By on July 14, 2010

Much of the hysteria over a possible electronic cause for the Toyota unintended acceleration scandal (aka “the ghost in the machine”) stemmed from an ABC report featuring Southern Illinois University professor David Gilbert. Gilbert demonstrated to ABC’s Brian Ross that unintended acceleration could be triggered in Toyotas without generating an error code, but the report didn’t address the likelihood of this happening. Furthermore, ABC was found to have used misleading footage in that report. Gilbert went on to testify in one of the least convincing panels ever convened before congress, and even after Toyota held an event aimed solely at debunking his suspicions, Gilbert has persisted in believing that something is wrong with Toyota’s electronics. As a result, the AP [via CBC] reports that Toyota has pulled funding for two internships at SIU, two Toyota employees resigned from its automotive technology program advisory board, and another demanded that Gilbert be fired. The AP seems very keen to call these retaliations “smears,” but given recent revelations about the government investigation into Toyota’s electronic throttle control system, it seems that Gilbert and SIU are simply reaping what they’ve sown.

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30 Comments on “In The Wake Of Gilbert’s Testimony, Toyota Dropped Support For Southern Illinois University...”


  • avatar
    AaronH

    The lying parasitic MSM infantiles and their university stooges have been outed. Toyota needs to “smear” those cockroaches even more than what they are now doing. Good for Toyota.

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    Interesting – I tend to dislike anything that chills speech and criticism (I think anything that got Toyota to focus on quality again, even if inaccurate, has at least some value). While part of me thinks this is deserved, it certainly isn’t very fitting with Toyota’s brand – family friendly, dependable, serene, etc. If Mercedes were to smite some naysayers, that would be a different story.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      I don’t think it matters what company it is. Toyota’s reputation has been damaged by this witch hunt. I don’t think Toyota’s actions are retaliatory at all, just consequential. I think that “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” would apply here.

      In my opinion, I believe Toyota’s response to all these vindicatory revelations has been very, very restrained. They could take this a lot further if they wanted to . A LOT further.

  • avatar
    northview

    “Southern Indiana University – Since 1985!”
    I was born a Hoosier but I had never heard of it until now.
    U.S. News & World Report ranks it as a Tier 4 school in its category. Not much hope of getting up to Tier 3.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    ABC News ought to take some heat, also.

    I agree with “ott”, Toyota has responded in a very restrained fashion. Enough of that, I say.

    On the other hand, Toyota is still printing money, so maybe they get the last laugh anyway.

  • avatar
    SomeDude

    Let’s not jump the gun here, ok? Dr. Gilbert’s demonstration is what’s known as ‘proof of concept’. As far as I know, Toyota’s claim was that, no matter what, it wouldn’t be possible for a Toyota car to accelerate all by itself, without triggering an error code. Dr. Gilbert had shown otherwise. This, by the way, makes the demonstration different from the infamous Audi 5000 trick – the latter was concocted to show something that was never claimed to have happened, that the car was able to move forward by itself, with no driver being present.

    • 0 avatar
      Invisible

      Somedude, it almost sounds like you are defending the actions of ABC(their doctored video and all) and you are defending this professor’s rewiring and altering and addidtionof the hardware to trick the car……..

      Clarify!!! Are you siding with the professor and ABC?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      SomeDude: Let’s not jump the gun here, ok?

      Actually, jumping the gun was done by Dr. Gilbert, ABC News and those who were all-too-willing to believe them.

      Given that you continue to beat this dead horse in numerous threads, after it has been proven that there are no electronic gremlins causing Toyotas to accelerate out of control, I’d say that you are now jumping the shark.

      Again, review the original case against Audi, and how it ultimately fell apart.

      SomeDude: Dr. Gilbert’s demonstration is what’s known as ‘proof of concept’. As far as I know, Toyota’s claim was that, no matter what, it wouldn’t be possible for a Toyota car to accelerate all by itself, without triggering an error code. Dr. Gilbert had shown otherwise.

      No, he didn’t, and NTSHA backs up Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      “…after it has been proven that there are no electronic gremlins causing Toyotas to accelerate out of control…”

      And where did this “proof” come out? Not from the NHTSA statement. That investigation is ongoing – even Toyota admits that, and they’ve check a few dozen cases not all or even a majority. So that’s all it takes to convince you?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      windswords: And where did this “proof” come out? Not from the NHTSA statement. That investigation is ongoing – even Toyota admits that, and they’ve check a few dozen cases not all or even a majority.

      Again, you need to understand how this works.

      You are alleging that there are electronic defects causing Toyotas to accelerate out of control, completely on their own, despite the actions of the drivers (i.e., stepping on the brakes).

      So far, there is no proof of this happening. People have mistakenly pressed on the accelerator pedal, when they thought that that they were pressing on the brake pedal – just as they did with Audis in the 1980s.

      You therefore still bear the burden of proving that there is a problem with Toyota’s electronics.

      Vague suspicions and lingering belief that something is wrong here, fueled largely by a dislike of Toyota, do not constitute sufficient evidence. That is all that you have at this point.

      windswords: So that’s all it takes to convince you?

      I believe that Toyota is innocent until proven guilty. Neither you, nor Dr. Gilbert, nor other critics, have proven that there are any electronic glitches with Toyotas. At this point, all you have are a lingering suspicion and a case built on junk science that is falling apart very quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      +1 SomeDude

      Exactly right. Gilbert proved that the Toyota system isn’t infallible – which is a claim Toyota has made repeatedly.

      Normally, it would be unsurprising that a human built system is not infallible, but in this case it was necessary to address the point.

