Open threads at the Open Thread tab every Sunday and Wednesday

Republicans Are Douchebags

Or, more technically, douchebags are disproportionately Republican. But I figure with this title I’m guaranteed front-page links from Salon and Daily Kos.

A while back, I argued – not especially originally – that “conservative” and “liberal”, far from being mere descriptions of political views, pointed to two very different tribes of people who might as well be considered totally different ethnicities.

One marker of ethnicity is different name preferences – we all know what groups people named Juan, Tyrone, or Mei are likely to belong to – and a recent article in Vox confirms that names differ between Democrats and Republicans at very impressive rates. For example, of the 200,000 registered US voters named “Willie”, 81.8% are Democrats. Of the 40,000 registered voters named “Rex”, 59.4% are Republicans (and I assume the others are Rottweilers or tyrannosaurs). You can find some impressively complete statistics at this site, including what percent of people with your name have a gun, go to church, attend college, et cetera.

But looking through Vox’s list of most Republican names, I was struck (or possibly stricken) by a resemblance to a different list I had seen a couple years ago.

Reddit: I fear my first name is the biggest douche bag name an American male can have. In your opinion, what is the cliche douchebag character name?.

This seems like a relatively popular internet question, and maintains a Most Douchebag Names list as well. This provides two independent lists of douchiest names (my Reddit list is the first name proposed in the ten most upvoted first-level comments there). They both turn out to be pretty similar.

1. Chad
2. Trent
3. Guy
4. Brad
5. Paul
6. Blake
7. Brody
8. Chaz
9. Tad
10. Keith

1. Chad
2. Chase
3. Tyler
4. Brody
5. Brad
6. Trey
7. Hunter
8. Scott (@#$% YOU TOO, REDDIT)
9. Biff
10. Preston

Clarity Campaigns can tell us what percentile each of these names are on the political spectrum. When I plugged all of them in, the median douchebag name was in the 98.5th percentile for Republicanness. In other words, with a little bit of noise the top ten douchiest names are pretty much the top ten most Republican names.

(The big exception is “Chaz”, which leans Democrat. But I refuse to believe that “Chaz” is a real name anyway.)

I tried to test alternate hypotheses that Clarity just over-Republicanned all names, or that it was a function of these being male names, or white names, or names of a certain generation. I tested the top ten most popular male baby names of 1990 (that being the generation probably in its peak douchebag years right now) and combined their full name and nickname versions (since I didn’t want to confound by whether Republicans or Democrats are more likely to go by a nickname). The median popular 1990 male name was in the 73rd percentile for Republicanness. This isn’t surprising – men tend to be more conservative than women, and this effect probably swamps any within-gender name effects, so if all male names are more conservative than all female names we would expect the average male name to be about the 75th percentile for Republicanness. Our popular 1990 control group comes very close.

But the average douchebag name is in the 98.5th percentile for Republicanness.

I can think of two three hypotheses.

First, douchebags are disproportionately Republican.

Second, the parents who name kids douchebag names are disproportionately Republican, and Republicanism is partly hereditary (I almost missed this one, but JayMan reads this blog and I know he would call me on it if I forgot).

Third, “douchebag” is a tribally-coded slur. If someone asks “Have you ever noticed that all assholes are named things like ‘Moishe’ or ‘Avram’ or ‘Menachem’?” – then they’re telling you a lot more about the way they use the word ‘asshole’ than about the Moishes and Menachems of the world.

I expect there are many more fun things I will think of to do with this name list.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

276 Responses to Republicans Are Douchebags

  1. Anthony says:

    I’m not sure “douchebag” is particularly “tribally-coded” as you suggest – there are plenty of douchebags in San Francisco, and I doubt that more than 20% are Republican.

    From what I’ve seen, “douchebag” = “youngish man who has more apparent success with women than I think is appropriate”. So does that mean Republicans are better at providing what women really want, or that Democrats are more likely to be envious little cunts?

    • Anonymous says:

      2 for 3, but boy, do I want to report this. That was really, really unnecessary.

      • Vulture says:

        Same. I was hovering over the button, but I decided it just barely squeaked by. Can we try to be a little less blatant about our tribal hatred?

        • drethelin says:

          Can we stop making relatively useless comments mentioning the three rules? Either report or not. I’m sure Anthony knew exactly what he was doing.

          *Sidenote: this is exactly why I prefer upvotes/downvotes to not: I don’t like seeing post after post of “this is bad because x”, rather than just seeing that a comment is at -5

      • Herpaderp says:

        Idk guys, do you guys have any pickup background? I”m a registered Democrat, and I totally missed what was supposed to be wrong with this comment. Indeed, I”m still not sure I’ve found it. The part about “what women really want” shakes out pretty easily from any pickup theory, so if there’s an issue there that could explain it?

        Anthony proposes a definition for douchebag, and then lays out a reasonable logical continuation. The only issue I have is that I can’t say I find that definition compelling, but I do not believe he proposed it simply to set up a situation where he could follow the word “Democrats” with “envious little cunts.”

        That would be trolling on an improbably high meta-level.

        …So anyone want to define the issue for me?

        • Anthony says:

          The last clause is what’s wrong with my comment above, but that definition was not an attempt to set up that line.

          The definition is distilled from my observations about the way people around me use the word “douchebag” when it’s not just a generalized insult.
          I do think the hating on “douchebags” is primarily an expression of sexual envy – people who aren’t skinny, clean-shaven, and overly self-confident being annoyed that women actually prefer men like that.

          • pylon shadow says:

            You might think that because douchebaggery is correlated with low self-awareness of the “they’re just jealous!” variety.

            It’s like a Dunning-Kruger body spray.

          • 27chaos says:

            I’m not a douchebag (proof: I’m pasty white and don’t even lift, nor do I drink alcohol) but I also perceive an element of jealousy to the stereotype.

          • Deiseach says:

            people who aren’t skinny, clean-shaven, and overly self-confident being annoyed that women actually prefer men like that.

            Speaking as a woman, I would not have defined “douchebag” as “reasonably attractive young male who is popular with the ladies”, but as “someone who acts like a tosser”.

            And no, I’ve never used the term “douchebag” but only because I’m not American and I would say “tosser” or “gobdaw” or the like instead. And yes, I’ve referred to men as tossers, gobdaws, gobshites, etc. and it has not been through sexual envy, I can assure you!

            Now, if this is going to devolve into “Why do women like bastards?” mode whereby there are laments about Nice Guys not getting the girls, I’m not sticking around for that.

            So how would I define a douchebag?

            Douchebag – loud, annoying, brat who behaves like the world owes him a living, generally because he considers (a) simply being the person he is represents the pinnacle of the ages in coolness, sexual appeal, intelligence, and the like (b) considers himself to be cool etc. and others to be losers (c) inflicts his presence and company upon others in an overbearing, leaning towards aggressive, manner (d) very often young adult but even those old enough to know better can behave obnoxiously (e) will not or cannot accept correction, criticism or pointing out that he is acting like a douchebag and attributes such to you being envious of him, what with you being a loser and him being cool.

          • Daniel says:

            As a gay guy, this doesn’t really apply to me. I’ve been known to say “that guy is really attractive, why does he have to be such a douchebag?” or rather “my brain identified you as a potential mate based off visual cues, but then you signaled traits of the outgroup so I can no longer consider you a potential mate.”

          • Anonymous says:

            So calling someone a douchebag is an expression of envy, and objecting to being caled a douchebag is blindness to one’s own douchebaggery.

            That clears it up.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          It’s a parody of Scott’s post. It makes him look bad.

        • 27chaos says:

          I have the same opinion as you and am also registered Democrat.

      • Sieben says:

        Well, props for not reporting it, but let me say that I:

        1) Was NOT triggered by the see-you-next-tuesday word

        2) WAS triggered by other people’s disapproval

        Seriously you’re giving me flashbacks like I’m in high school again.

        • Luke Somers says:

          It wasn’t the word that people were upset about, I think. At least, to the extent I was upset about it, it wasn’t about the word.

    • rehana says:

      Neither option explains why women use the term. See Garfunkel and Oates, for example.

      • 27chaos says:

        I think for women, douchebag = a guy who is overconfident and shallow. He has some objective value, but he overestimates it by a lot.

        • rehana says:

          Seems reasonable. Do women and men call different people douchebags, then? Or the same people for different reasons? It would be interesting to see if women and men come up with different lists of douchebag names.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            To both men and women, a douchebag is a man they don’t like who is enjoying success with women. If a woman starts to like a douchebag, however, then he’s no longer a douchebag to her. He’s sexy, exciting, drives a great car, whatever.

          • Deiseach says:

            To both men and women, a douchebag is a man they don’t like who is enjoying success with women.

            No, it’s not about “success with women”. It’s about being a braggart, loud, obnoxious and annoying.

            I’m very interested to know why you’re harping on about sexual success in your idea of what other people mean by “douchebag”. Why not mention envy of money, status, etc?

            Douchebag = young male who acts like he is the centre of the universe.

          • Slow Learner says:

            As far as I can tell, Steve Sailer is waaay gone on evo psych narratives, so I would expect him to see *everything* as being about sexual success.

    • Ian Osmond says:

      I have NEVER seen “douchebag” used to imply ANYTHING about dating success. A “douchebag” is arrogant and has a sense of entitlement — the douchebag is described by the saying, “He was born on third base, and thinks he hit a triple.”

      The other part of “douchebag” is a callousness to the misfortunes of others, even shading into a troll-like enjoyment of hurting others.

      I just asked my wife for her definition of “douchebag”, to see if we were on the same page, and she said, “An entitled asshole who doesn’t care about the feelings of others.”

      So we have characteristics of unearned privilege, such as being born to a wealthy family, being unaware that such privilege is unearned, and therefore believing that they genuinely ARE better than other people, and therefore not finding any importance in people that they consider “lesser” than them, even to the point of finding their discomfort amusing.

      Obviously, those statements don’t describe most Republicans, but they are failure modes of personality more associated with conservatives than with liberals. A person who DID have those characteristics would be more likely to find an individualist philosophy attractive than a communal-based on.

  2. Lemminkainen says:

    Michael Mark Cohen argues that “douchebag” is in fact a tribally coded slur (in a piece that encourages people to use it):

    • von Kalifornen says:

      Fuck that guy, he’s white and he cites some of the more “morality is hipster leftism” article frim Gawker.

      • Lemminkainen says:

        Oh, I agree– just trying to point out that there are definitely people who see it as encoding something tribal.

      • Deiseach says:

        Well, I thought the bit about his beehives (in the mini-bio at the foot of the article) may not have been full-blown douchebaggery, but it certainly was smug-gittery.

