Civic Responsibility We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
It’s hard to see how this blog violates this principle in any way. We value civil society here, not a single political party or monoculture. We’re not organizing any events and we’re certainly not breaking any local, state, Federal or international laws.
“I hope you’re ostracized [for having different views to me]” and “GTFO” do not seem to fit the idea of “Radical Inclusion”. Are heterosexual white males no longer welcome at Burning Man?
Unfortunately for Cynthia, Burning Man is still predominantly white, male, and heterosexual.
The most recent Census data from 2019 shows that Burning Man is still 76% white and 1% black; 56% male and 42% female, and 66% heterosexual:
It seems not much has changed demographically since Larry Harvey’s infamous 2015 statement that “black folks don’t like to camp”:
“Steve in Real Life”, who moved from the Bay Area to Reno in 1992, started out strong. Burning Man indeed has a proud history of assholery.
Unfortunately Steve got twiggered by a couple of retweets and decided to throw all the Principles of Burning Man out the window, insult us then block us while joining the call for this blog to be de-platformed:
Summer Burkes then chose to weigh in. She seems to have forgotten her previous work celebrating the gun-toting, Second Amendment loving cowboy history of Burning Man.
Here’s Summer in 2014, misspelling the name of the man she’s glorifying:
Fight Club is a book written in 1996 and then turned into a movie released 15 years ago this fall (we won’t provide any spoilers if we can help it). Author Chuck Pahlaniuk confirmed at several book-release events last year the “Project Mayhem” group in Fight Club’s story is indeed the Cacophony Society in real life … a wackier bunch of people, without the men-only Iron John subplot or all the property destruction and violence. (Well, serious violence, anyway.)
Mere minutes before that tweet Summer had quite the potty mouth:
Her plan now is complete de-platforming of any voice she doesn’t agree with. No Radical Self-Expression, Radical Inclusion, Gifting, or Communal Effort for Summer! Will she be successful, or is there still a First Amendment in the Default World?
How does Summer reconcile her cult-like “literal worship” of Larry Harvey with his statements that Burning Man is the poster child for old-fashioned, Main Street Republicanism?
Or what about Larry’s friendship with Republican strategist Grover Norquist, who on Burn Night proudly wore his Russian military uniform (allegedly obtained from shadowy ops arming the Taliban in Afghanistan)?
I have long advocated here that politics and Burning Man don’t mix, but it seems the Org has a different view, inviting Denis Kucinich to give the Keynote address at the 2015 Global Leadership summit:
2015 was a big year for politics invading the Playa:
We’ll let the late Larry Harvey have the last word:
Can’t we all just get along? I thought that was the entire point of Burning Man.
There’s something strange in our neighborhood. The Black Rock City Census has morphed beyond a mildly useful planning tool, into a full-scale weapon of social engineering.
The big question is, WHY?
This week I went on the UnSpun show to discuss some of the High Weirdness of this year’s Census.
The Census dates back to the land of Babylon, home of the tower of Babel. The first one we know about was conducted by Nimrod.
The census is older than the Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations, dating back to the Babylonians in 4000 BC who used a census as an essential guide to how much food they needed to find for each member of the population. Evidence suggests that they noted census records on clay tiles – an example is held by the British Museum….
The Romans conducted censuses every five years, calling upon every man and his family to return to his place of birth to be counted in order to keep track of the population. Historians believe that it was started by the Roman king Servius Tullius in the 6th century BC, when the number of arms-bearing citizens was counted at 80,000. The census played a crucial role in the administration of the peoples of an expanding Roman Empire, and was used to determine taxes. It provided a register of citizens and their property from which their duties and privileges could be listed.
IN Babylon in about 3800BC a team of men headed out to tally up the numbers of men, women, children, livestock, slaves, butter, milk, honey and vegetables in the kingdom. The primary reason was to figure out how much food was needed to feed the population, but the figures also gave an idea of how many men were available for military service and how much they could be taxed without starving them.
