for killing his daughter during an exorcism and then trying to revive her corpse with sex. That is an extreme case but Strike also doesn't question the reality behind the beliefs of a Catholic fur he interviews. Last month, it was reported that The Vatican is increasing the number of priests being trained to perform exorcisms. They are training people to treat a condition which does not exist!

I don't know if the lack of critical examination is due to his own beliefs, a wish to appear more tolerant or an American deference to religion and spiritual beliefs. As the late Christopher Hitchens said, "you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and truth in this country if you'll just get yourself called Reverend." Belief in therianthropy and Catholicism are seldom harmful in themselves, but they are not based on evidence and their uncritical acceptance gives the impression that such unsupported beliefs are acceptable. That has consequences. There are those who, against the evidence, promote alternative medicine, deny global warming or the need for gun control or question the safety of vaccines and genetically modified food. It is imperative that we base our beliefs on a foundation of evidence.

The Road goes ever on and on

At the beginning, I said Strike's book creates a more personal and compelling narrative of the furry fandom's origins than was previously available. That is true and that is the part where Furry Nation excels. Whether you are familiar with the origins of the fandom or not, you will still learn something from this book because it addresses everything from a new perspective; not just as a series of dates and events but as the story of various people trying to do what they love.

We don't only learn who did what but why they did it. And, sometimes, a bit about the other paths that might've been taken. Leaving aside my complaints about the American-focused nature of the book, the chapter on Anthrocon was one of my favourites. It was extremely interesting, and a bit sad, to learn about the drama that went on behind the scenes. That's stuff that I had no idea about and which we can still see happening in furry groups today. Instead of just learning that Anthrocon moved to Pittsburgh in 2006, we see how the city actually asked for the convention and the change in Kage's attitude about moving there. This personal aspect is the major strength of the book.

I do think the book is flawed in several areas but the core history of the fandom and the personal stories that are included are strong enough to make up for it. There may be better works on specific aspects of the fandom but Furry Nation is more comprehensive than any of the current works explaining the origins of the furry fandom. Furs will appreciate the personal stories that accompany the history while non-furs will gain a much better understanding of the furry fandom from a source immeasurably superior to hyperbolic mainstream news coverage.

In an ideal world, I would like to see an expanded second edition or a new volume which includes more space for the furry world outside of the American borders and which corrects a number of inaccuracies. Considering how much time and effort this book must've taken I doubt we will see something like that for quite a while. In the meantime, Furry Nation will exist as a milestone in the furry fandom and a clear sign of the fandom's massive growth from where it started as a group of people hanging out at science fiction conventions over 30 years ago.

Section title sources:

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

For another review of (actually, more of an introduction to) Furry Nation, here's the accompanying interview Joe gave for the December 2017 issue of Huck magazine, complete with fursuiter photographs:

http://www.huckmagazine.com/art-and-culture/furries-joe-strike-inside-world-of-f...

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

As a disclaimer, please do not do what Tag is doing in the photo in that above article, cooking in suit is a sure way to get some bad burns!

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Cooking? Heck, in one of Tilt Longtail's videos, he (in his Greifer guise) wields an oxyacetylene torch! o.O

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

Readers can find another review of Furry Nation by the Boozy Barrister (aka Boozy Badger) on his blog:
http://www.lawyersandliquor.com/2017/10/a-book-review-furry-nation-by-joe-strike/

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (7 votes)

The interesting thing about this review is that it sort of highlights the reviewer's preferences on what he would have censored for the sake of publication.

They critique that the book should have done more to highlight the minority that actually does engage in zoophilia (a harmful act to the animal in cases), but says it should have censored or berated those that have harmless spiritual beliefs using some strange outlier case as to why they should be shunned.

Also, I like how he sees America as a self-centered egotistical country (which to be fair it kind of is), but at the same time sees America as if it is somehow the bastion of the spirituality that the review author loathes. Ignoring that Catholicism is in Vatican City in Italy, and that America isn't the be all end all of "religious stupidity". There seems to be an implication that if the book been written anywhere other than America that it would have been more critical and questioning of those with religious beliefs.

My guess is that when I do get to the section, what I will find is that Joe Strike talks to several different furs of different beliefs in order to sort of get a variance of the different philosophies that furries actually hold. Instead of, you know, proselytizing to those furries that they're wrong and are going to the Charles Hitchen's version of hell, hollowed be his name.

If that is the case, I would ignore the critique of that section, Joe. It'd be the equivalent of a Christian furry ranting that you didn't hound that Muslim furry into accepting Jesus as their personal lord and savior. That is not the job of a non-fiction writer. It is to paint a picture of how things are, not of trying to manipulate them into how the author or reviewer wishes them to be.

My challenge, to the fandom at large, is that you shouldn't have to wait for an American Furry to cover you country's fandom history. It'd probably be better served if a furry from the country in question wrote about it. It'd be more genuine that way.

I believe Joe also said that his publisher had pushed him to Americanize it a bit to try and narrow the target audience.

Your rating: None Average: 2.4 (7 votes)

You seem to have misinterpreted quite a few things here. I hope it isn't one of those "live like lobsters" moments.

"They critique that the book should have done more to highlight the minority that actually does engage in zoophilia"

That's the opposite of what I said. I said that to properly deal with the complexities of the issue would take a lot more time and care than was given. And in fact I ended by saying that "it would have been better to leave it alone entirely."

