Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Another day on Planet Fox

Check out the No. 3 tale on display at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network's Web site:

Why does a story like rate a mention on the same page as a missing teenager and another missing teenager? It's not even about American baby names -- and, if you were wondering, it really doesn't have a thing in the world to do with the Diana documentary in the reefer. (It's not a "poll" either, of course, but that's just Fox not bothering to read the text before writing the teasers.) It's there for one reason only, which you've probably figured out by now:

THEY are coming RIGHT AT our baby names!!!!!!!!!!

It must be nice to have a corporate stablemate like The Times o'London, though. You have a free source of international news -- some of it actually true -- from a paper that still has a sheen of respectability from its pre-Murdoch days. And you get that charming sense of numerical accuracy that plagues all newspapers, even the ones that don't have mythical creatures in their nameplates. Here's the Times itself:

Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found.

That's a traditional shell game for doctoring ledes. The "study" counts up a dozen or so likely transliterations among names provided by the Office of National Statistics. Hence the first finding. The second ("and is likely to rise to No 1...") is more interesting, because it appears to have no factual basis at all. Here's the fourth graf:

Although the official names register places the spelling Mohammed at No 23, an analysis of the top 3,000 names provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) puts Muhammad at No 2 once the 14 spellings are taken into account. If its popularity continues – it rose by 12 per cent last year – the name will take the top spot by the end of this year.

Wow. Wonder where that comes from? Could it be the table at the end?

1 Jack 6,928, 2 Muhammad (all spellings) 5,991, 3 Thomas 5,921, 4 Joshua 5,808, 5 Oliver 5,208

So how's it going to do that? If Jack stands still and Muhammad increases at another 12% this year, Jack is still going to be 200+ brats ahead. Muhammad's going to have to rise at about 15% to catch up. Does that mean the rate of increase in Muhammad is going to grow 25% a year? So five years out, there will be twice as many Muhammads as Jacks each year? And eventually, British tinies will have to start naming their teddy bears Muhammad just to keep up with the overflow?

Good old Fox. Always there to remind you the world isn't as safe as you thought.


Blogger Terry said...

Assuming (I won't go into the maths to support this assumption here)around 350,000 births in England a year, that means just 1.7 per cent are being named Mohammad/Muhammed etc. So the average three-stream 28-pupils-per-class junior school is going to have two or fewer Mo/Muhammeds in it ... admittedly it won't be like that because the Muslim South Asian immigrant parents who are choosing the name are concentrated in a few places, but this only makes it more likely that in, say, rural Norfolk you're unlikely to find ANY child with a clearly Muslim name ...

Actually, to me, the remarkable story is how John has crashed out of the top names listings in the UK over the past 15 years, after literally centuries as the numkber one first name, to be replaced by Jack ... is this true in the US?

12:32 PM, June 07, 2007  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Isn't Jack the nickname for John?

And maybe all those extra Mohammeds will be boys that would have been named Jack - so Jack won't stand still, but will lost ground to the alien tide...

8:06 PM, June 07, 2007  

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