Maximization of taxation. Well, the Burning Man Census has always asked “how much money do you make” – and ticket prices have gone up accordingly. The decision to split ticket prices into “pay more if you can afford it” and “Early Bird discount” tiers was made after the first Black Rock City Census, in 2001. The prices have been steadily climbing ever since.
As Burning Man grew, so did the questions in the Census (here’s the 2015 results, 32 pages). At first, it was the usual stuff – where do you live, how much do you make. Later questions seemed strange given Burning Man’s principle of Radical Inclusion: are you religious, are you LGBT – what difference does that make? Surely if you can be accepted without prejudice anywhere, it’s Burning Man. Why bother asking? It’s 2016, we’re well into the 21st century, do people even care about this stuff any more?
Well, people at BMorg certainly seem to. Things have been taken to a new level this year, and it is obvious that the so-called “Census” is not being used to gather information to make the party better for Burners.
This year’s Census takes 30-45 minutes to complete. It is mostly multi-choice answers, but with “conditional” choices – if you choose some options, then hidden questions are revealed to you. For example, if you say you live in Canada, a box pops up asking for your Zip Code. If you say you are eligible to vote in the US, you get a string of questions about which elections you voted in and what your party is.
Straight away, this makes the data in this sample completely different from any paper Census done on-Playa. Why not just ask all Burners the same simple questions? Surely that would give more useful information?
The main Census is being conducted by Dr Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost, Playa name “Hunter”. He is a Professor of Sexology at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) – about as far from Black Rock City as you can get and still be on the North American continent. One section has additional questions from the “Burning Geeks”. When you get to the end, it asks you if you would like to help the Burning Geeks out further. If you say YES, you are taken to another survey, this one conducted by Oxford University, Maid Marian’s alma mater.
Scientists on the other side of the world are also studying Burners. For what purpose?
The questions themselves give an indication that this is not at all about a Live Entertainment event, a week long arts festival, or even an experimental city. This is about Social Engineering and psychological profiling.
The surveys claim to be anonymous, but you should be aware that they at least have your IP address. If you have ever posted anything at EPlaya or the BJ, created a Burner Profile, or sent an email to the Org (perhaps to sign up for Jack Rabbit Speaks) this information could be used to identify you. They may also be able to get your email address, computer name or phone number from browser cookies. The Oxford survey specifically asks for your email address at the end, and although it says “the information you provide is completely confidential” there is no actual definition of what that means, or who the information gets shared with. It appears to be people from multiple Universities around the world who have signed their confidentiality agreement.
I’m not going to go through all the questions of both Censuses, a 90-minute odyssey. I will just highlight a few questions that we will specifically talk about here, for non-profit educational purposes.
Take the Census here – you can see all the questions without submitting it.
[Update 10/2/16 6:21pm] In the interests of readibility, I have moved the question analysis to the end of the post]
What is Being Collected?
The way these questions are worded and the use of terms either entirely made up, or used by a mere fraction of society, seems designed to skew the Census results. Those who can be bothered going all the way through to the end, writing at length about what The Principles mean to them, become the new demographic face of Burning Man.
If they are not gathering useful information that accurately represents the population, then what, exactly, are They gathering? And for whom?
We should assume that the data includes an IP address. Even if the Quebec and Oxford surveys are not specifically linked with a cookie or token, this information is enough to connect the two submissions. From the IP address they can find out where you are, sometimes with frightening accuracy. Anyone who gets this data – which surely must include BMorg – knows this:
your email address
the initials of 20 of your friends
how close you are to those friends
your annual income
how many people in your household, and their income
Although I am not an expert on statistics, I have read a book or two about history. I feel confident saying that there has never been any Census in the last 6000+ years that has gathered such information on its citizens.
How does Black Rock City get better if I am a Two-Spirit Genderqueer who hides my feelings when I’m hostile? Shouldn’t Radical Inclusion mean these things are irrelevant to someone’s participation? This so-called Census makes it seem that these, and having a “transformational experience” that alters your personality, are in fact very important at Burning Man. If they’re not important to you, don’t go.