        I’m rural in origin, so people who ever so casually drop into conversation where it does not naturally arise that they have beehives or raise organic chickens or grow their own coriander for this absolutely stunning recipe they picked up at their little gîte in Provence, so authentic doncha know, bring me out in hives.

        Want to impress me that you’re sparing the earth and growing your own food? Feckin’ well be getting up at half four n the mornings rain, hail or shine 365 days a year to milk fifty cattle, and forget “I produce a couple of jars of my own honey” nonsense.

        • Tom Womack says:

          Keeping bees, like elaborate cookery, is the kind of moderately fiddly hobby requiring lots of special equipment and lots of esoteric knowledge that people who want a consuming project for their spare time might take up; and if you have a moderately-consuming interest you might well bring it up more often than it would occur in normal conversation.

          I don’t know people who regard bee-keeping as a contact with humanity’s fundamental agricultural roots; it’s an excuse to buy weird contraptions, think about the ecology of social insects and wear mesh overalls, and at the end you get honey.

          • call_me_aka says:

            What? No, people totally care about how wholesome and authentic their moderately-consuming hobbies are. I’m having a hard time sourcing this, but this is decent.

          • Deiseach says:

            Sticking it in your mini-bio at the end of an article of hand-wringing over White Male Privilege seemed just that teeniest bit “Smug Git” to me; granted, it’s probably at the end of every article, but of all the things to put in?

            Sounds less like “I like bees!” and more like “Yah, bees are so important ecologically and they’re under threat and I am Doing My Bit – what are YOU doing, you less fabulously caring than I am about Mother Earth and our partner non-human species, hmmmm?”

            Guy is a university professor and writer, not a commercial bee-keeper, so I did get the “this gives me hives*” reaction since it sounded a little self-righteous.

            That could just be my nasty cynical suspicious pessimistic personality, though, and he may be as lovely in reality as he makes himself out to be 🙂

            *And I don’t mean beehives. I really do support Save The Bees campaigns, but tossing in the little bit about his few hives sounds like a terribly hip attempt to show how funky and interesting and ‘not boring white upper-middle class privilege at all guy, honest’ he is.

            And dammit, now I can’t find the beehive thing at the end – but I’m sure I didn’t imagine it. So I apologise if I hallucinated your interest in bees, or am confusing you with another person.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Professor Cohen is right.

      Another coded ethnic slur is “white bread:”

    • Q says:

      Ah, this stupid article by professor Cohen again ! I have seen the text shared by an extreme “democrat” friend named by what I now learned is one of the top douchebag names. Now it makes me wonder, if his uncritical-to-anything-left attitude is a reaction to upbringing by some inhumanly “hardass” republican parents.

    • peppermint says:

      There are two biting racial slurs for Whites. The most common one is ‘racist’. Less popular is the sexual slur ‘cumskin’, referring to the stereotype of effeminate White men, and the fact that Whites are supportive of gayness.

  3. stillnotking says:

    I think “douchebag” is a coded slur — my mental image is Scumbag Steve, who is probably a Republican (his real name is Blake) — but, more importantly, consider who’s being polled. A five-second glance at the front page of /r/politics makes the tribal makeup of reddit pretty obvious. Assuming they think Republicans are douchebags, their availability heuristic will generate Republican names.

    • eqdw says:

      Honest curiousity from a US resident who didn’t grow up here: why is Scumbag Steve Republican? My mental image of him says “frat boy” and probably “upper-middle or higher class family” but I’m not sure why that would tell you anything at all about his politics.

      • blacktrance says:

        I’m a US resident who grew up in the US, and I agree. The Scumbag Steve archetype could easily be a Democrat, though if he has a stereotypical WASP name like Preston, the probability of him being a Republican increases. Being a bro does convey some information about one’s politics (for example, they’re unlikely to be feminists), but not to the point of dividing Red and Blue.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          Actually, Preston is the least Republican name in this sample except for Chaz.

        • eqdw says:

          I think of frat boys as pretty apolitical; They don’t care about it, they think it’s lame, they have more important things to care about.

          I might go so far as to say that the quintessential frat boy is more likely to have come from a Republican family. But that doesn’t imply that he himself is one

          • Anonymous says:

            That doesn’t mean that they’re destined to be permanently apolitical, though. Once their rumspringa is through and they have families/jobs/mortgages, I think that they’re more likely to be Republicans.

          • Brian Donohue says:

            Maybe, although it’s pretty hard to be unaware of how the University community in which they are ensconced generally feels about frat guys, which may set one down a Republican path merely as a reaction.

            From what I’ve heard, bros are starting to ‘own’ the douche epithet, in much the same way gays took back the ‘queer’ epithet, which strikes me as a good strategy.

          • Nornagest says:

            bros are starting to ‘own’ the douche epithet

            I still find this hard to swallow. If I were ten years younger and in a frat, I could see myself facetiously referring to myself as “one of those fratboy douchebags” much as I now occasionally refer to myself as “the tech scum that’s ruining the city”, but that’s not identifying as such; I wouldn’t use the phrase with anyone that I didn’t expect to have the context for it. It’s more of an ironic nod to the culture war in which I’ve found myself embedded.

          • eqdw says:


            “the tech scum that’s ruining the city”,

            You, too? We should get drinks!

          • Nornagest says:

            Are the drinks served in a pretentious bar in a recently gentrified neighborhood? I’ve got a reputation to live up to.

          • Brian Donohue says:


            Perhaps you are just now starting to find the habits and proclivities of the younger generation hard to fathom.

            Hang in there- it gets worse.

        • Shenpen says:

          Why do you both think Scumbag Steve even cares about politics? Is it a feature of American culture that everybody cares? I think Scumbag Stefan or Etienne thinks politics is boring and it is for losers unless you are a politician and rake in cash for yourself.

      • George says:

        I don’t think he’s Republican looking at all. Nor do I think he looks like a frat boy. His patterned hat, fur coat, and gold chain scream urban — not suburban or rural.

        If anything, he looks like a stoner, which definitely skews blue.

        • 27chaos says:

          I perceive him as likely to be Republican, although I also see the stoner angle now that you’ve mentioned it.

          The reason I see him that way is because SS seems relatively well off and he seems to lack empathy for other people, and I think that such people are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats.

          Obviously this says more about my perceptions than blah blah blah.

          • eqdw says:

            The reason I see him that way is because SS seems relatively well off and he seems to lack empathy for other people, and I think that such people are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats.

            I don’t necessarily know that your view on this reflects reality. I think that these kind of character traits do not cleanly and globally map to politics.

            At least where I live, there is a pretty strong correlation between wealthy people and support for Democrats. And I don’t know how you’d quantify empathy, or lack thereof, but I’m not at all comfortable making that sort of sweeping generalization

        • Auroch says:

          I grew up suburban, and that getup screams “fake ‘ghetto’ suburban kid”. That doesn’t look like someone who’s actually urban, it looks like an idiotic middle-class white boy’s concept of what Cool Rap Guys look like.

          • George says:

            Well, I just cheated and looked at his real identity….

            He’s an aspiring rapper from Boston who readily admits to being a “douchebag” when he was younger. He’s going to night school, has a kid on the way, and is really into Boston sports.

            But on Twitter he follows #BoycottKoch, LivingLiberally, MotherJones, HuffPo, Rachel Maddow, etc.

            So, like I suspected, Scumbag Steve is definitely not a Republican, nor a frat bro.

      • stillnotking says:

        No, I just meant he’s probably Republican because his real name is Blake — as in, the real guy who became the meme.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      This is the comment I would have written if I were to come here earlier. Reddit, or even most of the ‘internet’ internet culture is more blue than it is red. I suspect that if you were to take a nationwide survey on douchebag names, you’d have different results.

      • Error says:

        I was surprised not to see Scott acknowledge that possibility in the post. It does seem the most likely explanation to me.

        I am evenly split between “Scott whiffed it” and “this is how Scott trolls the Internet when he feels like trolling.”

  4. Nornagest says:

    Option #3 seems like the most likely to me. But there’s a fourth option that seems even more likely: that the people sampled from when compiling these lists were disproportionately Blue, that Blues have negative affect attached to Red-coded names, and if you instead asked random shoppers in the hunting department of a Cabela’s in Pahrump, Nevada you’d end up with a different list that was full of names like… oh, I don’t know, Barack or something.

    I’m very sure that Reddit, at least, is disproportionately Blue and Gray — due, I think, to links I saw on this blog.

  5. Quite Likely says:

    What test did you do based on ‘white’ names? My first thought looking at these is that they those are all super-white names, in that hearing those names makes me assume whoever they’re referring to is white, in the same way that I’d assume someone named Tyrone or D’Shawn is black. I would assume conservative whites are more likely than liberal whites to give their kids names strongly associated with their race. As for the other side of it, while it is a general insult, I find ‘douchebag’ is most closely associated with the sort of privileged “bro” fraternity culture that is mostly a white phenomenon.

  6. Kevin says:

    There could definitely be some other confounding variables here; it’s possible that if you went to the Republican National Convention and asked them what the top ten ‘douchiest names’ were, they might have a completely different list. An earlier article you wrote cited not being able to find anybody on Reddit who actually disagreed with abortion on moral grounds; I think it’s safe to assume that Reddit is a very Blue-tribe place. TheTopTens isn’t necessarily as Blue, but it’s a quiz site on the internet, which I assume codes for youth which codes for Blue, though not as strongly.

    Incidentally, when I asked my Republican friend to come up with the douchiest name he could think of, he leaped right to Chaz.

    • alexp says:

      Nitpick: I’m pretty sure he said that almost nobody on reddit opposed Gay Marriage on moral grounds. This could be relevant because among younger people, support for Gay Marriage is something like 70-30, while support for abortion is around 50-50 across all demographics, iirc.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Gawker actually beat you to the idea that “douchebag” is a slur that pigeonholes a conservative type, but your name analysis really cements the point.

    Who knows the racially-ambiguous-and-therefore-white anti-liberal equivalent? Hipster, maybe?

    • call_me_aka says:

      Hipster is not an insult. Some people may use it derisively, but it’s used descriptively and maybe even (ironically) proudly far more often.

      • social justice warlock says:

        Both terms are primarily insults, but have been appropriated for self-description, increasingly so over time. You can see the late phase of this with “nerd” and early phase of it with “neckbeard.”

        • call_me_aka says:

          Who on earth self-identifies as a douchebag?

          • social justice warlock says:

            Douchebags. “Bro” is obviously the more common self-identification, but not the exclusion of the harder term. Again, this sort of appropriation is extremely common and it would be very odd if it did not appear.

            It is also possible that in your region the process is not very far along. It was only in the last several years in my own circles that “hipster” became a term of self-identification, although it had been in use as an insult for long before.

