Amazing nominative determinism!


In Quirkology I described lots of research into nominative determinism – the idea that a person’s name can have a significant influence on their life.  @nedatutu recently sent me this great example from the Olympics.  The final woman listed on the chart fell over in the 400m hurdles……

Oh, and if you are up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I am performing my Psychobabble show twice today. Details here.


22 comments on “Amazing nominative determinism!

  1. Robert says:

    What if her surname would mean “great hurdler” in Bulgarian?

  2. Stu says:

    Not sure what’s so amazing about an H beating a B and a C….and all three of them streets ahead of an A…..

  3. Christian says:

    Another person who’s collected a lot of research in this field is Kevin Hogan (motivational speaker from Minnesota). But I have yet to see a convincing study on this. The results has been “processed” so it’s hard to see if statistical and probabilistic theory has been applied correctly.

  4. Kristian says:

    I don’t get it all. What’s special about her name? Google translate doesn’t detect any language in it.

    I’m not a native English speaker, in case that’s important.

    • Anonymous says:

      Stambolova sounds much like ‘stumble over’.

    • mikekoz68 says:

      Ya I’m not getting this one at all. “Stambolova”, oh, stamble ova, stumble over, ok well this is a bit of a stretch. Does she at least pronounce it this way or does it sound nothing like “stumble over”?

  5. hugh cary oates says:

    Note that she fell in a race in the UK. Under this principle, she would not have fallen in country with a different language.

  6. Blo0dy says:

    What about the fastest men alive? Usain Bolt?

    • deepfield says:

      Actually, my daughter asked me yesterday whether Bolt was his real name or he had it changed from “Smith” or “Jones”…

  7. Dave says:

    But this is, of course, a load of bollox. Her name had nothing to do with whether she fell over in the hurdles.This is just an example of confirmation bias. I guess this post is meant to be a joke?

  8. But if nominative determinism is right, Sarah-Lynn Wells should have won.

  9. What a silly notion; nominative determinism sounds like nothing more than confirmation bias or a form of pareidolia. Here’s a “significant influence” to consider: she’s a goddamn olympic athlete! If her last name were any real burden on her physical development, it would have factored itself in long ago.

    • Goliath says:

      Exactly my opinion as well. If you make it to London2012 you can’t be that bad… even with such a name.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’ve read Quirkology quite a long time before and I can’t remember what exactly was there about nominative determinism, but being myself Czech, I realy like this post 🙂

  11. Graeme says:

    “nominative determinism – the idea that a person’s name can have a significant influence on their life” as described by Prof. Wiseman. QED 🙂

  12. Lazy T says:

    Tatyana has a Rover so she should have won, maybe it wouldn’t start

  13. kharamatha says:

    I guess Eilidh Child’s growth is stunted then?

  14. One Eyed Jack says:

    The runner is Bulgarian. WTH does her name sounding like “stumble” in English have to do with Nominative Determinism? We don’t even know if the runner speaks English.

    I trust this was meant tongue in cheek.

  15. Gareth Price says:

    A former world record holder in the 400m hurdles was called Marina Stepanova.

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