"censored or berated those that have harmless spiritual beliefs using some strange outlier case as to why they should be shunned"

Again, not what I said. The "strange outlier case" was to demonstrate potential risks of unquestioned belief. However exorcism is not a strange outlier as I mention The Vatican is training more priests to do exorcism (presumably safer than that example but just as pointless) and says that "there are about 500,000 cases requiring exorcisms in Italy each year."

I actually followed that up by pointing out that the main risk from not questioning these beliefs is that it feeds the idea that believing without evidence is fine. Aside from spirituality that becomes an issue on all sorts of other issues; like Republicans ignoring the evidence on gun violence or people saying that vaccines aren't safe.

"It is to paint a picture of how things are, not of trying to manipulate them into how the author or reviewer wishes them to be."

That could be the case if one is being purely descriptive, however at many points in the book he already chooses to criticise some ideas and promote others. Since he does push certain views instead of acting as a neutral observer, I think it is fine to talk about what he promotes and/or questions and whether that was correct.

"I believe Joe also said that his publisher had pushed him to Americanize it a bit to try and narrow the target audience."

Like I said, there's nothing wrong with writing about the American side. What I find problematic is that his focus on the American side leaves a lot of questions open and leads to some false statements. Of course, aside from conventions and meets, furry exists primarily online and is not constricted to national boundaries. To look at furry from a specific countries point of view will necessarily lead to many things being missed and won't make sense when addressing the online world.

"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~

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (5 votes)

Considering the book's subtitle, as you pointed out, and really its main title too, I don't see how the book falls short of its goals to paint a portrait of what it is to be part of furry in America. If it's any comfort, the author has speculated on a sequel with a global focus (and title), which could also serve to correct errors. (http://www.flayrah.com/7218/pennsylvania-fur-lupinefox-found-not-guilty-child-ra...)

On the Religion topic, the purpose of that chapter is not about poking holes in anyone's spiritual beliefs. This isn't a book about what religion is or isn't, it's a book about what furry is and isn't. I read the book close to 6 months ago now, so maybe it warrants a re-read, but my interpretation then was that one of the main purposes of the chapter is to debunk the myth that furry and religion are mutually exclusive, and that any mention of the soul was just speculation or hypothetical and not spoken as fact.

As for the strange outlier case "to demonstrate potential risks of unquestioned belief," that is still a non-sequitur. You're implying that anyone who is not questioned for their personal beliefs is potentially a murderer and it is risky not to question those beliefs. Either that or you're trying to say that the reader could potentially become a murderer because the author didn't go out of his way to say that beliefs aren't facts (which I feel doesn't give readers enough credit for understanding the basic definition of "belief.") No, this is not a gateway to pro-gun and anti-vaccine rhetoric. No matter how I look at that paragraph, there's no justification for trying to connect people to some criminal on another continent because they happen to have spiritual beliefs - and not even necessarily the same beliefs! This is pure bigotry against religious people.

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

If he does do a sequel that would be awesome. The book is good but it feels like it's missing a lot. I saw somewhere that Fred Patten mentioned there is basically no mention of furry literature. Nothing really jumped to my mind that was missing in that sense but there is still so much that can be said.

I'm not sure there was a myth about furry and religion being exclusive to debunk... I agree that the chapter wasn't there to poke holes and I don't expect him to go on some anti-religion crusade (if you'll pardon the pun) but I do think that the disconnect between belief and reality there should be mentioned.

Anyone is a potential murderer. The specific example I mentioned was, as I said, an extreme case which is unlikely to recur. However, those sort of cases can only happen when such misguided beliefs are allowed to flourish. As I said, the Catholic Church itself says that exorcisms are a real thing. Without those beliefs, that death would not have occurred. In any case, I was condemning religious beliefs not religious people. People can change their beliefs.

"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~

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

You beat me to a review of it! I heaven't read your review yet - Do you want me to write up a review, post it in a reply to yours, then read your review and compare?

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

That could work. I didn't read any reviews before I had finished mine because I didn't want them to bias my own view.

"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~

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Dronon, I'd very much enjoy reading your review. I've been at one or two of your furry history convention presentations and I was awestruck at your familiarity with furry history...come to think of it, no, please *don't* review "Furry Nation;" you'll probably point out everything I got wrong ;-)

- Joe

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

Finally I've got time for an informal review! I had the chance to read Furry Nation about 7 weeks ago on my flights down to Texas Furry Fiesta, and just now I gave it a two-hour skim to refresh my memory. I've avoided reading anyone else's reviews (including the one above), and I haven't even followed the 40+ comments here, so any repetition of other people's opinions is purely coincidental.

First off, this book was a really smooth read. A very friendly, speaking-to-the-reader writing style, with a solid grasp of language and how to keep it entertaining. It felt very personal.

This book covers a huge amount of territory about furry fandom. Not just back to its earliest days in the 1970s and 1980s, it includes events as recent and timely as 2016-2017, right before the book got published. There are references made to all sorts of domains of knowledge - psychology, mythology, cartoons, mass media, religion, the history of the Internet and technology, science-fiction fandom, and... there's so much! This has the unintended side-effect that there's occasional jargon, which the author does his best to quickly describe whenever it comes up. There are a lot of bases being covered! Lots of research and a wide range of personal knowledge went into this.

Furry fandom is a difficult subject to tackle because it goes all over the place, and this book manages to squeeze in so much of that breadth; I was really impressed. From my perspective - I've been doing panels about the history of furry fandom at cons for several years. I give the audience a handout which tries to compress a crazy amount of information into five and a half pages. I think it does an adequate job of covering a challenging topic - and this book makes me feel like my handout is but the 10% of the iceberg that pokes over the surface of the sea.