Who Gets This Information?
I think it would be safe to assume that in addition to the two main Universities, the Burning Man Project gets the data from these two quizzes. In fact, the fine print to the official (Quebec) Census says the Burning Man Project uses this data in planning the event and interacting with authorities from the Federal government and the State of Nevada. The data is individually numbered and coded, shared with “research assistants and collaborators” who have signed a confidentiality agreement, and kept indefinitely.
Despite the workshop commentary, there were no questions about sexual risk in the 2016 Census.
So does anyone in the Burning Nerds get to see the raw data? Or are there only a certain few? Who decides? What about the Org? Can the IT people access the databases? Larry Harvey? Bear Kittay? What about students at the California Institute for Integral Studies doing the 3-unit course “Art and Survival: Radical Creation at Burning Man” – are they part of the Burning Nerds?
Note the distortion in the presentation of this data: “I did not have a transformational experience” is not even shown on this chart.
The BJ post accompanying this chart revealed the identity of just some of the players behind this:
Molly Crockett is an Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford studying the psychology and neurobiology of altruism and morality. Find out more at her lab website.
S. Megan Heller (playa name: Countess) is a psychological anthropologist studying adult play and transformation at Burning Man, and particularly the role of play in healthy adult development and mental well being. She is a researcher working at the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society. Find out more at her website.
Kateri McRae (playa name: Variance) is an affective scientist who is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Denver. She studies emotion regulation and other emotion cognition interactions using self-report, psychophysiology and functional neuroimaging. Find out more at her lab website.
Daniel Yudkin is a doctoral candidate in Social Psychology at New York University and a jazz musician. He is fascinated by all topics related to human behavior, including how people compare themselves to others, explore new spaces, and make moral decisions. Find out more at his website.
Annayah Prosser is the Lab Manager for the Crockett Lab at the University of Oxford, and a third year undergraduate student studying Psychology at the University of Bath.
Alek Chakroff is an experimental psychologist studying moral judgment and behavior using methods from social psychology, behavioral economics, and cognitive neuroscience. See more at his research website.
UCLA, Oxford, Bath, NYU, UNC Chapel Hill, Notre Dame and the Universities of Denver and Quebec might seem like quite a few groups around the world with a keen interest in Burners. Our 2012 story on the Burning Nerds adds Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Essex, Florida, Victoria, and Royal Roads to the list of Universities behind the Black Rock Census.
And this is just a fraction of the academic studies related to Burning Man:
We have been going down this path for a while. In 2013, “Psypost” brought us a story about how the University of Denver studied 16,227 Burners over 4 years:
I think the most striking thing that this study demonstrates is that emotion regulation can change due to sociocultural context far more quickly than previously reported,” Kateri McRae of the University of Denver, the lead author, told PsyPost. “Most previous research focuses on culture as defined by long-standing shared values and norms (and compare groups like those living on mainland China to those living in the U.S.), and the fact that we see similar changes when people attend an event for a week is very cool.”
“To me, that indicates that how we regulate our emotions in accordance with social norms is a very dynamic process. Another way to think about it is that ‘culture’ might be something that is much more local and changeable than we previously thought…
So the paradox of Burning Man is that people are more open, less inhibited when expressing their emotions, but also more thoughtful in terms of reframing, reconsidering or reevaluating their emotions (which is what reappraisal entails).
Hello! Earth to Academics! THESE PEOPLE ARE ON DRUGS. If you do not disclose or even consider that then your study is completely worthless scientifically.
“All these young people took Molly at a rave. Then they reported feeling more positive, with a heightened sense of emotion. Therefore, that was caused by the rave”
And speaking of Molly…meet Dr Molly Crockett, who received a grant from the Templeton Foundation to study Burning Man.
Would love to see what this gal looks like in her Playawear – if she’s even a Burner, that is. This is not just some Oxford undergraduate working on a quirky thesis, she has a whole lab named after her and a team of assistants.
