Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Well now, if you didn't know before, you do now, trains have been bugged and de-bugged. How has this miracle come about?

The Guardian newspaper Bad Science editor, was attracted by the numbers of the train bugs that were meant to be in  existence, so, he set about investigating the stories. A firm who unblock drains, kill bugs and so on, he discovered, simulated with a computer model, the perfect growing conditions for bugs to live in trains. You have to understand that there were no people on the modelled train, the train had a constant and stable temperature, not possible with an everyday train in use. The model 'grew' its bugs beautifully.

Somehow, the modelling exercise became 'common currency': trains carried thousands of bugs ripe for attaching themselves to passengers. It was wonderful stuff, and the name of the firm, which will remain anonymous in this post, got great free publicity in the media and alternative medias.

However the intrepid reporter had difficulty getting the truth of the matter out of the company, which, when it was uncovered, did no-one involved any favours. There appears to be rather too much storytelling, like the boy who cried "wolf"!


Vincent said...

This is eerily parallel to a news story about the French Railways (SNCF) who were carrying out a disaster scenario exercise, which accidentally got to the media as real (since it was put up on an SNCF website).

Not to mention a scenario put out by a Georgian or Ukrainian TV station about invading Russian tanks, which people took as being real. Which goes back to the famous incident of Orson Welles' radio production of HG Wells' War of the Worlds where a fictional drama turned into a real-life panic drama.

I may have got any of the above details wrong because I can't be bothered to check---just like those people affected by the above!

ZACL said...

Good Morning Vincent,

I put a post up this week on the Georgian simulation...the diplomatic rumblings about that are still in the arena.

Now you mention it, I have some recollection of the French matter.

There certainly are parallels. One point made by the Bad Science editor of the Guardian newspaper was, that the public are now very tired of this kind of sensationalism and scaremongering.

I am not so sure that the public appetite is sated for sensations and devised polemic. This is what public relations people and the various media play on; it's their bread and butter. It is what the particular organisation in this instance, played all innocence, you understand.