Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Epidemics and Rumours


Goffman and Newill1 have directed attention to the analogy between the spreading of an infectious disease and the dissemination of information. We have recently examined the spreading of a rumour from the point of view of mathematical epidemiology and wish to report very briefly here on work to be published in detail elsewhere2. In particular, we must emphasize that a mathematical model for the spreading of rumours can be constructed in a number of different ways, depending on the mechanism postulated to describe the growth and decay of the actual spreading process. In all these models the mathematical techniques familiar in mathematical epidemiology can be applied, but even the qualitative results so obtained need not necessarily be as expected on the basis of the formal analogy with epidemics.


  1. 1

    Goffman, W., and Newill, V. A., Nature, 204, 225 (1964).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Daley, D. J., and Kendall, D. G. (unpublished).

  3. 3

    Bailey, N. T. J., The Mathematical Theory of Epidemics (Griffin, 1960).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

DALEY, D., KENDALL, D. Epidemics and Rumours. Nature 204, 1118 (1964).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing