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the creative empiricist

art, music, science, and herbal medicine - without drinking the kool-aid

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SurveyFail 09
Quaint, categories, prejudice, Torchwood
Many other people have done this better than I, and I shall direct them to you forthwith. But first, my own interpretation of what has occurred:

Recently, two researchers named Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam sent a survey out on the waves of the interwebs, specifically the Livejournals. And lo, it did provoke a shitstorm.

Ogas and Gaddam produced their survey in order to – god knows, because their hypothesis is never actually stated – but in any case, it was geared towards the readers and writers of slash fanfiction… who, by the by, they seem to believe are only ever a) straight; b) female; and c) achingly stupid.

The thorniest, nastiest WTF is the phrasing of many of the questions as well as that of their answers to concerned fen.

First of all, many questions appear to be slanted towards the generation of a particular response. Not only are some of these questions phrased leadingly, but some are either triggery or outright offensive. If you have any triggers, I highly recommend you skip this next paragraph entirely…

One of the questions blatantly asks the viewer if she has had any fantasies about being raped. One asks what her SAT scores were. Another, how many times I’ve been drunk or doped up while reading fanfiction. (Eh, what?!) There were more than a few that I literally couldn’t have responded to because the doctors were so clueless that none of their suggested answers applied, such as the one clearly geared towards fantasy roleplay.

innocentsmith says it better than I could:

“I'm baffled by this one: 31. What specific fan fiction story would you most like to live out as one of its characters? (If possible, please provide the name of the story, fandom, and author.)

”Aside from the hell no, creepizoid issue of naming the author, etc., I can't help answering, uh, none? Because the vast majority of the fanfic I read is not geared towards me showing up as a sparkly self-insert or a secondary character (who'd probably up being a redshirt of some kind), and I have no particular desire to feature as one of the main characters because I enjoy them as being different from me?....

”But in general, do they think all fic is Mary Suetastic self-inserts, or completely devoid of plot and conflict, or what?”

Then there was this gem: do I feel I practiced a) more boy-activities; b) more girl-activities or c) about an equal amount when I was a child? Wait: perhaps I need a list of acceptable activities for girls before I can answer that question. Also: when is the first time I felt guilty about a sexual feeling? How does 'never'' work for you? Oh, wait, that's not an option - these two men assume that ALL women have felt guilty about sex at some time or another. Variously, the two doctors referred to the transgendered as ‘trannies’ and ‘she-males’. And that really is just the beginning. Christ on a cracker, people, was this a drinking game? Take a gulp whenever you casually squish another subculture?

After all of this, they have the gall to go on to claim that they are not doing ‘social research’, but neurological. Let us make this clear from the get-go: they claim to be able to make neuroscience-based predictions… based on an internet survey.

Okay, so there’s another big WTF of this general WTFery. Neural imaging was directly referenced. But unless there’s some very interesting, new, and frankly scary technology out there that, say, remotely scans my brain via internet, it’s impossible to find out what might be going on in my brain chemically if I check ‘yes’ to the question, ‘have you ever read slash fiction’? Perhaps they should look up 'the social sciences' – along with the word ‘transsexual’, which they misuse:

Well, slash is kind of the female equivalent of the straight male interest in transsexuals.” Whoooaaa nelly. Let’s skip straight past the place where he meant transgendered and where the general statement of straight men being interested in the transgendered is ridiculously faulty on so many levels, and go to the heart of the illogic. You mean two men together isn’t hot to women like two women together is hot to men? Which, by the by, is seen as totally normal. Y’know, when it’s the menfolk doing the fantasizing.

Wait, that comparison would make too much sense. And sense has clearly left the building.

These men understood our closely-knit community so little that they could not possibly understand the shitstorm they had unleashed upon themselves. Within days, fen were calling Boston University to inquire about these two 'professionals' – who turned out to be, oh wait, not affiliated with the university. Boston has since taken their pages down post-haste.  As well as being activists, more than a few of us are scientists … and so provided to fandom a primer on phrenology and neuroscience (with the overall premise that Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam are phrenologists), or a narration on psychology and the little we know of it, and a few created helpful synopses or attempted to surf the rising wave of said shitstorm.

And in the course of that the survey has disappeared while the two neuroscientists, with their degrees from a Crackerjack box “digest all this great feedback”. So, yeah.

Of course, the two men clearly have no concept of the use of copious screenshots. God, I love fandom.

I’ve noted before that, unlike Facebook or Myspace or Yahoo, Livejournal appears to be made up primarily of scientists and artists, authors and theorists. It’s hard to say where else I’ve come across a community of such bright, impassioned, creative people. And it is hard to see them injured, but it’s sort of Gondor-Calls-for-Aid to see them band together to fight back, especially against what looks like unconscious yet pervasive bigotry.

You go, my people. You go.


P.S. - Myself and several others have that creepy feeling that means that this may well be Just Another Social Experiment.  However, if so, it is a distinctly elaborate one...

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(Deleted comment)
Miss you too! We had writing club and I was like, where are all my peoples? Luckily, we've got six members already, and it grew over time last year...

I agree that the purpose of LJ appears to be to share writing; so it makes sense you'd find a greater concentration of intellectuals there. But it's not like you can't put pictures up, the way you can on myspace. I think that the slant of LJ seems to have been created by the fen themselves, over time... writers told other writers. :)


(Deleted comment)
LOL, awesome! :) I will bring the tea.

D'you know, Herself is still participating in Writing Club via IM?


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It would help. Herself feels as though she's a little out of the loop. We tried video conferencing to begin with, but the school didn't like the site... and of course I get why, and agree that they should block it. Just wasn't thinking about it in scary contexts.


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We - Herself, myself, and kombinant, will all be at the festival on our town's side... around 7:30ish to watch the fireworks. By the huge house with all the windows. If you get this you should stop by.

I'll try and bring some tea and hippie things. :)


Writing club? I am interested, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Seriously...I've been trying to get my writing (yes, fanfic) back up...and it'd be great to have a close circle to post to before throwing it up on the big archive sites. Help?

Re: ....writing club?

Sure thing... but you would have to start really basic, the new year has just begun. :)


As much as, in ways, I appreciate and love the scientific lifestyle....some scientists are utter dicks. And yet THESE guys piss me off even more from the sound of it, because they're only one of two things: pranksters (decently well read pranksters, but pranksters, nonetheless) who target fanfic writers (as if we don't get ENOUGH shit thrown our way...), or crazy with the smarts to make their ideas sound semi-plausible. Either way, they need to be eliminated. I'll have a B-1 drop the bombs when you get me their position. ;)

By the by.....I saw that you know TVTropes. Shame...I was gonna gush at you that you were KNOWN, and cite that they consider Akane and Happily Married must-read fanfics. You're famous, Kiri. :D

It's always such a weird feeling when I come across someone else mentioning my name in the fandom. Hopefully you'll understand when I say my writing is like cult classics - with a hardcore handful of devoted followers, and not really all that well-known in the rest of fandom. So it doesn't happen often enough for me to be all blase about it.

When I found TVTropes, I wandered around there for *ages* - you know how that site is, you can get lost in it - and then I stumbled across references to myself.

It was very odd and also really nice. I write classics in an obscure fandom! Go me! ;)

P.S. - email me and we shall discuss writing club more.


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