Just recently I realized that the next two books to come out (written by me, anyway) are both being drawn — make that beautifully drawn — by artists named Leland: Myrick for Feynman and Purvis for The Imitation Game.
And that got me to wondering what the odds were of that happening, since these are the only two Leland’s I’ve ever known in my life.
It turns out you can estimate the odds, via namestatistics.com! So, at ~0.025% of the US male population being named Leland, the odds are about one in ten million. And that doesn’t even take into account that these Lelands had to artists. If you factor that in via NEA figures, where you learn that about 1% of the population are artists, the odds drop to 1 in a 1,000,000,000.
That’s how lucky I am.
Updated (28 Jan 2011): A friend commented that I may have erred, and that the Birthday Paradox may apply here. I’m not sure, since (a) unlike birthdays, first names aren’t equally/evenly distributed throughout the population, and (b) I’m interested in a specific name coming up twice (Leland/Leland) as opposed to any possible name being duplicated (name_X/name_X).
Regardless, I think he was right to point out that I shouldn’t have factored in the “1% of the population = artists” stat. I should have assumed — for lack of any information to the contrary — that the artist population reflects the general population in terms of name distribution. (Even though he noted, correctly, that first name and profession are probably not independent variables.) And since artists are the only population that matters in terms of the calculation, that backs the one-in-a-billion down to the original 1/10,000,000. So I’m still quite lucky.