A down-side to having a complex topic is trying to organize all that information into a readable structure. This is accomplished by the book's chapters being pretty self-contained, with occasional (and unavoidable) topical spill-over. Within the chapters, there are sometimes abrupt shifts. A lot of the book is devoted to interviews and describing the furry journey of many individual fans - and this can start very suddenly, in a new paragraph, with no preamble. This felt a bit jarring, but as I mentioned earlier, the smooth reading overall definitely made up for these occasional small jolts.

With some of the author's thoughts on a topic scattered between chapters - actually having met and spoken with the author, it's very much part his personality, and this book reflects that nature. Info about the old Vootie APA shows up on pages 76-81, then 200-201. Chapter two ends on a minor cliffhanger, which chapter three never addresses nor resolves; the dangling thread is only mentioned again in a small footnote a hundred pages later. What this book could really use is an index. My deepest sympathies would go out to the person tasked with making the index, but the end result would be one of the most gloriously weird-looking indexes ever.

This book is stuffed full of informative talks with people from all walks of the fandom, from founding greymuzzles to young, recent fans alike, from people who make and sell stuff, to people who are simply fans. I wish the fursuit chapter had had more pictures of fursuits. There are maybe three people interviewed which made my brain go "Aw man, you talked to them?" which I think says a lot towards the author's lack of bias and willingness to talk to as many people as possible, as well as a sad admission that I wouldn't have been so objective in his place. (And no, I won't say who.) The interviews focus mainly on North American furries, though without a Californian bias as often happens when discussing the fandom's history.

The book does bring up the fandom's adult side. It's professional and honest about it. Nothing explicit, detailed nor upsetting, and it's acknowledged in a very tasteful way, most of it in two small chapters towards the end of the book. There are wink-wink-nod-grins to the adult side throughout the book, particularly in the opening chapter which does a great job of pointing out all the ways that modern mainstream society uses animals symbolically. This random hinting of it is very much in tune with furry fandom itself. Anyone from the outside the fandom, casually browsing through our fandom, will randomly encounter it without much warning. But the topic doesn't dominate the book nor distract from it. There's a much larger picture being painted, and this is simply one of the happy trees dotting the landscape.

If there's a recurring theme to this book, it's a lack of shame and celebrating his fandom. Not in the sense of "something you might not like, I don't care, and I'm going to shove it in your face". This book is far more positive. It's "Ok, my hobby is weird, and it's a fun kind of weird, and let me show you all the different ways it's made us fans happy and how we express ourselves". I think the front cover really encapsulates this forthright attitude. The author himself gets incredibly personal on two occasions, approaching too-much-information territory but never quite breaking that barrier. How his fursona was developed and his first time in fursuit, and he discusses trying out a mild kink, which leads to a cathartic experience and helping him to diet and lose weight. The author wants his discussion of the fandom to be honest with his readers, and I think that honesty really carries over the entirety of the book.

Joe, you're worried about things you got wrong?! Only two things bugged me, and one of them is just semantics. When you mention the prehistoric lion-man carving, you say it was made from a mammoth tooth. I would've used the word tusk - and yes, technically, a tusk is a specialized tooth - but I have a background in archaeology, and if you do an online image search for "mammoth tooth" you'll see why it doesn't quite lend itself to as good a mental image as "mammoth tusk". Anyway. The only significant error I noticed was on page 180, where you say FurryMuck eventually joined the two furry Usenet discussion groups - in fact, FurryMuck and alt.fan.furry both emerged more or less simultaneously in the early 1990s and were joined by alt.lifestyle furry later. (Earlier in the book you describe a.l.f.'s origin, it's just your placement of FurryMuck is off.)

In fact, I picked up a bunch of details from your book that were new to me! The insulting panel comment at BayCon (which did have a kind of point buried in its nastiness, similar to Blumrich's "What exactly is yer problem, Eric?" comic years later, about doing more with the concept). The table subletting at PhilCon. The growing staff revolt within CFE - I attended CFE2 and none of it showed, but I do remember that ass being kicked off of AAC's staff later. The discussion of fursuit pre-mades. Your Zootopia PR slip. And mentioning Furio! I met him once when we were stuck in the reg line at FurFright 2011, and said hi to him a couple times at Anthrocon the following year. I had no idea you two had become a thing!

If you're a teenager trying to figure out how to explain furry fandom to your parents, actually I wouldn't start with this book. I'd explain it your own way, keeping it simple, and have them come with you to a furry convention if that's possible. Once they're comfortable with the concept, if their worldview isn't too conservative and if they're in an "Ok, I want to learn more about this thing" mood, then I'd give them this book. It's a bit too deep of a dive for beginners with a lot of information to digest at once, and the historical focus especially in the first half of the book doesn't convey what the modern fandom has evolved into, which is what you'd want your parents to grasp and anchor themselves to.

That aside, I really liked this book! Particularly I'd recommend it to:
- Any furry fan who's interested in some of the fandom's origins and development, or if you'd like a book that celebrates furriness, it should give you a positive pick-me-up about your fandom.
- Anyone outside the fandom who's interested in reading about quirky subcultures.
- Any media person who's got the time to do some preliminary research and is willing to read attentively, not skim.
- Anyone in science-fiction or fantasy fandoms to see how we relate to fandom culture in general, you'll understand how much we have in common.

Joe - Great work!

