Are Hurricanes with Female Names Deadlier?

A few weeks ago, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) published a controversial paper called “Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes.” Here’s part of the abstract:

Feminine-named hurricanes (vs. masculine-named hurricanes) cause significantly more deaths, apparently because they lead to lower perceived risk and consequently less preparedness.

Many news outlets seem to have accepted the paper’s conclusion at face value in their write-ups. They probably shouldn’t have, though.

I’ve seen several critical responses, including one by David Taylor of prooffreader.com and another by Ed Yong at National Geographic, that suggest the original analysis was fairly flawed.

Name femininity may influence things like girls in science, girls in law, girls in the workplace, and boys and their behavior, but so far no one has conclusively proven that it affects the deadliness of hurricanes.


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