Not the Duffel Blog

Actually, the Washington Post: "Female-named hurricanes kill more than male hurricanes because people don’t respect them, study finds."


Anonymous said...

Hurricanes have only recently been given male names. We learned how to survive them while using female names. Also, we have had a mild decade of storms.


Grim said...

A counterpoint: "We" didn't learn how to survive them while they had female names. Every generation learns that on its own. The government issues evacuation recommendations that are based on objective criteria, but they are widely ignored. So there's still room for people to make the error the study suggests.

Elise said...

Funny because I always think of female-named hurricanes as far more vicious. Early exposure to Camille, perhaps.

It’s interesting that the lead says people don’t “respect” female-named hurricanes while the body of the article quotes one of the study co-authors as saying:

The stereotypes that underlie these judgments are subtle and not necessarily hostile toward women – they may involve viewing women as warmer and less aggressive than men.

Not exactly an issue of respect unless one equates fear with respect.

If this study was valid, it would in fact have something to say about “risk communication”. However, what struck me in the follow-up to this post was this:

Eric Holthaus, at Slate, says removing Hurricane Sandy from the study’s dataset would reverse its findings: “Singlehandedly, Hurricane Sandy switches the authors’ entire premise on its head. Ignoring Sandy’s outlier nature, male-named hurricanes now cause more deaths than female ones”

If Holthaus is correct, this seems to me to undermine the study on two levels. First, I contend that Sandy's death toll was almost totally due to NY and NJ basically not believing in hurricanes, regardless of their names. Or, more kindly, to the fact that NY and NJ are inexperienced at dealing with hurricanes, don’t understand them, apparently didn’t seek advice from States along the Gulf Coast, etc.

Furthermore, the study authors’ contend that the greater the “degree of femininity” of a hurricane’s name, the greater the correlation to deadliness. I am hard put to come up with a more gender-neutral name than Sandy. Even having lived through Sandy, I had to check Wikipedia to determine the gender of the storm.

Grim said...

I believe they omitted Katrina, too, for whatever that means.

Elise said...

My understanding is they omitted Katrina and Audrey (1957) but included all the others, including Sandy and Camille. Katrina and Audrey were considered outliers and "[r]etaining the outliers leads to a poor model fit due to overdispersion. It should be noted that these hurricanes have feminine names."

On closer inspection, it looks like the correlation is for "severe" storms which seems to be those with higher "normalized damage" but not for non-severe storms. I'm really not sure what all this means but I'm having a hard time believing that anyone who has lived through a hurricane would pay attention to anything other than the Category of the storm. I'm not going to dig through all their numbers but it would be interesting to know if they controlled for Category or predicted Category. Sandy, for example, was Cat 2 before making landfall and "no longer tropical" once it hit land.

Grim said...

The only hurricane I've ever evacuated for was Floyd, which was reportedly a Cat 5 when we decided to jump. It didn't come ashore that strong, though (and I see looking it up just now that they have now decided it really peaked 2mph short of Cat 5).

E Hines said...

Female-named hurricanes kill more than male hurricanes because people don’t respect them....

Well, the mornings after often are doozies.

Eric Hines

Ymar Sakar said...

Humans are so easy to fool and manipulate with statistics.