Won't you be my Googlegänger?

Oh NY Times how I love thee. Today we learn that there are people running around out there with our names, and we sort of like to know about them. Of course by 'we' I mean not me. Because I don't have any Googlegängers, male or female. There aren't even any Whitney Barnebys or Barnabys as far as I can tell. But here's the thing I found really interesting:

In studies involving Internet telephone directories, Social Security death index records and clinical experiments, Brett Pelham, a social psychologist, and colleagues have found in the past six years that Johnsons are more likely to wed Johnsons, women named Virginia are more likely to live in (and move to) Virginia, and people whose surname is Lane tend to have addresses that include the word “lane,” not “street.”

During the 2000 presidential campaign, people whose surnames began with B were more likely to contribute to George Bush, while those whose surnames began with G were more likely to contribute to Al Gore.

WHAT‽ People named Lane are actually more likely to live on a lane? And the letter of your last name is somehow intertwined with your political donations? The Times doesn't deign to give us the source of these data, or the actual numbers, or tell us who this Brett Pelham is who conducted these studies, but we do get this:
For each of the studies Dr. Pelham and colleagues conducted showing a connection between names and behavior, they compared their results with random chance. The number of Virginias who move to Virginia, for example, is 36 percent higher than could be expected by chance.

36% higher!

And even freakier is this:
Of the 40 Angela Sheltons that Ms. Shelton, the writer, met with in researching her book, many of them were nurses. Only one voted for George W. Bush. Seventy percent, she said, reported they had been raped, sexually assaulted or abused. (Ms. Shelton’s book, subtitled “The True Story of One Woman’s Triumph Over Sexual Abuse,” was based on a documentary she made in 2001.)

I don't know what the combined rate of rape, sexual assault, and abuse is in the general female population but I assume it's significantly less that 70%. So sexual offenders are out there just looking for Angela Sheltons to attack. Scary.


schmatie said...

I read a really interesting article that describes how people's name's first letters are associated with things like grades. Allens and Aaron's get A's more than Dennises and Franks (who are more likely to get D's and F's -- obviously). In addition it also said that when thousands of baseball players stats were taken, those with K names has slightly higher strike out averages. Creepy? Creepy. And, I'm the only Katie Schmaling.

wb said...

I do not understand this phenomenon.