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

(After reading other reviews) Can't say I agree with all of Rakuen's points, like regarding the fandom's adult side. For a book aimed at an outside audience, well yeah that's going to be downplayed, and most kinks left undescribed in detail. Heck, the one the author tries out isn't well-known to most people to begin with. The wink-wink-nod-grins thing I mentioned that pops up all over - Boozy Badger's review of the book managed to articulate it very well.

As to things left out, I noticed the North American focus. I'd really like to hear more regional histories of fandoms from other countries, but that's not something easy for this author to do. (Japan, Russia, Australia, etc.) Fred Patten's review mentions skipping over the literary angle. Computer and tabletop gaming culture is skipped too, but it's obvious from the author's comments here and elsewhere that a lot had to be chopped out due to space constraints and editing deadlines! Yeah, too bad about the paperback thing for library copies, it wouldn't survive well on the shelves. Not sure about its paper quality. At least there's also an ebook.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

Just completely ignoring your review (other than to say seems fair; and also to say to Rakuen your review is also well done, aforementioned personal quibbles aside) and, actually, finally having gone on a very weird journey since last I ran across that Blumrich comic, all I can say is I'd actually already seen all that stuff using anthropomorphic animals in fairly mainstream animation/comics and even, you know, children's literature; drawing them naked was and still is way more challenging and interesting then we sometimes give credit for.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I can completely understand your point! For me, it's more a reflection of when I got into the fandom in the early 90s, I didn't have much access to furry content except artwork, and there was a lot of cheesecake. There were furry writers but I didn't know how to find their material. At the time, instead of character poses, I was hoping for things with more narrative complexity, which I sometimes got out of reading the stories that appeared in the Yarf! fanzine. There was a period when I felt very frustrated about it. At the same time, there was a selfish element - like the fandom should automatically deliver preferred content to me, not understanding in my younger days that how fandoms work is that if there's not enough of what you want, you have to get off your duff and do it yourself (or pay someone to make it), and I wasn't doing that.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Other than immediately panicking when I read "Aw man, you talked to them?" and losing several minutes trying to pick out the failures in myself, only to realize 'oh right, no I know who he's talking about I think, nevermind', this was a good review of the book.

I loved it(Totally unbiased opinion- I know), I'm a super picky reader, and Joe's got a really wonderful writing style. It usually takes me a few days to finish a book of this length, but both due to the content being of interest, and his writing style(But.. mostly, I think, his writing style), I tore through the whole thing in maybe two sittings.

It's great to learn more about the history of the fandom, and being able to translate what boils down to an oral history- to now having it on paper for all to digest.

Can't suggest buying the book enough!

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Rakuen, I very much appreciate your review and the points you raise. (In fact, a lot of the reviews and comments FN has received have been so enthusiastically thumbs-up I've actually been looking forward to some more critical looks at the book!)

First off, the lack of a global perspective wasn't so much a deliberate exclusion as much as a lack of time to investigate Furry world-wide in enough depth to do it justice (I had a January 1 2017 deadline to submit my manuscript which I barely made) and space. (My manuscript was way overlength; I had to leave out a good deal of already-written material including a chapter on Pony I'm really proud of.)

The American focus was due as much to the fact Furry was (as Bruce Springsteen sang) "Born in the USA" and its primary readership would be here. The best I could do this time around was a one-sentence reference to furry conventions springing up around the world. (Rakuen, thanx much for pointing out that near 50/50 Eurofurence suiter/non-suiter split; wish I'd known!)

As for the sex, yes, I definitely and deliberately downplayed that aspect of the fandom; if I went too far in doing so it was to counteract the "Furry=kinky sex fetish" stereotype. You might have noticed the "voice" I wrote in was one explaining Furry to non-furs; I mistakenly assumed the furry audience would be secondary to fur-curious mainstream readers, and it looks like I was completely wrong in that assumption - but I didn't want to reinforce/validate the mainstream world's stereotyped view of Furry. ("You see, it's just like that MTV special said!")

When it comes to furs identifying themselves as zoophiles I have to point out a basic fact about Furry: there's no governing body or "membership" requirements; anyone who wants to call themselves a fur, can - even a zoophile. IMHO (and that's all I can offer here, is my opinion) - Furry=anthropomorphic, and there is *nothing* anthropomorphic about using a real-life animal, in real life, for sexual gratification.

One point I feel obligated to take issue with your review is where you say "Belief in therianthropy and Catholicism are seldom harmful in themselves but they are not based on evidence and their uncritical acceptance gives the impression that such unsupported beliefs are acceptable."

Rakuen, how do *prove* a spiritual belief, *any* spiritual belief? According to dictionary.com, belief is "confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof." Can you *prove* God exists, or that someone is "wrong" in their belief they possess an animal soul, or even that someone who feels they were mistakenly born the wrong gender strongly enough to surgically transform themself is "wrong"? I tried in that chapter to respect those peoples' beliefs and not challenge them and I don't believe I was wrong in doing so. (Due to a cluttered Email in-box I overlooked a response from a woman who oversees an online therian support group; I so much would've liked to include her perspective in that chapter and hopefully I'll someday remedy that oversight.)

As I mentioned above, I have enough already-written material to serve as the basis of a sequel, which I very much hope to interest my publisher Cleis or another company to release. For one thing it would correct as many errors in FN as possible and it would *definitely* cover Furry around the world, how it spread from the US to become a global phenomenon.* (I'm sure there've been furry gatherings in every continent save Antarctica by now, and I'm probably wrong about Antarctica...and if nothing else, it would give me an excuse to attend Eurofurence and a few other far-flung furry conventions.) Its title would of course be "Furry Planet."