          • call_me_aka says:

            This is… very difficult for me to swallow, though obviously I have to if you’ve encountered it. My understanding was that the negative use of “hipster” is more condescending than angry (condemnatory?), kind of similar to “emo”, whereas “douchebag” is basically a more specific case of “asshole”, and we haven’t seen that appropriated (or have we? please say no) because it’s a more straightforward substitution for “bad person”. I’m trying to think of anything that “douchebag” connotes that isn’t inherently problematic, and coming up mostly blank (whiteness, maybe?), but I can think of a ton of hipster things that are not at all (biking, artisanal goods, skinny jeans).

            Am I just showing my colors here?

          • Nick says:

            I was just about to respond to say I know several people who self-identify as “assholes” (including at dinner an hour ago), and it seems to be taken to mean they think of themselves as trolls. So it seems to me that anything can probably be appropriated, although I don’t know that “douchebag” actually has been.

          • Anonymous says:

            Lots of douche-associated things aren’t inherently problematic – red solo cups, beer pong, preppy clothing, “bro”, wearing sunglasses inside, playing golf, watching football … all innocuous things which fit into “douche” archetype.

          • George says:

            There’s a large segment of the population who doesn’t think being a bro is a bad thing. People call each other bros unironically.

            “Whatup bro?” *fist bump*

            “Yeah, I invited Andrew over. Don’t worry, he’s a sweet bro.”

          • a person says:

            Anonymous: Those are fraternity associated things not “douchebag” associated… Douchebags come in a wide variety of stripes. As a frat bro this conflation kind of makes me mad.

            social justice warlock: Similarly, I don’t see how self-identification as a bro is at all the same thing as self identification as a douchebag? I also don’t think people actually self identify as bros?

            Nick: I heard a theory that people who self-describe as assholes are performing a form of self-handicapping with their social relationships. If they are socially unsuccessful , well, that’s fine, they don’t really like people anyway, they’re an asshole. If they are socially successful, then they are such a charismatic person that they can be an asshole and still have friends. Similarly, if someone tells you that they are an asshole, what they’re really saying is “I’m an asshole, and I get away with it”, which is a form of bragging.

          • Liskantope says:

            I seem to recall Jon Stewart (possibly while interviewing Chris Cristie) stating that in New Jersey, “douchebag” is a compliment, and that people might greet each other with “Hey douchebag!”. I’m not sure how serious or joking he was being with that comment.

            I’ve definitely known guys, including some of my college roommates, who address each other and me as “bro”, even while “douchebag” would be considered a nasty insult. There are others who consider “bros” to be annoying and use the term disparagingly. I myself don’t think of “bro” and “douchebag” as referring to the same degree of characteristics.

          • a person says:

            I’ve definitely known guys, including some of my college roommates, who address each other and me as “bro”,

            Right, because bro means “brother”, it’s a term of endearment. When people use it positively, that is how they mean it. When people use it negatively, they are referring to a specific stereotype/subculture that they dislike.

            Also, I’ve heard people say “a bro is the male equivalent of a basic bitch”, which is interesting.

          • Deiseach says:

            I can think of a ton of hipster things that are not at all [problematic](biking, artisanal goods, skinny jeans).

            From 2006, British Prime Minister David Cameron and his biking habits 🙂

            Also, a very enthusiastic supporter and promoter of cycling in London is Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and nicknamed (amongst other things) Bonking Boris for his, um, enthusiastic admiration of women, whether married to him or to others.

          • Anonymous says:

            reply to “A Person”: I’d consider fraternities and douchebags associated in the public mind, yes. If they weren’t associated, it wouldn’t be possible to conflate them, and you wouldn’t get mad at the conflation. Not coincidentally, most fraternities are also more republican, white, and upper class than the rest of the campus they inhabit.

            I’m not, personally, slurring against fraternities. I’m mapping how concepts are linked together in my (and I believe the general public’s) mindspace. Categories which share features become associated naturally. It’s no different from the association between “star treck” and “glasses” (via nerd) – it’s (possibly?) unrelated in reality and if it is related it’s not a causal association, but it’s *not* unrelated in mindspace.

          • dhill says:

            Apropos “bro”, did you know that, doctor Ernesto Guevara’s nickname is basically “bro”: “During this period he acquired his famous nickname, due to his frequent use of the Argentine diminutive interjection che, a vocative casual speech filler used to call attention or ascertain comprehension, similarly to both “bro” or the Canadian phrase “eh”.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you go out of your way to give a link that doesn’t match the text? I thought maybe Scott has a plugin to censor gawker, but my tests say no.

  8. ivvenalis says:

    While I don’t doubt that this effect is real, “highly Republican” names are much less likely to actually be Republican than “highly Democratic” names. “Chad” is in the 98.9th percentile of Republicanness, and 57% likely to vote Republican. Meanwhile, “Jerome” is only in the 80th percentile of Democraticity, but already votes 61% Democratic. “Felicia” is in the 95th Democraticity percentile, and 75% likely to vote Democratic. Chad’s Democratic counterpart, DaMarcus in the 98.9th D percentile, is 85% likely to vote Democratic (I’m actually suspicious that this number isn’t higher).

    Basically, having a “douchebag” name is far less strong an indicator of being Republican than having a “cholo” or “thug” name like Pablo or Tyrell is of being Democratic.

    Also, poking around a bit more, there may also be an issue with less common names being more likely to be Democratic, which inflates the percentile scores of “Republican” names–a lot of common, not-particularly-informative names like George are around 33% D percentile. If every single person who votes Republican is named Rebecca, Melissa, Scott, or James, with the parties still being split about 50/50, then those names all register as “highly Republican” EVEN IF they’re not actually all that likely to vote Republican.

    • haishan says:

      Based on vague memories of a chapter in the first Freakonomics book, I think the distribution of first names does have a long (heavily black) tail.

      That said, the fact that the data only comes from registered voters might work in the opposite direction, assuming (without looking it up — but I’m pretty confident in this assertion) that black men are less likely to be registered voters than non-black men.

      • Auroch says:

        I share the same vague memories, and have seen it elsewhere as well. Black children are fairly likely to have an actually-unique name.

    • Jake says:

      Possible explanatory variable: Douchebags are youngish, and the young skew liberal. I’m not entirely sure what the older equivalent of “Chad” is, though. There are southern-white-trash names like Jimmy Earl or something, but not any upper-middle-class equivalents I can think of.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        My impression is that “Chad” has been a cliche joke name for several decades. My recollection is that satirists were already making fun of it by at least the early 1970s. I only now discovered why.

        To people of my generation, it’s often associated with the handsome TV actor Chad Everett, who starred as the romantic leading man on the CBS drama “Medical Center” from 1969-1976. He born Raymon Lee Cramton and was the quarterback of his high school football team in Indiana.

        Okay, now I finally understand why Chad became a joke name, along with Tab, Troy, and Rock. It turns out the name “Chad Everett” was picked out for him by his gay Hollywood agent, Henry Willson, who was famous in Hollywood for crafting butch names and images for his clients, who also included Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Troy Donahue, Robert Wagner, Nick Adams, Guy Madison, Mike Connors, Rory Calhoun, John Saxon, Yale Summers, Clint Walker, Doug McClure, Dack Rambo, Ty Hardin, and John Derek.

        From an interview with Willson’s biographer in the Gay and Lesbian Times:

        “Willson gave these hunks literally interchangeable names and had his way with many of them. Talk about mixing business and pleasure. “Henry was like the gay Hugh Hefner,” Hofler says. “This was someone who took his sexual orientation and really manufactured these sex fantasies.” …

        “Yet Hofler learned during his interviews and research that Willson didn’t get “hands-on” with every client or young hopeful. For example, Willson wouldn’t take liberties with some actors, like John Gavin – those who hailed from moneyed, high society families. He was more apt to molest the naïve, off-the-bus types who would do anything to see their names in lights.”

        So if your mom wasn’t sophisticated enough to notice the jokes, she might name you Chad.

        Here’s Chad Everett’s famous comeback scene helping Naomi Watts audition in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive:”

  9. Hypothesis four: Reddit is disproportionately liberal and American, and the names of people Redditors dislike are disproportionately those of Republican-voting persons.

    • Paul Torek says:

      Hypothesis 4B: these are douchebag character names (as one of your quotes said), i.e. from scripts written in Hollywood.

      But don’t listen to me, I have a douchebag name. (@#$% YOU TOO, THETOPTENS)

  10. Deiseach says:

    What’s wrong with Keith as a name? And a little more seriously, why is “Paul” a douchebag name? It seems pretty innocuous to me, the kind of name anyone could have (as distinct from Brad, Trent or Chad).

    And do they have a list of non-douchebag names, for comparison purposes?

  11. Anonymous says:

    There’s something strange about that names site.

    Polls show that men are far more likely to live in households with a gun ( But according to the Clarity Campaigns site, almost across the board the popular female names had a much higher percentage of bearers with guns in the house than the popular male names.

    (Try it out: John, Matthew, Michael, Peter, Paul, Christopher vs. Christina, Jennifer, Jessica, Ashley, Susie, Elizabeth,…)

    Its data comes only from registered voters, but I’m not aware of a way that that would bias the results so significantly. Maybe I just didn’t check enough names carefully enough.

    • call_me_aka says:

      The most popular male names account for a much greater percentage of total names than the most popular female names, IIRC.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s an interesting point (or it least it would be IYRC). I would guess that conservatives are more likely in general to choose normal (i.e., traditional) names than liberals, so that could be doing something.

        I should have also noted originally that the percentages for both genders were almost all higher than the %45 of households reported in the poll for just males. That feature seemed easier to understand as a registered voter effect.

        • Wulfrickson says:

          I recall reading the opposite somewhere: people in liberal states are more likely to choose staid traditional Anglo names than people in conservative states. This was moderated by parental age: conservative parents are on average younger, and younger parents are more likely to choose untraditional names. I’ll dig up a link later if I can find it.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            My vague impression is that Red State white people are more likely to take currently popular boys’ names and change the spelling slightly to something novel, while Blue State white people are more likely to revert back to an old-fashioned boys’ name.

            It fits with the general notion that Red State whites are in their daily lives more progressive and Blue State whites more conservative.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s true, but it just means that it wouldn’t be surprising to find some female names with lots of guns. But if all female names have lots of guns, it doesn’t matter how the names are distributed.

        • lmm says:

          Traditional names are likely to skew conservative, but there are more extremely-traditional women’s names whereas popular male names are more timeless?

          Women are more likely to live in the parental (gun-owning) home for longer, particularly conservative women?

          • another says:

            It is true that boys’ names are more timeless than girls’ names. For example, the boys’ top 10 from the 50s overlaps the top 10 from the 90s.

            I’m not sure what you are proposing are the consequences of that. (Are your two paragraphs connected?) It sounds like a complicated chain of correlations. That has two dangers: one of the correlations may be false, and the end-to-end correlation may be very small.

