The Killer Fog Fogs SDSTAFF's Mind

Just a gentle nudge in the direction of awareness…Stephen King spells his name with a PH, and the name of his short story was “The Mist,” not “The Fog.” Thought you might like to know.

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board, NYCFin. In the “Comments on Staff Reports” and “Comments on Cecil’s Columns” forums, it’s helpful to include a link to the column in question, in this case What happened in the 1952 London “killer fog”? Information on creating links, and other useful stuff, can be found here.

[sub]Ha! I beat Arnold to it![/sub]

Sorry, I’m not following the logic of this here. If there was no drop in the death rate after the fog lifted, wouldn’t that mean that it hadn’t had anything to do with the increased death rate?

And I don’t see where the statement “Which means that the people who died probably could have lived months or years longer were it not for the fog” is tied logically to anything. What means this?

And these two statements:

–don’t seem logically connected. Huh?

And yes, I have had my coffee… :slight_smile:

And as long as we’re criticizing spelling and grammar :slight_smile: , I think this sentence ought to be rewritten. It’s confusing.

Surely you mean “from 2,000 to 4,000 people”, not “from 2 to 4,000 people”.

DDG, I took this

to mean that the death rate returned to its normal level. Had the death rate fallen below its normal level for a time after the fog, then the fog would have merely been hastening a few deaths by a few weeks or months.

You wrote: "–several sheep were killed by the toxins, but had the wind been blowing the other way, Salt Lake City would have gotten a dose of something a little more
dangerous to a Mormon than coffee. "

 It was a few more than "several". Actually, six-thousand sheep keeled-over in 1968 while grazing at the edge of the Tooele Army Depot 50 miles west of Salt Lake City. The sheep were hastily buried in trenches dug with backhoes. No federal agency ever took responsibility, but the DoD did compensate the ranchers.

I thought it odd that the date on top was the Feb 20th 2001. Corrado is writing from the FUTURE! Spooky.

oldscratch said:

You think that’s spooky? People are calling me out on supposed errors in my column and it hasn’t even been posted yet. They must be psychic.

NYCFin: You’re right. Mea culpa.

DDG: picmr is right. If something affects the infirm or aged, generally you see a spike in the death toll followed by a corresponding valley- the people who passed on during the event were those who would have naturally passed on in the next few weeks anyways. In this case, though, there was no valley afterwards; the death rate stayed at a relatively level amount. Which means that, rather than affecting those who would have died withing the next two months anyways, it affects people who would have lived much longer.

davedave: Thanks for the info. The only source I had on that event was Stephen King referring to it in Danse Macabre, and he didn’t give much information on the details (though, at the time he was writing it, it was considered a ‘current event’ and therefore not needing any explanation).

DDG said:

What John Corrado was saying is that the death rate went up really high while the fog/smog was around, but then returned to normal levels when the fog/smog left. It didn’t drop extra low. I think you are reading that to mean that after the fog/smog left the death rates remained high. That isn’t what John meant, though I can see how it might be read that way.

As for the drop in death rate after the fact, think of it like this. There is a high death rate peak, followed by a low trough, then return to normal, then you see those deaths from the trough were moved back and attributed to the fog/smog. However, if the high peak is followed by a very shallow trough that stretches for, say, 20 years, then you don’t think it just got the sick and old, but rather people who would have lived for some time. If that trough is extremely shallow and extremely long, then the rates will be essentially normal after the fact.

Yes. That is a common way of stating it. Could be written “2-4 thousand” or “2 to 4 thousand”. Like saying “$2 to $4 million.” That’s “two to four million dollars”. Technically your way is more precise and less ambiguous. Welcome to the English language, where ambiguity is not just possible, but often required. :wink:

John –

As an avowed Steve King fan, and an actual owner of Dance Macabre, I gotta say thanks for the entertaining and informative report.

'Tis the first mailbag/staff report I recall seeing referring to the American Master of Horror.

Bravo Zulu

Thank you, Irishman. Whew. I was sitting here with the stress of THINKING LOGICALLY making my eyeballs roll around frantically in my head. Glad to see I wasn’t losing my marbles, that it was kinda ambiguous. My faith in coffee was sorely tested for a minute there, I can tell you…

[peering down into cup] “Why isn’t this working?”


Um… Looks like he got that right. :wink:

Unless…Horrors! It was edited afterward? In which case, mea culpa, too.

DDG, it’s early here, too. I almost thought you said you were peeing down into your cup…

NYCFin was not hallucinating; those errors were there in the “pre-posting” version of the column. Those errors were fixed before the final version was posted (and I’d be willing to bet they were fixed because NYCFin noticed them and commented upon them).

Thanks, NYCFin!

quick nitpick… James Herbert wrote “The Fog”, John Carpenter directed the film.

Twisty- as far as I know, there is no relation between John Carptener’s 1980 movie “John Carptener’s The Fog” and the James Herbert novel “The Fog”. Possibly, the formatting should have “John Carpenter’s” in italics because it’s also part of the title of the movie, but I’ve also seen it referred to as “The Fog” enough times that I don’t think it’s essential. But it is a completely different entity from the James Herbert novel of the same name.


I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Corrado on his first Staff Report. His debut touched on literature, science, history, medicine, and environmental issues with a dash of humor thrown in. Overall, a very solid effort in fighting ignorance, hinting at great things to come.

Bravo, Mr. Corrado.


Chief: Thanks! I’ve always been a fan of King’s (though, as NYCFin pointed out, apparently not enough of one to remember how he spells his first name or to get the title of his short story right) and I consider Danse Macabre one of the best treatises on horror that I’ve ever seen. The question of deadly fog just rang too many parallels to some of King’s points to be left out.

JeffB: Thanks as well; I hope my future reports (and there will be future reports from me) are just as good!


Did anybody notice that in my question here about the fog, that I mentioned killer pirates and Adrienne Barbeau and yet John answers that I must not be familiar with the horror films about fog? Adrienne Barbeau was in John Carpenter’s “THE FOG” with Jamie Lee Curtis! Duh. It was the angry dead pirates travelling through the fog that made the fog DANGEROUS and worthy (somewhat) of a horror movie.

“Only drunks notice the laws of nature”

In *The Mist,*the fog itself wasn’t malevolent or dangerous–people did go out in it and survive. What was dangerous were the creatures inhabitting the fog.