They actually spent money studying this: Hurricanes with female names more deadly than male-named storms

Evil girl posterFrom the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the department of bad baby names, something sure to piss off somebody, somewhere.

In the coming Atlantic hurricane season, watch out for hurricanes with benign-sounding names like Dolly, Fay or Hanna. According to a new article from a team of researchers at the University of Illinois, hurricanes with feminine names are likely to cause significantly more deaths than hurricanes with masculine names, apparently because storms with feminine names are perceived as less threatening. 

An analysis of more than six decades of death rates from U.S. hurricanes shows that severe hurricanes with a more feminine name result in a greater death toll, simply because a storm with a feminine name is seen as less foreboding than one with a more masculine name. As a result, people in the path of these severe storms may take fewer protective measures, leaving them more vulnerable to harm.

The finding indicates an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the gendered naming of hurricanes, which has important implications for policymakers, meteorologists, the news media and the public regarding hurricane communication and preparedness, the researchers say.

“The problem is that a hurricane’s name has nothing to do with its severity,” said Kiju Jung, a doctoral student in marketing in the U. of I.’s College of Business and the lead author on the study.

“Names are assigned arbitrarily, based on a predetermined list of alternating male and female names,” he said. “If people in the path of a severe storm are judging the risk based on the storm’s name, then this is potentially very dangerous.” The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined actual hurricane fatalities for all storms that made landfall in the U.S. from 1950-2012, excluding Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Audrey (1957) because they were much deadlier than the typical storm.

The authors found that for highly damaging storms, the more feminine the storm’s name, the more people it killed. The team’s analysis suggests that changing a severe hurricane’s name from the masculine “Charley” to the feminine “Eloise” could nearly triple its death toll.

“In judging the intensity of a storm, people appear to be applying their beliefs about how men and women behave,” said Sharon Shavitt, a professor of marketing at Illinois and a co-author of the report. “This makes a female-named hurricane, especially one with a very feminine name such as Belle or Cindy, seem gentler and less violent.”

In a follow-up set of experiments, Jung and his colleagues examined how the gender of names directly affected people’s judgments about storms. They found that people who were asked to imagine being in the path of “Hurricane Alexandra” (or “Christina” or “Victoria”) rated the storm as less risky and intense compared to those asked to imagine being in the path of “Hurricane Alexander” (or “Christopher” or “Victor”).

“This is a tremendously important finding. Proof positive that our culturally grounded associations steer our steps,” said Hazel Rose Markus, a professor in behavioral sciences at Stanford University, who was not involved in the research. Hurricanes in the U.S. formerly were given only female names, a practice that meteorologists of a different era considered appropriate given the unpredictable nature of the storms. According to the paper, an alternating male-female naming system was adopted in the late 1970s because of increased societal awareness of sexism.

(The names of this year’s storms, alternating between male and female names, will start with Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal and Dolly.) Even though the “gender” of hurricanes is pre-assigned and arbitrary, the question remains: Do people judge hurricane risks in the context of gender-based expectations?

“People imagining a ‘female’ hurricane were not as willing to seek shelter,” Shavitt said. “The stereotypes that underlie these judgments are subtle and not necessarily hostile toward women – they may involve viewing women as warmer and less aggressive than men.”

“Such gender biases are pervasive and implicit,” said Madhu Viswanathan, a professor of marketing at Illinois and a co-author of the study. “We found that people were affected by the gender of hurricane names regardless of whether they explicitly endorsed the idea that women and men have different traits. This appears to be a widespread phenomenon.”

Hurricanes kill more than 200 people in the U.S. each year, and severe hurricanes are capable of producing casualties in the thousands, according to the paper. Even with climate change increasing the frequency and severity of storms, hurricane preparedness remains a challenge for officials.

Although the negative effect of gender stereotypes is well-known in hiring decisions and other evaluations of women and men, this research is the first to demonstrate that gender stereotypes can have deadly consequences.

###

Joseph Hilbe, of Arizona State University, also was a co-author of the paper.

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119 Responses to They actually spent money studying this: Hurricanes with female names more deadly than male-named storms

  1. Hell hath no fury like a female hurricane scorned.

  2. LB says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_cyclone_naming

    Lots of names are allocated on the basis of where the huricanes start, and that’s gender specific.

    If the strongest storms originate in an area with female names, you have the simple explanation.

  3. elftone says:

    So if we start calling them “Butch” and “Vlarg, the Destroyer of Worlds”, it’ll save lives? What are we waiting for? ;)

  4. So, let’s see, we want all hurricanes to be named, Thor, Zeus, Arnold, Adolf, Joseph (Stalin), Mao, Jeffrey (Dalmer), or Napoleon.

  5. Paul says:

    “An analysis of more than six decades of …a follow-up set of experiments…”
    Their conclusion appears to be observational based, a step in the right direction?

