Today’s sign of the impending apocalypse: A prominent conservative senator from Iowa may or may not believe in “science”; wants to re-examine a NHTSA and NASA investigation into Toyota’s infamous “sudden unintended acceleration” problem.
Chuck Grassley, an Iowa farmer and sheet metal shearer, and current ranking member of the senate Judiciary Committee, believes that scientific evidence confirms that “tin whiskers,” or electronically conductive, crystalline structures of tin that sometimes grow from surfaces where tin (especially electroplated tin) is used as a final finish, has been found in a Toyota pedal assembly.
According to Grassley, “tin whiskers” are not an old Iowan proverb, but are in fact, a real thing. Grassley believes that tin whiskers could lead to a short circuit in the Toyota pedal assembly, and theoretically, to sudden, unintended acceleration. Basically, tin whiskers are “the missing link” and Toyota is not GOD.
To the best of our knowledge, Senator Grassley, a religious member of “The Family,” is not a rocket scientist, but is therefore somehow qualified to question NASA’s 10-month investigation which concluded only mechanical defaults—such as stuck floormats and sticky pedals—could cause the unintended acceleration problem.
A spokesman from Toyota told The Los Angeles Times, “No one has ever found a single real-world example of tin whiskers causing an unintended acceleration event.”
But Senator Grassley loves himself some informal fallacy (argumentum ad ignorantiam, a false dichotomy asserting a position is true because of a lack of evidence), saying, “This is a serious issue,” and that just because NASA engineers did not find proof that Toyota’s electronic throttle control system caused the reports of unintended acceleration “does not mean it could not occur.”
Which is true, maybe, but also maybe not. Like Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster—just because we haven’t found them doesn’t mean they don’t exist, either.
Sources: The Los Angeles Times, Grassley.senate.gov