***
*I'd also include mainstream anthropomorphism in art galleries, serious literature, stage plays, fashion etc even architecture and things like cat-eared headphones. (And it would *definitely* explore the sexual aspects of Furry in greater detail; in fact I'm planning to title that chapter "The Naughtier Bits.")

- Joe

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It definitely deserves a thumbs up. There is a lot of good information, including a lot of stuff that I'd not heard about even on some topics I was reasonably familiar with.

I have to be fair; you can't possibly know what happens at every convention. But you did a lot of research which is why this America focussed thing is so frustrating. I suppose the problem could've been solved also by having a couple people from outside the US check through the book. I've never published a book so I don't know if you have reviewers that help fact check before final publication or not. They probably could've caught things. Eurofurence is also the longest-running furry convention since those old US ones have all shut down. Just for some background, here's an awesome video that was done for 20 years of Eurofurence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nli5aU3xhb0

I agree furry =/= zoophilia. However there is an overlap in people and to claim that zoophilia is completely taboo in the furry fandom is just wrong. It's controversial and only supported by a minority but that minority is fairly large.

I'm not saying you have to prove any specific belief system. What I would like pointed out is the absence of evidence for it. Like if somebody wrote a piece about a man who said he had a fire-breathing dragon as a pet, you would hope it was not only written as though that were true.

I would definitely be interested if you did a sequel. I did mostly enjoy it. There were parts which I think were not great but there were also many excellent parts. As someone who has never fursuited, I really enjoyed reading about others' experiences doing it. I'd much rather people learn about the fandom from your book than most media coverage.

"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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Thanx much for the kind words; as I said before, I very much appreciated reading a critical take on "Furry Nation." I hope I'll have a chance to write that sequel - and I hope other furs will write their own histories of the fandom and their own experiences being a fur, both here in the US and abroad.

- Joe

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You're criticizing that he didn't take time in the book to point out that there's no evidence supporting Catholic theology?

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Man, I'm as anti-theist as they come and even I wouldn't go that far.

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It sounds silly when you say it like that.

But, no. It is problematic if one presents unsupported beliefs like that with no mention of all the problems in those beliefs. People might read that and think that those beliefs are fine without realising there is nothing supporting them.

It's the same when a recent article in The Guardian was gushing on about astrology without ever pointing out that the whole thing is complete baloney. It motivated at least once scientist to write an article about that article (and there was more casual mocking on Twitter).
https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2018/mar/14/why-astrology-is-...

There's things that article says about astrology which apply just as much the religious beliefs described in Furry Nation.

"It absolves responsibility, it reassuringly (for some) suggests control and organisation by a “higher power”, it can take decisions out of your hands, it even provides social connections with like-minded types, which is particularly important for a young, still-developing brain. Similar arguments can be used for the enduring nature of conspiracy theories."

The simple fact is, we shouldn't be encouraging people to ignore the truth and the weight of evidence is our best guide to the truth.

"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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Ultimately we have to decide whether it's better to be considerate of other people's beliefs and traditions, or to be right.
I know which side I'm on!

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I wonder if this is one of those things that does the whole "But don't worry, it's just 4% of the fandom" lie, as if those furries don't seem to be important for the fandom and then act like only the "clean" side should be accepted. Sorry if I come out as rude, but I'm just curious if this is that, and since recently I posted a comment somewhere else about it.

I'm just sick the whole feeling like an outcast thing, and since I thought this crap was over and since it never even mattered if the whole fandom was into sexual parts or not.

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I can assure you people care less about what you're wanking to than you care about them caring about what you're wanking to.

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Hmm not so sure, but there are cases where some things like fursuit sex, and I was talking about that. There were some articles talking about that rather than the whole furry sexual art thing.

There was also one about "plushophilia" and according to a Wikifur page with main text coming from 2006 I think, it was so controversial, but many furries were fine with erotic stuff, and a few other things. Some even said they don't want those people to be part of the fandom (WTF) even though it's hypocritical. I'm not sure if today is different though.

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Rakuen Growlithe, you did not understand the book, you took an opposite approach to what it intended.

The chapter "The Spirit Is Willing, but the Flesh Is Furry" was actually my favorite one. It makes the book the more special. The book isn't meant to be a recollection of objective data. We have countless sources for that already, Wikifur, Fred Patten articles & books, sources on YouTube and The Prancing Skiltaire guys, and many other sources on the internet.

Joe Strike began with the idea of making the objective sort of book you'd seem to like, but publishers specifically inquired about the personal twist. Where's the personality. The essence. The 'Spirit'.

There is an etymologically more interesting meaning to the word 'spirit' that gets lost in translation when Americans speak about spiritual matters (because of the narrowing view of Christian tradition). Spirit is Anima. It is livelihood, drive, essence, it's what motivates you. The WHY. Why are you doing this, what is it that makes you do what you do. Is there a transcendent view to all this? To the art, to the culture. You can choose not to have such a view, but some do have it. You don't need to be religious either, or to be a therian. All that's required is to have, or search for, a meaningful abstract purpose relating to animality.

You haven't understood the point of the book because you see this as opposing objectivity, when it's not opposed to it. Joe doesn't lie in that chapter. He's describing beliefs, and experiences, acknowledging they're subjective. It is objectively true those beliefs and experiences happen. Whether you think they're delusional or mistaken is beyond the point. Their mere existence and notable part of animal anthropomorphism to some members warrants talking about it, in a moderately integral book about furry.

I'd argue the other objections you have but I think you didn't read the book with the proper mindset, so it's moot. You shouldn't read a somewhat personal book and complain it's not an accurate text book. You acknowledge it's a personal book, but then you hate the most personal chapter for being personal.

