Thursday, 28 October 2010

Playing the name game: more on the Mail and Mohammed

As No Sleep Til Brooklands has pointed out, if you apply the Daily Mail's "add all the names that sound a bit similar together" rule to Oliver as well as Mohammed, Oliver comes out on top by a country mile.

With nothing better to do in my lunchbreak I decided to see how the Top 10 list of names looks if you apply the same rule to all of them. It comes out like this:
1) Oliver (plus Oliwier, Oli, Oliwer, Olivers, Olliver, Ollie, Olli) = 8,148

2) Mohammed (plus Muhammad, Mohammad, Muhammed, Mohamed, Mohamad, Muhamed, Mohammod, Mahamed, Muhamad, Mahammed, Mohmmed) = 7,549

3) Jack (plus Jac, Jacques and Jacky, but not including the massed ranks of Jacobs) = 7,238

4) Charlie (plus Charley, Charlee, Charly, Charli and Charles) = 6,755

5) Thomas (plus Tommy, Tom, Thom, Tommi and Tomi) = 6,350

6) Harry (plus Harri, Hari and Harrie) = 6,332

7) Joshua (plus Josh) = 5,874

8) Alfie (plus Alfi, Alfy, Alf, Alfee, Alfey and Alffi, not including Alfred) = 5,565

9) William (plus Will, Willem, Wil and Wiliam) = 5,498

10) Daniel (plus Daniel, Danny, Daniyal, Danyal, Dan, Danyl, Danyaal, Danielius, Danial, Daniels, Daniele, Daniyaal, Dany and Daniaal) = 5,038

(Note that I've not counted compound names, where middle-class parents think they're being terribly unique by calling their child Alfie-Jack only to discover that eight other couples came up with the same idea)

Let's compare it with the Mail's top 10:
1) Mohammed (#2 in my list)

2) Oliver (#1 in my list)

3) Jack (#3 in my list)

4) Harry (#6 in my list)

5) Alfie (#8 in my list)

6) Joshua (#7 in my list)

7) Thomas (#5 in my list)

8) Charlie (#4 in my list)

9) William (#9 in my list)

10) James (not in my top 10, even with the help of 50-odd people called Jaymes)

What does this little exercise prove? We've already seen that Mohammed is clearly NOT the most popular name for boys. With the exception of James (which lost out to variations of Daniel) the names in the rest of the top 10 remain the same. However, the order in which they are ranked is completely different. Had the Mail applied the methodology it used to construct an anti-Muslim story for other, less scary names, the top 10 list they published today would have looked very different indeed.

The fact they didn't proves beyond all doubt that accuracy and "truth" are not what Jack Doyle was aiming for with this story. How can he possibly justify bunching all the Mohammeds together "because they're really the same" but not counting Daniel, Danial and Daniyall in the same way?

If you're reading, Jack (Jac? Jacques?) I'd really like to know how this doesn't breach the editors' code rules on accuracy...

No comments: