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Nominative determinism in hospital medicine (2015) (rcseng.ac.uk)
112 points by smartestdumbguy 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 63 comments

> Among the first entries was a reference to an article on incontinence in the British Journal of Urology authored by Splatt and Weedon.

I love it when we all acknowledge that everyone has an internal 4-year-old who finds this kind of thing very, very funny.

I once had my car towed by a person with the last name "Pullum". If the Universe really is some kind of Simulation, I suspect the QA's are getting lazy with the NPC names.

Because that's EXACTLY how I name fake persons in unit tests. A police officer named Buddy Kopp, a traffic engineer named John Lane, a bbq pitmaster named Tray Burnham, etc.

This is almost every secondary character in Ace Attorney

Can't forget the president of Nintendo of America, Doug Bowser.

Bowser is the main antagonist of Nintendo's Mario franchise.

John Kirby however had the character named after him.

He was the lawyer who successfully defended Nintendo against Universal Studios over the copyright for Donkey Kong.

My hometown had a few good ones, all doctors:

* A veterinarian named Dr. Bone

* A chiropractor named Dr. Bender

* An orthodontist named Dr. Owings

(Orthodontists are quite expensive.)

"The possibility of gravitational waves was discussed in 1893 by Oliver Heaviside"

I was trying to find a motel once and was directed onto "Sample Rd". The street was real, but when I got to the supposed location of the motel, I didn't see anything.

He also has a function named after him that looks like it has one heavy side: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaviside_step_function

If I'm reading that right, then when considering the general function, 0 is grouped with negative numbers, but when considering integers only ("Discrete form" a ways down) then 0 is grouped with positive numbers (that is, the output is 1).

How odd.

One of the early papers on the Big Bang was by Alpher, Bethe, and Gamow.

My personal favourite was Sidney Lake -- the head of the Sydney Water Board Workers Union.

During the Euro crisis a decade ago, the central bank of Cyprus (which had to be bailed out along with Greece) was headed by a gentleman whose first name was Panicos:


That's pronounced pa-NEE-kos though. The stress is on the wrong syllable. But, good catch :)

It's almost certainly a simulation. If you live in apartments, how often have you seen your neighbors do laundry or bring home groceries?

There's also this (short clip, start at 2:00). Note the reference to "The Big Lie": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs6UcgiDwg0&t=120

A 1953 German book's leader of Mars is called the "Elon": https://twitter.com/tobyliiiiiiiiii/status/13441550614258237...

I think Roko's Basilisk will turn out to be true within the next few decades.

If you live in apartments, how often have you seen your neighbors do laundry or bring home groceries?

Reminds me a real story where a guy found a USB stick nearby a city building. It contained a shivering warning about your neighbors. The stick owner lived in that building and some day asked himself this question and tried to watch what his neighbors do routinely. He followed some of them and found out that they simply get on some buses, ride in circles and get back. It looked very confusing to him. Then one Sunday evening he looked out of his window and noticed that in most windows people are staring at something. He felt to decide to go out and see what they are looking at. When he did it, he realized, they all were looking at him! Feeling very uneasy he returned to his room. Maybe they knew he spied on some of them, but how, why? Few weeks later all that was almost forgotten like a bad dream. The guy was returning from his job and when he went upstairs, he heard a conversation seemingly mentioning him from one of the rooms adjacent to where he lived in. He decided to go closer to that room and heard an usual conversation from a family with kids, they were laughing and speaking as usual families do. But the door wasn't completely shut — they must have forgotten to close it. He decided to peek into the gap, and God that was a big mistake. What he had seen instead of a family apartment was a completely empty room and four people sitting in it back-to-back, chatting and laughing with absolutely calm faces. He was stunned for a moment, but the hair stirred on a guy's head, when one of them noticed him watching. He rushed into his apartment and shut his door. When he finally braced himself to look into peephole, everyone was there. All his neighbors stood there with calm faces, looking right into the peephole, waiting for him to get out.

The last message on a stick said they cut all the wires and the cellphone has no battery. The only message poor guy could send from.his laptop to the world was this text file on a USB stick.

"True story? I couldn't swear to every detail but it's certainly true that it is a story."

Is this original creepypasta? Google search doesn't return anything.

Yes, adapted by me from memory for HN readers, probably missing/changing lots of details.


