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What are the ODDS of 2 globally-influentially surnames at same time, minus 1 letter?

  1. Jul 14, 2011 #1
    Yes OF COURSE I am referring to "Obama" and "Osama". I find it incredulous that these two names pop up at this particular moment in history (ie '01-'11).

    What are the odds? They are both unusual - in fact I have NEVER heard either of them before (but of course that says more about my Western culture I suppose).

    Can it be mathematically "guesstimated" just how improbable it is that 2 names so close together like this pop up at exact same time in human history?

    And when we look at the name "Hussein"... well surely that tips the odds into infinity???

    I am not here to postulate anything, nor sprout any conspiracy theory. I am posting here in the "General Math" forum to find out if the odds can actually be calculated.

    I want some SCIENCE here, not speculation. Thank you.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2011 #2
    Re: What are the ODDS of 2 globally-influentially surnames at same time, minus 1 lett

    You mean you find it incredible, or perhaps you are incredulous. Sorry, I'm a confirmed pedant -- I can't resist. :-)

    My answer to your question would be no, the odds can't be calculated, at least not in any way that would satisfy me. There are too many parts of the question that are vague. For instance, what exactly does "globally-influential" mean? What does "at the same time" mean? That they're alive at the same time? Prominent in the news at the same time? (I would argue that Obama and Osama never met that criterion.) And then there are the add-ons you adduce as additional arguments: that Obama and Osama are uncommon names, and that Obama's middle name is Hussein. (Although I don't understand why that last one makes the thing seem any more strange to you -- Hussein is, after all, a very common name.) How are we to evaluate, not just the odds that these particular events could occur, but that there should be SOMETHING you could point to that would seem odd?

    It is always possible, no matter what happens, to find something about it that seems unusual or a priori improbable. But lots and lots and lots of things occur every day, and the things that actually occur are astronomically exceeded in number by the possible unusual things that could have occurred, but didn't.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  4. Jul 14, 2011 #3
    Re: What are the ODDS of 2 globally-influentially surnames at same time, minus 1 lett

    Like Bush and Rush?

    Putin and Palin?

    Harry Reid and Ishmael Reed?

    Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George Clinton?

    A schmoke and a pancake? You could find hundreds of little wordplays among prominent people. Boehner, Boxer. Feinstein and Feingold. Nancy Pelosi and Jim Fregosi.

    Bearing in mind, of course, that "Osama" is one particular variation of his name. Usama is also commonly seen, especially before 9/11. His FIRST name. By that logic, you'd compare George Bush to King George. A lot of people made that comparison during the Bush administation.

    Harry Byrd, Larry Bird.

    Orrin Hatch, Richard Hatch, Charlie Batch.

    David Boren, Charles van Doren.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  5. Jul 14, 2011 #4
    Re: What are the ODDS of 2 globally-influentially surnames at same time, minus 1 lett

    Thanks, guys, I take your good points onboard. This topic came up in a conversation, and I was arguing (I confess) the conspiratorial angle, while my more rational frriend was insisting it was mere coincidence. Thanks for your replies, they are very reasonable.
     
  6. Jul 14, 2011 #5
    Re: What are the ODDS of 2 globally-influentially surnames at same time, minus 1 lett

    Christine Keeler and John Archibald Wheeler!

    (ok I'll stop now)
     
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