Follow The Money
One of the maxims in shadow history research is “follow the money”. So who’s paying for all this? And how much?
The project is associated with The Experience Project (the-experience-project.org), a $4.8 million, three-year initiative at the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The project explores the nature and philosophical implications of lived experiences that transform our epistemic perspectives. Here is a decsription of the proposed research:
Can people become more generous, cooperative and kind through transformative experiences? If so, how can people pursue and achieve these experiences? This research will study in detail a natural setting commonly associated with prosocial transformation: the Burning Man festival. The project will combine qualitative and quantitative approaches to examine the psychological mechanisms of prosocial transformations, how individuals’ expectations for transformation influence prosocial outcomes, and how people decide whether to pursue prosocial transformation. Finally, the new research will investigate what situational features are sufficient for inducing transformative prosocial experiences. Past research on prosociality suggests three key factors that may contribute to prosocial transformation: a moneyless economy; prosocial goals; and a festive atmosphere. The research team will perform a comparative analysis of events that share some, but not all, features of Burning Man, to isolate those that contribute most to transformative prosocial experiences. In doing so, this work will provide practical advice for those who desire prosocial transformation.
The beneficiary of this research is not the participants themselves, but “those who desire prosocial transformation”…in other words, Social Engineers – and the oligarchs who employ them. That’s who wants to spend $4.8 million to figure this stuff out. Dr Crockett’s earlier studies in “experimental” psychology at Cambridge were funded by a scholarship from Bill Gates.
Professor Carroll Quigley, who taught politics to Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton at Georgetown University, described how Oxford and Cambridge are used by British Intelligence for recruitment and propaganda in his book The Anglo-American Establishment.
Mandalay This camp is only accessible with a written permission. It is the most exclusive bunk site in the encampment and sits on a hill with a tiny cable car that carries visitors up to the compound. Many members of this camp have personal assistants with them. Lot’s of government, Bank of America, Amoco, ChevronTexaco, Bechtel, Wackenhut, Du Pont, Rothschild Investment Trust Capital Partners plc., UBS Warburg LLC, Dillon Read & Co., German Steel Trust, Thyssen Krupp, the J.P. Morgan network, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Export-Import bank, Wells Fargo, Seafirst Bank, Manhattan Institute, the CIA, General Electric, RAND Corporation, Firestone, American Telephone and Telegraph, Atlantic Richfield Company, Johnson & Johnson, Walt Disney Company, Weyerhaeuser, Union Pacific Corp., Gannett Corp., PG&E. Corp., MITRE, McKesson Corp., ConAgra Inc., HCA Healthcare Corp., Franklin Templeton Investments which includes Fiduciary Trust, ICF Kaiser Consulting Group, Kissinger Associates, Carlyle Group, TRW Inc., Space Technology Laboratories (STL), IBM, Ford Motor Company, News Corp, BskyB (Rothschild and Murdoch governed), Daily Telegraph plc., the Economist, Caltech, Stanford University (heavily funded by Bechtel), Order of the Bath, Order of the British Empire, Order of Malta, Ditchley, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, Business Roundtable, Business Council, Committee Economic Development, Council on International Economic Policy, Trilateral Commission, Atlantic Institute for International Affairs, Pilgrims Society, 1001 Club, Le Cercle. French socialist prime minister.
A Census is an exercise in statistics. Historically, the sample has been the entire population.
These two questionnaires are more what I would describe as “psychological profiling”. The profile created as a result of either of these surveys is extremely detailed; put both together and They may know you better than you know yourself.
There are certain psychological profiles that could be obtained from answering this strange spectrum of questions that could be very useful to certain agencies. What type of agencies? That would be speculation, but I note that if there is any involvement or interest in this data beyond the University of Quebec and Oxford, that is being kept secret.
