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Season 4, Episode 2
When Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney Googled her name one day, she noticed something strange: an ad for a background check website came up in the results, with the heading: “Latanya Sweeney, Arrested?” But she had never been arrested, and neither had the only other Latanya Sweeney in the U.S. So why did the ad suggest so? Thousands of Google searches later, Sweeney discovered that Googling traditionally black names is more likely to produce an ad suggestive of a criminal background. Why? In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, Stephen Dubner investigates the latest research on names. Steve Levitt talks about his groundbreaking research on names, economic status, and race. And University of Chicago economist Eric Oliver explains why a baby named “Cody” is more likely to belong to conservative parents, and why another named “Esme” was probably born to a pair of liberals.
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat.” [MUSIC: The Diplomats of Solid Sound, “Pistol Alien” (from Let’s Cool One)] Stephen J. Dubner: Hey podcast listeners: you are about to hear a new episode of Freakonomics Radio, called “The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat.” I think […] Read More »
A judge in Tennessee changed a 7-month-old boy’s name to Martin from Messiah, saying the religious name was earned by one person and “that one person is Jesus Christ.” …
“It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is,” [Magristrate Lu Ann] Ballew said.
It was the first time she ordered a first name change, the judge said.
The boy’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, of Newport, said she will appeal. She says Messiah is unique and she liked how it sounded alongside the boy’s two siblings — Micah and Mason.
I am eager to read your comments on this one.
Our recent podcast “How Much Does Your Name Really Matter?” generated a lot of response. Here are a few interesting ones. First, from F.D. Stein of Tennessee:
Loved this podcast; sorry you guys did not find the developer my company worked with in the 1980′s. He was from Oklahoma; his name was Never Fail. His brother was named Will Fail. Never (and his son Never Fail Jr.) were quite successful, and dashing examples of real estate developers at the time.
They were the developer of Waterford Place Apartments in Chattanooga. Bill Severins was their project manager, former Kansas City Royals baseball player. Never Fail looked like Peter Grant of Mission Impossible; striking, tall, white hair perfectly groomed. The 1986 tax law killed them as real estate developers.
We also heard from Tim Harling, who shared his parental naming criteria: Read More »
I’m a new dad who was researching baby names and whipped up an app in spare moments over the last year that tells you stuff like this:
It turns out that Ellen is a disproportionately common name for:
Ellens also overwhelmingly lean toward the Democrat party and have tended to be most popular in the northeastern part of the U.S.
You can also see names ranked within professions, e.g., these are the top three names for guitarists:
I have no idea how good Nametrix works on these dimensions. Having seen a lot of bogus names “data,” I am always a bit leery — especially because it is easy to mistake certain naming patterns for destiny while ignoring the more basic indicators like age, income, education, race, etc. I asked Mark how he assembled his data; here’s his reply: Read More »
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “How Much Does Your Name Matter?“ [MUSIC: Glenn Crytzer and his Syncopators, “Witching Hour Blues” (from Harlem Mad)] Stephen J. DUBNER: Dalton Conley is a sociologist at NYU. He has a book coming out soon, called Parentology. It’s about – well, here, let’s have him tell […] Read More »
In a few weeks we’ll be putting out a Freakonomics Radio episode about baby names. To hold you over until then, here’s an article about a naming-rights story that is amusing and has the added benefit of appearing to be true: a men’s room named after law professor Bill Falik. Yes, that would appear to be an aptonym.
(HT: Michael Jones)
Want to be part of an episode of Freakonomics Radio? We’re working on a podcast about names and we want to hear from readers and listeners about their own names — common ones, unusual ones, everything in between. So we’ve set up a voicemail line at 646-829-4478. Give us a call and tell us your full name, and then tell us a little bit about your first name – how you got it and what it means. Thanks!
Addendum: Thank you for all your emails and messages! Our line is now closed. Our names podcast will be out on 4/8/2013.