Unfortunately, some misuse science. Some of their intentions, are far from benevolent. They see science as a mechanism for political power and control. There is great danger from those who would use science for political control over us.

How do they do this? They instill, and then continuously magnify, fear. Fear is the most effective instrument of totalitarian control.

Chet Richards, physicist,


Friday, 18 February 2011

The Toyota Recall and CAGW: two examples of sense submerged by alarmism

The vulnerability of modern societies to scare stories is revealed on a small scale by the Toyota Recall fiasco, and on a large scale by the CO2 Alarm fiasco.  Both give insight into how politicians and others can be hassled into hasty actions and foolish decisions.  Or is it merely that they spotted advantage in propagating the scare?

Millions of vehicles were recalled around the world, and a new TLA spread: UIA - un-intended acceleration.  Sounds scary!  Better do something!  The theatre is on fire!  Everybody out!  No time to waste!

Except it was a false alarm:
'NASA's Toyota Study Released by Dept. of Transportation     02.08.11'
'WASHINGTON -- The results of a ten-month study by 30 NASA engineers of possible electronic causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles was released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

"NASA found no evidence that a malfunction in electronics caused large unintended accelerations," said Michael Kirsch, principal engineer and team lead of the study from the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) based at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.'

This would be a good project for senior pupils interested in current affairs: a side by side comparison of the climate scare and the accelerator scare.  They are on different scales, but they share much in common:

(1) something scary for the general public
(2) a simple theory to convey 'knowledge' of the reason for the scare
(3) self-serving groups joining in the alarmism in which they have spotted advantage
(4) hasty legislation or the threat of it
(5) resources diverted to unnecessary actions
(6) in retrospect, revealed to be unfounded and foolish

Would that NASA, which led the investigation into the Toyota recall (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/nasalife/features/nesc-toyota-study.html), would display the same disinterested and analytical approach on climate.  But no, that would be naive, since they are a prominent example of stage (3) above.

Stage (6) is still underway on climate alarmism, and is taking far longer.  The climate stage (3) was just on so much greater a scale, aided and abetted by massive state funding for such as the IPCC, and the far larger set of parties who spotted political, financial, or merely career opportunities in and around the scaremongering.

Note added 07 April 2014.  The disturbing episode of the Toyota false alarm is still getting coverage.  An Obama functionary called LaHood helped make the alarm worse, and Toyota ended paying a fine of $1.2 billion: 'No one is innocent, of course, but not everyone is bailed out. So Toyota, after recalling millions of cars and changing parts and floor mats even before LaHood's outburst – and after years of being hounded by the administration – recently agreed to pay a steep fine for its role in the acceleration flap. This, despite the fact that in 2012, Department of Transportation engineers determined that no mechanical failure was present that would cause applying the brakes to initiate acceleration. The DOT conducted tests that determined that the brakes could maintain a stationary car or bring one to a full stop even with the engine racing. It looked at 58 vehicles that were supposedly involved in unintended acceleration and found no evidence of brake failure or throttle malfunction.' http://patriotpost.us/opinion/24589  . 

1 comment:

kevin said...

A very good point with the toyota story. I've seen several articles on it over the last 18 months or so in the MSM...all pretty much pushing the story that toyota have been cutting corners and should be punished for their sins. And I must admit, they were convincing. I certainly had no reason to doubt them. Funnily enough one theory was that cosmic rays could be responsible for interfering with the delicate electronics. But of course to a large extent we are reliant on the media being objective about these things. There isn't time to investigate everything yourself. With CAGW the MSM has proved itself to have lost all sense of objectivity. The Guardian and the Independent being excellent examples of this. Click on the environment link for either paper and you jump straight in to the land of eco-lunacism.