File Under: Are you fucking kidding me??

What the…what?
Apparently, a pest control company in the UK has decided to drum up business by COMPLETELY MAKING SHIT UP.

This image shows some of the numbers of insects estimated to be on public transportation, as reported in a newspaper that picked up on a (now expunged of fake numbers) press release by the company Rentokil.

Ben Goldacre was on the case:

“After a bit of prodding, its PR company, Brands2Life, explained: no buses or trains were studied.
How did people get the wrong end of the stick? I have no way of knowing, as Brands2Life and Rentokil both declined to show me what they had sent to journalists but, in any case, contrary to what was said earlier, these numbers did not come from measurements and counts – they are based on a “theoretical model.”

As Ben goes on to explain, the assumptions that were made to generate those numbers included an unlimited food supply, completely unchecked reproduction, and survival of roach offspring at 100%.  Which, as anyone who knows anything about biology, is complete and utter shite.  Public transportation is regularly cleaned and fumigated. And they are not filled with an infinite food supply, nor do stampeding commuters never create mortality for little creatures that are trampled.   Any introductory biology class covers exponential growth, and how it is the potential for living populations–but very rarely the reality!

The whole fiasco was a shameful attempt by either the company, the company’s PR agency, or both, to drum up entomophobia. And, by extension, business.

Yes, roaches and bed bugs are a reality. But no, there are not 50 bedbugs on the average bus in London!!!  Cripes.
There is an acronym I learned in the dot.com world when I worked there: PIDOMA.  It stands for “Pull It Directly Out of My Ass.”  This is where these numbers came from.

Since Rentokil have a history of changing things after the fact, I took screen-shots of their current blog post and the news story; you can find them at Flickr.  They get a zombie roach, since clearly something has eaten their brains.  I hope that the National Pest Management Association will issue a statement strongly condemning this company and it’s PR mess.

(Also: BEN! DUDE! Why did you not invite me to the UK to help out with this?)

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