Skepticism

My previous post discussed the role that NASA’s culture played in the Challenger and Columbia disasters. I opened the paper to read the following headline:

NASA Clears Toyota For Takeoff

My first reaction…one that I’m not particularly proud of…was skepticism. NASA says there’s no problem with Toyota and sudden acceleration? I am not convinced.

Reading further, the article explained that NASA experts were brought in by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to review only if the electronics could be contributing to the problem. My skepticism waned…a bit.

But I have to wonder: is the culture that allowed the decisions that led to the space shuttle disasters still in place? Could it still be leading NASA personnel to make erroneous assumptions about the robustness of a system based upon prior success rather than on dependable engineering data and rigorous testing? Are they still reinterpreting evidence that the design was not performing as expected as acceptable and non-deviant? Is new information still being resisted?

I certainly hope not. My concern is more than just philosophical…my sister drives a Toyota.

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