Okay so Alaina left me a comment several days ago sending me to Freakonomics to read their chapter on baby names. And seriously Freakonomics has been everywhere recently for me. It was on Special Reserve at my library this quarter. Alaina's been posting about it and the Freakonomics blog. One of my Religion and Spirituality in Literature students said it was one of her most recommended and quoted books. And really who doesn't want to read about math used in freaky ways? I do, I do! So I checked it out from the library and here's what I learned:
Correlation does not equal causation. Actually I lied. I learned that from my Intro to Psych prof freshman year of college. But it's stuck with me, and it is a huge point of Freakonomics. If there's a correlation, it could mean three things: X causes Y, Y causes X, or Z causes X and Y. I think this is important in life and in naming. We are very quick to assign causation to related events even when correlation doesn't exist (superstitions). And spending a little time investigating all the factors will save one from serious misreadings of the facts. Why is this important in naming? Because we put a lot of emphasis on names and their relation to success in the future. The stereotypes that we attach to certain names are in fact stereotypes, and people break them everyday. My whole Maynard discussion was in fact wrestling with that reality.
And yet a huge part of me still wants to say what parents name their kids is important. And I think that leads to the second lesson: the name doesn't matter as much as the thought behind the name because putting thought into naming your child shows the love, care, and consideration that children need from their parents. I was named because it was the one name my parents' could agree on. It didn't have much familial significance. It does have some history, but they care enough to go several rounds over my name. And in the same way, they've fought to prioritize our family and keep it strong. And I hope the fact that I have baby names picked out YEARS in advance shows the commitment to my providing for whatever children I'm blessed with.
Third, and this is purely superficial. If you want to avoid dated names, don't pick trendy names. Pick popular names a couple steps up the social ladder. It helps you avoid the Britneys, Emilys, and Jennifers. (Not that these names aren't lovely--there's just A LOT of them!)
So naming from an economist's point of view. Overall it helped me let go of a lot of baby name worry and anxiety. (Yes, I worry about names for babies that aren't even twinkles in their father's eye. . . Oh I just got that phrase. . . oh dear.)