Before you do Cecil's Survey -READ THIS
[Special message from Cecil Adams himself: ]

So I think it is qualified to be in this section, plus since Cecil is requesting our personal information, I want this to be in the most prominent section of the SDMB.

[Who are these guys? The Teeming Millions, that is.

We’d like to find out. ]

Who is this Cecil guy, we would like to find out. I think Cecil should fill out this form and make it available to the Teeming Millions (for, you know, advertising reasons) and in exchange we, The Teeming Millions will gratefully fill out Cecil’s form.

Very astute reply. I second that. Cecil, how about it? What was your income as declared on your 1999 income tax form? What is your marital status? Your zip code?

Having the site make a blatant appeal for marketable demographic data for the purpose of moolah, well, I could understand. It’s got to sustain its existence somehow, and after all it’s only a sort of supporting platform for the revered Straight Dope. But to witness Cecil himself descending from his ivory tower–not to say hi to his admirers, not bestow directly upon us his wit and wisdom, but instead to pass the hat for doubleclick database fodder–say it ain’t so!

Et tu, Cecil?

Doghouse Reilly

And please note, Cecil, that our request is not merely a whimsical one–we deserve an answer, in this thread. Come on down, big man! Let us know the doubleclicking Straight Dope! We’ll show you ours if you show us yours.

Awaiting anxiously your reply, yr most obd’t srv’t,


Is this a recent survey? Hasn’t SDTV been off the air for like, years?

And what’s the deal with “marital status”? Where do those of us in long-term committed relationships note that? “Straight” Dope indeed.

There isn’t any Cecil Adams. There never was any Cecil Adams. There never will be any Cecil Adams.

Cecil Adams is the concoction of his so-called “editor,” Ed Zotti.

Take note of the PAST biographical information “Cecil” has written. It is the bio of a now middle-aged man who grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Chicago; the info often contains the sentiments of someone who is far more likely to be named “Ed Zotti” than he would “Cecil Adams.”

I say “take note of the PAST biographical info” because after I wrote Ed Zotti last year with this playful accusation, Cecil’s “biographical” info suddenly changed character… and there seems now to be much less of it.

The name “Cecil” is not particularily probable for an American baby-boomer, which is roughly the time period of Cecil’s birth. It might be U.K. or even Canadian, but that name wasn’t very popular among Angloismas in that time period either.

Let’s say that it’s a made-up name. I have actual friends whose real surname is Adams. One family of them are descended from the Presidents Adams, and the other, god knows who. I also grew up with lots of Italian buddies, some of whom are still best pals.

I happen to be a full-blooded white type whose ancestors fought in the American Revolution. I am so white on both sides of my family that we have never needed toilet paper, tho’ some relative may have made a fortune manufacturing it. And my best pal is an Italian American. So there are homey details “Cecil” has written now and then that don’t make genetic sense to my ken.

My more literate Italian pals like to make up “white” sounding names. “Cecil Adams” is just about right for someone not utterly familiar with how “white” people think in the herd. What genuine whitebread Adams would name his kid “Cecil” within the past 60 years? Or, frankly, within the time period that “Cecil B. DeMille” reigned as a household name?

There are many various other reasons that make the authenticity of a human being named “Cecil Adams” somewhat improbable as well. “The world’s smartest men” don’t write like that. Their writing is more likely to seem somewhat incomprehensible to us “teeming millions.” “Cecil’s” writing really DOES sound like someone pretty smart who grew up in a neighborhood where there was lots of chat in the vernacular… lots of hearty articulating and customary reversion to humor and sardonicism to make a point.

As I read these threads waiting for one more truly worthy subject to debate, I often come across remarks people have made that suggest that, if perhaps despite themselves, they too suspect that Cecil Adams is just a concoction for a newspaper column.

There is less probability of there being a real and true-born Cecil Adams than there is of being an actual Santa Claus. Let’s clear this up now, before Ed Zotti III has the teeming gullibles fooled about there being a 150-year-old “World’s Smartest Man” off in the future.