            Elsewhere on the thread, I proposed and tested the theory that the discrepancy of timelessness is driving the discrepancy of guns. But it isn’t. Names from the 50s are more likely to have guns. Boys’ names that have fallen off the top 10 list are more likely to have guns than those that stayed. But girls on the top 10 list in the 50s are more likely to have guns than anyone else.

            Also, I think they are just using geography to fabricate their gun number, so it doesn’t matter how long the girls spend at home.

          • lmm says:

            My paragraphs were not connected, they were two alternative ideas.

            I would think that female names that were popular in the ’50s would skew very strongly conservative now, and boys names that have dropped out of the top 10 would skew more conservative than those that are still in the top 10 but less so than 50s women’s names because even having dropped out of the top 10 they’re more timeless than the women’s names. So aren’t these results exactly what we’d expect?

          • another says:

            Maybe young people with old names are conservative, but we are not looking at young people. When we look at names from the 50s, we are looking at old people. Maybe old people are more conservative than young people. Old people are certainly more likely to have a gun than young people.

            So the data about the old people makes sense.

            But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that new girls’ names have lots of guns because they are young and old girls’ names have lots of guns because they are old. The fact that old girls’ names have even more guns makes rate of gun ownership among young girls even more mysterious.

            (Well, actually, you could have it both ways, if the very youngest girls lived at home. But the names from the 80s have more guns than the names from the 90s. Plus, as I said, I don’t believe that the data is fine-grained enough to detect that. It isn’t based on direct surveys.)

    • another says:

      It’s a great advertisement for their model. They’re probably just using the geographical distribution on the name to assign odds of gun ownership. That should lead to men and women having equal odds of having a gun at home, and doesn’t explain how it could skew the other direction.

      Fashions in girls names change more rapidly, so sampling from popular names in 1990 might lead to younger girls than boys. So I tried names from 1950. They have higher rates of gun ownership, widening the gap between the sexes.

  12. Emile says:

    It’d be interesting to see how those names correlate to rural vs. urban background, or with parent’s social class/background/job…

    To me those names sound a bit “trailer trash”, would that be wrong? I would expect them to be correlated with lower socioeconomic status, among whites. But I live in France, so my guesses are likely to be pretty far off…

    • social justice warlock says:

      The names all read as upper-class to me (I’m a Yankee.) Lower-class whites stereotypically have two unpretentious first names: Billy Bob, Sandra Jean.

      • George says:

        Eh, the “douchebag” names code as firmly middle class to me. And I think your Billy Bob example is a bit dated. Is naming your child William Robert lower class? Not at all — it’s calling him “Billy Bob” that carries that connotation.

        In my experience, having two unpretentious names is decidedly middle and upper middle class. Think William Henry “Bill” Gates III. Taking an unpretentious name and adding a family name makes it even higher class. Think George Walker Bush or John Forbes Kerry.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are probably unfamiliar with American nicknames and recently fashionable upper class names and are interpreting unfamiliarity as low class.

      • Slow Learner says:

        This. All “American” names are somewhat unfamiliar to me, and when they are presented as being upper class – especially as being obviously upper class – it doesn’t make sense to my ears and I end up having to tune the name out and pay attention to other details.
        For example in films there will sometimes be characters who are meant to be upper class. They will dress and act as though they are upper class…but they will have a name that to my British ears comes from a council estate, and I can’t take them seriously.
        The first example that springs to mind is the posh boy in Legally Blonde, called I think Warner? His fiancée Vivian has a name which is upper class to my ears, but Warner really doesn’t.

        • George says:

          Well, you’ve just confirmed my hunch that a lot of the WASP-ier American names and nicknames sound funny to Brits. I first realized this when I was in London with a very WASP-y friend whose given name was actually a very British surname. My British friend pulled us aside and told us that the people in his posh group found the name hilarious.

  13. Anonymous says:

    No, Chaz is not a real name. There are only 4k registered voters with that name. The people on Reddit were probably thinking of Chas (pronounced Chaz), which has even fewer registered voters, but is a nickname for Charles.

    More specifically, it is a wasp nickname. Your lists have several wasp nicknames and a lot of wasp names.

  14. suntzuanime says:

    Rather than “might as well be considered totally different ethnicities”, have you considered the possibility that white liberals and white conservatives just are different ethnicities? It’s a truism that “white” in America is not really a natural category, so if you broke down the sort of politically mixed “white” category you might see that Irish-Americans were strongly liberal while Scots-Americans were strongly conservative or whatever. I tried looking for studies on this briefly but I couldn’t find any.

    • call_me_aka says:

      The concept of ethnicity, as opposed to race, is specifically supposed to include culture, so you don’t even need to go that far.

    • George says:

      Having lived amongst the bluest of the blue and the reddest of the red, I strongly agree with this sentiment.

      Also, see:

      • Anonymous says:

        Southern whites are definitely an ethnos. But I think STA wants to go beyond that. For example, he mentions the Irish. A century ago, they voted as a block. Do they today? I don’t think the Italians do.

    • Matthew says:

      I’m not sure the implied genetic link works here. For example, Jews in the US proverbially “earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans,” but Jews in the UK (who are presumably similar genetically) have the usual “poor vote labor, rich vote conservative” dynamic (see this 1983 overview, or the brief mention about Jews voting Conservative in 2010 here).

      • Anonymous says:

        No, Jews in UK are Sephardic.

        Also, in America, poor Jews vote R.

        • Matthew says:

          The proportion of Jews in the UK who are Sephardi is higher than in the US, but that is not correct as a generalization.

          ETA, in response to your ETA: That’s a wee bit misleading. The poor Jews who are voting R are ultra-Orthodox.

          2ETA: I couldn’t find an exact demographic breakdown for British Jewry, but I did find a source saying that there are 10 Sephardi synagogues in London; Wikipedia lists 23 total synagogues in London. (They might not be synagogues of equal size; nevertheless, it’s clearly incorrect to portray Sephardim as an overwhelming majority.)

      • suntzuanime says:

        I wasn’t meaning to imply a genetic link – I don’t think anyone really believes that West African DNA is sharply encoded for liberalism despite the vast majority of African-Americans supporting the Democrats. They’re Democrats, to oversimplify hugely, because the Republicans hate their ethnic group. And you might suppose Douchebag-Americans would become Republicans for a similar reason.

        • Hari Seldon says:

          Rather… Democrats have been HUGELY successful at painting Republicans as black-haters. I was born and raised in one of the most consistently Republican states. Literally 90% of my social interactions are with the kind of conservatives who listen to Rush Limbaugh and voted for Bush the SECOND time (?!). I have never met an honest-to-goodness racist here.

  15. a person says:

    They both turn out to be pretty similar.

    I’m not seeing the similarity…? The only two names in common are Chad (as #1) and Brad. The name Chad in particular seems to have gained a reputation as an alpha-male frat-boy womanizer type. On the imageboard, a bizarre support group for adult male virgins, they use “Chad” as a pejorative to refer to romantically successful men. (My own lived experience wholly confirms this stereotype. The only Chad I know dropped out of school to become a male model. He was successful to the point where I’ve seen his chiseled body on posters at a mall halfway across the country.)

    The rest of the names seem of dubious relevance to me.

    Scott, Paul, Blake, Tyler, and Keith seem like totally normal names. Chaz, Brody, and Biff are, like you said, names that I refuse to believe actually exist. Biff in particular seems like it’s just there because it’s the name of the villain in Back to the Future. Hunter and Chase I can kind of understand because they both seem like very deliberately “cool” names, in a sort of action-hero sense. Preston to me feels like a very upper class polo-shirt country club name, so I can understand that as well. Tad I don’t get, the only Tad I ever knew was extremely socially awkward.

    Anyway, like some other commentators have said, my guess is that these names are simply predominately white.

    • Anthony says:

      That’s funny. The only Chad I’ve known in person was gay and a D&D nerd, though physically fairly good-looking, and not really the awkward type.

      Blake and Tyler aren’t “normal” in the way Scott, Paul, and Keith are. Blake has a much stronger class marker than the others, and Tyler – I dunno. Just not a common name – I’m not sure if it has much in the way of connotations to me.

      • George says:

        What are Blake’s class associations?

        And I definitely see Tyler as a lower middle class name. See this video and related post by Tyler Cowen:

        • Anthony says:

          Blake (if male) is preppy – that is to say, upper middle class to upper class.

          And now that I think of it, my main connotation for “Tyler” is “little kid” if the context isn’t economics bloggers.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tyler became very popular in the right circles in the 90s. On surveys of baby name websites it was #1.

        • CAE_Jones says:

          Yeah; to the extent that when people started saying that it seemed uncommon, I was confused, because jut this week I caught myself thinking how common it was that I had to try and remember last names to distinguish among the various Tylers I met in elementary school alone. (I can think of 5 off the top of my head.)

          Though now that this has come up, I notice that I don’t recall encountering many new Tylers after leaving public school. I did notice someone referring to a Tyler recently (over the weekend maybe?), but I don’t know if I’m mentally placing the context correctly. (If so, the context does lean bro’ward).

          I don’t know what a person was implying about Hunter and Chase/Chace, but at this pint I found myself wondering about our geographic distribution. Those are both somewhat common names in my region. I tend to associate Hunter with a conservative white background, but I also should point out that I couldn’t give you much description at all of the various Hunters I’ve come across; the name just felt like a “not my tribe” signal from the first time I heard it. Then very few Hunters wound up in my classes/activities (while Tylers and Chases have been more common).
          Chase seems more common and diverse, but it also feels like a younger name: I’ve never met an adult Chase who wasn’t at most 3 years older than me.

  16. To confirm: by “tribally-coded slur”, do you mean that Team Blue tends to use the term to mock Team Red, or that Team Blue simply uses it more often in general? I.e., when someone uses it is he signalling, “My target is Team Red,” or “I’m Team Blue”?

    Anecdotally, the outspoken Team Red people I’ve read tend to use other insults; so I’m wondering whether my second scenario might be the case and you’re misreading it for the first.

    • Nornagest says:

      Some segments of the Internet seem to favor it as a widely understood insult that’s difficult to cast as racist, classist, sexist, or ableist (see the Gawker link elsewhere in these comments), but I don’t think this extends into political discourse at large. It might be in the background of the Cohen piece but I doubt it informs anything Scott linked.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Professor Cohen’s lengthy rant about how much he hates privilege white male Republican douchebags should remind us that Scott’s term “tribal” is useful in explaining ideological animosities not just as a metaphor.

    • Randy M says:

      Well, Team blue is more likely to insult team red (as such), so if they use that particular insult more, it would be hard to untangle the differences.

      • pylon shadow says:

        I’ve never seen those figures. Where can I find them?