  6. DaveA says:

    People are told a lot more than a name; importantly they’re told the intensity, so are people going to prepare less for category 5 Tabatha than category 5 Achilles? I don’t see it, not when lives are at stake. Also consider how noisy the data is – deaths, which don’t usually occur in large numbers so especially noisy. And how subjective is name femininity?

  7. Patrick B says:

    Dave A is correct. As far as I can tell, no one I know down here on the Gulf coast cares what the name is – they care what is the category, the predicted storm surge and likely path.

  8. CLR II says:

    Has it been 6 decades since they started using male names for half of the Hurricanes? Perhaps there are more deaths from feminine Hurricanes because they were all feminine back when more people were killed by hurricanes.

  9. Admad says:

    “Even with climate change increasing the frequency and severity of storms, hurricane preparedness remains a challenge for officials.” Even with the longest recorded pause in landfalling hurricanes, real-world data remains a challenge for climate researchers.

  10. Mark Hladik says:

    “On the Sixth Day, God created man. On the Seventh Day, God rested.

    On the Eighth Day, God created woman, and since then, neither God nor man has rested.”

  11. MarkW says:

    “An analysis of more than six decades of”

    Prior to about 20 years ago, all storms had women’s names.
    Right of the bat, their study is garbage.
    Perhaps they are measuring a long term decrease in storm deaths, which would make sense given the increase in tracking and prediction.

  12. Leewok says:

    I’m curious if they omitted the two most fatal male named hurricanes or is this acceptable cherry picking?
    As to the rest of it …………. Darwin awards all round please, if you think a hurricane isn’t dangerous because of its name you need to get out the pool.

  13. Johna Till Johnson says:

    Thanks, Elftone! That was worth a chuckle. Ditto Mark Hladik (and I’m a woman). Good to start the day with the zesty humor of WUWT-ers…

  14. Mike Ozanne says:

    So only female names were used for Atlantic Hurricanes between 1953 and 1977, after that alternate male and female names were used. Has this study accounted for this?

  15. philjourdan says:

    Except there is insufficient data – the bane of all whacko climate theories.

  16. michaelozanne says:

    Damn, paywalled…

  17. John West says:

    CLR II says:

    “Has it been 6 decades since they started using male names for half of the Hurricanes? “

    No, female names were exclusively used from 1953 to 1978.

    http://www.gohsep.la.gov/factsheets/WhyHurricanesAreNamed.htm

  18. JimS says:

    Soooo, “they” spent money studying this … I want to go back to sleep and never wake up again …

  19. Yeah, well… Kipling called it.

    But still, “Hurricane Obama” would scare the bejeezus outa me.

  20. Steve Keohane says:

    hurricanes with feminine names are likely to cause significantly more deaths than hurricanes with masculine names, apparently because storms with feminine names are perceived as less threatening.
    So only perception is the inverse cause of severity, another basis for anthro-spawned calamity.
    Reminds me of the ageless wisdom of the Firesign Theater, “What you don’t think, can’t hurt you.”

  21. wfrumkin says:

    Confusing cause and effect and seeing patterns in random events is one of the hallmarks of pseudo science such as global warming.

  22. ferdberple says:

    the more feminine the storm’s name, the more people it killed.
    ============
    this makes perfect sense. hurricane landfalls are decreasing. male names have only been used recently. what you have is the effects of a decreasing trend on two samples of different lengths.

    the shorter sample will appear on average to be lower, simply because its average is more recent (thus contains mostly lower data points)

    What you have is researchers with a poor understanding of trends and averages.

  23. Frank K. says:

    The real outrage here is that these nonsense research reports are the product of overpaid faculty/staff from public universities who are bankrupting America’s parents and students with exorbitant tuition and fees…

  24. TerryS says:

    Kiju Jung, a doctoral student in marketing – lead author.
    Sharon Shavitt, a professor of marketing – co-author.
    Madhu Viswanathan, a professor of marketing – co-author.

    Enough said.

  25. Clay Marley says:

    We’re doomed. Really, if this is what passes for actual science in our institutes of higher learning, this culture is doomed. Pack it up and go home. Idiocracy here we come!

    DaveA thanks for the link. Apparently they handled the fact that all names prior to 1979 were feminine, by creating a subjective “degree of femininity” for each name. That is, they didn’t use a binary masculine-femenine, but ranked it on some scale. Remarkable.

  26. toorightmate says:

    Thank goodness our research dollars are being spent so wisely???????????????????????????

  27. michaelozanne says:

    “So if we start calling them “Butch” and “Vlarg”

    Hurricane Cthulhu?

