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posted by martyb on Wednesday May 07 2014, @02:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the John-J-J-Schmidt dept.

In light of two recent studies, expecting parents might consider doing a little social engineering when naming their children. New evidence suggests if you're trying to convey intelligence the more middle initials in your name, the smarter people will assume you to be.

Also, if you want to be trusted more, use a first name that everyone can pronounce. That effect seems to be in line with another study (not peer-reviewed) indicating short first names correlate with higher earnings.

Perhaps one should combine the two and just use initials for all but the surname, like J.P. Morgan?

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by internetguy on Wednesday May 07 2014, @02:56PM

    by internetguy (235) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @02:56PM (#40551)

    Nope, middle initial doesn't seem to help.

    --
    Sig: I must be new here.
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by weeds on Wednesday May 07 2014, @02:59PM

      by weeds (611) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @02:59PM (#40552) Journal

      George H. W. Bush - nope, not better at all!

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:20PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:20PM (#40563)

        Homer J. Simpson?

        • (Score: 1) by linsane on Wednesday May 07 2014, @07:41PM

          by linsane (633) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @07:41PM (#40650)

          Sounds like he is a lawyer?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @09:57PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @09:57PM (#40708)

          didn't he change his name to Max Power?

      • (Score: 2) by LaminatorX on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:57PM

        by LaminatorX (14) <{laminatorx} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:57PM (#40577)

        I dunno, I'm pretty sure that Bush the Elder was way smarter than Dubya, then again, that could just be the extra middle initial making it seem that way.

        • (Score: 1) by GeminiDomino on Wednesday May 07 2014, @05:48PM

          by GeminiDomino (661) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @05:48PM (#40605)

          That's what we call a "low bar to clear."

          --
          "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
          • (Score: 1) by Oligonicella on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:08PM

            by Oligonicella (4169) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:08PM (#40608)

            And yet, Obama failed to clear it.

            Anyone can play that stupid game.

            • (Score: 2) by hatta on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:45PM

              by hatta (879) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:45PM (#40626)

              Obama is clearly smarter than Bush. He's not a nicer person, or better at his job, but clearly smarter.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:02PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:02PM (#40554)

      Not necessarily: Most people think that George H.W. Bush is smarter than George W. Bush.

      But then again, "Alfred E. Neuman".

      --
      Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:22PM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:22PM (#40566) Journal

        But then again, "Alfred E. Neuman".

        I see your Alfred E. Neuman, and raise you an Albert Einstein and a Stephen Hawking. If that's not enough, I'll throw in a Sir David Attenborough (did you notice how the prefixing title have a bit more effect than the not normally mentioned middle name/initial?)

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 3, Funny) by VLM on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:29PM

          by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:29PM (#40567)

          "and raise you an Albert Einstein and a Stephen Hawking."

          I'll take "Spock"

      • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:43PM

        by davester666 (155) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:43PM (#40589)

        He might be, as that is a relative comparison. Unfortunately, compared to most of humanity, they both rank remarkably low...

  • (Score: 2) by Subsentient on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:01PM

    by Subsentient (1111) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:01PM (#40553) Homepage Journal

    I got two of them!

    --
    "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." -Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:07PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:07PM (#40556)

    I guess Joe Igor Dennis Ibrahim Oliver Tim Sixpack will be considered very smart, with his five middle initials. :-)

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Subsentient on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:12PM

      by Subsentient (1111) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:12PM (#40557) Homepage Journal

      I don't think so Tim.

      --
      "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." -Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by tempest on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:13PM

    by tempest (3050) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:13PM (#40558)

    The reason I sign with my middle initial it is because the military required signatures be done that way, and I just kept doing it. I wouldn't say the U.S. army is filled with geniuses... I've also noticed that stuff like bills and credit cards always have my middle initials as well, so they must have picked that up somehow from my signature as I only fill out forms with First/Last name per normal. It's kind of weird how stuff in your life just happens that way.

    • (Score: 2) by SuddenOutbreak on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:19PM

      by SuddenOutbreak (3961) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:19PM (#40581)

      My daughters each have two middle names (from grandmothers' first names) as does my wife - it's a bit of a family tradition.

      However: most of the standardized forms have channeled us and them into having to choose a single name and initial to fit in the requisite boxes.

      We may slowly see the death of extra names in Western culture.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by n1 on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:27PM

        by n1 (993) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:27PM (#40585) Journal

        I'd say this is unlikely, at least in the UK. The landed gentry often have several middle names as well as double, triple or even quadruple barreled surnames. Then you can add their official 'titles' in at the start. So while it's still of value to the aristocracy, I can't see it going anywhere.

          For the rest of us John Smiths, it probably will fade away. I use my middle initial often because it creates a nice 'break' in my full name. I'm more likely to write my first name, my middle and family initials than any other style outside of just my first name.

        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by SuddenOutbreak on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:48PM

          by SuddenOutbreak (3961) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:48PM (#40590)

          The landed gentry often have several middle names as well as double, triple or even quadruple barreled surnames.

          You mention an interesting point: the study took place using students at the University of Limerick in Ireland. They would have much more contact with "landed gentry" with a lot of middle names and titles, and would be more likely influenced by that than someone in the US, Canada or maybe even Australia would.

          The results of the study might not transfer very far outside of the British Isles.

          • (Score: 1) by redneckmother on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:45PM

            by redneckmother (3597) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:45PM (#40625)

            "You mention an interesting point: the study took place using students at the University of Limerick in Ireland. They would have much more contact with "landed gentry" with a lot of middle names and titles, and would be more likely influenced by that than someone in the US, Canada or maybe even Australia would."

            So true! In my (red)neck of the woods, multiple middle initials usually brand someone as "a pompous ass with pompous parents".