Translate link:


That's terrifying. I'm reminded of one of my favorite books, There Is No Year by Blake Butler:

"There was a family living in a house. There was a father, a mother, and a son. The family all looked tired. Nothing ever really happened. The father drove places and got lost and walked around the house. The mother mostly cleaned and worried. The son would stand and sit and stand."


The groceries thing is funny, but it's really just "what's the likelihood that in X years of living in the same place, your random 5 minutes out of the week are the same as your neighbor's random 5 minutes of the week".

It is actually not random. Most people do groceries on a relatively consistent schedule, for example, on Tuesday at 4:20, because it is the day you leave work early and it is a convenient time to go to the grocery store on your way back home.

It means that you can see your neighbors do groceries almost every week if your schedules match, or never if they don't.

I noticed that with people I met in the elevator. Some people I met almost every other day, others, never. Since the beginning of the pandemic, things changed, with remote work and constantly changing policies and restrictions, things became much more random, and I meet more people, but less often.

When I learned about this it was funny to me too. My living room has a huge window looking out on the square of my apartment complex. Everyone has to walk by my house to exit or enter the complex. I've sat and watched the window for hours. Literally hours. The closest thing to groceries I've seen is a box of Hello Fresh being delivered.

Allow me to highlight one of the funniest parts:

> Specialties that had the largest proportion of names specifically relevant to that specialty were those in which the English language has provided a wide range of alternative terms for the same anatomical parts (or functions thereof).

> Specifically, these were genitourinary medicine (eg Hardwick, Kinghorn, Woodcock, Bell) and urology (eg Burns, Cox, Dick, Koch, Cox, Balluch, Ball, Waterfall). Some terms for bodily functions have been included in the frequency counts but are not mentioned because they are colloquial terms that may lower the tone of this publication.

Dick Seed, the geneticist who "helped infertile women conceive children by commercialising embryo transfer" [1]

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Seed

Some doctors I know have done this almost deliberately. My favourite is probably Dr Wombwell... who decided to become a gynaecologist.

It just seems like a crime to not lean into a name like that.

It does make me wonder how someone ends up with a surname like that. I'd assume from the same profession cast back a few years.

Wombwell is apparently the name of a town in England. According to the wiki article it may have originally referred to a well owned by a certain Womba (in Anglo-Saxon times I assume).

And she is English and inherited it from parents working in IT! (It was pronounced like a well-wishing womble prior to medical school, but definitely 'womb-well' afterwards...)

When I still lived in Berlin, there was a psychiatrist in my district named Totenkopf (dead head).

Well, now we know! Four-armed is forewarned.

"Well, now we know", says HN user 'naruhodo'.


I guess this is better than going out on a limb.

This guy is known for doing vasectomies: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richard-chopp-3aa14436

I'm reminded of the book by Lock, Lock, Lock, Lock, and Lock. [0]

Sadly it's on statistics, not concurrent programming.

[0] https://www.lock5stat.com/

When I was at university I dated a med student - a woman they knew had the surname De'ath - so when they graduated they would be Dr De'ath.

Sadly I do not know if said med student became a pathologist ...

When my wife and I lived in Brooklyn, her optometrist's name was Dr. Vivien Vu and her dentist's name was Dr. Samantha Ifill (I kid you not -- look them up). I haven't read the paper yet, but my theory is simply that when a name matches the person's job we notice it; all the other times when it doesn't match we don't notice.

No, the paper analyses the count/frequency of profession-related surnames in a database, so it's not really dealing with that.

But in day-to-day I'm sure that's true; and why so many people who could not tell the name of their currentdentist, accountant, etc., still know the name of their doctor Dr. Medicine 10 years later. It just sticks as an anecdote.

It always struck me as ironic that one of history's greatest fraudsters, who made off with billions in other people's money, had the last name "Madoff."

A common topic on "No Such Thing As A Fish" podcast, and hilarious every time.

Only slightly related, it recently occurred to me while journaling that the dictates of English grammar do a fair bit of work in forming opinions. You might think you believe one thing, but when you set about describing it, the linguistic choices have a subtle influence over the content of your statements. Over the entirety of an exposition, that influence can amount to a significant shift in meaning. I guess that's the point of journaling in a way; to find out what you think. But the effect must show up everywhere without people realizing it, even in writing that's not experimental.

