I have a common name. There are at least three guys named Scott Adams in my local community. Most big corporations have a Scott Adams on the payroll. We're all over the place.

When your name is that common, it's only a matter of time before one of us gets arrested for serial murder, running a Ponzi scheme, or having a dungeon below the house. So far we have been lucky. Most people named Scott Adams end up pursuing hyper-nerdish lines of business. The most famous Scott Adams who isn't me is a pioneer computer game developer. Not too shabby. And recently a junior member of our club won a science award for genetically modifying wheat. Nice.


I wonder if other people throughout history have worried about this sort of thing. For example, one of the most colorful bad guys of all time was called Vlad the Impaler. You could Google him, but his name pretty much says it all. I wonder if after he got famous for being all fierce he worried that some other Vlad the Impaler would come along and ruin his reputation. He wouldn't want to be walking the dog and overhear neighbors talking...

Neighbor one: Who gutted that peasant over by the other dead peasant?

Neighbor two: I heard it was Vlad the Impaler.

Neighbor one: Do you mean the chicken fornicator or the other one?

Right now there's a 16-year old Scott Adams in Canada saying, "Why did that idiot have to write a blog about Vlad the Impaler and ruin my good name???"


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May 11, 2009
Hey, don't be so mean to Vlad the Impaler. Few know it, but he's really a nice guy, now living in LA, trying to understand this American culture.
This web site is a bit old, and it uses frames, but you can catch up on Vlad's life here: http://home.earthlink.net/~mrmando/tonio_k/
Click on the 'vlad' link down at the bottom of the page.
May 11, 2009
Vlad's last name wasn't "the Impaler" obviously. It was Tepes. And he was more than likely who Count Dracula was based on. I've no idea if its a common name in that part of the world or not.
May 11, 2009
so, with my name is a psychology professor in New York, a graphic designer in San Francisco, a jewelry designer in Edinburgh, and a few more pages on google. pretty tame, all seem like nice people. On the other hand, i can never pre-print my husband's boarding passes when we travel because there's another guy out there with the same name (and middle initial) that send up a "red flag" at the airport. We have to check him in in person so they can be sure that my husband is not THAT guy.
May 11, 2009
I have a baseball card from my youth with my name on it. The guy even looks a little like me, so I occasionally pull it out to see if I can fool my kids. Apparently, I also currently play for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets.
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May 11, 2009
I work in a very large organization, in which the vast majority of employees are located within one city. I knew there was one other person with the same name based on my email address when I started the job (it had a suffix). One day I got an errant email about a police investigation involving me. Not fun, but I informed the sender I was the wrong person, admittedly feeling a little unsure of my own innocence. Then I got a few more of this persons emails, even a phone call, and it became apparent he was not going to be with the organization for long, based on some apparent illegal activities.

Then I stopped getting the errant emails. Recently I got a message from IT saying they wanted to drop the suffix from my email address. Fortunately I was able to convince IT to leave my address as it was - we may share a name, but I was not about to adopt a delinquent email address. I never found out what exactly went on, but henceforth he will be remembered by me as the chicken fornicator-never again as the other me. thanks Scott!
May 11, 2009
McCartney's ex-wife Heather Mills once took advantage of having the same name as a journalist, claiming that work as her own in a job interview. By chance, the person interviewing her had met the journalist the previous week, and immediately saw through the lie. Now, of course, that journalist is having to constantly fight against the usurper, who has since become the more famous.

But I'm sure that she wasn't just after McCartney's money, even if she did get paid somehting like $26000 for every night they were married.
May 11, 2009
I have no idea what you are talking about

Michael Jackson, Idaho
May 11, 2009

I speculate that you recently watched last year's movie adaptation of Dr. Seuss' "Horton Hears a Who". Even from a "grown-up" perspective, it's hilarious.

There's a funny line where Horton's friend tells him that Vlad is out to kill him. Horton replies something like, "I know two Vlads. There's the bad Vlad, and then there's the bunny Vlad, the one that makes cookies!"

Quite ironic.

-- DaveSlash
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May 11, 2009
Somewhat completely off topic, but here's an interesting design for a floor of the dream house you're building: http://abstrusegoose.com/147
May 11, 2009
I have the same name, and live in the same town as the last Survivor winner. I've gotten into in the habit of signing emails: "No, not that Bob Crowley"
May 11, 2009
I had a professor in college named George Seven. He used to collect (and display) headlines:


I envied him his name.

May 11, 2009
A google search of my maiden name brings up a teacher in Florida who got busted for messing around with a student. And I wonder why some former schoolmates are reluctant to add me to their facebook accounts. Try it - "Heather Shelton"
May 11, 2009
My last self googling revealed only one other person with the same first name and family name. Since I am the older one, I feel I am the original and he is an importer, and possibly an evil clone.

Should I ever do something to ruin our shared good name, I plan to claim it was him and not me.
May 11, 2009
what was that name? i mean, just out of curiosity???
May 11, 2009

So you can imagine my disappointment when I google, "Caleb Adams".

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May 11, 2009
My name is not overly common but there is a club. As a policy researcher in my old job, I have a fair number of academic journal and book publications along with some institutional publications all easily located by searching my name. They were the top google searches for my name. A few years back someone new took over my spot as the top search club member of my name. Best part of the story is that I have a name that goes both ways. I am a 42 year old white guy who does research. The new number 1 in my name club is a young African-American woman poet who was featured on HBO’s poetry slam. My club is quite inclusive.
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May 11, 2009

I was studying the uppercase Greek alphabet this morning and noticed that all the letters are formed completely from circles, half circles and lines (probably due to the need for constantly engraving them in stone) and began to think about this topic of names and how personality may be related to the number of lines or circles in your initials.

This, of course got me thinking about this "Same Name" topic and wonder if people who have you same name will have relatively similar personalities, since our names are the words we use most often.

There are two other people from my local region with the same name and at least one is in the exact same line of work (software eng./sys admin). I find it extremely funny that I was thinking about that all morning then came into work today and read your article.

Thanks for your constant supply of humor and science to all of us, it tends to brighten my days.


P.S. I was also obsessed with cows as a child and nobody had any idea why. Perhaps this was not up to chance after all.

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May 11, 2009
In the good old days (late 90's, early 2000's), I was happy to suggest that potential employers/clients google my name. My name is not particularly common and a straight search turned up a nice clean list of magazine articles I had written along with a smattering of other nice resume enhancers.

Not today. Today a !$%* star has taken over my corner of the google universe. She has her own website. I assume my articles, etc. are still there, but after 12 pages of the young lovely, I stopped hunting for them. My husband thinks I could work this to my advantage, but for some reason he is far more inclined to spend his time pondering those sorts of possibilities than I am.
May 11, 2009
At least you have a common name, so people are more likely to believe there is more than one of you.

But seriously, how many Vlad the Impalers could there have possibly been around in the same area. It's not like they could have googled the name. Maybe the other guy was Vlad the Chicken Impaler. I'm pretty sure if another Vlad the impaler started knitting sweaters for the blind or something, the fierce Vlad would show up and impale him of something.

Do you think there are any other Scott Adams out there taking credit for your work? Posting clipped cartoons in their cubicles, telling coworkers that he used them in strips and e-mailing the offending panels? Telling management that he really doesn't need the job because of the great cartoonist pay, but he'll stick around to help them out and get more ideas for his comic?
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May 11, 2009
In a Seinfeld episode, Elaine dated a guy named Joel Rifkin. So, it can happen even if your name is not so common :-)
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