Silly First Name Syndrome

Some research based on silly first name syndrome

The left wing mock me because I draw attention to the affliction known as Silly First Name Syndrome.

My observations are that when there are tragic situations it often involves someone with a silly first name, leading me to conclude that a great many tragedies could be avoided if we regulated people’s names.

It isn’t often you hear about  John or Ben, or Sally being beaten to death by their step parent for being a SOCK (Some other Cad’s Kids*)

Now there is a body of research to suggest I may well have been right all along.

What’s in a name? Potentially your future.

A host of research shows just how much your name can affect your lifetime success, from your hireability to your spending habits.

We took a look at the research and have highlighted some of the surprising findings below:

If your name is easy to pronounce, people will favour you more.

In a New York University study, researchers found that people with easier-to-pronounce names often have higher-status positions at work. One of the psychologists, Adam Alter, explains toWired, “When we can process a piece of information more easily, when it’s easier to comprehend, we come to like it more.” In a further study, Alter also found that companies with simpler names and ticker symbols performed better in the stock market. Read more »

More evidence that Silly First Name Syndrome is detrimental

People like to attack me for looking at incidences of the sorrow that Silly First Name Syndrome causes.

But there is evidence that shows it is real and the effects are serious. Freakonomics has written about it and now the BBC reports on a two recent books that have looked at the effect of silly first names on children.

Over the last 70 years, researchers have tried to gauge the effect on an individual of having an unusual name. It is thought that our identity is partly shaped by the way we are treated by other people – a concept psychologists call the “looking-glass self” – and our name has the potential to colour our interactions with society. Early studies found that men with uncommon first names were more likely to drop out of school and be lonely later in life. One study found that psychiatric patients with more unusual names tended to be more disturbed.

But more recent work has presented a mixed picture. Richard Zweigenhaft, a psychologist at Guilford College in the US, pointed out that wealthy, oddly-named Americans are more likely to find themselves in Who’s Who. He found no consistent bad effects of having a strange name, but noted that both common and unusual names are sometimes deemed desirable.

[Dalton] Conley, who is a sociologist at New York University, says that children with unusual names may learn impulse control because they may be teased or get used to people asking about their names. “They actually benefit from that experience by learning to control their emotions or their impulses, which is of course a great skill for success.”

But for the main part, he says, the effect of a name on its bearer rarely amounts to more than the effect of being raised by parents who would choose such a name.

Conley would say that…him and his wife called their daughter E and wait till you read what they called their son.

Dalton Conley and his wife Ellen were halfway through this pleasant but painstaking process when their baby girl was born, two months premature.

“We had narrowed down the selections to a bunch of E- names, but we couldn’t ultimately decide,” says Conley, who lives in New York. “Then we came up with the idea of, ‘Let’s just constrain the first degree of freedom. Let’s just give her the first letter and then she can decide when she’s old enough what it stands for.'”

And so, E was born. Now 16, she hasn’t yet felt the need to extend her first name. “I think once you’re given a name, you get used to it – it’s part of you,” she says. E’s little brother, meanwhile, Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles, did take up his parents’ offer to change his name. He added the Heyno and Knuckles when he was four, and his parents made the changes official.  Read more »

Silly First Name Syndrome – an ethical quandry

What started out as an observation based on genuine research, that people with “silly” names appeared to me more likely to be in the media for all the wrong reasons, has morphed into Whaleoil’s SFNS (Silly First Name Syndrome) meme.

There have been times when I’ve used it to explain why some people died prematurely, be they adults, kids or even babies.  And, because of their names, a throw away line like “they did the baby a favour, with a name like that it has a bleak future anyway” (or words to that effect) have been used to label me as a baby hater.

Few of my critics will have realised that I didn’t come up with this idea, and it is based in real-world data.

Here’s another in the news today, SFNS victim “Kronos”

Kronos Gosney was an active and cheery boy who liked nothing better than splashing about in the water and watching Barney the dinosaur on TV.

The 18-month-old’s life was cut short when he was run over in a South Auckland driveway – one of 30 such deaths nationwide since 2000.

In a rare move, his great-uncle George Mahanga, 56, who was allegedly backing his four wheel-drive when it hit Kronos, has been charged with careless driving causing death.

The irony about Kronos’ death is what his name represents   Read more »

Silly First Name Syndrome taken to epic levels

Regular readers know what Silly First Name Syndrome is. Even Freakonomics has looked at the issue.

Now on the The Daily Beast they are looking at some people who are naming their kids after firearms manufacturers.

In 2002, only 194 babies were named Colt, while in 2012 there were 955. Just 185 babies were given the name Remington in 2002, but by 2012 the number had jumped to 666. Perhaps the most surprising of all, however, is a jump in the name Ruger’s (America’s leading firearm manufacturer) from just 23 in 2002 to 118 in 2012.  “This name [Ruger] is more evidence of parents’ increasing interest in naming children after firearms,” Wattenberg writes. “Colt, Remington, and Gauge have all soared, and Gunner is much more common than the traditional name Gunnar.”