Timothy Leary at the Human Be-In, Golden Gate Park SF 1967. Image: pophistorydig
Before he was a kaftan-wearing, Playboy-posing Presidential candidate, Leary was a student at the prestigious West Point military academy and a Sergeant in the Army – he won four medals in World War 2. After he finished his degree via correspondence school, he got a PhD in clinical psychology from UC Berkeley. While working as a research psychologist at the Kaiser Foundation in Oakland, he wrote “The Leary”, which got him a promotion to Harvard and gained him the attention of Aldous Huxley. Huxley and Dr Humphry Osmond recruited Leary to be one of the main promoters for the CIA’s MKULTRA project, though they feared this ex-military guy in a suit was too straight for the job.
It was a psychological profiling test, used in the entrance exams for the CIA.
So Timothy Leary, who created a psychological profiling test for the CIA, is hailed as a hero at Burning Man – the same year that a research foundation created by a long-time CIA agent gives a multi-million dollar grant to do psychological profiling tests on Burners? Things that make you go hmmmm….
A 1963 statement by the CIA’s Inspector General shows what the real point of Personality Testing was and how it fit into “operations”:
The [Clandestine Services] case officer is first and foremost, perhaps, a practitioner of the art of assessing and exploiting human personality and motivations for ulterior purposes. The ingredients of advanced skill in this art are highly individualistic in nature, including such qualities as perceptiveness and imagination. [The PAS] seeks to enhance the case officer’s skill by bringing the methods and disciplines of psychology to bear…. The prime objectives are control, exploitation, or neutralization. These objectives are innately anti-ethical rather than therapeutic in their intent.
The whole thing begins with what may be a Freudian slip:
Burning Many 2016? Is this what is in their minds – many Burning Mans around the world? Or are they thinking about Burning the many deplorables who don’t pass Radical Inclusion 2.0, like frat bros and EDM fans?
Then we get to the introduction, disclaimers, and fine print.
It starts off by asking you if you have already done a Census online this year. This opens the door to double counting, if participants did a Census on the Playa. Towards the end, they provide a list of other ways they collect data from Burners:
It seems that they were out promoting the Census very hard this year, trying to get everyone except DPW and the Early Entry passes – that is, the actual Burners who create Black Rock City. Burning Man employees get paid to answer these questions, which seems like a conflict of interest.
Question 1 suggests that perhaps you can fill this out as many times as you want, thus skewing the results to your own particular demographic.
Straight away, we are into some problems. “What is your current gender?” is a separate question from “What sex was assigned to you at birth”. They are separating “sex” and “gender” as concepts, and suggesting that gender is something you can change on a whim, like a hat. Who is this that is “assigning sex at birth” to people? Professional sexologists? It sounds very transhumanist, very Brave New World.
Then – “do you consider yourself to be any of the following – check all that apply”. First of all, I don’t even know what half these things mean. What is “Two-Spirit”? The “B” in LGBT wasn’t enough?
What possible use does this information have to the people rulers of Black Rock City?
The next part of the above is “check all the years you attended the Burning Man event”. I have been to 12 Burns, 11 at Black Rock City. Do Regionals no longer count as Burns now? Or are attendees at Regionals also going to be invited to fill out these surveys? What does Baker Beach have to do with the Black Rock City census?
I note that the choices specifically exclude the earlier Wicker Man events on Ocean Beach, the Baker Beach burns described by Brian Doherty (and now denied by Mary Grauberger), and the Sausalito “Bealzabub” burns since 1979.
Later, they get to even more questions about sexuality. It’s not enough to know if you’re Two-Spirit or Genderqueer, they need to really get to the bottom of this.
Heterosexual or straight? WTF is the difference? Who are pansexuals screwing, that isn’t covered in Bisexual? Animals? Disgusting, but there’s nothing else I can think of that this could mean.
If you say you have a partner, then they immediately want to know if you swing. “Yes, No, It’s Complicated” wasn’t enough to cover it; they wanted to add “Somewhat” as well. So 3 of the 4 possible responses are positive indicators – this is biased, not neutral.
Confusing again. What’s the difference between “Agnostic” and “I don’t know”? Or between “religious” and “deist?”