By the way, Jill, you’re fulla crap about the AIDS thing for which you irrelevantly shut down a decent debate. I was there and you weren’t. But the point here is, there is no Cecil Adams.

Not to be a smart guy, but anyone who has carefully read Cecil’s books would know his marital status. (And plenty of other personal details).

Yeah, but if you read one of the many “How did you discover SD?” threads that pop up regularly in MPSIMS, there’s always a couple people who mention that SDTV turned them onto SD. I don’t know if the SD site was up at the same time SDTV was on the air, or if the site was mentioned on the show, but if it was, who’s to say there aren’t fans who have been visiting since then.

And I agree with Tom Dark. People never give their kids uncommon, unpopular, strange or unlikely names, people’s names always reflect their ethnicity, people never change their names for any reason and people who use pseudonyms, pen names or stage names are all Ed Zotti.

I’ve wondered if this is the case, largely because of the abuse Cecil’s columns regularly pour on “little Ed.” I’ve thought that either “little Ed” would have to be the true author poking fun at himself, or he’d have to be the thickest-skinned person on the planet. Fun is fun, but getting abused, in print, again and again for years - that would get old.

However, I also take the “who cares” attitude here - I don’t care if Cecil is real or not. The columns written in his name are informative and entertaining, and I will continue to read them, whatever name they are printed under.

Let us assume, blasphemously, that Ed Zotti=Cecil Adams. Does this mean that there is no Cecil Adams?

Was there no Groucho Marx because his name was Julius?

A pen name does not destroy the validity of the work. The author of the Straight Dope is the smartest man alive.

I resent the implication that an Italian could not be the smartest man alive.



Now that’s sarcasm! :smiley:

Cecil! Showeth me thy hand and feet wounds, that I may putteth my spatula into them! Revealeth to me thy pierc-ed heart, that I may squirteth it with seltzer! Or 'fess up now.

I love a good meaty sarcasm myself. If Kat had written one I’d have been the first to notice. God, I hope I don’t have to explain that one.

Nobody but nobody gave their kids intentionally silly names in the time period we’re talking about, Kat. No “Dweezils” or “Moon Units” or boys named Sue, so to speak. There are presently 134 people in the US phone directory who are named Cecil Adams.

Even including an unprecedented number of people too embarrassed for others to know their name through phone book, it is a virtually negligible percentage of people named Adams whose first name is Cecil. By far most of these Cecil Adams live down South, where more antiquated names are preserved by inflicting them on children.

The most likely way to get named “Cecil” is to be related to one. There is no one named Cecil Adams who has a listed phone number in Chicago or surrounding area. Nobody unafraid of having name in phone book named Cecil Adams grew up in Chicago who lives there now, and I’m including the 'burbs and the whole state. They’re all down south. Our “Cecil” grew up in an Italian n-hood in Chicago.

I see a predictable sampling of concensus already; contributors are pretty sure that “Cecil Adams” is a pseudonym. I’m not saying that. I’m saying “there isn’t any Cecil Adams.” His “real name” isn’t Sam Clemens or Ed Zotti. Ed Zotti is the man behind the curtain pulling all the levers that make fire puff out around the translucent Wizard’s throne. I’m saying Cecil is a fictional character.

The point is, here, this fictional character is asking real people to cough up stats so his advertising dept. can use them to attract advertisers.

We should all stop bitching about imaginary invasions of our imaginary privacy by requests from a fictional character. We should hand Cecil Adams all the statistics we imagine his advertisers would want to hear. Our fictions should do just as good.

I don’t know about you guys, but I made close to a million dollars last year at my job, just for starters. And… make mine a Dewar’s.

Questions for Tom Dark:

When someone comes up to you and says,“Knock-knock!”, do you go and answer the door?

Ed Zotti has said, many times, that he is flattered when people claim that he is in fact Cecil Adams, since it is a great compliment to be thought of as “the world’s most intellegent human being”. (Cecil, I suspect, is not amused).

I’m even more impressed by this assertion that Ed has the power to bend time and space, since the claim that “Cecil Adams is the concoction of his so-called ‘editor,’ Ed Zotti.” means that Ed somehow “created” Cecil four years and two editors before he took over editorship of the column.

