Canadian National Defense Spent $14,000 on Superpower Survey

Canadian National Defense Spent $14,000 on Superpower Survey

Canadian defense researchers asked 150 people if superheroes can fly, walk through walls, and hear sounds from several miles away.

Given the immense popularity of superhero movies, most of us are pretty familiar with superpowers and the characters who wield them. That said, many haven't quite grasped these concepts - I even know people who can't enjoy The Avengers because the Helicarrier pushed too many logical boundaries. Perhaps that's why Canadian National Defense researchers crafted a poll on superpowers, asking the public if heroes can fly, jump over skyscrapers, and see through walls. The questions sound trivial, but asking 150 participants cost taxpayers $13,750, all so scientists can gauge public understanding of religious and supernatural concepts.

"This work will not only allow cultural scientists to better understand the spread of non-natural and religious concepts," the study reads, "but also allow the Canadian Armed Forces ... to design messages that are more memorable for their target audiences." The study states that Canadian armed forces currently have "no modeling or analytic capability to understand how its actions will impact the psychological meaning space of individuals", and examining what the public expects from godlike heroes can fill that gap.

The study covered three separate experiments, each probing public expectations of "supernatural categories that are so prevalent in popular culture and religion." Participants were asked to rate their acceptance of various philosophical statements, such as "All mental beings can perceive the world through their sensors". According to the answers, the public is fairly comfortable with superpowers like flight, but invisibility and walking through walls are still hard for people to swallow.

The study's authors hope this information can help "win the hearts and minds" of local populations during overseas deployments. That's not entirely unreasonable; superheroes are internationally recognizable figures that can easily create common ground between cultures. Still, you'd think one wouldn't need $14,000 dollars to discover that Superman is better known than a secondary X-Men character.

Source: CTV News

Permalink

Makes me curious. America loves Batman and Superman. Does Canada root especially for Wolverine and Deadpool?

FalloutJack:
Makes me curious. America loves Batman and Superman. Does Canada root especially for Wolverine and Deadpool?

Puck, we root for Puck. We have the best super heros.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puck_(comics)

To be honest it doesn't shock me that this kind of research is being done, similar things have been going on for many, many, years in various countries and get mentioned periodically in terms of both government waste, and conspiracy theories. The way this survey sounds, like it's a bit "off" being written by people who don't understand the concept of super heroes, makes me think of the conspiracy theories and how this information might be being gathered for other purposes.

Simply put there are tons of conspiracy theories about government research into aliens, the supernatural and paranormal, and various kinds of fringe science. People both look to the programs that were famously shut down due to lack of results, and also classified documents and various groups and projects that seemed like they might be looking into things covertly but were prevented from saying anything. Throw in the occasional whistleblower, the fact that the government and various private groups with varying degrees of government backing (at least in terms of help with the laws) has sealed off entire areas without any apparent reason that will be disclosed (places which frequently have weird backrounds), and you can see how this kind of thing has an enduring presence. Not to mention the fact that the law pretty much specifies the existence of the supernatural or at least "weird stuff" given that it's required at least in some states that a realtor disclose the history of a house and any record of it or the land it's on or near being haunted or the site of weird phenomena. You can actually take legal action if stuff happens in your house you can't explain, you find evidence of a "history" and the realtor never told you.

Super heroes simply seems to be a way of sort of covering general surveys about what people think about psychic phenomena, aliens, or whatever. I vaguely remember one survey once (which I have also been reminded of when taking certain psyche tests) asking what abilities one ascribed to religious leaders, along the lines that "do you believe a priest/nun can heal by praying?" and "do you believe god will sometimes act when invoked through prayer" and of course this leads into the opposite questions about events caused from the other side of the equasion (ie religious evil).