On another note, you can find my review of the book at http://www.furryfandom.es/

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I disagree. I praised the addition of the personal as one of the major strengths of the book as compared to other histories of the fandom. In fact, the exact quote is "This personal aspect is the major strength of the book."

The truth of the matter is that the faith chapter is hardly the most personal chapter. It just is one of the personal chapters. And while you can talk about reading spirit as motivation or drive, that is not how it was used in that chapter.

You also bring up a false dichotomy. There is no need to trade off personal stories against accuracy. Personal stories can be accurate and in most cases they are. I did not hate a personal chapter for being personal, I disliked the chapter for an unquestioning acceptance of beliefs with no evidence to support them and that go against our scientific knowledge of how the world works.

"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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The chapter in question essentially boils down to a reporter reporting that some people are religious; I don't know why you find this obvious fact such an affront to your belief system. I don't find it an affront to mine that some of those religions practiced aren't the same as mine.

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It's not about that some people are religious, it's that it never questions that at all. That failure to put it in context and to not present an accurate view of what is generally considered correct is the problem. Surely you would be upset if someone wrote about climate change denial or white supremacy or vaccine scepticism without ever saying it was 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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Okay, the problem is that "religion is wrong" isn't your argument; or at least not in a "wrong=factually incorrect" sense. Your argument is that "religion is wrong" in a "wrong=harmful" sense, and that's where you're running into static. I don't think you're going to find a lot of people agreeing with your position that "religion is always actively harmful".

Furthermore, even if your position was the default, this book is not the time nor place to discuss it; it's a fucking puff piece designed to ingratiate non-furries and blowjob the egos of furries. The author randomly putting on his fedora to offer an off-topic ramble about how some furries are actively cultivating automatically harmful belief systems doesn't exactly help that goal, now does it?

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It's an interesting question: would society be better-served if we disabused people of their religious or spiritual beliefs, hence freeing up resources; or would it be outweighed by people being selfish, on the grounds that there are no consequences in the next life? My bet is on the former, but it's definitely open for debate.

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Less religious societies are better off, that isn't up for debate. That certainly tells us that religion is not needed for a good society. Although I think there was evidence that the better society came first and religion was more of a defence against a cruel world. When your society became better and there was less fear and uncertainty then people no longer needed religion as a sort of defence system.

"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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Less religious societies are better off

Citation needed, please.

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Religion is negatively correlated with happiness: https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/screen-shot-2018-03-20-at...

Religion is negatively correlated with prosperity (GDP): https://whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/world-of-faith1.jpg

"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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Your best supporting evidence is an obviously biased site? Come on Rakuen!

You are giving atheists a bad name!

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The site is just a convenient location where I know to find those. But your charge that it's an obviously biased site is a bit strange since that doesn't address any of the data. The one figure came from the New York Times based on results from a Gallup Poll and the CIA World Factbook. The other one is at least partially based off data from the United Nations.

What sort of data would you find admissible then? We already now the UN, New York Times, Gallup and CIA are all out as sources.

"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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Correlation does not equal causation.

You seem to be indicating that religion is what is causing the unhappiness or the low GDP.

Where as it can easily, so easily, be argued that it is the opposite.

1) A government with less GDP will have less to spend on education, with less to spend on education they tend to have to outsource education. To which foreign religious groups will gladly filling that void and using their wealth to "exploit" them, but hey they're getting an education I suppose so at least SOMEONE is "exploiting" them. If atheists are worried about poor countries religiosity they should be forming organization to provide educational services to poor countries so that the religious aren't operating in a vacuum.

Hey, maybe learning 2+2 doesn't have to come with the teaching that Jesus died on the addition sign between the twos. But that is up to propping up a-religious organizations who do the same type of advocacy for impoverished nation advocacy that religious organization do. And that, you know, takes effort instead of stumping on an internet forum.

2) The happiness one has a basically .5 correlation in the negative direction. That number thingy below the title.

So it in essence doesn't really mean anything. A correlation of 1 means there absolutely is, a correlation of 0 means there absolutely isn't. So to me, that makes a .5 as close to the "there may or may not be" as you can possibly get. At least from what I can gain from that number's meaning, I didn't take statistics in college.

Some of the biggest exceptions on these is Brazil and China. And if you look at the GLBT rights in those countries, you'll also note that religion and anti-gay sentiment isn't always 1 to 1 either.

In the words of China: If the State is a God, then God wants you to procreate! But no more than 2 please! (If only there was a natural way that people could have sex and not procreate...)

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"You seem to be indicating that religion is what is causing the unhappiness or the low GDP."

You might want to read my reply to Greenreaper just one comment higher where I said that it was probably the other way around. I am well aware of the difference between correlation and causation.

A correlation of 0.5 is not a bad correlation given all the other complexities that influence society.

"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 if we put on our thinking caps, we might be able to discover a reason why such places as Palestine, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa might have lower rates of happiness than Israel, the United States, and Canada.

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I think your position on the direction of causation is sound, but representing a -0.56 Pearson correlation coefficient as "there may or may not be" is a bit misleading. It's more about the variance of that correlation - i.e. is X always correlated with Y by a consistent amount - regardless of that amount. (or: "Do the points fit a straight line, regardless of its angle?")

