Bug Controversy in N.Y. Times

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Apr 22 12:13:42 UTC 2000

Today's New York Times, at page B11, has an article, "If There's a Bug in
the Etymology, You May Never Get It Out."  This article covers the
controversy (at least, I'd like to stir up a controversy about it) about
the fact that the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" show awarded a
million-dollar prize based on a flawed question, relating to the myth that
computer glitches are called "bugs" because a moth was found in the Mark
II computer in 1947.

The story is fairly well done, although it contains one misleading
comment about me and uses the term "folk etymology" imprecisely.

Thanks to Barry Popik, whose posting to ADS-L about the show's mistake
helped to inspire me to pursue this matter.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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