Midwest Furfest 2018 Straw Poll
This is not science. I counted people’s hands in a video, rapidly, without double checking. The population sample was not randomized and changed throughout the polling. I did not re-ask questions after clarifying. None of this should be taken at face value as factual. Furscience.com does an okay job with demography. Ask them if you have real questions about furs. I’m here to yell at 30 people in a room and pass out napkins.
Every once in a while, I decide to host a panel at a fur convention just to shake up the basic attendee routine for myself. This year I submitted four panels to the Midwest Furfest programming team. This is the one panel they accepted, passing on an African Wild Dog meetup (unforgivable), a discussion of amorphous sexual identity (slightly more forgivable), and an ersatz talk show on furry political drama (submitted mostly to see where they draw the line). It was tempting to just mash those other topics into one power hour but, as a self-respecting pseudoscientist, I instead performed the task proposed. Here are the results.
20 to 30 people found their way to the bottom floor of the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, walked through a door marked “Tech Center”, hung a right past a water cooler, then sat down in one of four stair-stepped rows of mesh back chairs. I didn’t check ID’s, so it’s entirely possible none of them were here for the convention but instead arrived in this room by random chance. 5 minutes past the hour, I instructed those present that this was the Straw Poll panel: that I would make statements and then raise my hand, at which time they would decide whether to raise their own hands in agreement. For example:
"This is the Straw Poll Panel."
Each participant was also greeted with an unmarked Paw Patrol napkin. As a method of free response, I asked them to please write or draw something on it with the provided Sharpies. These are the results.
Two goats: one lovingly rendered in profile, the other spelled out with descriptive adjectives (“GAY”, “Trans”). Combined with a small horse what appears to be a llama-class creature to my eye, this is a grand total of 4 ungulates. As with last time, a lot of gay self-identification as well as one entreaty to be gay. I was once again accused of looking like Owen Wilson. One person appears to have written their full actual name on the napkin, though this could be a head fake. I see only one “““mature””” drawing in the bunch: a relatively tamely proportioned sheath with “Sheathes 4 Lyfe” written next to it. Whether this is a lifelong passion for the writer or a characteristic of sheathes themselves is unclear. Two people drew ASCII emoji’s (“OwO” and “¯\_(ツ)_/¯ “), a direct breach of the internet/real-life barrier that spells doom for us all. One fish. Significant amounts of overlayering on the Paw Patrol graphics: black eyes, two cat faces, an eyepatch, a pig snout, a spinoff series called Mow Patrol. This kind of additive creativity pervades our now meme-governed culture. More will be added here as new patterns emerge.
"This is my first fur convention."
"I identify as a brony."
Everyone was asked to turn to the person next to them and perform a fist bump. Several styles were observed:
The Bread Loaf scale
In the interest of expanding the purview of science, the Machination Log implemented an experimental bread loaf scale for certain items. Participants were asked to raise their hand when the number of slices raised corresponded to their level of identification. The operational variable in this case was Brownberry Premium Italian.
7 of 27 participants claim to have experienced a phantom limb. 2 claimed to feel 3 or more; both believe this has improved their lives.
"If someone put a standard serving of the following in my hand, I would consume it."
"I would be ____ if I could."
"I have seen Zootopia X times."
"I have high-fived someone so hard it hurt."
"I spent more on being a furry this year than..."
"I would consider myself a connoisseur of furry..."
7 out of 26 consider themselves to be “on the spectrum”.
9 out of 26, after a lot of drawn out “ehhhhhhh”s considered themselves to be sexual deviants (the term was deliberately not defined).
16 out of 26 like to pet people who are dressed up like animals.
19 out of 26 like to be pet by people who are dressed up like animals.
"I have or had an account on the following platform."
"I have or had an account on the following platform." (part 2)
The farthest flung attendee in the room was from Los Angeles. The closest were two people who both drove 40 minutes to get to the hotel; they didn’t claim to know each other.
12 out of 28 “Pokemon Go’d to the polls in 2018”.
"I attend fur conventions..."
"I have seen or paid good money for a depiction of someone physically eating my entire body, and been pleased by this visual despite having literally billions of years of evolutionary training warning me against that exact scenario."
"I have physically held the following objects."
"I have typed the following into a text window and sent to another person in the past week."
Who knows you are a furry?
The participant with the coolest pet in the room had a sugar glider. They also had a variety of other animals including guinea pigs and hamsters.
15 out of 26 have considered moving to a reclusive commune consisting entirely of furries or other kindred folk.
It took 11 out of 26 longer to get their badge than it did to commute to the con itself. In case you weren’t there, this picture of one half of the registration line should help explain the query:
Average naps per day
For this section, we have an audio clip documenting audience enthusiasm for a variety of subjects. They include Kirby, Incineroar, bagels, representative democracy, Spanish nationalism, curling, the live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop on Netflix, Neon Genesis Evangelion on Netflix, Jib Kodi, dogs, cats, bread, ears, tails, haunches, snoots, paws, and maws. Feedback for this section is subjective, so we recommend auditors take a listen and come to their own conclusions. (If I find my drawings of paws and maws and such I’ll post them here; not sure where they wandered off to).
So, what did we learn? What practical lesson can we take away from the science?
Consumption-based trends in the fur community don’t last very long. Bronies were absolutely a thing in 2015 and not one walked in the room this time. We are a self-determining style of folk.
Fist bumps have a serious diversity crisis, with most participants not even bothering to “spice it up” with an exit strategy. The data recommends a 6-month re-education boot camp on the subject for all Americans.
Bread is a more contentious and confusing grading scale than anticipated, despite audience enthusiasm for the substance itself.
For a community that isn’t directly about being gay, furs remain—on balance—pretty gay.
Brown liquor was the most popular alcohol by a slim margin. Twice as many people would consume decaf coffee as dirt, despite those being the same thing.
Twice as many people prefer the bottom half of their fursona to the top half. This will require some additional exploration in a future installment.
Everyone is bad at high fives sometimes.
Furry art and furry pornography are not seen as overlapping magisteria and more people considered themselves well-versed in the latter than the former.
Paws are better than maws. We already knew this to be true going in, but replicability is important.
Naps are great and no one takes enough of them.
Until next year, or whenever.