I realize this may be a reach, but I noticed something odd in season 1 of House:

In episode 15, there was a mention of Des Moines (Iowa).

House: You’re worried about how his coworkers will react in the Walmart in Des Moines.

Bill: He’s not going into Witness Protection, I won’t let that happen

And in episode 17:

House: Which means the Great Black Hope has full-blown AIDS. They’re gonna love that in Dubuque.

Season 2 episode 2:

House: You'll all be wearing cat suits in Des Moines.

Season 6 episode 3:

Thirteen: Her name was Lindsey. She was a cheerleader from Iowa.

The Dubuque line has some historic significance, as it was once the "Whitest city in America", which made national news. Yet, I'm sure there's plenty of towns or incidents that'd be more relevant to the 2004 audience of the show.

Des Moines often gets referenced in media, usually as a way to reference the Midwest. Sometimes I hear Dubuque mentioned, again in a way that seems to just clearly reference the Midwest, but maybe more Midwestern-y that Des Moines.

Getting two references in three consecutive episodes is not something I've noticed before, as an Iowa native. Those things stand out!

Is there an explanation for this, instead of just a trope-like way of referring to rural America? Is some of the writing staff from Iowa?

  • 2
    This may be a form of the Cocktail Party Effect? I'm also from Iowa, so when Iowa is referenced in media my ears catch it... but I don't notice when they talk about Kansas or Oklahoma or other states. – user37051 Jul 4 '16 at 15:28
  • @Mark Yeah, that's why I noticed it. It happens a lot. But it doesn't happen twice, generally. – user23604 Jul 4 '16 at 16:07
  • @MarkEdward: Good point, but I don't think this is called the Cocktail Party Effect. I think you're thinking of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon The Cocktail Party Effect focuses on the auditory skill (being able to hear it) rather than the cognitive bias (noticing the thing you've heard). It is most often used in context for people who cannot focus on a specific sound when hearing many sounds at the same time (and therefore are incapable of following a conversation at a cocktail party). I suffer from this, actually. – Flater Jul 3 '17 at 9:48
  • @Flater I've always understood the term "cocktail party effect" to be the phenomenon where one notices one's own name (or other significant words) in a general hubbub of noise, and I think that's the sense in which Mark was using the term. Apparently, that's not what psychologists use the term to mean (as shown by Wikipedia and Google). Separate to that, let's stick with "frequency illusion" for what you're calling the "Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon" -- there's no reason to memorialize terrorists by naming stuff after them. – David Richerby Sep 4 '17 at 16:12

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