Referencing the Bouba/Kiki effect[1] "a non-arbitrary mapping between speech sounds and the visual shape of objects", is it strange how some people or place names seem cool, exotic, foreign, and others seem dorky, boring, local or weird? Why should that be a thing?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouba/kiki_effect

To avoid this, I don't let my mind form words too early. Words can come to mind so effortlessly that I wonder if I'm saying what I really feel.

I refrain from describing what I want to say before I have a chance to search my brain for related concepts to convey or contrast my thoughts. Then I can decide if the thing I'm about to say matches how I feel about the subject.

If you feel like your language is determining your thoughts, then I recommend (aside from possibly bilingualism) just taking more time to choose your words. Supposedly, the "decision-making centers" in the brain tend to activate prior to the parts responsible for understanding and reasoning ... apparently implying that humans usually rationalize decisions we've already made rather than reasoning beforehand.

Then again, I'll digress because I also do that to compensate for my poor communication and multitasking skills, so others may not share my thinking style and limitations.

Also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity

Nice. That theory seems quite a bit larger in scope. And intuitively it makes sense. What I had in mind was a more localized version of this which is sort of like a game of telephone within a language. It's not surprising that one's native language would affect the way one looks at things. But what seems more surprising is that choosing to express an idea one way vs. another within the same language can even end up communicating rather different sounding things. And the subconscious influence of the wording doesn't just have an effect on the reader but also on the author as well. Seems kinda like what is talked about in the Wikipedia article on Sapir-Whorf but also kinda different.

I think the effect takes a lot of different forms. It can happen as a result of connotations or homonyms of certain words. Or it can come down to artistic considerations. For example, one might prefer to express an idea in slightly different language that is less effective but more poetic sounding. Or maybe the author thinks it would be thrilling to make a very grand sounding statement when they had originally set out to touch on something more specific. And so the language ends up forming the idea just as much as it's meant to communicate it.

I think this is clearly evident in political debates where people talk themselves into a frenzy.

I agree, which is why I feel it's worthwhile to expand one's vocabulary, and expose yourself to a variety of communication styles. It's so subtle, it's hard to tell how much your choice of words influences your thinking, or how you process the world around you. More tools in the language toolbox can literally be mind-expanding.

And here I thought Worf from Star Trek had authored it :-)

While I can't say how much effect grammar has on thought processes, the metaphors we rely on can be significant. For an example that came up earlier today (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29923866), the term "sanitizing" is often used to mean escaping data. But this way of thinking appears to create a strong urge to "sanitize" as soon as possible, so that the rest of the system will only have to handle "clean" data. This leads to mistakes: data is escaped on input, and therefore tends to be wrong for all but one of several output formats (possibly resulting in security vulnerabilities). And then because data from trusted sources is implied to be "clean", it isn't escaped at all, even when it will wind up being parsed incorrectly. Discarding this metaphor could actually result in better software.

In case you're interested: This phenomenon you thought of is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (or perhaps a variant of it)

Perhaps this is why many people become more open-minded after learning a second language.

I was once treated by a Dr. Crummy.

And when I was helping run a pharmacology practical class for medical students, one of the names on the register was "A. Butcher". I am not sure if he went on to become a surgeon.

I had a dermatologist named Dr. Scales. And an oral surgeon, Dr Paine.

Where I grew up there was a chain of funeral homes named "Amigone", run by a family of the same name.

My mom was an OB/GYN nurse for many years. She worked in Active Labor with a nurse with the last name "Stork".

Dr. Harry C. Beaver, MD, obstetrics and gynecology in Gainesville, Virginia: https://health.usnews.com/doctors/harry-beaver-784569

Probably deserves a (2015) in the title, previously posted on HN in 2016 (no comments).

Duke Ellington's first piano teacher when he was a child was Mrs Clinkscales

Some of the definitions of what is an apt name in the paper are pretty broad:

Gastroenterology 3 (1 in 338) 8 (1 in 127) Freshwater, Kitchen, Salmon

I mean, they're food related, but I wouldn't have said related to gastroenterology.

It’s probably very Anglo-centric, because it took me a while to figure why the name „Bhatti” was marked as related to psychiatry.

I once knew a cardio thoracic surgeon named “Slaughter”.

Bad bad cookie dialog on that page.

> It is appropriate that the fastest man on Earth is called Bolt.

Other world's fastest men:

* Gay

* Blake

* Powell

* Gatlin

* Coleman

* Bromell

* Omanyala

* Carter

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