If 2012’s statistics are any indication; her point is sound. In 1999, Gunner ranked 739th on the list of the Official Social Security site’s 1000 most popular names for boys—by 2012 it jumped to 293rd. Remington, for both girls and boys,spiked in the last few years as well, starting at 731st place in 1999 and jumping to 421nd a decade later. In 2012 alone, approximately 1,607 babies per million were namedColton—a peak high for the name.

And while a solid argument could be made that these names are often chosen for their style alone and not for their relationship to firearms, the inclination towards them says something about our society. “I think of names as a fossil record of our culture. You can look back over generations and get a sense of what people were talking about—our obsessions, our dreams, etc,” says Wattenberg.  Read more »

Let’s play Whaleoil Bingo

Let’s play Whaleoil Bingo…Annette King and Chris Hipkins were playing today.

Annette King went after me in parliament today, too gutless to speak to me in private, the land lady went troppo…even mentioning SOCKs and Silly First Name Syndrome (starts at 6:01)

I wonder what the police interviews with her say? We will find out soon enough.

Read more »

Silly First Name Syndrome epidemic in Brazil

Silly First Name Syndrome has been well documented the world over as being a significant factor in crime, violence and deaths.

We have our fair share of ferals with SFNS, but check out this epidemic of SFNS in Brazil.

When he became a teenager, Wonarllevyston Garlan Marllon Branddon Bruno Paullynelly Mell Oliveira Pereira did what any self-conscious person worried about merciless taunting from his peers might do: He pleaded with his parents and the courts to let him change his name.

“I never had anything in common with Marlon Brando,” he said, referring to the American actor for whom he was partially named. So with the permission of his parents and the legal system, he whittled down his nine names to an economical four, Bruno Wonarleviston Oliveira Pereira.

“I just didn’t want to go through life with something more complicated than that,” explained Mr. Oliveira Pereira, a 19-year-old university student.

Carrying an extraordinary name is remarkably widespread in Brazil. Glance at the Facebook timelines of Brazilian friends. Strike up a conversation at a Sunday afternoon barbecue. Or merely stand in line at a notary public and listen to a pencil-pusher call out the people waiting for documents to be stamped.

You will be awed by some of the names you hear.   Read more »

The essential guide to SFNS

On Fairfax’s Essential Mums website there is a guide to Silly First Name Syndrome…they call it the “Most Unusual Baby Names of 2013“.

But it is fair to say that in about 16 -18 years time we will be reading about these people in the news for all the wrong reasons.

It’s the end of another year, and with that comes a variety of lists of baby names. Which were the most popular names of the past 12 months? The fastest rising, and the names falling from favour the quickest? What are the latest trends?

In New Zealand there are restrictions on what you can and can’t name your baby, but overseas things are a bit looser. Here are some of the stranger names American babies have been lumbered with this year, courtesy of and The latter gets its data from parents who register their baby’s name with the site, and the site explains that each name was given to at least three children.

This year brand names were popular with some parents, with girls named Chevy, Pepsi and Wrigley, and several boys named Dior.

The general population also reflected the celebrity trend of naming children after places, with London, Egypt and Dallas for boys, and Phoenix and Olympia for girls.

Parents also have high hopes for their offspring, choosing Luck, Prosper, Bright and Victory for males, and Nirvana and Paradise for girls.

Some girls were given feminine, flowery names, such as Orchid, Tulip and Fairy … and the much more literal Flower.

Animals were a hit: boys were named Cub, Finch, Tiger, Kodiak and Panda, while the girls included Feline and Puppy.

And lastly, in the too-hard-to-categorise group, comes Cheese, Chow and Thirdy for males, and Duda, Blip and Kiwi for females.

SFNS strikes again

When will the carnage end, as Silly First Name Syndrome strikes again?

An 18-year-old dropout who continued having sex with his 13-year-old girlfriend despite warnings from both sets of parents and police has been jailed for two years.

Xenan Daniel Ratahi was immature and impulsive in continuing the relationship and in a raft of other offending, his lawyer Paul Keegan said during sentencing in the New Plymouth District Court.

At one stage there were fears the girl, who became a runaway to meet up with Ratahi and stopped going to school, had become pregnant, but this proved to be a false alarm.  Read more »

SFNS and a suspected pedo gets his beans

There was always going to be hurt and suffering with this case. Two men with Silly First Name Syndrome, prison and a suspected pedo.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, AR– A new report of abuse between inmates at the Washington County Jail, this time the victim’s sister says she has surveillance video that proves it.

This latest report, coming the same day two inmates faced a judge, accused of raping and torturing a cell mate on December 12th.

Javaugntaiye Willis and J’Donta Britt are both charged with rape, terroristic threatening and second-degree battery. While the investigation remains on-going a probable cause report says the victim was beaten, threatened and raped over a 16-hour period.

Now, a new case of abuse is being brought forward and it involves Willis.

“They just circled around like vultures.”  Read more »

Another victim of SFNS

Surely calling your child “Suckey” it is a surefire way to send them on the path that ends in the crime columns?

Silly First Name Syndrome continues to collect victims…when will politicians act?

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