PC Scourge of the Week: Sexist Weather! [With Skeptical Comment by John]

This is one of those days where parody and satire are impossible. From the Washington Post:

Female-named hurricanes kill more than male hurricanes because people don’t respect them, study finds

People don’t take hurricanes as seriously if they have a feminine name and the consequences are deadly, finds a new groundbreaking study.

Female-named storms have historically killed more because people neither consider them as risky nor take the same precautions, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesconcludes.

Researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University examined six decades of hurricane death rates according to gender, spanning  1950 and 2012.  Of the 47 most damaging hurricanes, the female-named hurricanes produced an average of 45 deaths compared to 23 deaths in male-named storms, or almost double the number of fatalities.

I thought maybe the Washington Post was tarting this up. But no. Here’s the headline and abstract of the actual study:

Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes

Do people judge hurricane risks in the context of gender-based expectations? We use more than six decades of death rates from US hurricanes to show that feminine-named hurricanes cause significantly more deaths than do masculine-named hurricanes. Laboratory experiments indicate that this is because hurricane names lead to gender-based expectations about severity and this, in turn, guides respondents’ preparedness to take protective action. This finding indicates an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the gendered naming of hurricanes, with important implications for policymakers, media practitioners, and the general public concerning hurricane communication and preparedness.

First, I can’t believe they got away with this plainly sexist headline. Second: the obvious public health move will be to name all future hurricanes after men. Long live the Patriarchal Low-Pressure Weather System!

Surely someone will find a way to blame this on cl—– ch—-.

JOHN adds: Wow, this is really…stupid. The authors say they studied “more than six decades” of hurricane data. That means they went back to the early to mid-1950s. The practice of giving hurricanes female names began in 1953, so I’m guessing that is when they started. But guess what–male names weren’t used until 1978 or 1979 (1979 for Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico hurricanes). And hurricanes, in general, used to kill more people than they do now, probably because of improved warnings and communications.

If you look at NOAA’s list of the 52 deadliest US hurricanes, you can see that eleven were between 1953 and 1978, all with female names, and only seven subsequent to 1978. Of these seven, three had female names, and four had male names. Of these recent hurricanes, one stands out–Hurricane Katrina, which killed around 1,200 people. The other six combined killed 204. So Katrina was responsible for around 86% of all fatalities during the 37 years when the weather service has used both male and female names. If Hurricane Katrina had been Hurricane Ken, one could say that male-named hurricanes are far more lethal than female-named hurricanes. No doubt that finding could have been squeezed into some liberal narrative, too.

As for the “laboratory experiments” that ostensibly prove people don’t take female hurricanes seriously, I would love to see videos of what these bozos did in the lab. We could all use a good laugh.

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