We all can’t be as smart as Cecil, and, sadly, that makes some people bitter and dried up inside. And people like that make Cecil cry…



Nobody but nobody gave their kids intentionally silly names in the time period we’re talking about, Kat. No “Dweezils” or
“Moon Units” or boys named Sue, so to speak.


A pretty broad assertion. Have you researched every name of every boomer to support this contention?

And I am unclear as to how “Cecil Adams” qualifies as an “intentionally silly name”? “Adams” is about as plain as it gets, and “Cecil,” while certainly no “John” or “Michael,” is far from unknown.



There are presently 134 people in the US phone directory who are named Cecil Adams.
Even including an unprecedented number of people too embarrassed for others to know their name through phone book, it is a virtually negligible percentage of people named Adams whose first name is Cecil.


I believe we have a new record for specious reasoning. I did a web search and found only two people with my name. I guess that means I don’t exist, either. Damn. And I was so enjoying existence, too.

My sister’s name is Roberta Geralyn D. My girlfriend’s name is Sri Gadis Ranti J. It would appear that my entire life is statistically improbable. Well, don’t that beat all?

“The dawn of a new era is felt and not measured.” Walter Lord

[[By the way, Jill, you’re fulla crap about the AIDS thing for which you irrelevantly shut down a decent debate. I was there and you weren’t. But the point here is, there is no Cecil Adams.]]

I’d be happy to respond to that if I knew which comments/debate you were referring to! Might be better to start a separate thread to address it, though. The rest of the thread has been pointed out to Cecil and Ed for a response.

For “a” response? There we have it, proof positive that Cecil and Ed are one and the same!

<blinking in disbelief> I usually don’t post in this forum: Cecil said it, I believe it, that settles it (to coin a phrase ;)).

But seriously, are y’all as blind to humor, irony, and power of the running joke as your posts seem to indicate?

No matter where you go, there you are.

I always figured Cecil Adams was a pen-name. Considering the nature of some of the early questions, and the fact that the column was originally supposed to be “underground”…no one in their right mind would use their real name.
“Cecil Adams” is a bit different without being totally weird, and it sounds like a real Brit/Yank name.
Personally I wouldn’t be surprised to find his real name is Yoda Yankovic…

And YES. Let’s have Cecil do a survey for us the Teeming Millions. This Millionth seconds that motion!!

I’ve known a couple of Cecils - it isn’t THAT uncommon. More popular a couple generations ago, and, as observed already, most contemporary Cecils are probably named for a relative from those earlier generations.

I think it a strong possibility that SD has changed hands once or twice, given the length of time it has run. Contrary to popular belief, the style of the column isn’t so unique as to defy duplication. Indeed, the informed-but-somewhat-irreverent, and clothed in everyday vernacular style is common among the essayists of our day. None of us are about to bother to decipher Proust or Kant in our newspapers and magazines, and with the amount of competition for our eyeballs out there, you have to entertain a bit to be heard.

It might be interesting to see a syntactical / word frequency analysis of the SD columns from different points in its history.

I disagree. The world’s smartest have always known how to speak to their fellow beings. The world’s SPECIALISTS are the ones who value incomprehensibility, and, as Heinlein suggested, specialization is for insects.

So, Cecil B. DeMille must have come from a long line of “Cecils”, huh?

Just asking. :cool:

When I was in grade school and junior high in the early 60’s, in a white-bread Chicago suburb, among all the Debbies and Terrys and Donnas and Lindas we had a girl named Vandella, and a girl named Stella.

FYI: Back in the early 1900’s, people started naming their daughters “Gladys” and “Wendy” and “Gwendolyn”, all of which were totally made-up, brand-new names.

The hippies of the late 60’s didn’t have a monopoly on unusual “Names for Baby”. There have always been people in every generation who insist on giving the kid the traditional family name, whether it’s a “Cecil” surrounded by Bobs, Bills, Teds, and Joes, or a “Bill” surrounded by Jasons, Joshuas, Jeremys, and Brandons.