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A boy called Sue
July 14, 2009 7:37 AM   Subscribe

A new US study, recently published in Social Science Quarterly, has shown that the more uncommon or feminine a boy's first name is, the greater the likelihood that he will end up in prison.
While Shippensburg University professor David Kalist's report in Social Science Quarterly shows that "unpopular names are likely not the cause of crime," he explains that factors often associated with those names can "increase the tendency toward juvenile delinquency."

Boys with unpopular, girlish or uncommon names often are ridiculed by peers, come from families of low socioeconomic status and face discrimination in the workforce based on a preconceived bias about their names, according to the study, which analysed more than 15,000 names.
posted by acb (103 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Perhaps I shouldn't have named my son Sue.
posted by cloeburner at 7:41 AM on July 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


Drat, missed the title.
posted by cloeburner at 7:42 AM on July 14, 2009


1) Thin post.
2) Thin theory.

How's the correlation with, oooh say, parent's income compared to that on silly names?
posted by pompomtom at 7:44 AM on July 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm going to name my son Max Power. That should ensure smooth sailing.
posted by diogenes at 7:45 AM on July 14, 2009 [19 favorites]


It doesn't really surprise me — although I'm glad to see it studied with a degree of rigor, did anyone really think it would come out differently?

And given that, isn't the real question “why do parents continue to give their children these names?” That strikes me as the real tough nut to crack. There are clearly parents out there who are willing to subject their kid to years of ridicule, in order to give him (or her) a kitschy name.

I'm not necessarily saying we should lock these parents up as child abusers, but it would be interesting to see what goes through some of their minds when they're making the decision.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:45 AM on July 14, 2009


What's wrong with Alec?
posted by paladin at 7:46 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's what Johnny Cash said, too.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:46 AM on July 14, 2009


I'm going to name my son Doctor Senator. He'll never have to do anything.

"Oh! Here comes Doctor Senator! He's so important! Let's all give him free sandwiches!"
posted by The White Hat at 7:47 AM on July 14, 2009 [43 favorites]


I hope if the president has a son, he doesn't name him something uncommon, like 'Barack'!
posted by jamstigator at 7:49 AM on July 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Boys with unpopular, girlish or uncommon names often are ridiculed by peers, come from families of low socioeconomic status

Tell that to Francis Q Worthington III.

I'd like to hear some of these alleged girlish names that poor people are giving.
posted by DU at 7:49 AM on July 14, 2009


Related, sort of.
posted by effbot at 7:51 AM on July 14, 2009


Top 10 bad-boy names

Alec, Ernest, Garland, Ivan, Kareem, Luke, Malcolm, Preston, Tyrell, Walter


none of these names seem particularly uncommon or feminine to me... I mean, "Walter", "Luke"?
Really?

also, I must agree with pompomtom, not much here, really.
posted by Jeeb at 7:53 AM on July 14, 2009


I don't think I could handle doing this kind of research. I could only explain how a correlation works so many times before I snapped.
posted by diogenes at 7:57 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds like somebody had to throw together a paper with only the most basic of results because he's worried about his publication record when he comes up for tenure.
posted by deanc at 7:58 AM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, how is Ivan a feminine name?

Anyway, it would be helpful to know if he corrected for parental income.
posted by delmoi at 7:59 AM on July 14, 2009


none of these names seem particularly uncommon or feminine to me

Not even Garland?

I agree about some of the others. Tyrell would be a good name for a middle linebacker.
posted by diogenes at 8:00 AM on July 14, 2009


I'm going to name my son Doctor Senator. He'll never have to do anything.

"Oh! Here comes Doctor Senator! He's so important! Let's all give him free sandwiches!"


My grandfather and his wife went to dinner at a fairly busy restaurant with another couple. They arrive to an enormous line and a long wait. He leaves the other three at the end of the line and goes up to the desk... "Excuse me, but do you realize that Senator XXX and his guests are still waiting for a table?"

They were seated directly. I'm not sure if he ever mentioned the ruse to his friend.
posted by odinsdream at 8:00 AM on July 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


If this turned out to be correct, it would lend some justification to those countries that prohibit strange or unusual names.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:01 AM on July 14, 2009


Good thing I named my boy Gaylord Gayle Assenstein III.
posted by Mister_A at 8:04 AM on July 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


Walter Cockroach.

"Garland," though? How is that common enough that it gets into the top 10 of anything?