        • Randy M says:

          I didn’t mean than vice-versa; I meant than each other. That is, if blue insults the tribal markers of red, and also employs the term douchebag more, then that is indistinguishable from blue using douchebag as a tribal slur more.
          I make no claims as to who insults each other more.

          And this is the point I wonder how I got into this thread.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Is it bad that I’m checking my future baby names against this list?

    ETA: And actually taking the result very personally?

  18. Matthew says:

    I have met exactly one Rex in my life, and while he is an older white male who previously enlisted in the military, he went on to a liberal-dominated profession (journalism) and is a solid Democratic voter, if not perfectly blue-tribe.

    I have also met exactly one Chaz (it’s short for Charles), so I can report that this name does actually exist in the wild. He’s also an older white male, and I don’t know his politics but wouldn’t actually be surprised if he was blue (he has a Ph.D.).

  19. Anon256 says:

    While I agree with most of what you’ve written about tribalism in US politics, in this case your hypothesis #1 seems prima facie quite plausible to me, so I don’t reach your implied conclusion (even aside from the issues other commenters have mentioned).

  20. Barnabas says:

    “Douchebag” meaning white + overly self-confident? Maybe it would be worth thinking about why there can’t be a non-white douchebag.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Being a douchebag is being a douchebag + power.

      • Zorgon says:


      • Barnabas says:

        I don’t think so. Barak Obama has an infinite level of power when compared to the guys from Jersey Shore. He could behave like the president from Idiocracy, still not a douchebag.
        I’ll help you out. It’s a major cultural project of the blue team to police self-confidence among white males while encouraging irrational self-confidence among any other group. Its a cargo cult thing. That’s why the douchebag concept is so big with blue teamers. If only they could smoke out more white catcallers.
        Some similar mindset may also be seen in males of any political stripe who see another male who they deem unworthy having more sexual success than themselves though they may not use the term douchebag.

    • Anon256 says:

      Isn’t e.g. the fictional an example of a non-white douchebag?

      • George says:

        Good point. While I wouldn’t classify Tom as a douchebag (he too much of a twerp, for a lack of a better word), I’ve definitely mentally classified some obnoxious bro-y Indian guys as douchebags before.

    • pylon shadow says:

      “The term “douchebag” generally refers to a male with a certain combination of obnoxious characteristics related to attitude, social ineptitude, public behavior, or outward presentation.
      Though the common douchebag thinks he is accepted by the people around him, most of his peers dislike him. He has an inflated sense of self-worth, compounded by a lack of social grace and self-awareness. He behaves inappropriately in public, yet is completely ignorant to how pathetic he appears to others.”

    • Cool Cool Cool says:

      I think whiteness strongly correlates with douchebag, but isn’t a necessary feature:

  21. J. Quinton says:

    Huh… I always thought that women were more conservative than men due to that whole disgust thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      During the suffragette era, everyone agreed women were conservative.

      • Anthony says:

        I read, a decade or so ago, that if only women’s votes were counted, every single President after WW2 would have been a Democrat, and every single British PM would have been a Conservative.

        • Nornagest says:

          That suggests to me that the Democrats have successfully cast themselves as the party for women’s interests, and that Labour hasn’t. It seems implausible that the Tories have that kind of cred, and while I might be willing to entertain some kind of sketchy evopsych disgust-based slant to the right, it can’t be a strong one or the American situation stops making sense.

        • Anonymous says:

          Women loved Ike. I think the simplest summary is that the US sex gap reversed between 1960 and 1964.

    • Shenpen says:

      I think Haidt’ study is severely flawed, because he focuses the disgust test on things typically conservatives feel disgusted by. E.g. flag desecration. Liberals would be much more disgusted by burning books or destroying libraries, due to the whole knowledge-is-sacred Enlightenment stuff (see the movie Agora). Haidt does not test liberal authoritarianism (authority of scientists), does not test liberal group loyalty etc.

      This is seriously flawed. For example he just assumes group loyalty means your country. He does not even test if a liberal is as much loyal to his group, but that is not his country but the blue tribe.

      Useless, I say.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Conservatives’ loyalties tend to be concentric, while liberals pride themselves on leapfrogging loyalties that hopscotch over some people somewhat similar to themselves in favor of others who are distinctly The Other.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your complaint seems to be that it is circular. It is designed to smoke out conservatives and it does. But that is no problem for the effects seen in women.

  22. Sniffnoy says:

    First link is broken (missing “http://”).

  23. Sniffnoy says:

    I think other people have pointed out here that we’ve got two types of “red tribers” here we don’t want to mix up, the “lower class” ones (which is the “red tribe” you described earlier) and the “upper class” ones. If we want to use Moldbug’s terms, these are the Vaisya and the Optimates. (Or for a different framework, they seem to match the L’s and the E’s in this scheme.) Naively, based on how I see the word used, I would expect “douchebag” to be attached more to the latter — to my mind, “asshole” has more of a connotation of naked aggression, “douchebag” more of smarminess. And people seem to be suggesting that the names you’ve pulled up are to some extent Optimate-coded, so, basically, this seems to fit together, suggesting if it’s a slur, it’s not a red-tribe slur, it’s an Optimate-slur. This also fits together with the “white racial slur” article, saying it applies “overwhelmingly [to] white, rich, heterosexual males” (though he seems to use the word a bit differently than I would).

    Mind you, I still think it’s a useful description of a kind of bad behavior (that perhaps certain groups might display more of), but if we’re saying it might be a slur, probably best to be clearer about who of. 🙂

  24. potatoe says:

    I am confused about this Scott thing, actually. Chad and Brad and the others I can see because if you are making a TV show/movie and you need a quick shorthand for “look at this fucking asshole”, you name him Chad. But Scott seems like Mark, a name that your standard dude would have. It’s easy to imagine the physical description of a Chad (backwards baseball hat, shorts, polo shirt, plays bad rap and dubstep, etc.) but a Scott? I’d probably say “just, you know, a standard guy. With, uh, hair? Yeah and … shoes? He likes music? idk.” I can’t imagine a stereotype of Scott-ness. I’m trying to explain this in concordance with my anecdotal experience by thinking that the mean douchebaggery of Chads is higher but they’re tightly clustered about said mean, while the variance among Scotts is huge. To make this list, there must be mega-asshole Scotts (who I’ve never met) across America to balance out all the regular ones, right?

  25. Tarrou says:

    I’ve always had a problem with the term, even though I know exactly the phenomenon it refers to. And I carry a deep and abiding contempt for the sort of tribal-tattooed gell-haired dipshits that are the avatars of the term.


    But I can’t help but note, as several others have, the racial aspect. I’ve never seen a black or hispanic male referred to by this term. And this is particularly noteworthy since much of the behavioral cues of “douchebaggery” are basically white males acting like stereotypical minority males. Going out in packs, hitting the clubs, constant posturing, bragging, lots of flashy clothes, jewelry, hyperaggression etc.

    It’s basically calling people “wiggers” (a term too toxic to gain mass usage).

    As to the name thing, that’s probably just mood affiliation of a bunch of blues projecting their hatred onto stereotypical upper-class-white names.

    • George says:

      Yeah, the behaviors are similar, but I don’t think “wiggers” are the “douchebags”.

      I originally thought it was about status, but I’m starting to it’s related to how “white” someone acts. Would anyone call Eminem a douchebag? The whiter you act, the more likely you are to be called a douche, cf. Mitt Romney.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I’ve never seen a black or hispanic male referred to by this term.”

      Point of anecdata: I have! Seen, heard, and done the name-calling myself. Many times. Asian males too. It wasn’t affirmative action or anything either. Scout’s honor – sometimes a douchebag is just a douchebag.

      “And this is particularly noteworthy since much of the behavioral cues of “douchebaggery” are basically white males acting like stereotypical minority males. Going out in packs, hitting the clubs, constant posturing, bragging, lots of flashy clothes, jewelry, hyperaggression etc.”

      I’m wondering if this is a regional thing, because where I live (and grew up), on the LA/Orange County border, those aren’t really stereotypes associated with minority men; they’re stereotypes associated with young men of the alpha/douchebaggy persuasion across ethnic lines. If you want minority-specific stereotypes, you need to get a little more specific.

      Really, I am skeptical about drawing a ton of conclusions from slang usage when the term in question is still active; it’s going to be changing constantly, and each little geographic tidepool is capable of taking the term in any of a million directions if conditions are right.

  26. Matthew says:

    I guess the feminist-driven campaign a couple years ago to replace blue tribe use of douchebag with co(lostomy)bag turned out to be rather short lived….

  27. Matthew says:

    Second, the parents who name kids douchebag names are disproportionately Republican, and Republicanism is partly hereditary (I almost missed this one, but JayMan reads this blog and I know he would call me on it if I forgot).

    Pedantry time… Republicanism is not hereditary. Conservatism is partly hereditary. Religiosity is partly hereditary. Various red-tribe tendencies in the lottery of fascinations may be partly hereditary. But there are no genes coding for membership in an arbitrary political coalition; indeed the good ol’ boys’ good ol’ grandfathers were almost certainly all Democrats to a man.

    • pylon shadow says:

      I hereby coin the word “tactoid” to honor the endlessly deployed, ref-working, right-wing meme “RepublicansFreedSlaves/RednecksWereDems”.

      • Matthew says:

        To be really clear — I’m cobalt (i.e. blue-grey, and rejecting Scott’s taxonomy), and I’m not deploying that meme. My point was that party names are essentially empty vessels that can be filled with content that changes over time; I’m fairly certain you are actually in agreement with me.

      • The Republicans were and remain the single-issue-voter party. The Democrats were and remain the identity politics party.

        In other words, the saves were freed by single-issue voters and the freedom was opposed by identity-politics voters.

        • Anonymous says:

          What does that mean? When blacks and southern whites switched parties, what does it mean that they switched between “single issue” and “identity politics”?

          • MugaSofer says:

            Broad categories of issues (libertarianism, feminism) vs specific issues (abortion, slavery). I think.

            Not sure how true the grandparent comment is, though, I’m not familiar enough with US political history.

        • Matthew says:

          This doesn’t even have the benefit of being true now. There are plenty of single-issue Democratic voters for whom pro-choice policies or evironmental policies trump everything else. And there are no shortage of white male Republicans voting on the basis of ressentiment rather than specific issues.

      • Tarrou says:

        I hereby coin the term “reverse logical” to honor the endlessly deployed left wing meme that all the racists in America magically switched sides in the political spectrum just about the time actual racism got really hard to measure.

    • roystgnr says:

      What is the correct scientific term for “a feature which is often inherited but is not genetic”? The non-scientific dictionary definitions for “heritable” and “hereditary” certainly include non-genetic components, but the scientific definitions don’t seem to.

