Why do people choose the names they do for their children? It might be that people name their babies after things, people and events they are paying attention to at the time of the baby’s birth. If this assumption is true it becomes possible to get an idea what people in aggregate value at some particular date. This is a soft measure of what the whole country is thinking about and values.
The recently published book The Baby Name Wizard: A magical Method for Finding a Perfect Name for Your Baby by Laura Wattenberg offers a test for that assumption. This book is associated with one of the most interesting and time consuming sites on the web, a great interactive site called BabyNameWizard.com.
My premise isn’t a totally independent cause and effect reasoning tool however because the book itself tracks similar ideas to some degree so the assumption may be conflating the cause and effect. The book and site takes the top 1000 common names in any decade since 1880 here in the United States and tracks their popularity.
If my assumption is right then unusual names based on our national presidents like Abraham ought to become popular right after their tenure in office. Wilson does follow that idea and when Woodrow Wilson gets elected babies get family name as a given name. Clinton gets a similar boost but Grover never made the top 1000 so it’s not charted but he probably got some hits. With that line of reasoning there are probably lots of babies being christened with Barack this last year but it hasn’t shown up on this web site yet.
This book gives a lot of ways of approaching names. One thing is important about this naming process and that is that most parents put a lot of time and thought into the decision of a name and usually they discuss it with their spouses and relatives. It is a big thing with most people like buying a car or a house. It is more important than buying a new brand of breakfast cereal from the blizzard of brands at the supermarket and there are even more choices. These are all consciously thought out decisions for individuals and this Baby Name Wizard uses computerized statistical methods for compacting and analyzing vast amounts of data so what it delivers is the pulse of the nation, the mental life-blood of its positive thoughts.
And this is where it gets to my nerve. The brain of the US and probably of the world is presently fixated on TV and other media personalities. So by my assumption the world proves once again that it is controlled by professional spin doctors – politicians and media personalities. That bothers me because those categories of people are not famous, powerful and successful because of their understanding of natural truths of science but rather because of their ability to take advantage of the weakness of human beings.
Humans are manipulated by their weakness not by their virtues.