And what is that top 10, anyway? What does "Top 10 Bad Boy Names" even mean? Top ten names of prisoners? Top ten names of violent offenders? Top ten names of guys the author doesn't like?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, how is Ivan a feminine name?

It is if you pronounce it in Spanish (like Ivan Rodriguez), because then it sounds like the French female name Yvonne.

I'm not sure that the jump from correlation to causation here and in the article is warranted though. It seems like most of the names they are talking about are ethnic names, and ethnic minorities face a lot of systematic prejudices regardless of their names.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:07 AM on July 14, 2009


That's some bullshit! I'll break their kneecaps!

/guy named Shannon
posted by brundlefly at 8:08 AM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know that "A Boy Named Sue" was written by Shel Silverstein, and inspired by a conversation he had with his friend Mr. Jean Shepherd.

Jean Shepherd has an interesting radio monologue about how his father got the name Jean (which he passed on to Shep)--it seems that his father's older sister, the famous Aunt Glenn (known to viewers of A Christmas Story as the maker of pink bunny pajamas) was reading Les Miserables when her little brother was born, and suggested that they name the baby after the main character, whose name she did not actually know how to pronounce.

Upon hearing this, I thought "Well, clearly if they named their daughter 'Glenn', the Shepherd family wasn't too hung up on the prevailing gender onomastics of the day."

I also wonder if Glenn Shepherd thought "Heck, if they're going to give me a boy's name, my brother's going to get a girl's name--why should I suffer alone?"
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:08 AM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was about to throw a "correlation is not causation" fit, but then I looked up the actual study and found this:
Conclusions. Unpopular names are likely not the cause of crime but correlated with factors that increase the tendency toward juvenile delinquency, such as a disadvantaged home environment and residence in a county with low socioeconomic status.
So, instead, I shall raise a mighty cry of "Duh" and then throw a "WTF shitty science journalism" fit. Feel free to join me.
posted by ourobouros at 8:10 AM on July 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


I imagine there must be a method to public education to reduce the crime rate. Not that it would eliminate crime altogether, but I think there are some kids who would benefit from getting the clear message about things early on. Maybe I'm wrong. They always go wrong when they start experimenting with that kind of thing I guess. Sometimes I wish I had gotten a different kind of civic education early on in my life. But I was left all by myself to formulate theories, someplace between the general discomfort people have in addressing the taboo, and the bold parental claim that one's own offspring is blessed with a kind of regal inborn ethic, that the criminal portion of society unfortunately does not inherit, a noble instinct that can provide plenty of guidance in life.

Later on in life my parents told me that they often regarded children as spiritual strangers, houseguests who might be of any type of personality. I think it was the sequel to Back to the Future when our Parkinson's inflicted friend showed up at his parent's house to find her staring at him without any trace of recognition.
posted by nervousfritz at 8:11 AM on July 14, 2009


"They call me Garland."

"Why do they call you that?"

"Because I strangled every member of my immediate family with Christmas tree garland."

"Oh."

"Also it's my name."
posted by hifiparasol at 8:12 AM on July 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


The only guy I ever knew named Garland is now successful banker.

The only guy I ever knew named Malcolm killed a grad student while robbing her apartment.
posted by Xoebe at 8:12 AM on July 14, 2009


"They call me Garland."

"Why do they call you that?"

"Because I used to keep my basement flooded and full of hungry alligator gars. I called it Gar Land. It's how I disposed of my victims."

"Oh."

"My real name is Leslie."
posted by hifiparasol at 8:15 AM on July 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


That bit is in the article as well, you know.
posted by bjrn at 8:16 AM on July 14, 2009


Bah, that was referring to the bit quoted by ourobouros.
posted by bjrn at 8:16 AM on July 14, 2009


Purely anecdotal, and not intended to support the study, but:

what friends I have that have taught in poor NYC neighborhoods (thanks to the New York Fellows program, this is actually more than you'd think) all say the same thing: the worst kid in your class will always be named "Angel."

also, the only guy named Garland I ever knew was the first boss in Final Fantasy.
posted by shmegegge at 8:18 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


1) Thin post.
2) Thin theory.

Thin boy.
posted by Danf at 8:19 AM on July 14, 2009


I got a double-whammy on this one. I feel like cuttin' someone.