  28. Greg says:

    This study actually proves that increasing CO2 results in fewer hurricane deaths, since there was more death when only female names were used, and CO2 was at its ‘ideal level’

  29. ferdberple says:

    Also, over time hurricanes will become less dangerous due to adaptation. Hurricane prone structures get destroyed. Hurricane resistant structures survive. Over time the percentage of proven, resistant structures will increase, further reducing the trend in fatalities.

    since male names coincide with more recent trends, this will skew the average of male names lower than female names.

  30. GregL says:

    Maybe the problem is that hurricane names are all cissexist – we need to stick with androgynous names like “Chris” or “Stacy”. After all, in our modern culture where gender fluidity is now considered seriously, should we not have hurricanes that are transgendered or gender fluid? I just don’t want to hurt hurricane feelings …

    More seriously, this paper is a fantastic ignoble awards candidate. I bet it makes it.

  31. John West says:

    So, according to NOAA here:

    http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hazstats/resources/weather_fatalities.pdf

    There were 1637 hurricane dealths from 1953 through 1978 when only female names were used and 1448 hurricane deaths from 1979 through 2013 of which 1016 were from 2005.

    According to NOAA here:
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/nws-nhc-6.pdf

    1200 of those 1016 (LOL) were from Katrina.

    So, you have over half the deaths in the last 6 decades being from when hurricanes were only given female names and the grand majority of deaths coming from a single hurricane during the alternating male/female naming period that just happen to have a female name.

    It boggles the mind what passes for science.

  32. wws says:

    I think we should name the next hurricane “Ass-Hammer!” That’ll make people pay attention!!!

    And I would love to watch the weatherman talking about that one on the big screen.

  33. arthur4563 says:

    Exactly how does one determine which female name is the “more feminine”? In this case the issue is what is perceived by those who were around, not what the researchers believe. And how will one sample opinions of people who lived decades ago to find out ? I would suggest looking at the situation present when a hurricane comes ashore rather than its name. If there was a recent deadly hurricane and then another one closely follows, I will bet a LOT of money that the second storm will cause fewer deaths, irregardless of its strength. The metric “deaths” is a fuzzy and haphazard one. It is the result of a whole lot of factors – the amount of flooding, mostly, also the population densities, also the timing of the storm (weekend, etc) and whether it’s day or night, etc etc etc. Any attempt to show any effect of naming must remove all of the other known factors’ influence on death toll. I consider that impossible and thus this study is invalid and should never have received funding. It will become a laughing stock amongst those who know better.

  34. Hey was Sandy a male or female hurricane?

  35. jheinrich says:

    “If people in the path of a severe storm are judging the risk based on the storm’s name, then this is potentially very dangerous.”

    If people in the path of a severe storm are judging the risk based on the storm’s name and not the storm reports, then they are candidates for the Darwin Award.

  36. ferdberple says:

    How about storms that start with vowels instead of consonants?

    Hurricane Adam vs Hurricane Katrina
    Hurricane Edith vs Hurricane Karl

    Maybe it isn’t masculine or feminine at all?

    What about using numbers?

    Hurricane 237 vs Hurricane Eugene

    The numbers are definitely scarier. Eugene not much to worry about, just like the old guy down the block. 237, who can say. Could be nasty.

  37. arthur4563 says:

    I love the way the authors put in their plug for less gender bias. Unfortunately believing that men and women are quite different is not a bias, it’s reality. Always has been. This is not to say that some women don’t have more guts than some men – they do. But just looking at the newspapers should inform even the most dimwitted of folks that its mostly men that strangle, shoot, assault,
    rob,steal, fistfight, and kill other folks. Yeah, why would anyone think men were more dangerous?
    Well, those who have eyes and can see and read the newspapers would be amongst the 99%
    who believe this to be true. Has any man ever walked down the sidewalk and approached and been physically fearful of that woman? I’ve never seen such a man. I have never met a woman I was afraid of,no matter how large a person she was.

  38. Latitude says:

    just name them all “Butch”…and cover all the bases

  39. Coach Springer says:

    Proof positive? From marketing, the most empirical of all sciences? I guess they deserve to die for their gender bias. This study has a great big dose of everything looks like a nail if you’re a hammer. Maybe the female names should be more threatening, like Hurricane Maleficent or Hurricane Hillary.

  40. evanmjones says:

    Hell hath no fury like a woman storm.

  41. evanmjones says:

    Damn, someone beat me to it.

  42. Geologist Down The Pub Sez says:

    Oh Lord, give me strength to deal with fools!

  43. Andy Hurley says:

    The obvious truth is ,that all Hurricanes under category 3 ,should be given female names after that the name should change to a male name and if anything exceeds category 5 it should be called “Warning warning Robinsons! lady wearing sturdy shoes approaching”

  44. mpainter says:

    These poor idiots at U of Ill studied all storms since 1950. Prior to sometime in the late 70′s, ALL hurricanes had female names. When feminists complained about this, they started the present nomenclature of men’s names alternating with women’s.
    This means that they have included in their calculations a period of over 25 years when hurricanes had only female names. Duh! This is why their study shows more injuries from female hurricanes.