      But surely there’s *some* word for traits which correlate between parents and children via shared environment and cultural transmission rather than via genetics?

      • Anonymous says:


      • George says:

        No, the scientific definition of heritability includes non-genetic components. Hence Turkheimer’s First Law of Behavioral Genetics: All human traits are heritable.

        • Creutzer says:

          This is actually something which I’ve never understood. In what sense does heritability include a non-genetic component? Isn’t it a measure of how much of the variance is due to genetics as opposed to non-genetic things?

          • Anonymous says:

            George is wrong. How hard is that to understand?

            We’ve been through this before. You were there. All the definitions found agree that it is pure genetics. Lots of people claim to have read papers using other definitions, but they never manage to find them.

  28. Zubon says:

    The first two names that come to mind for me are John Edwards and John Edward. A quick Google suggests a great many sources from which I could have derived that.

  29. FullMeta_Rationalist says:

    Not surprised our host made Reddit’s Top 10. It’s a Catch 22 considering how rarely Scott sports his warrior jeans.

  30. oneforward says:

    Why would tyrannosaurs be Democrats? Is it something about environmentalism or gun control? I’d have thought they’d be libertarians because Big Government won’t let them eat people. Or maybe neoreactionaries who want to be kings.

    • Matthew says:

      He was referring to the species Tyrannosaurus Rex, not suggesting that T. Rex has political leanings.

      • Anonymous says:

        Try reading the line again.

        • Matthew says:

          Ok. Opinion unchanged.

          Now you read it again, and see if the play on words gets through this time.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, of course he is talking about T Rex. Do you really think I’m so stupid not to see that, even after you pointed it out? Go fuck yourself.

            Of course the point of the joke is T Rex. But it leaves the dangling thread that oneforward asked about, at least it leaves it at the door of anyone who thinks sentences are more than word salads.

          • Alejandro says:

            My interpretation is that Scott considers Rex a very unusual name for people (perhaps he has never met or even heard of someone called Rex) and associates the name more with dogs and tyrannosaurs.

            If my reading is correct, the joke is not at all that dogs and tyranossaurs are Democrats. He could have made the same joke by saying that 40.6% of voters called Rex are Democrats and the rest are Rottweilers or tyrannosaurs.

          • Anonymous says:

            No, that’s a different joke. You can tell it is different because oneforward would have asked differently for clarification. Or, more likely, wouldn’t have asked for clarification.

      • oneforward says:

        Of the 40,000 registered voters named “Rex”, 59.4% are Republicans (and I assume the others are Rottweilers or tyrannosaurs).

        Scott assumes the Democrats named Rex are Rottweilers or tyrannosaurs. He doesn’t assume the Republicans named Rex are tyrannosaurs. This implies tyrannosaurs and Rottweilers are generally Democrats, which surprises me.

        (I’m sorry Anonymous was rude.)

        • Izaak Weiss says:

          No, it only implies that Tyrannosaurs and Rottweilers are not republican. They’re perfectly free to be unaffiliated; which they are.

          Nevertheless, I thought you were making a funny joke, and I think Matthew perfectly understood Scott’s joke, but didn’t understand yours. Anonymous seems to not understand either joke?

          • oneforward says:

            The naming website divides all names into Republicans and Democrats. It lists Rexes as 59.4% Republicans and 40.6% Democrats. I don’t know what they did with unaffiliated voters.

    • Leo says:

      Disagreements over whether we should exterminate minorities and be ruled by the golden fist of an alien king: polite, well-sourced arguments.

      Disagreements over which meta-level of pun we’re on: “Go fuck yourself”.

      I love you guys.

      • pneumatik says:

        There is no hate like out group hate. We can’t allow the SSC comments community to change its character. Where else would we be safe to make terrible puns (or read the, in my case)?

        I’m only joking a little bit. This is a perfect example of what Scott was talking about in his posts about social group self-policing.

      • Matthew says:

        I object both to the implied equivalence (ETA — between the two sides of the thread above, not between your two examples) and to the suggestion that there is something cute about it. I don’t tell people to go fuck themselves in either case, and I reported the jerk above for saying it to me.

        • Not THAT anonymous commenter says:

          To be fair, I had a ton of trouble reading the original thread, because I’m only 80% sure oneforward was just riffing on the joke in SA’s post. No obvious clues in OF’s comment, as I read it.

          Then you, Matthew, seemed to take OF’s “point” at-least-semi-seriously by telling them how to read the joke, using language that didn’t leave room for ambiguity in OF’s intent. Then anonymous took umbrage at what they thought you meant and the whole thing got CRAY-ZEE, including the go fuck yourself bit, which really showed a lack of rhetorical self-awareness.

          With all this linguistic/rhetorical confusion, I am reminded that I, a high school English teacher, had to code my occupation as “other” when taking the most recent LessWrong survey: “education” and “language arts/whatever we call it these days” were not available categories. Correct me if I missed an obvious alternative – I didn’t see one.

          I’m not saying anything with that last paragraph, but I’m kind of saying it anyway.


          PS, Matthew: I don’t think Leo was making a false equivalence; I also think that when you start taking a subthread about a joke super-personally, it’s worth taking a step back and making sure you are getting the jokes everyone intended you to get. WE ALL DO THIS; that’s why we have people teach us how to read complicated texts.

          (That, and cthulhu’s insatiable need for fresh soul-sucking minds. To be fair, he only asks me for one convert per semester.)

          • oneforward says:


            Was this directed at me? I think ambiguity generally makes for better jokes, as long as you’re nice to the people who misunderstand.

  31. Joyously says:

    The names seemed sort of WASP-y to me, so I searched for income by name, and found this: which claims that people with shorter names earn more money. The study was done by a job-matching site, so I doubt they used sterling statistical techniques, but it could be true. Most of the douchebag names are one syllable, so maybe we subconsciously associate those names with “has more money than me” which would correlate both with Republican-ness and I-think-they’re-a-douchebag-ness.

    On the other hand, a Google image search of “douchebag” mostly brings up pictures of guys who look pretty low-class.

    Edit: Just realized that “Mitt” is a super-short name.

    • Matthew says:

      Brad is short for Bradley and Chaz is short for Charles.

      Mitt’s real first name, you’ll recall, is Willard.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s true that Romney’s first name is Willard, but Mitt is not a diminutive of a real name or a free-floating nickname (like Biff), but just another given name.

        • Anonymous says:

          Mitt Romney’s name originates from a diminutive of Milton, another Optimate name. I would expect people named Mitchell to also go by Mitt, though I can’t think of any examples; Mitch is more common.

  32. Liskantope says:

    I don’t know what I think of the first two hypotheses, but I’m quite sure that “douchebag” is a tribally-coded slur, used almost exclusively to refer to white heterosexual males. I was going to link to the Cohen piece, but see that it’s been linked to at least once upthread.

    Apart from what I know from personal experience, I would also point to popular portrayals of “douchebags”, such as the Schmidt character in the sitcom New Girl. (Yes, I might as well go ahead and admit that I watched a season of New Girl.) The script constantly emphasizes the fact that Schmidt is a rich white guy. This is done in part through a running gag where Schmidt is required to put money in the “douchebag jar” every time one of his comments is perceived as “douchey”. Most of these comments either convey pick-up artistry or flaunt his personal wealth (such as when he refers to his croquet cleats or sharkskin laptop sleeve).

    Pick-up culture and white, upper-class culture are both components of stereotypical frat culture, which may have played a role in inspiring the current use of “douchebag”.

    • Anonymous says:

      As someone who’s seen all the New Girls, I find your reading of Schmidt one-sided and incomplete. I can’t fully do it justice right now, unfortunately, but I may come back with YouTube links.

      It seems to me that you are attempting to 1) present Schmidt as a stereotypical douche and 2) cite this as corroboration that “douchebag” is a nearly exclusively anti-straight-white slur.

      Contra 1): Schmidt has to put money in the jar when he acts like a douche: smug, materialistic, and self-centered. He does not have to put money in the jar for being white or straight, or even for acting white or straight (whatever that would mean). He does not put money in the jar that often, because he is not always a douche: Schmidt’s roommates are trying to break him of learned, douchey, annoying behavior with these penalties, not punish him in the name of social justice or whatever. I could go on and on if there were time.

      Contra 2): I am drawing a blank on other explicitly labeled douchebags in popular media, and the fact that Schmidt isn’t actually a stereotypical douche just removes your evidence from the table – it’s not a counterexample. It’s not from media, but I can cite my anecdotal experience that douches in my neighborhood come in all colors, as described above:

      • Liskantope says:

        I might have to overall concede to you the point about Schmidt, since it’s been a while since I saw even the episodes of New Girl that I did watch, and I may indeed have misread some things. But I’m not sure I’m convinced by your Contra (1).

        I never claimed that “douchebag” is used in the name of social justice to signal dislike of straight white guys, any more than racial or gendered slurs are necessarily used to signal racism or misogyny. Rather, I was claiming that “douchebag” (much like many racial or gendered slurs) is used to target people with a certain kind of unattractive personality, but mostly those belonging to the category of straight, white, and male. I suppose it’s a matter of interpretation whether Schmidt gets penalized for being too materialistic, or fussing about things that only a rich person would fuss about. He certainly gets penalized for sleazy comments reflecting a pick-up subculture that, as far as I know, tends to be associated with a particular type of heterosexual man, and rarely with homosexual men.

        Maybe I shouldn’t bring up a character from New Girl as an example when my memory of them is somewhat hazy, but in a way that actually sort of underscores my point. Without remembering the more subtle traits of Schmidt, I recall repeated emphasis on his (1) constantly trying to pick up girls, and (2) being very well-off (in contrast to Nick, to the point that this actually drives some of the subplots). Since he is also depicted as having douchey tendencies (I realize that he is not considered to be a douchebag in general) which are highlighted by him making comments which reflect the above two traits, I associate the media’s conception of “douchiness” with those traits.

        As for other examples in popular media, the only other one that comes to mind at the moment is Jeff from Community (who is also a straight white guy).

        I admit that evidence from my personal experience is pretty weak, though it’s certainly also possible that “douchebag” is more restricted to certain categories of people in some subcultures / geographical areas than others (I’ve never lived anywhere near the west coast).

        • Not THAT anonymous commenter says:

          I wish I had time right now to go back and watch some old New Girls. I’m really curious how many of Schmidt’s douche-infractions were related to pickupartistry! I don’t think there were any/many, but I could be wrong.

          I still think you’re trying to make Schmidt fit a douche-shaped hole here, but as I said earlier: I don’t get the douchebag=white thing at all.

          I’m glad you brought up Nick, though: he, Schmidt, and Coach have been doing some douchey stuff together in the current season.

          • Liskantope says:

            Here is a list of each instance of Schmidt having to put money in the jar.