Seriously, though, right out of the paper itself: "Conclusions. Unpopular names are likely not the cause of crime but correlated with factors that increase the tendency toward juvenile delinquency, such as a disadvantaged home environment and residence in a county with low socioeconomic status." Their big bit on this is "A possible reason for a name-crime link is that people with unpopular names may be more likely to have grown up in a disadvantaged environment, such as having parents with low socioeconomic status. Lieberson and Bell (1992) find that the mother's education level affects naming patterns—a case in point is Allison, a name rarely given by mothers without a high school diploma, but frequently given by mothers with 17 or more years of schooling. In general, Lieberson and Bell (1992) find that the least educated women are less likely to give a top-20 name to their children but more likely to give a unique name. Aura and Hess (2004) find that unpopular names are associated with having a mother and father who obtained fewer formal years of schooling."

They do a lot of citation of other stuff, too: "Mehrabian and Piercy (1993) find that persons with unconventionally spelled names are perceived by others to have undesirable characteristics in terms of popularity, morality, warmth, and success." "Twenge and Manis (1998) discuss other studies that show a negative association between unpopular names and life outcomes (e.g., psychological problems, dropping out of school, and low achievement test scores)." and so forth.

You can find the actual article here. Overall, it basically says that oddball names are associated with various classes, races, and socioeconomic status, and that in a classic feedback loop, folks have picked up on that. No real shocker there.
posted by adipocere at 8:20 AM on July 14, 2009


I, GARLAND, WILL KNOCK YOU ALL DOWN

/nerd
posted by homuncula at 8:23 AM on July 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


After reading through this list of unpopular male names, I'm starting to think that we should be looking at the connection between uncommon (and maybe feminine) male names and the likelihood that men with them will end up in politics.
posted by inconsequentialist at 8:23 AM on July 14, 2009


So how do all the John Wayne (last name here) stories littering the news of the weird fit into this?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:27 AM on July 14, 2009


So how do all the John Wayne (last name here) stories littering the news of the weird fit into this?

Because John Wayne's real first name was Marion?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:30 AM on July 14, 2009 [11 favorites]


what friends I have that have taught in poor NYC neighborhoods (thanks to the New York Fellows program, this is actually more than you'd think) all say the same thing: the worst kid in your class will always be named "Angel."

Also true for small towns in central Pennsylvania.

Not that it really fits the theory, but I was surprised to not see Anthony on that list. I can't think of any name more closely correlated to being an asshole than Tony. If I were sifting through a pile of resumes, I'd play the percentages and not give any Tony an interview.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 8:43 AM on July 14, 2009


heh.. Luke is bad why?

I once know someone named Garland, i met him while working in a psych hospital... he was there after having found his 14 year old daughter naked in a hotel room with two older guys while searching for her after she ran away... it was a rough part of Detroit, he was packing... he went ballistic, pulled the gun, and shot the guys, missed once and accidentally shot her too...

He was a retired railroad engineer... actually a pretty nice guy. Once when another patient was giving me a hard time, (I was a skinny young guy then), Garland walked up to the other patient, looked him in the eye and said "I killed three people, you keep messing with Bob and you're next."

I don't think this happened because his name was Garland..

I also worked with a guy named Carol, he was a pretty good person all in all...
posted by HuronBob at 8:44 AM on July 14, 2009


What's wrong with Adolf? It's a fine name.
posted by empath at 8:44 AM on July 14, 2009


Here's some anecdata:

I've shared here before that I volunteer at a local prison. I'm going there tomorrow night. It will be good to see Tom. I hope Richard found someone to take him out on passes. Ron better not talk through the whole meeting again. I hope Robert found a work-release job. I wonder where Gary was last week? Ralph won't be there, he transferred to another camp to be nearer to his family. I wish Gregg would participate more, I always like what he has to say.
posted by marxchivist at 8:46 AM on July 14, 2009


My buddy and his wife are in the hospital, even as I write this, delivering their first child, and I'm still pushing the Danger-as-a-middle-name button as hard as I can.

If I can pull this off, that kid will be one step closer to being the action star I believe he should be.

Or a criminal/ juvenile delinquent. You know, whatever.
posted by quin at 8:49 AM on July 14, 2009


I'd be interested in whether biblical/non-biblical names have any correlation to crime; or old testament vs new-testament names.

Like, how do Matthew Mark Luke and John stack up vs Isaiah. Adam and David?
posted by empath at 8:50 AM on July 14, 2009


It's anecdotal, but I have a defense attorney buddy who claims many of his clients have been named "Jessie James" or some derivative. He also advises against "John Wayne."
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:56 AM on July 14, 2009


Steve Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) pointed out a flaw that's even basic than the correlation-is-not-causation problem:
I think there is a good chance that even the claimed correlation between unusual names and criminality is wrong. I only quickly glanced through the academic paper, but it seems to me like the authors have made a mistake that will bias their results.