    The old joke was : Why are hurricanes named after women? answer: Because if they were named after men they would be called his-acanes.

  45. Roy Spencer says:

    Katrina was left out of the study. Also, the researchers did examine pre-1979 and post-1979 statistics separately.

  46. Nick Milner says:

    What’s that, Science? I can’t hear you because of all that spinning. The coffin lid isn’t helping, either.

  47. Mike Ozanne says:

    “Oh Lord, give me strength to deal with fools!”
    And the sense to hide the bodies if I prove weak…

  48. Curt says:

    It’s worth downloading their spreadsheet from the SI. Even without formal analysis, it’s obvious that fatalities have been going down over time.

    Interestingly, the only hurricane used in the post-1979 era that caused over 100 fatalities was Sandy in 2012. This was in a “male” name slot for that year, but they rated it “highly feminine”. Counting it as a male name would have reversed their findings for that era.

  49. William Sears says:

    According to William M. Briggs this study is complete junk. See:

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=12653

    Also this graph tells you everything that you need to know. No statistics is needed.

    http://i.imgur.com/0WRT6xA.png

  50. Saren says:

    Why so much ridicule for this paper? There is no link provided to it but I can only assume it was published in some sort of social science journal. It obviously not climatology and shouldn’t be judged as if it was.

    As to the change from all female to alternating gender names, the only problem is that storm intensity may have lowered over the decades – again assuming they aren’t climatologists this isn’t a huge problem.

    Then there is the judgment that this is a waste of money – but compared to what? Compared to many papers in social sciences such as gender studies, social geography, etc this could be judged quite a good spend in that it could result in less deaths.

    Do people think the issue behind the study – inequality in our perception of gender roles – is a non-issue or just not relevant here?

  51. Robert W Turner says:

    This research is so important and vital to our future existence that I just wish there were a way to fund this type of work directly instead of it coming from the general tax fund. SARC

  52. Gary H says:


    Even with climate change increasing the frequency and severity of storms,

    Is that quoted from the article? While some predict such for the future, there is no established evidence that there has been a long term increasing trend (at least back to 1900) in global cyclonic frequency nor ACE

  53. Robert W Turner says:

    Saren says:

    June 3, 2014 at 8:00 am
    Why so much ridicule for this paper?

    http://www.usdebtclock.org/

  54. Bill Hutto says:

    Hurricane Hillary seems pretty scary to me…

  55. Bob Shapiro says:

    OK, so I nominate the following names to be used for female storms:

    C –> Cruella
    M –> Malificent
    L –> Lucretia (or do too few people know L. Borgia?)

    Other letters/names?

  56. michaelozanne says:

    “Why so much ridicule for this paper? There is no link provided to it but I can only assume it was published in some sort of social science journal.”

    It’s in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  57. Kate Forney says:

    I think they should name them after the monsters in Japanese horror movies. I think if they went far enough down in the list they could mine up an entire pantheon of such names.

    Or why not serial numbers: 2014-1, 2014-2?

  58. scarletmacaw says:

    The main point here is the waste of taxpayer dollars, money taken by force from hard working people to pay for garbage research like this. The slim statistical correlation between hurricane names and deaths (23 vs. 29) is meaningless.

    That said, if hurricane Megatron is heading my way, I’m running.

  59. Saren says:
    June 3, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Why so much ridicule for this paper?

    Junk science is junk science. & stupid people are funny & should be mocked.

    Also, there’s this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deadliest_Atlantic_hurricanes

  60. Poor Yorek says:

    Perhaps begin naming hurricanes after government agencies (ATF, DEA, IRS): surely that would encourage people to flee.

    Btw, was in Biloxi, MS (Keesler AFB) during Camille. I don’t recall any time spent discussing gender implications before, during, or after the storm. I do recall a lot of fear and, afterwards, stunned amazement.

  61. Greg says:

    Bill Hutto wins.

  62. @Robert Fair enough. I guess my point isn’t whether or not this is good money spent, but from a women’s studies/gender studies/sociology perspective the topic seems relevant. If this is a bad use of money then so is the entire subject of women’s studies. Personally I would rather not pay _any_ taxes on any education (being an anarchist/libertarian-type) than worry about how it’s spent.

  63. @Stark I’m not defending the science in this paper – by all accounts it’s seriously lacking. My impression is that there is lots of the ridicule being laid to the entire premise not just the science.

  64. And the weather service has warned us to brace ourselves for the onslaught of Hurricane Barbara. And if you think naming a destructive storm after a woman is sexist, you obviously have never seen the gals grabbing for items at a clearance sale.

    Got to love the Simpsons.

