Earlier this week, we learned that America has a hurricane name problem. Specifically, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that people tend to show insufficient fear in the face of a hurricane if the hurricane has a feminine name. And when people don't take a hurricane seriously because its name reminds them of their nice aunt or that woman at the organic market who you've been working up the nerve to ask out, the consequences are deadly. This is science, folks!
Researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University examined six decades of hurricane death rates according to gender, spanning 1950 and 2012. Of the 47 most damaging hurricanes, the female-named hurricanes produced an average of 45 deaths compared to 23 deaths in male-named storms, or almost double the number of fatalities. (The study excluded Katrina and Audrey, outlier storms that would skew the model.)
These researchers also found that really feminine names yielded many more fatalities than very masculine names. As the study says, "[Our] model suggests that changing a severe hurricane's name from Charley ... to Eloise ... could nearly triple its death toll.” This calls out for a solution, one that doesn't put a whole gender on the spot for not being sufficiently scary. What we need to do, as a hyper-connected society, is mine the available zeitgeist for the most unambiguously frightening names possible.
Thankfully for humanity, The Huffington Post's own in-house solutioneers are on the case. In the video above, Zach Carter and I unleash our ids in an effort to generate as many psychological-terror-inducing names for hurricanes as we can in under 60 seconds.
The results were, as they say, "mixed!"
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