The authors first compute criminality for each name by taking the ratio of the number of juvenile delinquents with that name and dividing it by the number of children total with that name. The higher that ratio, the more criminal the name. But then the authors take the log of that ratio. The problem is that the log of zero is equal to negative infinity, so any name for which that ratio is equal to zero gets dropped from the analysis.

The kinds of names that will have a ratio of zero are uncommon names for which no one with that name is a juvenile delinquent.

If I understand correctly what they are doing, if exactly one person has a particular name, the only way that the observation for that name will be included in their sample is if that person is a juvenile delinquent! This leads to a powerful bias toward mistakenly concluding that people with uncommon names are more likely to be criminals.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:56 AM on July 14, 2009 [14 favorites]


even more basic...
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:57 AM on July 14, 2009


I heard they recently did a study that showed that, 95% of the time, correlation is the same thing as causation.
posted by koeselitz at 8:57 AM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would hope this is deleted, acb, so your name doesn't become correlated with crap posts.
posted by klangklangston at 8:59 AM on July 14, 2009


Shel Silverstein singing "A Boy Named Sue" with Johnny Cash.
posted by EarBucket at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2009


I was thinking of naming my firstborn Fuckmonster. Would this still be considered uncommon in this day and age?
posted by philip-random at 9:11 AM on July 14, 2009


i'm naming my son motherfucker
posted by pyramid termite at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2009


Same story, much improved byline.
posted by darksasami at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


How's the correlation with, oooh say, parent's income compared to that on silly names?

How about you learn what "low socioeconomic status" means? Your witty point was made by the study authors and quoted in the third paragraph of the post here.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 9:14 AM on July 14, 2009


My criteria is, the more umlauts, accents, commas and q’s in the name, the more likely that kid will be ginormous PITA in class.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:15 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


The paper cites another study finding that "a higher Scrabble score is associated with either an increased hazard of criminal activity or a longer sentence."

Lesson: Don't name your kid Caziques.
posted by brain_drain at 9:24 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lighten up, Francis.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:26 AM on July 14, 2009


Some Garland's are quite baddass.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 9:33 AM on July 14, 2009


[Scratches "Barack" off her list of possible baby boy names.]
posted by orange swan at 9:38 AM on July 14, 2009


My son's name is Vivian, but we call him "Stabby". His cellie says he makes the best shanks of anyone on the tier.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:39 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to name my firstborn son (or daughter, but c'mon, let's hope for a son here) after the opening drumline from Bel Biv Devoe's "Poison." In place of my last name, I'll give him a last name that can only be pronounced by punching whoever asked once in the face and then twice in the balls.

For the middle name I'm thinking something like Alderman! or Politics! - you know, something to help them with a career in public service, but with an exclamation point to let them know I'm serious.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:40 AM on July 14, 2009 [11 favorites]


Um, guys, technically, Garland is also the last boss.

obviously not /nerd
posted by clockzero at 9:41 AM on July 14, 2009


Father of the boy named sue, also by Shel Silverstein
posted by nomisxid at 9:52 AM on July 14, 2009


pyramid termite: i'm naming my son motherfucker

‘Motherfucker Termite’ is probably the awesomest name EVER.
posted by koeselitz at 9:55 AM on July 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


All criminals have Dutch first names.
I'm writing a paper on this.
posted by jouke at 9:55 AM on July 14, 2009


I'm reminded of a "letter to the editor" in National Lampoon, c. 1984.

Dear Sirs,

Whomever was duty at Ellis Island when my grandfather arrived sure had a sense of humor.

Sincerely,

Nathan Fuckhead

posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:58 AM on July 14, 2009


If our union is ever blessed with issue I am so seriously naming that kid Dracula. Boy or girl.
posted by everichon at 9:59 AM on July 14, 2009


From now on, all dudes shall be named Brock Crushington.
posted by ignignokt at 10:05 AM on July 14, 2009


I'm going to name my firstborn son (or daughter, but c'mon, let's hope for a son here) after the opening drumline from Bel Biv Devoe's "Poison."

That is the greatest fucking idea I've ever heard.
posted by empath at 10:08 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to name my firstborn son (or daughter, but c'mon, let's hope for a son here) after the opening drumline from Bel Biv Devoe's "Poison."

Okay, so I've been actually thinking about how this would work in a practical way. I think you could just set it up as like a cellphone ringtone. And then when you needed to get his attention, you'd just play it off your phone.

