Would you be more afraid of Hurricane Donald or Donna? Bob or Betsy?
A new study claims hurricanes with female names are deadlier than those with male names as people don’t take them as seriously.
Researchers from the University of Illinois examined the death tolls of 94 hurricanes in the US over 60 years, from 1950 to 2012. They also rated the names of the hurricanes on how masculine or feminine sounding they were.
The researchers found that hurricanes with a feminine-sounding name killed more people than those with male names. The paper claimed that a masculine-named storm would kill about 15 people, but a hurricane of the same strength with a female name would kill about 42.
Sharon Shavitt, professor of marketing at the University of Illinois, believes it is because female names are less threatening so people don’t take the same precautions, leading to more deaths.
"In judging the intensity of a storm, people appear to be applying their beliefs about how men and women behave," said Shavitt.
"This makes a female-named hurricane, especially one with a very feminine name such as Belle or Cindy, seem gentler and less violent."
The study didn’t take Hurricane Katrina into account as it was an unusually large hurricane and would have skewed the results.
There have been mixed reactions to the study within the scientific community. While many praised it, some scientists are doubtful of its claims, especially when it comes to the effect of names on the number of deaths - the study ignores the improvements in the quality of storm warnings over time.
Time for gender-neutral names? Just in case.
Twitter was on hand, of course, to make some suggestions.
I’m looking forward to tougher names, like Hurricane Savage, Hurricane Hulk, and Hurricane Chuck Norris. #theprojecttv— The Project (@theprojecttv) June 3, 2014
In light of the 'feminine' hurricane theory...suggested names for storms:— Frank Joseph Desmond Parks (@FrankJDParks) June 3, 2014