            --
            Mas cerveza por favor.
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:28PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:28PM (#40615) Journal

      I go by my middle name most of the time, using an initial for my first name.
      Dad's name was the same. So was Grand-dads. Too many in the family, so they started calling me by my middle name and it stuck.
      No way I wanted to sign everything with "the Third" hung on the end.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:15PM (#40559)

    There's a sucker born every minute. - P. T. Barnum

  • (Score: 2) by naubol on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:36PM

    by naubol (1918) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:36PM (#40569)

    If short names correlate with higher earnings, whose to say that it isn't the other way around, that intelligent parents are more likely to have an intelligent children, more likely to give them a short name, and intelligent children are more likely to grow up and earn more? It may also have something to do with evolutionary psychology, parents give their kids short names to help them fit in, and those parents are more likely to be able to culture their children such that they succeed in our society.

    With respect to middle initials, is there any understanding whether this perception is had by the *right* people? Is there any understanding whether this perception is valuable? Does it contain downsides?

    Surely everyone has dated someone they thought was smart but completely uninteresting. Also, surely everyone has met people to hire who were smart but were disqualified for other reasons.

    • (Score: 1) by cubancigar11 on Wednesday May 07 2014, @07:23PM

      by cubancigar11 (330) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @07:23PM (#40641) Homepage Journal

      You are taking this too seriously (which is probably why the title has been written that way).

      The important quote:

      the smarter people will assume you to be.

      Longer middle names are charecteristic of aristrocactic echoleons. We, the people, have long been trained to bestow the quality of smartness to that class.

      It will wear off, give it several more hundred years.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by broggyr on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:53PM

    by broggyr (3589) <{broggyr} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:53PM (#40575)

    J. R. R. Tolkien

      Extra text to get around the caps filter :P

    --
    Taking things out of context since 1972.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:01PM (#40578)

    So who's laughing at Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo now?

    Seriously, though, is there no depth to idiocy and garbage on the Internet? Richard Feynman didn't use initials. John von Neumann had a fairly normal Germanic name. Alonzo Church? John McCarthy? Is there any link at all?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by ezekielsays on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:27PM

      by ezekielsays (1297) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:27PM (#40584)

      The thing you're missing out on is that initials influence whether people assume you are intelligent, not whether you actually are. Assumptions are apparently a lot more malleable than your actual intelligence level.

      --
      Go ahead and play the blues if it'll make you happy.
    • (Score: 2) by SuddenOutbreak on Wednesday May 07 2014, @05:13PM

      by SuddenOutbreak (3961) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @05:13PM (#40597)

      The article also indicated that the presence of "von/van" or certain other modifiers could also influence perceptions.

  • (Score: 2) by SuddenOutbreak on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:30PM

    by SuddenOutbreak (3961) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:30PM (#40586)

    Notable: Harry S Truman's middle name was just "S" - it wasn't an abbreviation of anything. Also: Ulysses S. Grant was born without a middle name/initial, but acquired the "S" by accident when applying for West Point.

    • (Score: 1) by compro01 on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:51PM

      by compro01 (2515) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @04:51PM (#40591)

      Also: Ulysses S. Grant was born without a middle name/initial

      Actually, "Ulysses" was his middle name. His first name at birth was Hiram, which he evidently wasn't a fan of.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by internetguy on Wednesday May 07 2014, @05:16PM

        by internetguy (235) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @05:16PM (#40599)

        Also: Ulysses S. Grant was born without a middle name/initial

        Actually, "Ulysses" was his middle name. His first name at birth was Hiram, which he evidently wasn't a fan of.

        Actually, "Hiram Ulysses Grant" was his birth name but it's rumored that he didn't want the initial H.U.G. as a monogram at West Point. He changed his name to "Ulysses S. Grant" and the "S" did not represent anything. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_S._Grant [wikipedia.org]

        --
        Sig: I must be new here.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @05:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @05:26PM (#40602)

      One of my Mother's school classmates was "R B" No names, just initials. He got sent to Vietnam, and when he signed up it was a R(only) B(only). Now, many years later, he still can't convince anyone official he's not Mr Ronly Bonly.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:31PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 07 2014, @06:31PM (#40617) Journal

        Military forced my wife's dad to sign with Firstname, NMI, Lastname because he only was given two names.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08 2014, @01:38AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08 2014, @01:38AM (#40782)

        Comedian Henry Cho tells a similar story about a school chum.
        Jonly Bonly [google.com]

        -- gewg_

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday May 08 2014, @03:01AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Thursday May 08 2014, @03:01AM (#40797) Homepage

      Booker T Washington was the same -- the T (no period) doesn't stand for anything. His birth name was just Booker; he added the rest himself.

  • (Score: 1) by el_isma on Wednesday May 07 2014, @09:22PM

    by el_isma (1819) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @09:22PM (#40692)

    Its pompous! http://www.sheldoncomics.com/archive/090520.html [sheldoncomics.com]

  • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday May 07 2014, @09:24PM

    by Tork (3914) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @09:24PM (#40695)
    It doesn't just work for middle initials!

    Arnold J. Rimmer SSC BSC
    --
    Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
  • (Score: 2) by AsteroidMining on Thursday May 08 2014, @12:01AM

    by AsteroidMining (3556) on Thursday May 08 2014, @12:01AM (#40742)

    Of course, both of these studies were funded by G.R.R. Martin

  • (Score: 1) by sjwt on Thursday May 08 2014, @12:10AM

    by sjwt (2826) on Thursday May 08 2014, @12:10AM (#40747)

    I wonder where I sit on this, using all 4 initials as my online identity?

    Unintended effect is that my initials also result in a phonetic kind of pronouncement of my first name..