[funsec] Magazine Will Begin Consulting With Experts

Richard M. Smith rms at computerbytesman.com
Wed Mar 21 08:20:12 CDT 2007

March 21, 2007

Magazine Will Begin Consulting With Experts 
Consumer Reports, widely respected for its independent assessments of
consumer products, has long steered clear of consulting with industry and
manufacturers. As a further shield from being compromised, it accepts no

But yesterday, the magazine said that its quest for independence had kept it
from reaching out to experts who might have helped it avoid one of the
biggest mistakes in its 71-year history.

In January, the magazine reported that 10 of 12 infant car seats it tested
had failed simulated crash tests - a report it retracted two weeks later. 

A review of the incident by two outside specialists found that the
magazine's problem stemmed mainly from its decision to develop and run its
side-impact tests without extensive consultation with other experts.

The magazine said in a statement that it had not consulted outside experts
in part "because of the organization's longstanding policy of limiting
contact with government and industry to avoid compromising the independence
of its judgment."

That decision, the magazine said, "ultimately proved to be a mistake."

Consumer Reports had reported in January that side-impact tests showed 10 of
12 car seats performed poorly in tests conducted at 38 miles an hour. But it
later said the tests had actually been conducted at 70 miles an hour. 

The report infuriated the car seat manufacturers and left parents confused
about whether they should buy the seats, which can be expensive. The
magazine retracted the report two weeks later and sent letters and e-mail
messages to six million subscribers to apologize.


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