What relevance does religion have under Radical Inclusion? And who came up with the idea that Flying Spaghetti Monster is a more important religion than Muslim or Hindu – which between them have 2.6 billion followers? This seems like a subtle hint to people of those faiths that they are less than welcome.
They ask survey participants (who don’t have to have been to Burning Man) how Burners get their Burning Man information.
I would love to know the totals for this question. If it’s favorable to us, it’s highly unlikely it will be shared.
You will note that “web sites” beyond the official ones are not an option, even though there is more information about Burning Man here at burners.me than anybody’s Twitter account. We just get lumped together as “Social media, Facebook, Twitter NOT managed by Burning Man”.
Then we get some bizarre questions about the Ten Principles. Pick the three you use most frequently in your every day life, and the three you find hardest – and then describe why they’re so important. You can see that only really, really dedicated Burners are going to bother to complete the survey past this point. It seemed like online multi-choice, not an exam with essays.
Most Burners I know – and trust me, I know a lot – couldn’t even name all ten principles, let alone be trying to live their life by them. I mean what are we, monks? We have to live in the commercial world without doing anything to make money, and give as many gifts as we can? WHY? Because we burn a wooden sculpture once a year?
What’s happened to “Burning Man is the new American holiday?” If we have to return to the default world and live by the Principles of the cult, that sounds like real life, not a holiday.
Then we get a rather strange scenario. How would you give $100 away, if you were BMorg? This reminds me of Stewart Brand’s “Demise Party” that created the Homebrew Comptuer Club at SLAC – see Rolling Stone’s The Last Twelve Hours of the Whole Earth Catalog. I note that “fly staff around the world to attend decompressions, regionals, TED talks and other festivals” is not one of the options, even though more of each Burners’ $100 $400 goes to that than the other categories.
The next set of leading questions relate to minors at Burning Man. This is in Part 2, from the Mistress of Communications
It would be quite easy to ask “are you concerned about pedophiles at Burning Man?” – a question that many would say “yes” to, whether they had children or not. Instead, the questions seem carefully structured to bring about a desired result – like Cass Sunstein’s choice architecture. Before you are even asked if it’s safe for children, you have to acknowledge that there are families there and that people bring their kids. You are not asked for a reasoned opinion about this, merely your feeling.
If you say it is unsafe, another question appears. The dangers are “Physical Dangers” and “Psychological Dangers” – not sexual dangers, and not dangers with the police. To me this seems dangerously accommodating of the philosophy expressed by Allen Ginsberg, Temporary Autonomous Zone creator Hakim Bey, and their fellow NAMBLA members that teenage children are asking for sex and it does them good to learn about it from adults. “There’s no physical harm! There’s no psychological harm, it’s love!” Whatever dude, it’s against the law and against all standards of human decency. Burners need to distance themselves and their event from this practice, emphatically.
The issue is framed here purely about the children, and not the adults. This despite the fact that there are at least 20 Burners for every child attending. Most Burners with children do not bring them; most Burners do not have children.
The main issues for 95% of Burners are being held hostage trying to leave for hours and fed false information about an Amber Alert that was actually just a naughty 17 year old, and cops running underage stings on camps handing out free booze. If Burning Man, an event where there is a vast amount of alcohol that is all free, was a 21+ event all these problems would instantly disappear. BMorg refuses to consider that, it is just so important to them for teens to attend their event – even though it takes place during the first week of high school, so for most teens to attend they have to be truant.
Nobody should have to show ID at Burning Man. That is even more of a Default World thing than money. The majority of Burners suffer for children to be at Burning Man, and so does our international reputation. It’s a matter of when, not if, something really bad happens – a man was caught trying to kidnap a 10 year old boy this year.