  65. Mumbles McGuirck says:

    Greg says:
    June 3, 2014 at 7:07 am

    This study actually proves that increasing CO2 results in fewer hurricane deaths, since there was more death when only female names were used, and CO2 was at its ‘ideal level’
    —————————————————————————————————————————-
    Actually, yes. Global Climate Models project that in a “warmer world” there will be fewer tropical cyclones. And in paleotemptology studies tropical cyclone activity was nearly twice as high during the Little Ice Age. So, more Carbon Dioxide please.;)

  66. Mumbles McGuirck says:

    It’s time to bring back the neutercane.
    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/A18.html

  67. chris moffatt says:

    Madhu Viswanathan, a professor of marketing at Illinois; affiliation as noted in the paper at PNAS = “Women and Gender in Global Perspectives, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Champaign, IL”

    Well good – no agenda there then!

    Having survived a hurricane I’d surmise that whether someone evacuates or not depends on experience of surviving a hurricane and ability to evacuate. If another hurricane comes my way I’m getting out of town no matter what its name is.

    Hurricane preparedness is a bit of a misnomer. Other than boarding up windows and putting out sandbags there’s not a lot you can do. All that stuff about batteries, water, food etc is for post-hurricane waiting for normal service to resume, if you survived, after you were foolish enough not to evacuate.

    “Tis pity this was published in PNAS since it seems to have nothing to do with science.

  68. Barbara Skolaut says:

    “Too stupid to live” really should be a valid diagnosis. >:-(

  69. ren says:

    Let’s see the current temperature anomalies in the Pacific. In May decreased from April.
    This is different than in 1997.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/index/heat_content_index.txt

  70. mpainter says:

    Chris Moffat:

    Hurricane preparedness means maintaining your sea walls and dikes. New Orleans is an example of what happens when you neglect such precautions. The Dutch in the Netherlands do this: Watcher, Dreamer. and Sleeper.

  71. Resourceguy says:

    Well, it is Illinois.

  72. earwig42 says:

    That paper should be put in the TOTALLY WASTED TAXPAYER MONEY file in the library and cross referenced in the EXAMPLES OF THE DUMBING DOWN OF THE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM.

    Meh, I think I lost 13 IQ points just reading that, and I REALLY can’t afford to lose any more.

  73. Chuckarama says:

    Well. If you buy the study, then they have a few choices in front of them. Stop naming storms with female names, in order to save more lives, or embrace whatever ideology would keep them using female names for storms. The third option would be to believe the study is somehow flawed or a statistical apparition. I see they chose option #3, but it has a hint of #2 in it.

  74. LearDog says:

    Natural selection at work…..

  75. noloctd says:

    If the University of Illinois is looking for a place to save money, I would suggest the Marketing faculty as a good place to start. The two professors who are co-authors of this “study” in particular. The U of I business school used to be pretty good back in the days before Gender Warror Princesses got on the faculty. To quote the immortal Roberto Duran “No mas.”

  76. Also, anybody who didn’t already know this simply hasn’t bothered to read the relevant literature: http://www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/hum100/female.html

  77. Billy Liar says:

    TerryS says:
    June 3, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Kiju Jung, a doctoral student in marketing – lead author.
    Sharon Shavitt, a professor of marketing – co-author.
    Madhu Viswanathan, a professor of marketing – co-author.

    Enough said.

    Candidates for the B-Ark?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Places_in_The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy#Golgafrincham

  78. evanmjones says:

    Lucretia (or do too few people know L. Borgia?)

    Just pen pals, I swear.

  79. Consensus hearts are bursting with the things they want to say,
    But the Hurricane Gaia gave them isn’t theirs to give away.
    For when Al Gore meets his Faithful, all confirm the Warmist’s tale -
    That the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    Profound Apologies, Rudyard Kipling, (1865 – 1936)

  80. Dave says:

    How much did these pearls of wisdom cost the American taxpayer?

  81. tmitsss says:

    Why give it a name when it won’t come when you call

  82. michael hart says:

    “This is a tremendously important finding. Proof positive that our culturally grounded associations steer our steps,” said Hazel Rose Markus.

    Yes. There are no stupid questions. Only stupid people.
    It’s worse than we thought.

    I suppose the next question is “What names do we have to use to make the damage go away completely?”. There will then be no need for EPA to save the world from carbon dioxide.

  83. wobble says:

    “This is a tremendously important finding. Proof positive that our culturally grounded associations steer our steps,” said Hazel Rose Markus.

    How could anyone call this study “Proof positive”? Someone needs to educate poor Hazel before she embarrasses herself again.

  84. Zeke says:

    “The authors found that for highly damaging storms, the more feminine the storm’s name, the more people it killed. The team’s analysis suggests that changing a severe hurricane’s name from the masculine “Charley” to the feminine “Eloise” could nearly triple its death toll…Although the negative effect of gender stereotypes is well-known in hiring decisions and other evaluations of women and men, this research is the first to demonstrate that gender stereotypes can have deadly consequences.”