          • Not THAT anonymous commenter says:


            Thanks for doing my work for me! I have still not had time to give this question the TV time it deserves 🙂

            So I see a ton of double-entendres listed as douche-jar infractions, but none of them sound like pickup-artistry to me. Am I missing something?

            I guess you could argue that ALL or SOME OF the double-entendres are just UNSKILLED PUA MOVES, but I don’t think that leaves room for PUArtistry to mean anything much more than “hitting on chicks/talking about sexual topics in front of chicks.”

            Am I wrong? I thought PUAdeology was more, um, involved.

          • Liskantope says:

            “Pick-up artistry” was probably the wrong word for it and could only perhaps apply in a very broad sense of the term. At the time I couldn’t think of a better term to use to refer to the mildly sleazy, double-entendre, lines-to-use-when-hitting-on-girls nature of his remarks. I don’t really know much about what’s involved in serious PUA, so I can’t speak to that.

            Anyhow, I’m not sure of the best way to refer to it, but that type of humor in my experience is a reflection of a very particular subculture of heterosexual male culture, which is also associated with stereotypical frat culture. I don’t think it really affects my initial point either way. Of course, it’s hard to conclude much about the portrayal of Schmidt from these quotes out of context; I sort of want to re-watch some New Girls now too!

    • Toggle says:

      This Is Not Science, but a google image search for ‘douchebag’ shows almost exclusively white male subjects, generally in their twenties, although it is hard to tell sometimes because many of them have terrible fake tans. If we knew nothing about these people other than their race and gender, a random douchebag gives us a prior probability of .57 for being Republican. If you add in the 18-29 age bracket information, it drops back down to about an even split.

      Income may be a factor, but the apparent young age of the ‘centered’ douchebag does seem to cancel out the racial and gender slant.

  33. Sam Rosen says:

    Douchebags aren’t a natural kind. Well, at least they aren’t a specific demographic of white people.

    There are “Chase” douchebags—the gelled-hair, incredibly white, business guys:

    There are “Vinny” douchebags—the Italian, muscly, Jersey Shore guys:

    There are “Nicki” douchebags—the faux-rocker “I got into music for the chicks” guys:

    There are “Leopold” douchebags—the penny-farthing riding, gauge having, hipster guys:

    There are “Greg” douchebags—the “way too into frat-life, and actually brags about being good at beer-pong” guys:

    There are “Brad” douchebags—the collar-popping, preppy, high-school popular guys: (Usually turn into Chases.)

    There are “Ace” douchebags—the suburban, mall-attending, into really horrible emo music guys:

    There are “Sammy Hagar” douches—the Hawaiian shirt wearing, pinky-ring having, likes-calling-people-amigo-too-much guys:

    (This is not exhaustive)

    Look at this douchebag diversity! What do these douches have in common?

    Well, muscly guys tend to be called douches more. So dominance-status is part of the equation. People don’t like dealing with muscly, aggressive people:

    But ostentatiousness is a deeper component. A lot of these guys are trying really hard. When someone is conspicuously striving to get prestige-status in a status hierarchy that is not your own, you tend to call them a douche:

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe there’s diversity in your use of the word, but reddit came up with names like Chase, not Vinny. The question is: what does that mean?

      • Roman says:

        It might mean that tumblr leans left and SJ. Or a hundred other things but that’s the easy one.

      • Jake says:

        Reddit leans middle-class and collegiate. Hence, redditors are more likely to be familiar with the preppy and fratty sorts of douches (“Chase” and “Greg”, in samrosen’s excellent field guide), and less with the more working-class Vinnies.

    • a person says:

      Good post.

    • Anonymous says:

      This made me laugh-cry. All of these people are incredibly, incredibly douchey.

    • Leo says:

      I appear to be one of the most cringeworthy types of douchebag. Is it too late to change my name to “Chase”?

      • Sam Rosen says:

        Leopold isn’t a bad name. I was having a hard time thinking up a pretentious, affected hipster name. But I didn’t succeed. Leopold is fine.

    • Princess Stargirl says:

      There is nothing wrong with liking beer pong and frat parties. Or dressing emo. I don’t who any of the people pictured (except Ronny) are but I don’t get the hate for any of these groups/subcultures. I am not personally interested in going to the gym or “going out” to the club. But alot of people enjoy this stuff and I am happy for them.

      My twin sister lifts weights and has is friends with an awful lot of guys who might get labelled “douchebags.” Some of them are in fact jerks. But most seem like cool people to me. Albeit ones with different interests from mine.

      People hating on others for their hobbies or what they look like make me absurdly angry. This whole concept of “trying too hard” is even more upsetting! What the fuck is wrong with trying hard to self-actualize in a certain way (As long as you aren’t being mean or hurting people)? We should celebrate people dressing however they feel best. Whether that means a boy in a skirt and nail polish or a boy with huge muscles and one of those spikey haircuts. (why not both ? <3 )

      • Nornagest says:

        This whole concept of “trying too hard” is even more upsetting! What the fuck is wrong with trying hard to self-actualize in a certain way (As long as you aren’t being mean or hurting people)?

        IME, “trying too hard” usually isn’t pointing to self-actualization (though I’ll confess I’m a little fuzzy on how to operationalize “self-actualization”) but to conspicuous and inorganic ingroup signaling — the sort of thing you’d come up with if you e.g. had a $2000 gift card from Hot Topic and were given one day to look like a member of a musical subculture you’d previously never heard of.

        • Vegemeister says:

          the sort of thing you’d come up with if you e.g. had a $2000 gift card from Hot Topic and were given one day to look like a member of a musical subculture you’d previously never heard of.

          And, presumably didn’t think to check the /tagged/me of a moderate sample of Tumblr users active in that subculture.

          • Nornagest says:

            That would help, but probably not enough. There are subtleties in how every culture expresses itself that people tend to miss if they haven’t been immersed in it for a while.

            You’re not going to get any of the symbolism of clothes from a /me tag, for example, and that can be surprisingly important: something as seemingly trivial as putting the wrong color laces in your Doc Martens can start a fight in some crowds.

      • Sam Rosen says:

        I was trying to clarify the douchebag concept.

        A douchebag is a man who is making a strong dominance or prestige status move that you reject. It’s relative to a value system and status hierarchy.

        Wearing pinky rings and calling people ‘amigo’ are obviously morally neutral. But when someone expects admiration or respect for things you don’t value, it can be unpleasant.

        The stronger and more blatant the status move, the larger the blowback. It’s one thing to care a lot about money and signal that by only ever driving expensive cars. It’s another to say, “I make X amount of money; aren’t I awesome!?” I’d likely call the second person a douche because he’s trying to get prestige from me and I don’t admire wealth much.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, that’s a good example where people would call someone a douche, as were the examples you deleted from the end of your post.

          But is this the same phenomenon as in your pictures, which I think are close to what everyone else on this thread are talking about?

          Added: No, I changed my mind. I don’t like the example. Is it douchy because of differential status hierarchies or just because of blatantness?

          • Anthony says:

            Looking at Sam’s definition, “When someone is conspicuously striving to get prestige-status in a status hierarchy that is not your own, you tend to call them a douche”, which I think pretty good (and not incompatible with the sexual envy issue), it’s clear that douchiness requires both.

            If you drive an expensive car and wear expensive clothes, but don’t make an effort to draw attention to them, you’re probably not a douchebag. If you make a big deal out of it at a sales convention (where lots of people are aspiring to those same status markers), but not otherwise, you may not be a douchebag.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, Sam’s definition matches his analysis of his example. But the point of the example is to convince us that his definition is correct. Summoning the definition to the defense of the example is circular.

            Part of it is that I don’t know what he means by “rejecting” a “status move.” When a woman rejects a man’s advances as douchy, she may be rejecting a status move. But sexual envy suggests that the man is complaining about the status of another man he does not directly interact with. Maybe he is wishing that the woman would reject the status move, but that is far from the example of given example of demanding acknowledgement; and it seems odd to say that the man is “rejecting” it.

    • Izaak Weiss says:

      There are “Leopold” douchebags—the racist, enslaving, cuts off people’s hands if they don’t harvest enough rubber guys:

    • Daniel says:

      I enjoyed this list. It was entertaining to try and pick a mental image of each type before clicking the links.

    • Deiseach says:

      Irish version would be Ross O’Carroll-Kelly.

    • Eloise says:

      Wait, you’re telling me if a guy is muscular and domineering and conspicuously and painfully trying to signal status in a way that I don’t care about, I’ll think he’s a douchebag?

      Fair enough.

  34. Steve Sailer says:

    It has a lot to do with having a personality that makes a man good at sales, which tends to also make him on average popular with women, although neither women nor the men who aren’t good at sales tend to be happy about admitting the latter.

    If you are interested in learning more about the personality type, “Confessions of a Car Salesman” by Chandler Phillips is an informative portrait of a low end version:

  35. Shenpen says:

    From my limied experience (I am a Euro) Trent, Chase or Tyler come accross as not bad people but more like small town white working-class kids who are bit on the masculine side, like spectator sports, most likely play sports themselves, or just like to drink beer and / or go on joyriding in a truck. Just normal rural people. Not even very much redneck, just leaning a bit there.

    In short they just sound like the ticket when I need a good plumber or builder.

  36. MugaSofer says:

    “One marker of ethnicity is different name preferences – we all know what groups people named Juan, Tyrone, or Mei are likely to belong to …”

    OK, I know “Tyrone” is supposed to be stereotypical “black” name from all the people complaining about it. What are the other two?

  37. Anonymous says:

    I tried to test alternate hypotheses that Clarity just over-Republicanned all names, or that it was a function of these being male names, or white names, or names of a certain generation. I tested the top ten most popular male baby names of 1990 (that being the generation probably in its peak douchebag years right now) and combined their full name and nickname versions (since I didn’t want to confound by whether Republicans or Democrats are more likely to go by a nickname). The median popular 1990 male name was in the 73rd percentile for Republicanness. This isn’t surprising – men tend to be more conservative than women, and this effect probably swamps any within-gender name effects, so if all male names are more conservative than all female names we would expect the average male name to be about the 75th percentile for Republicanness. Our popular 1990 control group comes very close.

    What, you didn’t test the most popular female names?

  38. Steve Sailer says:

    It’s human nature to feel a lot of animus toward other human beings. At present, there are a lot of social protections in place against expressing generalized animus, even if inadvertent (disparate impact), against any groups other than cisgendered straight white gentile males. For example, if you were to say that the names “Avi,” “Rahm,” and “Ezekiel,” sound like douchebag names to you, you could find yourself in serious career trouble. But if you express hostility toward people named “Chad,” “Blake,” and “Hunter,” you’re not in any danger.