If ever there was any event in the world that should be adults-only, it’s Burning Man. And if anything proves that, it’s this survey. Young children do not need to be exposed to Two Spirit Gender Queer Pansexuals. Who cares if Larry had two kids there at his first one, that’s irrelevant in 2016. Today Burning Man is internationally renowned for free drugs, free drinks, free sex, and an orgy dome. That’s not my opinion: it’s on The Simpsons. Why would any parent expose children to this? Not to mention lung-damaging dust that possibly may be contaminated from decades of life as a Navy bombing range.
The next question about placement narrows down your profile. They ask you what street you were on, then once you answer another question pops up for the radial address. By this point they’ve also asked you if your camp was connected to the power grid or its own generator and if there was any renewable energy.
Then they ask you if you were a “placed camp” or not. If you weren’t placed by BMorg, why did you camp where you did?
Whatever the truth, I recommend not checking yes to “access to all night parties”…just in case this psychological profile is ever connected to your Burner profile. Never mind that Burning Man itself is an all night party, and much less happens there during the day, since it is summertime in the desert…
Then the Burning Nerds come back, for Part 3. They really want to know about your sex life too:
Once again, these terms are undefined. What is the difference between a “swinger” and “polyamorous”? If you are happily in love in a monogamous relationship, you can’t indicate being a “Love Addict” without signalling that you could be a Sex Addict. Even the people I know who probably are sex addicts don’t go around describing themselves as such. Addiction is a psychological disorder. Love is not.
And, of course, what does any of this have to do with Burning Man? Is it a swingers’ party?
This next question is not surprising – though, again, undefined:
But then it starts to get even more bizarre:
Are the suggestogens working? Does attending Burning Man make you more gullible?
Are you ready for the hive mind?
Seriously? What is this data going to be used for? “On average” – what does that even mean? Their Venn diagrams do not describe any of my relationships with other human beings. And why is it even necessary to state “human beings”? Are there other types of beings doing this Census?
Hypothetical situations? In a Census?
The Joker? Is this Burning Man, or Bat Man? “What character are you playing at Burning Man” – seriously? You will note that “being myself” is not an option. So much for one of the Ten Principles being “Radical Self-Expression”.
It’s not enough to say what your preferred character is. You then have to describe in detail the activities that you indulge in while pretending to be someone else:
And then they ask:
Do you often feel drawn to playing one of these characters in your life (regardless of the struggle, cost, challenges, or unpleasantness involved in being that person)? Check the best answer.
Unpleasantness? Why would anyone at an entertainment festival choose to play an unpleasant character? If I tell a story in San Francisco, am I playing the character of a story-teller because my self-expression is somehow restricted?
Why didn’t your friends and family go to Burning Man?
“Too many white people”? In what world is that not racism? “Too many men” is acceptable, but not “too many women”? Talk about sexist man-hating bigotry. And why isn’t there “not enough electronic music” as an option?
If you choose an option, it asks you how many of your friends and family think that way: Then, when you’re done, the Burning Nerds want to hear from you – even if you’ve never been to Burning Man! What sort of Census includes people who are not there? These curious Burning Nerds are at Oxford University.
The screen fade is a little hypnotic. These academic “scientists” get away with things we never could in the corporate world. For example their statement “there are no risks associated with this study”. At the very least, there is a risk that the data could get hacked or leaked. There is also the risk that security settings on your computer reveal more information to the server than just the questions you’re answering.
They want some identifying information, although instead they lie to you that what you are providing is “completely” anonymous. In fact it is partially anonymous.
It doesn’t take long for the Burning Nerds to start asking some very strange and highly personal questions:
It goes on and on like this.
Both Oxford and Quebec seem to have an obsession with lowly-paid workers. It seems weird when just a ticket and vehicle pass to Burning Man is $500, let alone providing for yourself and gifts to others for 8 days. How do people earning less than $50k a year afford to go? Why study these people, when Burning Man 2.0 is being marketed with Billionaire’s Row? What difference does it make to Burning Man if someone earns $15,000 per year or $17,000?
Oxford also asks the exact same questions about voting. Aside from this being a waste of everyone’s time, how is US voting relevant in any way to Canada and England?