    The World Empire (UN) has already taken many measures to save us from the “deadly consequences” of “gender differences.” How?

    1. Through radical changes in the Educational system: the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty which was signed but has not been ratified, and through the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW):

    “While this treaty sounds harmless, if ratified by the U.S. Senate, it would allow the federal government to supervise all curriculum, teaching methods, and education in all schools to eliminate any “gender bias.” This could lead to regulation and control on homeschoolers under the guise of “eliminating
    bias.””

    2. Through the destruction of modern agriculture: Paradigm Shift Urgently Needed In Agriculture
    UN Agencies Call for an End to Industrial Agriculture & Food System

    “A rising chorus from UN agencies on how food security, poverty, gender inequality and climate change can all be addressed by a radical transformation of our agriculture and food system”

    Dr Mae-Wan Ho

    I will give you a her-icane if that Maoist siren gets near my children’s education or diet.

  85. noaaprogrammer says:

    mf mezzo-forte moderately loud (moderately strong tropical storm)
    f forte strong (cat. 1 hurricane)
    ff fortissimo very strong (cat. 2 hurricane)
    fff forte fortissimo very very strong (cat. 3 hurricane)
    etc. etc.
    f5 Get-Out-of-Dodge Hurricane

  86. Louis says:

    As in “Monsters vs. Aliens,” a monster named “Susan” just isn’t as scary, neither is Hurricane Susan, it seems.

  87. caprizchka says:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/03/us/female-hurricanes-deadlier/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

    “But not everyone buys the team’s hypothesis. Jeff Lazo of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research said the pattern is most likely a statistical fluke, according to National Geographic.

    “He notes that all hurricanes had female names until 1979 — meaning the study included 29 years without male hurricane names.

    “That’s significant because hurricanes have generally gotten less deadly over time, Lazo told National Geographic.”

    “This year’s list of names include “Omar” and “Sally.” It’s unclear how people might prepare differently if caught in the paths of those storms.” How about Omie and Scare-Ya? I think that maturity of name is also a factor. Too many female names are diminutive and baby-fied.

  88. tadchem says:

    Example of a coincidence: “The decrease in the mortality of tropical storms is due to improved forecasting and improved preparedness” temporally coincides with “the appeasement of feminists upset because of the exclusive use of female names for hurricanes is accomplished by adding male names to the mix”.
    Infer a causal connection at one’s own peril.

  89. crosspatch says:

    I grew up on the east coast. Never once in my entire life did I hear someone say that they were less worried about a storm because it had a female name. Not once. Ever. Storms such as Hazel were legend when I was growing up. The notion that someone doesn’t take a storm seriously because it has a female name is absolute baloney.

  90. Steele says:

    Waste of money or not, I’m coming down on the side of giving all tropical storms, regardless of severity, the most terrifying names possible. That way we can just scare the Hell out of people, so they do what the wise powers-that-be think is best for them.

    Some examples: Klaus Von Mutilator, Dick Molesterio, Wilhelmina Facecancer, Rod Manglebaby

    /Of course, this post is dripping with sarcasm. Giving storms names was intended to make them easier to talk about and familiarize them (make them less terrifying.) And, of course, naming hurricanes after women was a play on “hur” sounding like “her”. It was cute and fun — and then certain segments of the world lost their sense of humor… Worst of all is the suggestion that we give them serial numbers… Instead of “I had to rebuild my deck after Irene came through.” we’ll have “I had to rebuild after atch-four-oh-one-kay!”

  91. caprizchka says:

    “…dripping with sarcasm.” I thought it looked like rain. :) I really want to steal “Wilhelmina Facecancer” I can’t love this enough! LOL

  92. Mac the Knife says:

    wws says:
    June 3, 2014 at 7:10 am
    I think we should name the next hurricane “Ass-Hammer!” That’ll make people pay attention!!!
    And I would love to watch the weatherman talking about that one on the big screen.

    wws,
    OK – ya ‘got me’! Twice!!
    First, I busted up laughing on THAT name!
    Then, I read your second line….. and I could immediately visualize the weatherman studiously referring to a satellite image of the hurricane while lecturing us “Here we see well developed eye of Hurricane Ass Hammer”….. and I completely lost it!!! Had tears leaking out of my eyes, I was laughing soooo hard……

    You win the Kewpie Doll…. for masterful ‘set up’, plot’, and ‘visual effects’!
    Mac

  93. GregL says:

    Update: The Ignoble Awards group is aware of this paper and have had a flood of people nominate it – we may have a winner in it! Time will tell.

    http://www.improbable.com/2014/06/02/count-the-tempestuous-assumptions/

  94. philjourdan says:

    @Bill Hutto

    At this point, what does it matter?

  95. philjourdan says:

    @Bob Shapiro

    E – Esmeralda.

