Monday, January 19, 2009

Nominative Determinism

Thanks to Paul Coombs for the link!

The New Scientist gave it the name nominative determinism - the idea that there is a link between people's names and their occupation.

In their book Yes!, Goldstein, Martin and Cialdini cite the classic piece of research that supports the idea that nominative determism really exists. A study of the rolls of the American Dental Association shows that more people called Dennis become dentists than you would expect if the choice of profession were purely random.

And now we have the exquisitely named Bernard Madoff, making off with his client's cash.

Here are my top 10 examples of nominative determinism.

1. Theodore Hee. Mr T. Hee was responsible for most of the early comic storylines for Walt Disney films.

2. Cardinal Sin. (left)The classic example, I think. Jamie Sin was an Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church of the Philippines. Wikipedia helpfully notes: "His name should not be confused with "cardinal sin", which is synonymous for the seven deadly sins".

3. Judge Judge. In July of this year Sir Igor Judge was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

4. Amy Freeze. Fox News Chicago's Chief Meteorologist could hardly have chosen a different profession. Save, perhaps, setting pay for Government employees.

5. Patty Turner. The inevitable name of the wife of McDonald's CEO Frank Turner.

6. Governor Blagojevich. The man responsible for introducing Americans to the British slang term "blag" which as the dictionary puts it means "To rob, steal [origin unknown]

7. Dr Fred Grabiner. This is what the internet is for. A forum on appropriate names yields this moniker for a gynecologist.

8. J. W. Splatt and D. Weedon. The New Scientist campaign was spurred on by the discovery of these two authors of an article on incontinence in the British Journal of Urology (vol 49, pp 173-176, 1977).

9. Usain Bolt. Surely his surname influenced the career of the world's fastest man? 10. Paige Worthy. Nominative determinism has also fascinated the Freaknonomics blog ever since they discovered this fact checker for Good magazine.


Anonymous said...

And... valley drummer Billy Klock

Anonymous said...

And dentist Dr. Fasten