They also have the same weird Venn diagram thing. It is interesting that the Burning Nerds don’t seem to be able to collaborate with each other.
Now it gets really complicated. You need a degree from Oxford just to complete the frikking Census.
Enter the initials of your friends, and how close you are to them? Hey, why don’t I just give you my Facebook login while we’re at it! Sorry Burners, but Oxford University is not telling you the truth. The initials of your closest friends is definitely not entirely anonymous information. Especially at Burning Man, where Burners have to create profiles. The more you write in the essay sections of these tests, the easier you become to identify.
It’s not just how close you are to them; it’s how much time you are prepared to spend doing favors for them.
WTF does this have to do with Burning Man?
Are you good or bad? Could you do evil, if the ends justified the means? Oxford University wants to know.
Oxford asks a lot about children too. There are questions about giving children money, candy, and teddy bears. Then there’s this:
I’m sure the pedophiles think it’s very important for children to have independence, curiosity, self-reliance, and a desire to disobey and disrespect their elders. It’s hard to see how this relates to the stated mission of the Burning Man Project, or an Oxford University study on transformational festivals.
Along with the 2015 Afterburn report, BMOrg released the results of their 2015 Census. I’ve had a chance now to go through this in a bit more detail. Some highlights:
There are a lot of dudes (60%) and it’s pretty gay (1/3rd LGBT) and pretty white (86%).
The minorities at Burning Man these days are double digit Burners (just over 5%).
“40% Virgins” is still about right, which is really still about 68.9% newbies, as only 31.1% of Burners had been to Burning Man more than twice prior to 2015 – our previous definition for Veterans. It’s up slightly from 28% the previous year, it is remarkable how these virgin and veteran percentages remain about the same, year after year. Coincidence? Random chance? Or the result of Burner profiles, ticket lotteries, and all the other socially engineered ticketing hoops Burners are forced to jump through?
20% of Burners are aliens, about a third of those from the biggest country, Canada
Scalpers are not a problem, and STEP is not very useful.
Burners are very affluent. 44.1% have an average household income of US$100,000 or more.
About 7% of Burners are in the 1% – and we even have some in the 1% of 1% of 1% of 1%, the 62 people with as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the planet combined.
We’re smart, too. 77% have a college degree, 6.1% of Burners have a degree in healing or beauty
Despite the vehicle pass scheme, 10% of Burners still arrived alone. A third used a plane in their journey to Black Rock City.
Although 17.9% arrived in an RV, 26.2% ended up staying in one.
Only a third of those RVs got pumped – incredibly disappointing, given the amount of money being spent across Black Rock City on site services – and BMOrg’s intervention to make it hard for camps to make their own deals with vendors of their choice.
35.9% had access to some form of renewable energy – iPhone charging, perhaps?
69.7% of Burners were connected to electricity from generators – not exactly “off grid living”.
It is, however, a great place to go to get away from conventional forms of religion. Only 5.4% of Burners identify as religious.
How many of those are Satanists is unknown, but let’s call it 5%: 3.2% of Burners worship “other” and 1.2% are Pagans.
Download the full Census from their new home within the borg. Here are the team credits, thanks to everyone who participated:
Principal investigators and project coordinators: S. Megan Heller (Countess), Dana Lilienthal DeVaul (DV8), Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost (Hunter), and Kateri McRae (Variance)
Data analysis: Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost (Hunter), David Nelson-Gal (Scribble)
Report coordination, graphics, layout & design: Rebecca Mason (B^2), Aaron Shev (Murse), Dana Lilienthal DeVaul (DV8), David Nelson-Gal (Scribble), Jason Lankow, & John Nicholson
The 2015 Census Lab: The project also involved more than 150 volunteers whose contributions were essential in many ways: research collaborators, volunteer coordinators, statisticians, camp builders, gate samplers, keypunchers, census lab hosts, graphic designers, and many more. These contributors will globally be referred to as “the Census Lab”. We would also like to thank the Burning Man organization for the resources that they provided both on playa and off playa and for believing in the project.