And of course, he'd have to take a cellphone with him to school.

"Uh, how do you pronounce this?"

*click*
posted by empath at 10:12 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


My name is...
posted by empath at 10:14 AM on July 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm going to name my firstborn son (or daughter, but c'mon, let's hope for a son here) after the opening drumline from Bel Biv Devoe's "Poison."

I'm sorry, I can't let this go.

You can make his middle name "OH SNAP, THAT'S MY JAM!!"
posted by empath at 10:17 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


And of course, he'd have to take a cellphone with him to school.

"Uh, how do you pronounce this?"

*click*


Until someone stole his cellphone, forcing him to start calling himself Jack.
posted by acb at 10:27 AM on July 14, 2009


My most psychopathic student (a gunshot wound already, at 14), was a Hispanic kid named Ted Kennedy.
posted by kozad at 10:38 AM on July 14, 2009


I don't find this hard to believe at all. I contend that people with low self-esteem tend to act in anti-social ways -- basically tearing strips off of other people to try to feel better about themselves. Males are generally more apt to act out in violence than women. So you name your little boy "Sue" or "Leslie" or "Dooshbag" and he's more likely to get teased in school, have trouble making friends, and generally feel shitty about himself... and be more apt to react to ego threats (that more secure people would brush off) with violence.

A silly name is certainly not a guarantee of anti-social behavior, because so many other factors come into play, but I'm not surprised that it's statistically significant.
posted by LordSludge at 10:43 AM on July 14, 2009


"Nobody snuggles with Max Power. You strap yourself in and feel the "G"s!"

posted by blue_beetle at 10:53 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dear Lord.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:56 AM on July 14, 2009


I bet this'll be in Malcom Gladwell's next book.
posted by jeremy b at 10:57 AM on July 14, 2009


Just don't name your kid Warren, Zachary, Grover, Chester, Lyndon, Millard, or Herbert.
posted by benzenedream at 11:02 AM on July 14, 2009


Rhymer is my real name. As far as I know, there are only two of us in the UK: my dad and I. Until people meet me or speak to me, no one has any idea what gender I am. People mishear and mispronounce my name the time. Yet it's never caused me any meaningful problems and I quite like it . Moreover, I have married a woman with a normal name and we are raising a daughter who also has a nice normal name.

Do I win a prize for my triumph over adversity?
posted by rhymer at 11:11 AM on July 14, 2009


I wonder how Frank Zappa's kids fit into this study? Seriously, I think it has to do with how kids are raised more than their names. My two sons are named Maxwell and Destry (not exactly common). They are in their teens and neither one is antisocial, violent, or criminal. For what it's worth, nobody teased them in school about their names, either.
posted by DaddyNewt at 11:12 AM on July 14, 2009


If I understand correctly what they are doing, if exactly one person has a particular name, the only way that the observation for that name will be included in their sample is if that person is a juvenile delinquent! This leads to a powerful bias toward mistakenly concluding that people with uncommon names are more likely to be criminals.

Can the above commenter who are trying to logic their way to the study's conclusion please read that paragraph again?
posted by kathrineg at 11:16 AM on July 14, 2009


Of course, we can't really say anything about the "theory" given a five-paragraph news blurb with no link to even an abstract. The article seems much more modest in its claims.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:39 AM on July 14, 2009


John Wayne as role model? In how many movies did John Wayne's character spank/beat up Maureen O'Hara's character?
posted by Cranberry at 12:04 PM on July 14, 2009


My buddy and his wife are in the hospital, even as I write this, delivering their first child, and I'm still pushing the Danger-as-a-middle-name button as hard as I can.

I really wanted my son's middle name to be Danger, but my husband put a stop to that. We settled on Archimedes instead.
posted by lexicakes at 12:05 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


In retrospect, it was a bad idea to name my son Killdor the Murdermaker.
posted by drezdn at 12:11 PM on July 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


MARK IT ZERO!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:12 PM on July 14, 2009


Also:

If you only knew the power of the dark side. I thought the name would be enough.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:17 PM on July 14, 2009


Clearly what is needed is needed is a corollary study of old timey Christian Virtue names applied to our contemporaries - Chastity Bono, Faith Popcorn, etc, etc.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:22 PM on July 14, 2009


Archimedes went out like a man. "Do not disturb my circles."
posted by Rat Spatula at 1:43 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why do you ask, Two Dogs Fucking?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:19 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


"They call me Garland."
"Why do they call you that?"
*facepunch*
"..oh, ok, tha.."
*kneegroin*

Been trying to find a nickname for my daughter based on her name. Something cute, you know? She’s got a longer name and its tough to just roll over in conversation, so we needed a nickname or shortened version, but nothing’s been working. It’s akin to finding a short cute name that fits for ‘Isabella,’ so, what? Izzy? Bell? Just doesn’t stick for some people, especially my daughter, who is - speaking purely objectively - very cute.

