Friday, November 18, 2016

Why I'm not participating in Hugin's Heathen Hof's new survey (and why you shouldn't, either)

So the people behind Hugin's Heathen Hof have launched what they're calling "A Global Heathen Demographic Survey," and they're asking a wide range of questions about participants' beliefs and practices.

Now, I don't have an issue with this sort of survey in general, and I think that, if properly done, it could be quite a valuable thing. But there are several structural problems with this particular survey that give me pause. In particular, it suffers from two problems; partisanship and selection bias.

First and foremost, I think there is a huge credibility issue when it comes to fair treatment for folkish Heathens. Hugin's Heathen Hof has come out quite unabashedly, and nearly hysterically, against folkish Asatru in general, and against the largest Asatru organization in the U.S., the Asatru Folk Assembly, in particular. First and foremost, they were the instigators of the moronic "Declaration 127" (although I can't imagine what other 126 things they've felt compelled to declare):
We will not promote, associate, or do business with the AFA as an organization so long as they maintain these discriminatory policies.
The AFA’s views do not represent our communities. We hereby declare that we do not condone hatred or discrimination carried out in the name of our religion, and will no longer associate with those who do. We will not grant the tacit approval of silence in the name of frið, to those who would use our traditions to justify prejudice on the basis of race, nationality, orientation, or gender identity.
So right there, they pretty much disqualify themselves as neutral actors right off the bat. Given that level of sputtering stridency, they cannot be assumed to be capable of treating AFA members fairly or equally, nor the folkish position in general. There's a reason that political polls conducted by partisan pollsters are clearly labeled as such on Real Clear Politics.

How would they know? Simple. They ask as part of the survey:
If you are a member of a legally recognized organization what is that organization's name?
And, of course, keeping such information to oneself in an effort to hide from the inherent biases of the survey-takers sort of ruins the point of doing a survey in the first place. And if not, they have other ways of sussing out the mean fascists in their midst:
Who, do you believe, can practice Heathenry?
What criteria does your community or organization use for determining if a prospective member can join or practice with your group or community? Why? How is this decision made?
Are there any noticable [sic] differences between how men and women are viewed and treated in your community? What are they and how is this justified?
Justified? Why the fuck do they have to "justify" anything to you? "That's the way we do things" is sufficient justification. The questions continue:
How are Heathens who are part of an ethnic minority treated in your community?
Are there members in your community who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or asexual? How are they viewed and treated in your community?
Are there members in your community who identify as transgender, genderqueer, or other gender identities? How are they viewed and treated in your community?
It reads like a laundry list of SJW hot-button issues, and specifically about the problems they so vocally have with the AFA in particular. Nothing that really speaks to the real divisions or interesting questions within contemporary Heathenry; where are the questions about animal sacrifice? Or Loki-worship? Or the use of magic? Modernism vs. Reconstructionism? Ritual garb or street clothes?

You know, the things that real Heathens, who aren't obsessed with race and sexuality, discuss.

This isn't an honest attempt to gain insight into the Heathen community. It's an attempt to identify heretics against HHH's SJW agenda. Conveniently aided by the fact that, by using G+ to fill out their form, your Google identity is automatically captured.

Oh, but don't worry. You can check a box so they won't use your real identity (they'll still capture it though). Nothing to worry about here.

The second big issue is the problem of selection bias. That means that, given the audience of Hugin's Heathen Hof, which as mentioned skews almost completely to the left-wing/universalist wing of Heathenry, it should come as no surprise that the responses they get will be overwhelmingly from that end of the spectrum.

And naturally, they'll trumpet the results of their survey, saying that they "prove" that the overwhelming majority of "all Heathens" just so happens to agree with them on issues of inclusion, gender, and sexuality. Go figure. No matter that those results will be completely contradicted by real-world data, such as relative membership numbers between uni and folkish Heathen organizations.

I have other, less important issues with their survey instrument, too, which was obviously written by someone with no experience in the polling field (I was manager of election polling for the largest polling company in the country for several years, so I know whereof I speak). At the very least, beyond the subject-specific questions I mentioned above, they should ask a spectrum of standard demographic questions; race, gender, age, income level, and even political inclination. At least they thought to include things that feed into their own biases; "sexuality," education level, and marital status.

On the whole, this is a pretty worthless project, obviously intended to simply feed HHH's own biases, and justify presenting an image of what they want Heathenry to be, not what it really is. There absolutely could be a worthwhile survey of this type, but it would need to be done by a completely independent and neutral body (good luck), or a collection of real organizations representing a variety of points of view, to get a truly representative sample. Hel, I'll volunteer to help write it.

But this? If you're folkish, avoid it like the plague. Unless you think Hugin's Heathen Hof is going to treat you fair and square. Otherwise, this is just an exercise in justifying their own prejudices.  


  1. Reads like sock puppet time for taking this and skewing results.

  2. Joe, considering your experience in this area why not create a more inclusive polling. I know i would be very interested in the results of some sort of decent polling data.

  3. I'm a universalist but also a free speech absolutist - for me this was nothing but an authoritarian dictat from what I've come to call The Snowflake Politburo, reflective of the sort of censorious crap we're seeing on campuses all over the western world now. Many of our universities are now little more than indoctrination centres as opposed to schools of truth deduction, and this ideology is now spilling over into Heathenry with people/organisations being boycotted, deplatformed, shouted down etc for no good reason other than that they're expressing a view which doesn't fit the snowflake ideology. Happily I think a lot of folks will get sick of this nonsense before too long - I certainly won't have anyone telling me who I can and can't associate with anyway! These people would have fit in well on a soviet committee!