Nominative Determinism in the Medical World

Mari Stoddard maintains a list of examples, from the medical world, of nominative determinism. “Nominative determinism” is the intentionally inflated name for a common phenomenon: some people work at professions that harmonize with their family name. Examples from the Stoddard list are these three doctors in the field of Emergency Medicine: Dr Pulse, Dr Borer; […]

Family Name Frequency and Abundance of the Chemical Elements?

IS AMERICAN LAST NAME FREQUENCY INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL TO TERRESTRIAL ELEMENTAL ABUNDANCE? by E. R. Schulman and E. A. Schulman, Alexandria, Virginia Abstract Yes (provided radioactive gasses are ignored). 1. Introduction This year (2019) marks the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev publishing the first recognizable periodic table in his paper “Relationship of Elements’ Properties to Their […]

Named-cow researcher recognizes merit in research on sheep recognizing people

“I was asked if, as an Ig Nobel laureate myself, I thought this recent Cambridge sheep study would be a contender for an Ig Nobel award, the prize for science that “first makes you laugh, then makes you think”. Celebrity-spotting sheep might sound funny but the science involved in this study actually isn’t sniggerable.” So writes Catherine Douglas […]

Professor Bird (avian science expert)

If you’re seeking information about avian matters, who better to consult than the Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre  (and Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Biology at McGill University, British Columbia,) Professor Bird. Previously, he was past-president of the Raptor Research Foundation Inc.; past-president of the Society of Canadian Ornithologists, past member of the […]

Can trends in baby’s names foreshadow major social events? (new study)

“Before 1992, the names ‘Hillary’ and ‘Hilary’ had been increasing in popularity for several decades. After 1992, however, their popularity dropped suddenly 10-fold.” – explains Stefano Ghirlanda who is Professor of Psychology, Biology, and Anthropology, Brooklyn College, CUNY, and Founder and fellow, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm University. With this in mind, […]

Podcast 84: What sort of person is named Rupzóiyat?

Unpronounceable names — Chérin; Póisher; Kilom; Koikert; Vázal; Dáwfisp; Zóque; Spren; Dáwthô; Rupzóiyat; Blag; Lísrix; Thaspkûwhin; Kîrd’faumish; Génras; Tháchô; Brob. Zóitû; Kóldak; Múrbix; Chermtgáwkonv; Bóppum; and a bunch of others — and what other people make of those unpronounceable names, enliven this week’s Improbable Research podcast. SUBSCRIBE on, iTunes, or Spotify to get a new episode every week, free. This week, Marc Abrahams discusses medical reports about toothbrushes that mysteriously found their […]

Nominative Determinism: Dr. Forrest on Trees

“This book presents a horticultural overview of the main plant families of trees and shrubs from temperate regions that are cultivated in urban and rural landscape schemes. Most of the plants used come from a limited number of plant families and within these families, certain genera contribute very significantly. The largest chapter in the book […]