Strictly speaking a question about "what abilities does a super hero have" makes me think almost like the government is considering human augementation and what kinds of powers would be viewed benevolently by the public if bestowed on say soldiers or law enforcement one way or another, rather than a literal, direct, question. After all anyone who is familiar enough to recognize the term "Super Hero" probably realizes a super hero can have pretty much anything as a power... including some rather dumb things leading to the old joke of "before calling yourself a super hero, ask yourself this question 'is your super power better than having a gun?'" :)

A lot of pointless rambling, but the thing is that the US/Canada and other first world countries seem to have been up to this kind of thing for decades now. I suppose it's noteworthy for the super-hero angle, but I'd imagine if you were to manage to get disclosure and find a list of "odd things the government spent money collecting data on" this probably wouldn't even be in the top 10.

I can just picture Harper now...

"We can't have our people doing real science... it's scary and wrong and against the church and the money the Oil Sands are giving me... but we're also no longer a peacekeeping military, we've moved on to combat roles... so we need to know what the kids think is cool now so we can recruit more soldiers and throw some more cannon fodder out there. ... FOR SCIENCE (or whatever I decide passes for Science in Harperstan)!"

$13,750?

Is that it? If that survey was conducted in the UK, the cost would of been over the 3,000,000 mark! With about 3,000 being spent on the actual survey. Canada, I salute you and your money saving in this time of austerity :3

FalloutJack:
Makes me curious. America loves Batman and Superman. Does Canada root especially for Wolverine and Deadpool?

Well, to be honest it seems countries tend to mostly appreciate their own domestically created comic characters, rather than ones created elsewhere but associated with their culture. The USA is pretty much an exception in how easily it embraces the pop culture of other nations, with say Anime/Manga becoming far more popular and accepted in the US than the general run of comics and cartoons produced in the US have been in Japan and Korea.

The exception seems to be some very long running characters like Superman and Batman who have global audiences, leading to the awkward situation where they had Superman renounce US Citizenship at one point and stop being about "Truth, Justice, and The American Way". A few years ago I remember reading something about how recognized certain symbols and icons were, and the "S" symbol of Superman was recognized almost universally including among people who you'd have to wonder how they could possibly have heard of it (being isolated/protected tribals) with most people being able to tell you the basics of what Superman's powers were, his love interest was Lois Lane, and main enemy was Lex Luthor, as well as how he could be defeated by Kryptonite. Batman was very close, but the symbol was better recognized than details about the IP itself (for example less people could tell you Batman was Bruce Wayne, or recognize any version of Robin). The scary thing is that for all the people making fun of the US and it's educational system, more people in a general sense apparently recognized "Superman" by symbol than recognized the flag or coat of arms/seal of their own country. The point here being that a few super heroes have arguably become global successes to the point of at least being recognized.

Apparently, in say the UK long running things like the 2000AD properties (which include a lot more than Judge Dredd) are better received and more well known than say US based British super heroes like say "Captain Britan" or "Psylocke (his sister).

When it comes to Canada, pop culture is very incestuous between it and the US, but for the most part from Canadian comic readers I've noticed snarky responses about the US having all the good heroes. Sort of like the reference to "Puck" above. A few years ago I remember a pretty big tirade over how of all the heroes Marvel needed to turn into it's gay poster child it picked Northstar, who is a Canadian super hero, and also one of the only real straight speedster characters to have a consistent presence in Marvel.

I'll also say that contrary to the hype Wolverine is *not* Canadian, not really. He was associated with Canada largely because he was used by the Canadian government as a weapon and brainwashed there, as well as apparently having worked with Canadian intelligence during "World War II" at least briefly, as revealed in a flashback when he visited Majripoor (covering a meeting/team up between Logan and Cap during World War II in that region). His backround has changed substantially over the years and his whole thought programming lets it be changed at a whim, but the last I remember Wolverine was actually shown having fought during The American Revolution against the British at one point, meaning he was apparently alive before there was either a US or Canada. His actual place of birth is probably somewhere in Europe. Citizenship for Wolverine is mostly wherever he's downing his beer at the moment, and whatever paperwork he bothers to carry. Given that Wolverine mostly lives and operates in the USA unless he's hiding in the woods to get away from people, it seems his "I'm Canadian Bub" thing is mostly just a technicality he plays to PO bureaucrats, truthfully I don't think Wolverine has much patriotism for any nation when you get down to it, I mean the dude seems to have spent a lot of time wanting to have as little to do with Canada as possible to avoid being re-drafted into Alpha Flight.

canada doesn't need super heroes, everyone knows that the RCMP can already do all of those super heroic feats.

wooty:
$13,750?

