Corrections from the last week.

Corrections from the last week.

Corrections from the last week.

Slate's mistakes.
Sept. 9 2005 12:45 PM


For a short time on Sept. 7, a photograph placed in the "Explainer" about "Lying in State vs. Lying in Repose" featured an older photograph of the justices at a coffin that included an image of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the subject of the article.


In a Sept. 4 "Dispatch," Mike Pesca referred to Bayou Lafourche, La., as a town. It is actually a bayou in the parish of Lafourche.

In a Sept. 2 "Explainer," Daniel Engber originally failed to note that Lake Pontchartrain is a brackish lake, meaning that it has more salt than freshwater, but less than the ocean. The article said "Yes—you could and you should" drink the floodwater if you were dying of thirst. This statement is incorrect. The correct answer, now noted in the piece, is "Yes, if it's not too briny." Whether or not floodwater actually can save your life depends on its salinity. In order to clarify the answer, the author has added the following new information:

1. It is possible that the run-off from the lake contains so much salt (more than 8 parts per thousand) that drinking it would cause further dehydration rather than rehydration.

2. It is also possible that the floodwater could contain salt at a concentration (around 5 parts per thousand) that actually makes it more helpful than freshwater would be in staving off dehydration. (Some salt in fluid helps the body absorb water.)

3. The article can't determine whether the floodwater would cause dehydration or rehydration because it is difficult to ascertain the exact salt content of the floodwater. A sidebar explains how various factors could have increased or decreased its salinity. The water that flooded New Orleans may have come from the top of the lake, which is less salty than the bottom. The storm may also have diluted the floodwater. Either of these occurrences would have helped to lower the salinity of the floodwater. On the other hand, water from the Gulf of Mexico could have been blown in by Katrina, increasing the salinity of the floodwater. And Katrina could have churned the water in Lake Pontchartrain such that saltier water on the bottom of the lake got into the floodwater. Either of these occurrences would have made the floodwater more salty.

If you believe you have found an inaccuracy in a Slate story, please send an e-mail to, and we will investigate. General comments should be posted in "The Fray," our reader discussion forum.