What I think you're getting at is refuted by the grey area, showing uncertainty. We don't know the level of significance; 5% is common, though it could also be 10%. But at that level, even in the most optimistic case, going from 0 to 100% religiosity averages out to more than a 0.5 drop in happiness; and with the same data, it could be over 2. The best-fit line shows a ~1.5 drop, from ~6.5 to ~5. This is pretty big considering that difference between the most to least happy countries is only 3.5.

My reading of that graph is that religiosity isn't necessary for happiness (which shoots a hole in those "hole in the heart" arguments); and that, for whatever reason, more religious countries tend to be significantly less happy, to a relatively large extent. Of the 14% of countries which achieved a 7 or higher happiness rating, none were above 60% religiosity, even though this group had almost half of the countries sampled.

The graph shows clear exceptions - Brazil is relatively religious, but happy; Bulgaria is irreligious, but unhappy. But they are exceptions, and merely indicate that happiness isn't solely correlated with religiosity. Which makes perfect sense - Brazil has a lot of things going for it, despite its problems; Eastern Europe has many issues.

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Right, but the sample set of happiness per capita is clearly not represented, right? I mean China has billions of people, is irreligious, but is unhappy. So if all people are equal and not all counties are equal then statistically more people are irreligious and unhappy.

The problem is that countries have these things called "governments" which probably affect their happiness far more than what the church on the corner is doing. Unless the government, is you know, working with the church on the corner to try and use them to bully the more secular populous. Which doesn't help in gaining accurate statistics on how much the riligousity of said countries actually are.

As far as the Peason correlation thing, as I noted, I'm not a statistictian so my claim of it being in the "middle" can be inaccurate as some scales are exponential in factors, and .5 isn't really a "middle"

One thing I tried to do with the two charts and see if there was a correlation with Happiness and GDP. Unfortunately it seemed that China was missing from chart, but it does seem there is some correlation as some of those found in the high GDP were in the high happiness section as well.

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To be honest, I think the China data point is a misleading outlier, because:

I suspect if you exchanged "religion" for "mystical supernatural beliefs not subject to proof" and there were no consequences for answering honestly, you'd find China trending closer to the centre; perhaps even to the right. It's a special case due to its history and government, so I'd discount its significance.

In any case, if the goal is to compare the happiness of societies (which is what Rakuen has claimed), how many people are in each society is technically irrelevant. It's like saying "are furries significantly happier than non-furries" – the answer doesn't rely on how many furries there are, as long as the sample is of a sufficient size to reach a conclusion at the given level of significance.

Of course, one could argue that no country is one society with one level of religiosity or happiness, any more than furries have a common level of happiness. But you have to draw a line somewhere, and countries are one convenient way to do so – especially if they have a state religion, as many do.

I agree that a country's GDP is likely to correlate to happiness, although higher discretionary income might correlate even better. (China has some areas which are prosperous, but many which are not.)

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AKA invert my criticism on so called "religious" countries where the government is encouraging to the point of enforcement "religiosity" and invert it for China. Your argument just sort of enforced my case which was that for countries, the way the government treats its citizens are more influential on happiness (and even "religiosity") to pull any other correlation from the results.

Lets take the example you presented on happiness in furs v non-furs.

When you think of the sample set of this, what would you think if suddenly I started measuring how "Furry" each country is then put it on a chart correlating with happiness. You would say, well now we're adding another variable and grouping percentage of furriness by country instead of treating furries the same no matter where they live.

Likewise carving the happiness of religious individuals by blocking them off into the governments in which they live, muddies the waters as there are governmental variables to take into account that have little to do with religion (but as noted can affect perceived religiosity), and more to do with the whims of the powerful and the checks and balances upon them.

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Here's the issue: where religiosity is high, it's often unified with the government. Either religion becomes an instrument of the state, or you end up effectively living in a theocracy - either de facto or de jure.

My impression is that while many people may be religious in Brazil, that religion is increasingly less unified, hence less able to exert power over people's lives.

Conversely, while China has no religion beyond Chinese Socialism, aspects of personal life are strictly governed; those failing to meet societal expectations are subject to harsh punishments.

So religiosity per se may not lead to unhappiness – rather, it tends to lead to a deficit in personal freedoms, i.e. "controlling people's lives" via the rule of law, which does.

That's just my take, though. And it's getting a little off-topic!

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Would society be better served if we disabused people of their beliefs on gender and pronouns, hence freeing up resources and time; or would it be outweighed by people being selfish, on the grounds that there are no consequences for them if they believe they are being 'honest' ?

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I say it's wrong in both senses. Factually wrong is reason enough that it should be commented on. That it's also harmful just increases the urgency. Even the non-harmful beliefs can inspire harm because actions based on them will 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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Well, I mean, I don't want to get banned again, so I'll be less snarky about it, but I think my best argument is that, in the book at least, an argument about the harm and/or value of religion is way beside the point of Furry Nation, at best, and possibly harmful to the points the author is actually trying to make about furry, at worst.

It seems more of a journalistic thing we're arguing, really. I mean, obviously we disagree on the value of religion in modern society, but a lot of the pushback you're getting here is at least partially that you're complaining the author is being fair and impartial and free of editorializing in his coverage of religious beliefs in the furry fandom; the fact that you're also calling for your specific viewpoint to be the one pushed doesn't make it look any better (it's not like you hide your views on religion, after all).

It's, well, it's free speech, Rakuen. The reporter reports their speech and then we the readers get to decide if the speaker's full of crap or not. But we can't decide that if the reporter is constantly butting in with his own crap.

