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Scott/Todd name interchange
2010/08/29
11:34am
Marv Zinser
Traverse City, Michigan
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I was enjoying your show today (Aug 29, 2010) when you discussed a caller whose name, Scott, was often miss-given as Todd (or was it the other way around?). You asked if there were any other mis-called names, and my name is mis-called from time to time. By a count of about 20-to-1, I am most often mis-called Norm instead of Marv. I have always “written off” the mistake to the equal rarity of the two names. What do you think?

2010/08/29
2:36pm
sburt
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Hi, my name is Scott. I have, on countless occasions, introduced myself and been mistaken for Todd. I play golf, and many times on the first tee I have said “Hi, I’m Scott”, and gotten the response, “Todd?” Or “Hi, Todd”. I was just telling someone about this phenomenon the other day and was surprised to hear it on the show. I thought perhaps the confusion came from me mumbling or not speaking clearly.

2010/08/30
7:57am
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telemath
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Human memory is associative and lossy.

Our memories make associations for which there no logical explanation. The only explanation is that in our mind, the two buckets those words are in are very close to one another.

And lossy – we never remember everything about a person, name, event, etc. We define what is important to us, and our brain tries to preserve that information. It may throw out anything else to save space. It would be interesting to poll people who have never confused Todd and Scott. I think you will find that they are the people who have decided that getting names exactly right is very important to them.

2010/08/31
6:05pm
pjzoom
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My name is Pam. People frequently (on a second meeting, when they’ve been introduced to me but don’t know me well yet) will call me Amy. I’ve started to say, “No, my name is Pam, but maybe I was meant to be called Amy, because when people get my name wrong that’s what they call me.” Just last week someone said to me, “Well, I was thinking it was a short 3 letter name….”

So maybe Todd was right about the double consonant thing. That people are remembering names by certain features, but more than one name can fit those features.

2010/09/02
11:39am
Docshiva
Sacramento, CA
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Interesting. I’m a Stephen, but now and then I hear my introduction back as “David?” Also interesting is that usage of lossy. Thanks, Norm, Todd, Amy, Teletubby.

2010/09/05
5:34pm
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Bob Bridges
USA
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My name is Robert and I go by “Bob”. Perhaps you already know that I’m very often miscalled “Bill”.

If you look back when I was born, “Robert” was one of the most popular male names. Actually, the Baby Name Wizard says it peaked at around 28/K in the ’30s, about when my namesake uncle was born, but it was still around 20/K in the ’50s. Meanwhile, in the 1880s, which I think is as far back as the BNW has records, “William” was well up past 40/K and already dropping; in the 1940s it fell below “Robert” about the 20/K level, and by the ’50s it was at about 15/K. “Bob” and “Bill” (apart from “Robert” and “William” had a sharp, short peak in the ’20s and ’30s at a combined level of about 10/K. And here’s the thing: I have a younger brother Bill, and I notice a lot of other brothers are a Bob/Bill combination too. There’s probably a connection.

Now that you get me thinking about it, I knew a pair of brothers when I was growing up named Scott and Todd, too. Let’s check the BNW … Scott, it says here, enjoyed a sudden surge of popularity between 1940 and 1980, peaking in the ’60s at about 7/K. “Todd” peaked at the same time at about 3.3/K. So maybe we’re on to something, here.

By the way, this doesn’t seem to have much to do with actual rank of popularity. The most popular names in the 1950s were, in descending order, James, Michael, Robert, John, David and William. In the ’60, Scott and Todd were ranked 15th and 31st, respectively.

Let’s see, “Pam” and “Pamela” peaked just above 6/1000 in the 1950s, Amy at about 8/K in the ’70s; not much overlap there. If I expand “Amy” to all female names starting with “Am-“, “Amber” and “Amanda” swelled the ranks to make a total of almost 14/K, and in the 1980s “Amber” surged ahead to 3rd place to put all “Am-” names over 18/K. Still, I think I like the “short, 3-letter name with an ‘a’ in it” theory; and the same goes for Scott and Todd ending in a short ‘o’ and a double consonant. “Bob” and “Bill”…well, I dunno, they just seem to go together.

2010/09/05
7:29pm
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Ron Draney
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Bob Bridges said:

The most popular names in the 1950s were, in descending order, James, Michael, Robert, John, David and William. In the ’60, Scott and Todd were ranked 15th and 31st, respectively.


I once attended a business meeting where three of the eight men present were named “Dave”. Not surprisingly, the rest of us kept calling them “Steve”.

2010/09/08
3:45pm
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kylewm
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sburt said:

Hi, my name is Scott. I have, on countless occasions, introduced myself and been mistaken for Todd. I play golf, and many times on the first tee I have said “Hi, I’m Scott”, and gotten the response, “Todd?” Or “Hi, Todd”. I was just telling someone about this phenomenon the other day and was surprised to hear it on the show. I thought perhaps the confusion came from me mumbling or not speaking clearly.


I was really surprised to hear this too! My name’s Kyle and I get “Nice to meet you Todd” all. the. time. Nice to know I’m not alone 🙂

2010/09/08
4:37pm
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Bob Bridges
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I wasn’t thinking of sheer sound-alikes when I posted before. “Scott” being misheard for Todd (as opposed to being misremembered as Todd) seems to me like it must be a different sort of phenomenon. In fact, over the phone “Bob” is often misheard as “Don”; I’ve always thought I must be pronouncing it unclearly, at least until recently. But mishearing “Kyle” as “Todd”, now, that’s just weird.

2010/09/09
8:58pm
ninaloca
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Marv Zinser said:

I was enjoying your show today (Aug 29, 2010) when you discussed a caller whose name, Scott, was often miss-given as Todd (or was it the other way around?). You asked if there were any other mis-called names, and my name is mis-called from time to time. By a count of about 20-to-1, I am most often mis-called Norm instead of Marv. I have always “written off” the mistake to the equal rarity of the two names. What do you think?


Both are missing the same final syllable.

2010/09/17
12:07pm
dfinster
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Docshiva said:

Interesting. I’m a Stephen, but now and then I hear my introduction back as “David?” Also interesting is that usage of lossy. Thanks, Norm, Todd, Amy, Teletubby.


I have exactly the opposite. My name is David. I introduce myself in the normal way – “Hi, my name is David.” and the other person says “Good to meet you, Steve.”

It happens about 10% of the time when meeting someone new. I’m pretty sure it’s only men who make this mistake, I can’t recall a woman calling me Steve.

2011/03/16
11:04am
SometimesTodd
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Enjoy your show! My name is Todd and YES this happens probably once every 3 months or so. I don’t see the similarities except for both names end in double letters. Incredibly freaky.

2011/03/25
1:03am
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Avocet
Everett, WA
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I am a Scott who roomed with a Todd for several years. As far as I know, neither of us ever experienced this.

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