What’s in a name? Project Steve, and me

I discovered ‘Project Steve’ when reading a book by Steven Pinker.

If you haven’t heard of it, ‘Project Steve’ is an expanding list of scientists called Steve (or variations such as Stefan, Stephanie, etc.) who lend support to evolution. It was created by the National Center for Science Education, as a humorous response to creationist lists of scientists who oppose evolution.

As well as being called Steve, and holding a Ph.D, members must agree to the following:

Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to “intelligent design,” to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation’s public schools.

Meeting all of the criteria, I was excited to join the list. It’s probably the only time I will be mentioned in the same breath (so to speak) as Steven Pinker.

My desire was also at least partly inspired by the fact that I have an extremely common name: Steven Brown. It’s not quite John Smith, but not far off.

When factoring down the criteria for being a member of ‘Project Steve’, the name, the qualification, the belief, I figured the odds were in my favour to be the only Steven Brown on the list.

I was wrong.

As of 24 June 2015, there are seven people called Steven/Stephen Brown.
In my registration class in Secondary School, there were six different Stevens, as well as six (different) people whose surname was Brown.

I was surrounded by ‘Stevens’ and ‘Browns’.

Later in life, my name would land me in legitimate danger over a game of pool; the particular spelling of my first name carries particular religious connotations in certain parts of Scotland.

Then there are the routine cases of mistaken identity — less dangerous, but no less frustrating.

What’s in a name? Everything, and nothing, I guess.

I’m more amused about this most recent mix-up than anything else. It’s very Dave Gorman, and I’m good with that. Amusingly, I am told I look like him.

But that’s another story.