June 30, 2007

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What's Wrong with "Sue"? I heard Barry Schwartz again a week ago at the "Positive Psychology and Education" conference at the Lawrenceville School, NJ. Dr. Schwartz is the author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. In it, he talks about how too many choices can lead to unhappiness, regret, lack of enjoyment in whatever is chosen, and even paralysis and the failure to choose. He's even got a questionnaire that helps people identify their tendencies toward being "Maximizers" or "Satisficers". Couldn't help but think of him when I read "The Baby-Name Business" in the 6/22 Wall Street Journal. Below are a few paragraphs from the article and this is my suggestion for a theme song: Sociologists and name researchers say they are seeing unprecedented levels of angst among parents trying to choose names for their children. As family names and old religious standbys continue to lose favor, parents are spending more time and money on the issue and are increasingly turning to strangers for help. Some parents are checking Social Security data to make sure their choices aren't too trendy, while others are fussing over every consonant like corporate branding experts. They're also pulling ideas from books, Web sites and software programs, and in some cases, hiring professional baby-name consultants who use mathematical formulas. Sean and Dawn Mistretta from Charlotte, N.C., tossed around possibilities for five months before they hired a pair of consultants -- baby-name book authors who draw up lists of suggestions for $50. During a 30-minute conference call...

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