Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Harry Potter: Scourge of the Owls?

New research out of India is drawing a correlation between a spike in the black market trade of owls and the popular Harry Potter books and movies. Apparently the stories, which feature a white owl (named Hedwig,) have led to a surge of people seeking owls as pets, as well as for what the BBC calls "black magic" rituals.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
As a reader, I am interested in the research methods used to draw the correlation between the loss of owls and Harry Potter. I wish the article talked more about how the researcher came to his conclusion, because simply noting the popularity of a series that features an owl as a minor character (I think its minor, I've never actually read a single one of the Harry Potter books) is a far cry from actually quantifying its connection to a decrease in owls.

This type of investigation reminds me of the correlations made between video games and violence, or metal music and violence. I think that how studies of this type are conducted is a pretty important component to the story, because simply stating that something is a significant relationship doesn't make it so, I want to see the numbers.

From the BBC: Harry Potter blamed for fueling India owls' demise

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