Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 118: Jul-Aug 1998

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Monogrammic Determinism

About 2 years ago (SF#108), we succumbed to the lure of "nominative determinism." The Feedback page of the New Scientist had been printing case after amusing case in which a person's occupation was described or suggested by his or her surname. A classic example is seen in a paper on incontinence published in the British Journal of Urology by J.W. Splatt and D. Weedon! Does a person's name exert a psychological force of the choice of a career? We have seen no formal studies of nominative determinism, but we have just discovered a closely allied phenomenon that has been scientifically investigated. We call it "monogrammic determinism.'

An individual's monogram does not seem to be associated with his or her occupation but rather with longevity. People with monograms such as ACE, WOW, or GOD tend to live longer than those with monograms like PIG, RAT, DUD, or ILL.

The study was conducted at the University of San Diego, where 27 years of California death certificates were examined. Only men were chosen because their initials did not change with marriage. They were divided into three groups: (1) those with "good" monograms; (2) those with "bad" monograms; and (3) a control group with "neutral" monograms. Those men bearing "good" monograms lived 4.48 years longer than those in the control group; those with "bad" monograms, 2.8 years less.

Manifestly, being called DUD or PIG all your life can shorten it. Being addressed as ACE or GOD can give one a psychological boost that prolongs life.

(Anonymous; "Do Initials Help Some Live Longer?" San Mateo Times, March 28, 1998. Cr. J. Covey.)

From Science Frontiers #118, JUL-AUG 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987