  96. @crosspatch I’ve never heard a person admit to being a racist or misogynist but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. There may not be enough data to confidently say female-named hurricanes are more dangerous but that doesn’t mean they aren’t.

  97. Data Soong says:

    DaveA, thanks for the link to the critique. William Sears, thanks for the link to the useful graph. For those able to read the paper itself through an online subscription through your work, here is the link: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/05/29/1402786111.full.pdf+html

  98. Berényi Péter says:

    I propose a simple naming scheme. Let’s call every single hurricane “Barack” from now on. It is masculine, easy to remember &. scary enough to save untold number of lives. Problem solved.

  99. Gunga Din says:

    I said this on Dr. Spenser’s blog just now.

    Gunga Din says:
    June 3, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    There’s potential here.
    You could name hurricanes based on who you wanted to save.
    You want to save CAGWers, Hurricane Carbon!
    You want to “Save the Children”, Hurricane Homework!
    You want to “Save the Trees”, Hurricane Mann! (How do you get a tree ring?)
    You want to save the Mannequins, Hurricane FOIA!
    You want to save the taxpayers and/or Tea Partiers, Hurricane IRiS!

    The list could go on and on….

  100. DD More says:

    DaveA says: June 3, 2014 at 6:50 am I also thank you for the link. Did you note one of the authors reply had -
    What’s more, looking only at severe hurricanes that hit in 1979 and afterwards (those above $1.65B median damage), 16 male-named hurricane each caused 23 deaths on average whereas 14 female-named hurricanes each caused 29 deaths on average.

    Sometime I like to look at the opposite data, how many people lived. So if each storm only affected 100,000 people = 3,000,000 for the 30 storms. A difference of 6 deaths??

  101. Rich Horton says:

    The real problem here is they use pre-satellite era data and they don;t contrast it with post-satellite era data. Those two era have completely different death rates, and it has nothing to do with female names, it has to do with accurate predictions. Pre-1970 the average death rate was 35.4 per storm (their own data). Post-1970 that drops to 16.8.

    Now since 1979, when male names were used, there were 15.8 deaths on average per female named storm. Male named storms averaged 17.9 deaths. I’m sure the difference is not statistically significant, but it sure as hell isn’t twice as large for female named storms.

  102. Allencic says:

    I think we can all see that a hurricane named Barack is already wreaking havoc even though it hasn’t formed yet. The most damage in history.

  103. crosspatch says:

    Saren Calvert says:
    June 3, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    @crosspatch I’ve never heard a person admit to being a racist or misogynist but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    Which has to do with this — how? A storm is not a human being, so regardless of feelings one might have that females are generally weaker than males, we aren’t talking about humans. We are talking about codenames assigned to storms. Storms aren’t humans and there are no “female” or “male” storms. I’m pretty sure everyone understands that.

  104. @crosspatch You said you’ve never heard of anyone say out-loud that they were more afraid of male-named hurricanes than female named hurricanes. My point is that just because someone doesn’t say it doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking it.

  105. Philemon says:

    Ah, marketing people! Only they would think “Floyd” sounds deadlier than “Camille” because it’s obviously more “masculine”! Marketing people thought “New Coke” was a good idea, too.

    Throwing out outliers like Katrina just because they are outliers… Not a good reason. Except for reducing the standard deviation, which did have the benefit, for them, of increasing statistical significance for what remained. Nice one!

    Of course, ignoring infrastructure problems and blaming the resulting loss of life and property damage on “the horrible storm which was never anticipated” is politics at its finest.

    Trying to put the blame on poor people, who have practically no control over the funding for infrastructure projects, on poor people being dumb enough to think a feminine name makes a storm less dangerous regardless of what they were assured the infrastructure could withstand, whether the storm was a category one or a category three…

    All based on undergraduate Illinois students’ seat-of-the-pants sense of which names sound more masculine or evacuation-worthy…

    Great study!

    Do I really need a sarcasm tag here?

  106. If this is what science is becoming in this country, we’re all in serious trouble.

    Meanwhile…if we exclude the years before 1979 (the date when we began giving storms “boy” names as well as “girl” names), then using the dataset used in the study (http://www.pnas.org/…/2014/05/29/1402786111.abstract…) we see the following:

    The dataset contains 27 named storms bearing both “boy” names and “girl” names, and both “boy” storms and “girl” storms averaged Category 1.96. Deaths in storms denoted as “male” totaled 413, giving an average of 15.3 deaths per storm; deaths in storms denoted as “female” totaled 459, yielding an average of 17 deaths per storm. However, this includes 159 deaths from Hurricane Sandy, a unisex name that the researches included as a “female” storm, because that was how it fell in the rotation. If we exclude it as a meteorological hermaphrodite — which seems logical, given that the researchers conclude that it’s the perception of a female name that causes death tolls to rise — then the average for “female” storms falls to 11.5.

