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No. 118: Jul-Aug 1998

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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