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I agree with the source of disagreement but not with your characterisation. To me, it is not fair and impartial or free of editorialising (with an "s"). You say it is fair and impartial because it just shows the subject's views without distortion (at least as far as we know). But, as I've said, I'm more concerned with what is factually right and that means a discussion of a topic should represent it fairly as well as with the necessary context to understand it. I don't see it as fair or impartial to present only that one side when it is clearly a minority position. As I see it, that chapter was very biased in favour of various forms of religion and spirituality.

Perhaps the best outside example concerns climate change debates. They are usually presented as one person who believes in climate change and one who doesn't. This is the "fair and impartial" treatment of journalists. The problem is, when you have 99% of climate scientists in agreement, that sort of 1 v. 1 is a very biased distortion of the "debate."

"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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Well, that's your argument that "most" people actively think religion and spirituality are harmful, which I think you're a bit overconfident how many are actually on your side (or even fucking care, really, for that matter). The guy's reporting trivia and you're comparing him to climate change deniers.

Do the other chapters go out of the way to rebut the people interviewed? I mean, actual question, if he's interjecting all through the sex chapter, I mean, interjecting in the spirituality chapter wouldn't be as bad. But even then, the guy's trying to put furries in the the most positive light. Bitching and grousing about media coverage or hemming and hawing about sex would help that position; taking potshots at his interview subjects to say they have irrationally dangerous thought patterns doesn't exactly help the thesis "furries = good".

I guess you're missing that the chapter is biased; it's biased for furries, not religion. If anything, the unquestioned assumption here is not religion is good, it is that furries are good (and, by extension, their religious and spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof).

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Feeling an inner animal sprouting out and guiding your decisions is nothing like denying climate change. "I'm a wolf and I howl at the moon" is not a social & political concern for worldwide population. You could, instead, join in with the howling, if only for the entertainment value.

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We've moved away from harm here, we're talking about the factual support. The question of harm was a secondary one. Even if the beliefs led to wonderful outcomes, if they are not grounded in reality then they should be questioned and discarded. The main question, which also works as a reply to Mike Retriever, is whether or not those beliefs are supported by evidence. They are not and the vast majority of scientists would not agree with the statements they put forward.

The other chapters, for the most part, neither attempt to rebut things nor need to. Most of the other chapters are about the history of the fandom, personal experiences, preferences and that sort of thing. There is nothing to rebut there because that does not make any factual claim about the nature of reality. And, where there are aspects that I think do not accurately reflect reality, I criticised them as well. For example, I criticise how in the chapter he claims Anthrocon had the highest ratio of fursuits because that is just not true.

Whether whatever was said is good or bad is irrelevant to the question of whether it is true and the latter is the far more important question.

"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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Okay, first of all, like you seem to get "right as in morally correct" with "right as in factually correct" mixed up sometimes, you're confusing "facts" and "truths".

It boils down to the basic premise of the chapter is answering the question "Do some furries have spiritual/religious beliefs?" Answer: Yes. Now, here's some fucking examples of furries with spiritual/religious beliefs.

That's the fact being expressed; that there are furries with spiritual/religious beliefs. Nobody actually gives a shit about the "truth" of those beliefs besides the believers, and certainly nobody actually gives a shit about the "facts" of those beliefs, because that misses the whole point of "belief" to begin with.

This is what I mean when I say you're complaining about "trivia", which is another word for fact. For instance, The Shape of Water won the Best Picture Oscar earlier this month (fact); now, we can debate if it deserved it or not, or why it won (truths), but if my purpose is to answer the question "What won the Best Picture Oscar for 2017?", I had better fucking answer that question with The Shape of Fucking Water. Furthermore, even if I didn't think the The Shape of Water deserved it, if my general point is "Aren't the Oscars fucking great?", maybe I should shut my trap and keep my opinions to myself.

Whether or not something is "true" or not is an important question, but it's also a really hard question to answer, especially when you're already busy arguing a different and completely unrelated "truth" (furries; they don't suck).

And from a completely practical standpoint, writing a rebuttal to your interview subject explaining how he's a big dummy for having his very personal views he opened up to you about is not exactly a great way to get people lining up for interviews in the Furry World sequel.

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"The Spirit Is Willing, but the Flesh Is Furry" is the most personal chapter because the author explains in detail his personal transformation as an alligator.

"From that weekend on I stopped consuming the junk food and sweets that for years had been a source of comfort for me. [...] I instinctively created a shamanistic transformation ritual that had connected me to primal energy [...] it did physically transform me." (page 222)

This chapter is waay more intimate than "The Naughty Bits". Is more literary succulent. Is more anthropomorphically animal than sexual intercourse talk.

The analitical rebuttal of the phrase "I created a shamanistic transformation ritual that had connected me to primal energy" is as out of place as arguing for scientific accuracy in a Looney Tunes cartoon.

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Why is out of place? The phrase "primal energy" doesn't even make sense! Whether it's personal or not is irrelevant to the question of whether it is true. And we should all be striving to have true beliefs.

"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, I'm an atheist. I'm militantly anti-theistic.

and all i keep thinking when i read your comments is "man, is he giving us a bad name. maybe the people who believe in that stuff are right."

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About the author

Rakuen Growlitheread storiescontact (login required)

a student and Growlithe from South Africa/Austria, interested in science, writing, pokemon and gaming

I'm a South African fur, born and raised in Cape Town, but currently living in Vienna, Austria for work and studies. I'm interested in science, writing, gaming, all sorts of furry stuff, Pokemon and some naughtier things too! I've dabbled in art before but mostly like writing although I haven't done very many stories recently but more non-fiction on Flayrah. I also helped found and administer the ZA Fur forum.