There's a paper making its way around the internet today that puts forth that hurricanes that are named after women have been historically more deadly than those named after men. There's an appealing simplicity of stupid to this—people associate men with strength, and get killed by hurricanes because they don't see women as threats—but the research isn't quite as conclusive as it's being made out.
In a very quick nutshell, the experiment led by Kiju Jung of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign asked participants to rank hurricane names by femininity, then cross-checked the results against how much destruction the storm caused. It then asked participants if they'd flee from storms with male and female versions of the same name (Christopher, Christina; Alexander, Alexandra). Even excluding hurricanes Katrina and Audrey, they found hurricanes to be three times more deadly when given a feminine name.
The concerns here are the usual nerd-brakes being applied to mainstream statistical whatnots. National Geographic's Phenomena talked to Jeff Lazo of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, who points out that the relationship of femininity and deadliness is not actually statistically significant once you break down the hurricanes into post-1979, at which point hurricanes began receiving male names (p=0.073), and that going back to 1950 with the all-woman-names hurricanes is tough, because hurricanes, as a general rule, are getting less deadly as time goes on. Further, the participants were all college kids living in Illinois, and not residents of hurricane-prone regions.
It's probably going a little far to toss the whole idea—obviously, there are gender biases everywhere, and those inform human behavior—but just hitting the ground running with the authors' assertion that "changing a severe hurricane's name from Charley to Eloise could nearly triple its death toll" seems strong.
Still, we thought we could do better than male and female names, if only so we can retire the "[female friend who shares a name with this year's hurricane] is a REAL BITCH" joke. Here now, badass ways to name hurricanes, ranked:
- Cannibal Corpse song titles ("Hurricane Hammer Smashed Face," "Hurricane I Cum Blood")
- Super villains, ordered into tiers (Magneto is a Cat. 5; Stilt-Man is a Cat. 1)
- Gross animals (Hurricane Bedbugs)
- The word "Hurricane" attached to photos of Donald Sterling in varying states of undress
- Sumerian demons
- Venereal diseases
- "Hurricane George Will is coming to my campus to give a talk"
- Protracted, juicy fart sounds ("Hurricane THHPPPBBBLLPPTBBPTTTBPPTP has been upgraded to a Category 4")
- Links to horrific sports injuries (Hurricane OH GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO SHAUN LIVINGSTO—OH GODDDD)
- Links to YouTube videos of men getting hit in the nuts