07/17/2013 08:31 am ET

Author Chuck Klosterman Picks The Most Villainous First Names


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In his books including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Eating the Dinosaur and Killing Yourself to Live, author and pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman has taken on topics as diverse as reality television, rock and roll, porn, the Unabomber and Tom Cruise. His newest book, I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined), hones in on the question: Why are we drawn to--or repelled by--the bad guys? Klosterman's survey of villainy ranges from Hitler to Walter White of "Breaking Bad"--with plenty of baddies in between. We asked Klosterman how he can tell if someone's liable to be a villain, and his answer was simple: Start with their first name.

Sometimes you can recognize a villain by his actions and deeds. That's easy. What's harder is when you don't know the person at all. Maybe you've just met someone at a cocktail party--how can you tell if they intend to destroy your life? My advice is to subjectively judge them by their first name. For example, my name is Chuck. I couldn't be villainous if I tried; at best, I might be Richie Cunningham's forgotten older brother. But other names are less affable....

The Eight Most Villainous First Names:

1. Adolf

This might seem like an obvious selection, but it's actually underrated. Even the second and third-most villainous candidates--say, Eichmann and Rupp--are significantly beyond troubling.

2. Bart

I realize "The Simpsons" tried to shift this moniker from the category of "villain" into the category of "scamp," but this is still the go-to name for cowboys who kill people indiscriminately.

3. Heather

The movie did not create this perception--it merely galvanized what we really knew: Young women named Heather are traditionally attractive and inevitably destructive. Everyone accepts this.

4. Lance

Even before anyone cared about cycling, dudes named Lance were society-crushers.

5. Naomi

If a red-haired woman is named Naomi, hide in the basement. She is the postmodern "Jezebel."

6. Derrick

Science tells us that almost 82 percent of guys named "Derrick" are jerks. How can you argue with science?

7. Brenda

Fear the Brenda.

8. Attila

History has taught us many things. One is that Attila was not a very good musical project for Billy Joel.