Is that it? If that survey was conducted in the UK, the cost would of been over the 3,000,000 mark! With about 3,000 being spent on the actual survey. Canada, I salute you and your money saving in this time of austerity :3

You know, I'd say you were exaggerating a little, but being a limey myself, to be honest, it isn't too far past the mark >.>

wooty:
$13,750?

Is that it? If that survey was conducted in the UK, the cost would of been over the 3,000,000 mark! With about 3,000 being spent on the actual survey. Canada, I salute you and your money saving in this time of austerity :3

I know you're joking (or at least half joking), but this was my first thought too. 14k isn't exactly a lot for a research study. Granted this was a questionaire, but compared to studies in some other fields this is really just pennies.

wooty:
$13,750?

Is that it? If that survey was conducted in the UK, the cost would of been over the 3,000,000 mark! With about 3,000 being spent on the actual survey. Canada, I salute you and your money saving in this time of austerity :3

We have a lot less people you know and people here are still going to moan about this being a waste of money! =P

Perspective is everything.

You make some interesting points, but uhhh...one question.

Therumancer:
...US based British super heroes like say "Captain Britan" or "Psylocke (his sister)....

Isn't Psylocke's brother a bad guy?

Glad my tax dollars are being put to good use. ___

Sheesh, if Kitty Pryde's secondary, I'd hate to see what Morph is.

I guess this is kinda cool? Not entirely sure I understand the point, but what I took away from this is that people only like boring powers.

But what I wanna know is, was Snowflame part of this survey?

The man powered by cocaine!

Best, superpower, EVER!

FalloutJack:
You make some interesting points, but uhhh...one question.

Therumancer:
...US based British super heroes like say "Captain Britan" or "Psylocke (his sister)....

Isn't Psylocke's brother a bad guy?

One of her brothers is her twin brother is this guy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Britain

Quite the opposite of "bad guy" when you get down to it.

She however has ANOTHER brother who is a usually a bad guy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamie_Braddock

Here is her Wikipedia page

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psylocke

I remember a few things differently than recorded there, but it's pretty accurate for the most part, and I confess I haven't followed comics quite like I used to and hardly have an eidetic memory.

Or to save you some time, Psylocke (Betsy Braddock) originally started out as a supporting character for Captain Britain, but was later altered greatly into the current psionic ninja people mostly know in a truly mind twisting series of events involving transdimensional aliens and a couple of different groups of Asian bad guys. She's mostly run around in connection with the X-titles since.

This does not bother me whatsoever as a Canadian. As long as the big decisions are put through correctly. Like last week when the Supreme Court essentially legalized prostitution. Finally.

So they spend tax payer's money to better indoctrinate them?

Canada has a weird way of spending money. For example.
image
This large silver ball sculpture is just sitting here along the whitemud freeway in Edmonton. Not even in some big public place or something, not in the heart of the city, just somewhere along one of the freeways. They costed over half a million dollars. Look at this. Look at it. Money.

Since when was Kitty Pryde a secondary X-man, what you got against Shadowcat! WHAT SHE EVER DO TO YOU ESCAPIST!

"What a waste of $14,000" is all I can think right now. Not only is this a stupid question to ask in the first place, but they only questioned 150 people? Does it really cost $90 to give some random person a questionnaire and ask them to fill it out?

Aeshi:
"What a waste of $14,000" is all I can think right now. Not only is this a stupid question to ask in the first place, but they only questioned 150 people? Does it really cost $90 to give some random person a questionnaire and ask them to fill it out?

Possibly? If it includes food, transport, legal documents written by a lawyer, paper, ink and compiling the info, yeah I could see it being expensive.

Still kinda stupid though.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here