The issue was decided as most nicknames are by an event, or rather, a series of events. Lot of them, but this one was the one that cemented it.
Long story short - we took her to an enrichment class where she gathered a coalition of children together and convinced the teacher that they should play with the musical instruments next (she's a little accelerated). Teacher said “So, I bet she’s in charge at home too.”

My daughter, overhearing this, said: “I’m not in charge, I’m the leader.”

I looked at my wife, my hopes for a distinctive hypocoristic completely dashed, and said: “’Boss.’ Her nickname is ‘Boss’.”
Some people just demand a sobriquet, whatever their name.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:47 PM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: I'm reminded of a "letter to the editor" in National Lampoon, c. 1984.

‘Dear Sirs,

‘Whomever was duty at Ellis Island when my grandfather arrived sure had a sense of humor.

‘Sincerely,

‘Nathan Fuckhead’


I once knew a guy named John Teat. (His family pronounced it "tee.") Apparently, before they came over, they were called Teatrovitz; they got the same old name-shortening at Ellis Island. Of course, changing somebody's name to “Teat” seems like a weird kind of cruelty.

So: another example of life being oddly as hilarious as fiction.
posted by koeselitz at 3:29 PM on July 14, 2009


Perhaps I shouldn't have named my son Sue.

On the bright side, cloeburner, I reckon that if you yell his name enough, there's an equal chance he'll grow up to be a lawyer.
posted by hell toupee at 3:56 PM on July 14, 2009


Nice try, Science, but you aren't gonna convince me not to name my hypothetical future daughter Felony.
posted by rifflesby at 4:07 PM on July 14, 2009


How's the correlation with, oooh say, parent's income compared to that on silly names?

Correlation versus causation criticism without reading the link is one thing, but without even reading the two sentences in more inside indicates you have reached a level of intellectual laziness beyond even my own aspirations, congratulations.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:07 PM on July 14, 2009


I was thinking of naming my firstborn Fuckmonster.

I used to listen to Firstborn Fuckmonster back in my metalhead days. Man, I miss those times.
posted by hifiparasol at 8:31 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Correlation versus causation criticism without reading the link is one thing, but without even reading the two sentences in more inside indicates you have reached a level of intellectual laziness beyond even my own aspirations, congratulations.

Excuse me?

What 'correlation versus causation criticism' would that be?

Did you read my comment? It's on this page - should be within your aspirations.
posted by pompomtom at 10:46 PM on July 14, 2009


I mean, "Walter", "Luke"?

Well... Walter Mitty ended up in front a firing squad and Cool Hand Luke was last seen in prison so maybe the theory's got legs.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:02 AM on July 15, 2009


Alec, Ernest, Garland, Ivan, Kareem, Luke, Malcolm, Preston, Tyrell, Walter

So these are the most common uncommon names?
posted by straight at 9:54 AM on July 15, 2009


Nah, this is bunkem.

My name is Kosygin Prunejuice and the filth haven't come close to catching me yet.
posted by Sutekh at 5:37 PM on July 15, 2009


Cool Hand Luke was last seen in prison

Cool Hand Luke got the firing squad treatment (of a sort) too.
posted by telstar at 5:44 AM on July 16, 2009


BrotherCaine: Correlation versus causation criticism without reading the link is one thing, but without even reading the two sentences in more inside indicates you have reached a level of intellectual laziness beyond even my own aspirations, congratulations.

I read the article, and I'm here to say that it is just another study aimed at speculation. So his explanation isn't as implausible as the one that the article hints at (I hate it when they do that:‘Guess what! Your name can ruin your life! Well, not really, but kinda. Anyhow, we interviewed this guy…’)—that doesn't mean it's scientific.

The only point—the only point—of doing studies like this is to get articles written about you by whimsical reporters. Seriously. What does this actually contribute to our knowledge about the world? “Studies” are probably the least effective and most misused ‘scientific method’ (if they can be called that) known to man.
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 AM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Koeselitz, good point.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:38 PM on July 17, 2009


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