    So, people learn what’s safe and what’s not safe in their society and how conform to their culture’s power structures. And how to sniff out and punish nonconformists to demonstrate their adherence to the its norms.

    • call_me_aka says:

      I think you’re overstating the symmetry here–“Avi” and “Rahm” encode much more information than “Chad” or “Blake”. And though the latter two are goy names par excellence, “Scott” and “Keith” are perfectly plausible Jewish names. They’re also plausible black names, or Asian names, or anything else, for that matter. Whiteness is transparent in a way that other ethnicities aren’t (in the US). That’s the point.

    • social justice warlock says:

      Interestingly, while I have seen plenty of coded animus against blacks through common names, and plenty of coded animus against Jews, I have not seen the latter done via names.

      • Tom Womack says:

        I’d hope that using first-names as anti-Jewish attacks was sufficiently thoroughly done in the time of Der Stürmer that it’s now absolutely beyond the pale to do it all; it feels a little odd to see it happening casually in Dickens.

        Surnames, on the other hand – there is something of ethnicity in complaints about the Rothschilds, even if the superficial concern is that they’re a powerful banking dynasty.

      • Mark says:

        I’ve had the, uh, pleasure of seeing /pol/-types do it a fair amount. But the only stereotypically Yiddish first name they seem to know is “Shlomo.”

      • ckp says:

        You haven’t seen /pol/-tier “Chaim Shekelgoldsteinberg” jokes?

    • Princess Stargirl says:

      This really depends on the social group. It should be obvious there are alot of social situations where hating on Arabic or Black Americans is socially accepted as funny. For example my parents openly hate on Muslims and a fellow I work with never misses an opportunity to complain about Black people. Neither my friend nor my parents would find blatant insults against white people funny. and they are republicans so republican hate wouldn’t be amusing to them either.

      Of course I agree that their are many social circles where the only groups you can acceptable hate or insult are straight people and White people (maybe cis also but this seems rarer).

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “Of course I agree that their are many social circles where the only groups you can acceptable hate or insult are straight people and White people”

        I.e., the media. And in the long run, that’s the social circle that counts.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      For those who don’t get the joke, “Avi,” “Rahm,” and “Ezekiel” are the names of the Emanuel Brothers. Avi is the Hollywood superagent played by Jeremy Piven on “Entourage,” Rahm is the mayor of Chicago, and Ezekiel is the medical ethicist who recently opined in the Atlantic about how his 87 year old father should have died at 75.

  39. Martin-2 says:

    “I figure with this title I’m guaranteed front-page links from Salon and Daily Kos.” I’ll try to help their readers feel welcome.

    Hey guys, isn’t it funny how all the republicans getting mad about the title of this post are just proving that they’re douchebags? LOL

    /sarcasm. Hey Scott, I just noticed that little smiley face at the very bottom of the page. Cute.

  40. Well, one can safely assume a reddit list was largely much compiled by liberals, right?

  41. Hanfeizi says:

    Living in Shanghai, I heard plenty of Asian guys described as “douchebags” (and plenty of white expats as well). Which leads me to believe that it’s a term more for an attitude of middle/upper-middle-class male entitlement.

  42. Z.Frank says:

    In his song “Runaway,” when Kayne West sings “let’s have a toast for the douchebags,” he’s including himself in the category of douchebag.

    I think there’s something very correct about the word “douchebag” encoding whiteness, but I don’t think that in this song West was trying to compare himself to white people.

  43. Dain says:

    It all fits together so well doesn’t it? “Douchebag” has been officially deemed a racial slur for white guys:

    • Nornagest says:

      That article’s certainly been getting around.

      • Vulture says:

        This is, what, the third time?

        • Anonymous says:

          When you use the temporal metaphor, it sounds like you are talking about 3 commenters mentioning the same article. But I think Nornagest’s spacial metaphor refers to the same article being hosted on 3 websites: medium, gawker, and dailydot.

          On 12 Oct it was an individual piece on medium, with the author’s handle @michaelcohen in the path. By the 20th it was syndicated within medium to human-parts, destroying the original version. On the 19th it was copied to gawker, and on the 23rd to dailydot.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Grumpy at iSteve linked to this nice but huge image showing lots of names by political affiliation and popularity.

  45. noahluck says:

    I checked the first 100 Representatives in the U.S. House before I got too bored to continue. Among that 100, the party affiliation of 73 was correctly predicted by Clarity Campaign’s rating of their name.

    Anyone looking to be a political candidate or groom one: Be sure you/they have the right name.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I bet a lot of that effect is gender. Male names are 73% conservative, and US House is mostly conservative and its male members probably more so than the body as a whole. Female names are probably more liberal and I bet most serving female Representatives are Democrats.

      • noahluck says:

        Yes, it was driven by gender. Among the first:
        50 male Republicans: 80% correctly predicted
        50 male Democrats: 40% correctly predicted
        20 female Republicans (i.e. all of them): 20% correctly predicted
        50 female Democrats: 94% correctly predicted

        So name still has some predictive value in this subset within gender. If we fiddle with the thresholds on a per-gender basis we can improve the result.

        Now of course you probably expect that the remaining effect is largely driven by race, and you’d be right about that, too. But then all we end up saying is that (in this sample at least) Republican names tend to be male Anglo names, and that Democratic names tend to be everyone else’s names, which mostly undermines the original argument that political tribe was *like* ethnicity and gender. Rather, it mostly *is* ethnicity and gender. Very unfortunately so. 🙁

  46. Loki K Zen says:

    I think the association of douchebag and white people, and douchebag and Republican, is a secondary effect. Douchebag is an insult associated with wealth and a perception of smugness or feeling superior – and being wealthy is correlated with being white and with being Republican, and it seems likely that a certain kind of smugness or feeling superior due to wealth is correlated with being white and economic conservatism in a lot of ways. As such, it really does not qualify as any kind of ‘racial slur’.

    (This is aside from the fact that I don’t think the concept of ‘racial slur’ is one that could at all apply accurately to a term directed at white people in the US – a racial slur is a term with a heavy cultural baggage connected to the systematic oppression and dehumanisation of the people it is directed at, and whites have never been systematically oppressed or dehumanised in US cultural history.)

    It’s like, in the US, if I hate psychiatrists I probably hate mostly white and Jewish men who are largely comparatively wealthy and Democrats, but that doesn’t mean ‘shrink’ is a slur against white people, Jewish people, men or Democrats.

    Aside from that – and the ‘racial slur’ thing was commenters anyways – I am surprised that an analysis of ‘douchebag’ doesn’t touch on its etymology and whether that has any bearing on how it is used and which people use it. It is after all one of the many insults in our vocabulary that comes from the broad ‘pick a thing associated with ladybits and use it to insult men’ category, but unlike most of those insults it does not seem to have any current association with traits we associate with femininity (unlike, say, ‘pussy’).

    • Creutzer says:

      Your argument seems plausible, but it could also be an explanation for how “douchebad” became a racial slur. It may be that speakers have incorporated certain features that were originally accidental into the meaning by now.

      By the way, if unlike probably most normal speakers of English, you insist on not calling just any term that designates (in virtue of its meaning, not accidentally) a certain ethnic group and has a derogatory meaning a “racial slur”, what do you call that class of words?…

      What bearing do you think the etymology could have? By the way, are most speakers of English even aware of the secondary and original meaning? I mean, the thing that the word originally designated isn’t such a frequent sight…

      • Loki says:

        It’s certainly a plausible linguistic mechanism for the origin of a racial slur. Which doesn’t mean douchebag is one, but it’s a plausible etymology for a hypothetical racial slur.

        I don’t think you are correct about how most people define ‘racial slur’ because most people would not consider ‘honky’ a racial slur. Basically, you can have a derogatory nickname for a race or people of a race, but ‘slur’ is the word for words with a *lot* of cultural baggage of hate and dehumanisation, and any word used for white people in America would at best be an insanely noncentral example of the cluster of ideas people are referring to when they say ‘racial slur’.

        In as much as people aren’t aware of the etymology, the etymology itself becomes less relevant, but until one has examined whether the etymology of a word used for one thing (a certain kind of asshole) that literally means another (bag for a douche) has any effect on the way it’s used, it’s a decent bet that it might.

        In this case, one would expect feminists to not want to use the term or be against its use, which doesn’t seem to be the case – though I have seen some pointing out that since douches were actually a stupid idea, calling someone a douche if they’re unnecessary and cause irritation actually makes a lot of sense.

        • Matthew says:

          I don’t think you are correct about how most people define ‘racial slur’ because most people would not consider ‘honky’ a racial slur. Basically, you can have a derogatory nickname for a race or people of a race, but ‘slur’ is the word for words with a *lot* of cultural baggage of hate and dehumanisation…

          I don’t agree with the second sentence, so I disagree with the first sentence. Whether most people agree with you is something that would require actual polling.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m pretty sure I’ve heard things along the lines of “X is a slur against Y”, where X was some neologism or newly coined phrase. That wouldn’t make sense if we were restricting the word to stuff with serious historical weight behind it.

        • Anthony says:

          “Honky” isn’t really a racial slur, though at one time it was an ethnic slur against Eastern Europeans. However, “cracker” is a racial slur – it has “a *lot* of cultural baggage of hate and dehumanisation”.

  47. Anonymous says:

    I’m fairly certain that a central feature of douchebaggery is the “and I don’t care who I hurt to win” cluster. In fact, I’d define douchebaggery as “I have all the tools and resources necessary to win anyways” + “I feel like playing on ‘easy mode’ so I’m going to be carelessly callous about the externalities I produce while winning”.

    Like, a cishetwhitedude who has a lot of power, but takes care not to stomp on people who don’t, isn’t a douchebag because he’s missing the “carelessly callous about externalities” part; a non-cishetwhitedude seems like less of a douchebag both because he’s probably missing the “I have all the tools and resources necessary to win anyways” part, and because there are probably more salient slurs to throw at him. But if you could win without douchebaggery, and you choose douchebaggery anyways, then you’re a douchebag.

  48. Throwaway Comment says:

    People are much more conservative & less experimental with boy’s names than with girl’s names. So having a common girl name is a much stronger indicator of a conservative-thinking (risk-averse?) (conventional?) background than having a common boy name.

    Edit: this was intended as a reply to the gender and guns observation above.

    • AJD says:

      Interestingly, this is true on a number of privilege axes—white people are more conservative and less experimental with children’s names than black people are, and upper-class people are more conservative and less experimental with children’s names than lower-class people are.

    • Anonymous says:

      This equivocates between two meanings of “conservative.” Upper class people are conservative in name choices. But that has little to do with whether they describe themselves as conservative or own guns. Gun ownership is mainly a rural and southern thing. Elsewhere in the comments, some people claim that southerners are less conservative in name choices, the opposite of your claim. I don’t know which is correct.