Robot 6

Canada’s National Defence spent thousands on superhero survey

marvel superheroes

Researchers for Canada’s Department of National Defence spent more than $13,000 U.S. on an online survey that asked respondents whether superheroes can fly, walk through walls, turn invisible and perform other feats. We can only presume it was the work of Department H.

The Canadian Press reports the questions are part of a study completed in October to help Canadian Armed Forces “win the hearts and minds” of local populations when troops are deployed overseas: “Some of the questions were designed to probe people’s expectations about – as the study put it – ‘supernatural categories that are so prevalent in popular culture and religion.'”

As the research summary states, “This work will not only allow cultural scientists to better understand the spread of non-natural and religious concepts but also allow the Canadian Armed Forces … to design messages that are more memorable for their target audiences.”

Among the whopping 150 respondents, the news service states there was relative agreement that superheroes can indeed fly and leap over buildings. However, there was little consensus when it came to invisibility and intangibility. Sorry, Sue Storm and Kitty Pryde …



My tax dollars at work. Yeesh! And the worst part is this doesn’t surprise me.

On the one hand, I can see the need for building a good hearts-and-minds metric, something to give forces in the field a set of expectations as they get deployed overseas to live up to/live by. Considering how often Canadian forces make up UN peacekeeping missions, this could be helpful in giving them something to provide some advantages with the theater to manage expectations among the people they are deployed among.

That said, with only 150 respondents to the survey, this works out to $86 US per person, asking a very small sample that may not be representative enough to give proper data. So, good idea, lousy execution…

Our forces used to be front and centre in the peacekeeping operations. Between operations in Afghanistan and Stephen Harper’s antipathy to peacekeeping in general over the last decade, that habit’s been grinding to a screaming halt.

Once Harper’s out of office, that may change. In which case, Mr. Ryan’s theory may indeed hold water again.

As for the applicability to “Department H” in Marvel’s books? That might be interesting to see. The Alpha Flight characters seem to have been editorially scattered to the four winds for the moment.

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