Consumer Reports Retracts Its Damning Car-Seat Study

We blogged here recently about Connsumer Reports study declaring that most infant car seats failed miserably in side-impact crash tests. Now comes word that Consumer Reports is retracting the study, an acknowledgment that the study’s methodology was flawed. According to this MSNBC report, the study was meant to test the seats in 38-mph crashes, whereas the actual speed of the impact was closer to 70 mph. MSNBC notes that Consumer Reports outsourced the study, but it doesn’t specify to whom. It also notes that Consumer Reports hasn’t retracted a study since 1998, and that it will re-run the infant car seat tests soon and publish the results. Given that Consumer Reports earlier declared some of the car seats unsafe, I smell a lawsuit. (Thanks to several blog readers for forwarding this news.)


110phil

You know, that kind of occurred to me at the time ... it seemed strange to me that the seats would pass the 30 mph test, but completely fail the 35 mph test. It was certainly possible that the manufacturers deliberately engineered the seats only to barely pass the required test, but it seemed unlikely: is it even possible to engineer the seats to such penny-pinching precision that they would all fail at almost exactly the same speed?

I suppose that conclusion might seem more plausible to anti-corporate types ... but, in retrospect, shouldn't have we found it kind of suspicious?

krached

I cannot believe anyone even reads consumer reports anyway.

lermit

Might have been the test and not the seats.

.lermit

Gaijin51

Hard to understand how they could mess up something so basic as the speed.

Kind of reminds me of the early problems with the hubble. The telescope mirror was not shaped correctly but they didn't notice until it was already in space. Duh.

bertrecords

It strikes my that two cars colliding head on at 35 mph might be simulated with one impact at 70 mph. Of course, that math does not compute for a side impact. But, it would not surprise me if someone was following a protocol too blindly.

bigred93

This certainly says a lot about Consumer Reports that they would run this article without doing any basic checking of their third party testing provider's methodology. It's a classic example of too much believing of their own BS. Just as the New York Times doesn't believe it really needs an ombudsman, because, hey, they're the New York Times (Jayson Blair etc notwithstanding), Consumer Reports seems to believe that their impartiality statements serve as a proxy for actually doing their homework.

Paul

CR is a great resource. Just because they make one mistake doesn't give every moron capable of forming an opinion a justification for declaring it worthless.

110phil

You know, that kind of occurred to me at the time ... it seemed strange to me that the seats would pass the 30 mph test, but completely fail the 35 mph test. It was certainly possible that the manufacturers deliberately engineered the seats only to barely pass the required test, but it seemed unlikely: is it even possible to engineer the seats to such penny-pinching precision that they would all fail at almost exactly the same speed?

I suppose that conclusion might seem more plausible to anti-corporate types ... but, in retrospect, shouldn't have we found it kind of suspicious?

krached

I cannot believe anyone even reads consumer reports anyway.

lermit

Might have been the test and not the seats.

.lermit

Gaijin51

Hard to understand how they could mess up something so basic as the speed.

Kind of reminds me of the early problems with the hubble. The telescope mirror was not shaped correctly but they didn't notice until it was already in space. Duh.

bertrecords

It strikes my that two cars colliding head on at 35 mph might be simulated with one impact at 70 mph. Of course, that math does not compute for a side impact. But, it would not surprise me if someone was following a protocol too blindly.

bigred93

This certainly says a lot about Consumer Reports that they would run this article without doing any basic checking of their third party testing provider's methodology. It's a classic example of too much believing of their own BS. Just as the New York Times doesn't believe it really needs an ombudsman, because, hey, they're the New York Times (Jayson Blair etc notwithstanding), Consumer Reports seems to believe that their impartiality statements serve as a proxy for actually doing their homework.

Paul

CR is a great resource. Just because they make one mistake doesn't give every moron capable of forming an opinion a justification for declaring it worthless.