Weekend Diversion: Their Fault for Asking

Our song this week comes from the little-known band Elsinore, based out of Champaign, IL, and named after a city (with a great landmark) in Denmark. (Hi, Sili!) They’ve got just a couple of albums out so far, but here’s one of my favorites for you to listen to — the song Cannonballs off of Nothing By Design — which you can download here.

While you listen, here’s something I’ve been thinking about. I always worry about the scientific process of “data collecting” when you rely on humans to self-report accurately. The most notorious example is that we still don’t know how long the typical human male erect penis is, because the… ummm… data… isn’t (typically) collected scientifically.

But I never thought that people would be inaccurate about self-reporting when asked about their religion. But a Police Department in Glasgow, Scotland, certainly surprised me. From the BBC:

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police confirmed: “At the time of the request, 10 (eight police officers and two police staff) had recorded their religion as Jedi.”

About 390,000 people listed their religion as Jedi in the 2001 Census for England and Wales. In Scotland the figure was a reported 14,000.

The Office for National Statistics did not recognise it as a separate category, and incorporated followers of Jedi with the atheists.

I don’t know exactly what to say about this. Apparently, there are roughly as many people reporting themselves as Jediites as Scientologists or Rastafarians. On the one hand it’s based on a fictional movie. But on the other hand, Jedi-ism has its roots in a mix of various religions.

But there’s one definitive conclusion to draw, that trumps either of the arguments above. When someone pulls out a light saber you do not want to call them an atheist. And hence, I would choose to recognize it as a religion. After all, the Jediites also have their own church. Maybe even more than one.

I wonder what PZ will say when he finds out about this…


  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    April 18, 2009

    Very nice music.

  2. #2 mathyoo
    April 18, 2009

    Nice tune. How is basing your religion on a fictional movie different than basing it on a fictional book?

  3. #3 Brian in Edmonton
    April 18, 2009

    How is basing your religion on a fictional movie different than basing it on a fictional book?


  4. #4 RF
    April 18, 2009

    PZ surely knows about this for a long time now 🙂

    One way to use it is to stick it the face of the Scientologists 🙂

  5. #5 Sili
    April 18, 2009


    Does this mean I have to make a good comment now that the spotlight is on me?

    One of my (past?) friends put herself down as Jedi on the last census. Of course she’s a bit younger than me and had been brought to the films by her dad since she was a wee lass. She was fond of saying Harrison Ford was the only guy she’d be straight for.

    I actually put myself down as Lutheran during my 2001 stay – hadn’t ‘deconverted’ entirely by then.

  6. #6 Master Brian
    April 18, 2009

    SHABBAT SHALOM… Remember there is No bowling on Shabbas….

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