    Of course, the researchers also excluded Hurricanes Katrina (2005, resulting in >1800 deaths) and Audrey (1957, death toll unknown but estimated at >500), from the dataset, reasoning that they were two “outliers.” They did, however, include Diane (1955, 200 deaths), Camille (1969, 256 deaths), and Agnes (1972, 117 deaths)…all of which significantly hiked the overall average of “female” storms (which averaged about 27 in the pre-1979 era).

    All in all…not exactly a grand day for science.

  107. Ric Werme says:

    The last major hurricane to hit the US was Wilma in October 2005. The study subjects were likely undergrads, say some 20 years old. They were 11 when Wilma hit the US, and not too many had become weather nuts yet.

    So, students, mostly a thousand miles from landfall, are asked about evacuation from storms they’ve never experienced. Absent useful knowledge, you might as well go by some artificial name.

  108. The methodological problems of the study are severe. The hypothesis fails if you only consider the time period since 1979, when male and female names alternated. The hypothesis also fails if you consider male and female names as a binary category. The hypothesis only succeeds if you include the pre-1979 period, when all hurricane names were female, and you rate them on how feminine they are rated in surveys. Their conclusion that “sexism kills” rests not on people preparing themselves less for hurricane Gloria than for Bob. It rests on the result that people in surveys think Fern sounds less feminine than Camille, and therefore take Fern more seriously. I rate it a category 2 BS storm.

  109. P@ Dolan says:

    “What’s in a name?” Nothing if you’re talking about cyclonic storms. What matters is in the Notice to Mariners. I don’t know any sailors give a rat’s a$$ about the name of the storm…

    BUT—

    I’m surprised the AGW fools don’t jump all over this one! If they call their pet hobbyhorse something nicey-nice, like Bambi, the carnage will be HORRIBLE—because no one will give a darn. But if they call it something like Snorkatron Flesh-Eating Deathdealer…

    I mean, “Climate Change”?? Come on. No wonder it’s like 15 on a list of 15 top concerns to the average American Citizen (or 16 of 16, 17 of 17, you get the idea). Surely, with all their effort hyping the effects (“Tidal waves! Summer in the Arctic while it blizzards in Miami because of the evil ‘Polar Vortex’!! 25 foot sea level change by 10.30 am, March 2nd, 2017, EDT!! Sharknados in L.A.!!!”), they can come up with something better, something to put fear into the souls of those poor, gullible fools who’ve been deceived by those vile “deniers”, than “Climate Change”??! I mean, can I just say, LAME! AGW was no better: half of the population couldn’t pronounce “anthropogenic” and the other half thought it mean, “Cute Neanderthal”.

    Puh-lease.

    I bet Algore is all upset that “heat death” was already taken…

  110. Rick K says:

    Name all hurricanes “Pat.”
    Problem solved.

  111. John F says:

    It was with this same kind of logic that the EPA has been using as of late. There absolutely no actual correlation between names and destruction. What a complete waste of money.

  112. Quote:
    ” elftone says: June 3, 2014 at 6:13 am
    So if we start calling them “Butch” and “Vlarg, the Destroyer of Worlds”, it’ll save lives? What are we waiting for? ;) ”
    That’s About the smartest thing I heard in a long time!! http://bit.ly/1oVrzsD

  113. m says:

    “Ah, marketing people! Only they would think “Floyd” sounds deadlier than “Camille” because it’s obviously more “masculine”! Marketing people thought “New Coke” was a good idea, too.”

    All you need to remember when I marketeer is bending your ear is that 95% of new product launches fail..

  114. P@ Dolan says:

    @ Rick K:

    We wanna frighten ‘em, not make ‘em drop dead!
    7;->

    p@

  115. TomVonk says:

    A moron in a white coat masquerading for a scientist : “So Mr Smith you relax now. I will give you a name and you will tell me the intensity of a hurricane that would have this name. Ready ?”
    Mr Smith (frantically checking if there is an exit in the room) : “Errr … No velocities ? No energy ? Just a name ?”
    A moron (smiling) : “Right Mr Smith. Just a name. This is groundbreaking science.”
    Mr Smith (slowly backing and stottering) : “But, but, but … I have no clue what the intensity would be. None whatsoever !”
    A moron (the smile is widening) : “Just guess Mr Smith. On a scale from 1 to 7. Groundbreaking science, remember ?”
    Mr Smith (secretly dialling 911 in his pocket) : “Whatever you want. Just please don’t hurt me.”
    A moron (positively glowing) : “No need for that Mr Smith if you are reasonable. And you are a reasonable man, aren’t you ? Here we go . SANDY !”

  116. Philemon says:

    But, but… Sandy was a boy!

  117. Philemon says:

    Like Sandy Weill!

    Now that’s scary!

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