      It doesn’t matter that the particular rewiring that Gilbert did would not occur in a car as it cruised down the highway. The point was simply to show that it’s possible to introduce an error without a corresponding error code showing up.

      And no, I’m not taking this as proof that there are ghosts in the system. Nor am I taking the lack of error codes as proof of pedal misapplication.

      As to Toyota pulling funding from the school, no question they have a right to do it. Also no question it’s a retaliatory measure. No sense even pretending otherwise.

      As an aside, Toyota SUA claims have involved parking lot scenarios where pedal misapplication is highly likely, but also runaway cars on the highway, where pedal misapplication is unlikely.

      I’d still like an explanation of the event in NJ where the man had his SUA case verified by a Toyota dealer and the dealer’s service technician. Wasn’t pedal mis-app. Wasn’t carpet.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Dynamic88: It doesn’t matter that the particular rewiring that Gilbert did would not occur in a car as it cruised down the highway. The point was simply to show that it’s possible to introduce an error without a corresponding error code showing up.

      By altering the circuit, he changed it so much that it is hardly relevant to the situation at hand. As someone noted later in the thread, you can alter a giraffe to the point where it can fly, but, in the end, you no longer really have a giraffe. He changed the circuit to the point where it is not applicable to this scenario.

      Dynamic88: As an aside, Toyota SUA claims have involved parking lot scenarios where pedal misapplication is highly likely, but also runaway cars on the highway, where pedal misapplication is unlikely.

      Proof, please. People still use their brakes on the highway, although admittedly not as much as in parking lots.

      Dynamic88: I’d still like an explanation of the event in NJ where the man had his SUA case verified by a Toyota dealer and the dealer’s service technician. Wasn’t pedal mis-app. Wasn’t carpet.

      And how, exactly, did the dealer verify this case? Did they duplicate what had happened? Were they able to prove that he was applying the brakes the entire time? The case I saw – involving an Avalon – said that the car accelerated until it 65 mph, at which point the driver shifted it into neutral. This was on I-78 – a road where 65 mph is pretty much the SLOWEST speed most people drive. This story just seems fishy…

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    good for Toyota — Gilbert is an a$$clown who was all about the sensationalism. Yeah, I suppose you can get a black box to do just about anything if you have all the time in the world on your hands and a working knowledge of electronics.

    The government report told the readers of TTAC (and anyone else who isn’t a halfwit) what we already know, namely, that “unintended acceleration” is lawyer-speak for “driver error.”

    Now if Toyota would grow a pair and sue the bejesus out of Gilbert and the institution pretending to be a university, that would be great.

  • avatar
    50merc

    If SIU is smart, it will convene an independent (no, really) panel of engineering professors to inquire into what went wrong with Gilbert’s research. This isn’t like some Sociology prof blathering non-testable opinions, Gilbert staked his and SIU’s reputation on (mis?)statements of fact which wound up damaging others. Academic freedom should not encompass freedom to libel.

  • avatar

    Pointing out well researched flaws is one thing, making them up is quite another. And that is exactly what he and Kane did. There was a media storm already in motion when they decided to float their boat. He should have known the consequences of failure would be high, he would have had to be a complete fool otherwise. He was likely getting legal advice from Kane’s legal chums, no tears here.

    • 0 avatar
      SomeDude

      You’re openly pro-Toyota, so I figure my post will mean little to you, but anyhow. First, Gilbert’s demonstration was a legitimate proof of concept (see my post above). Second, this kind of cutting funding to a university in retribution for making some ‘uncomfortable’ finding public, to silence an opponent, is petty and actually counterproductive. If it should have any effect, this will be just more bad publicity for Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      Invisible

      Actually “somedude” if Toyota DOESN’T remove funding from that so called sKool(sic), then I would have little respect for Toyota.

      It is called consequences.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    If a corporation withdrawing funding or donations from a university is chilling speech then giving the money in the first place was baiting speech.

    How fragile these university folk are when someone from outside uses speech to challenge them.
    How arrogant they are to think companies are stupid enough to just go on giving them funding and materials that are then used to criticize the company.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    It would seem this sight is all about 2 things of late:
    1. There is nothing wrong with Toyotas.
    2. Ford is no better then GM

    Glad I have that all sorted out now.

    Actually, this site isn’t bad if you just skip over any topic (getting harder to do) dealing with those 2 items.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Consumers seem to agree that there is nothing wrong with Toyotas, if you look at their sales trend lately.

      There are many people here who think Ford actually is “better” than GM, due to the perception (real or imagined) that Ford didn’t take bailout money. Consumers seem to agree with this also.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      mkirk,

      You missed one:

      3: Chrysler (and by extension FIAT in general and Sergio in particular) never does anything right.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      “mkirk,

      You missed one:

      3: Chrysler (and by extension FIAT in general and Sergio in particular) never does anything right.”

      Oh yeah..?

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/marchionne-wants-the-unions-to-show-some-respect/

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-poker-game-in-naples-is-over/

  • avatar
    NexWest

    Gilbert is a professor at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    Gilbert *REWIRED* the circuit to get failure mode…I suppose tiny fairies (Employed by the UAW, no doubt) went around rewiring camry accelerator pedal circuits.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    Ugh, the AP, the place has become the icon of worst face of agenda-driven American media.

    In fact, this AP story reminds me of the scuffle they are in with TechCrunch and Woot where the AP lifted 24 words from their blogs, and AP not being happy that they were called out on it:

    http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/06/ap-woot-oil-spill/
    http://www.woot.com/Blog/ViewEntry.aspx?Id=13420

    The circumstances of the AP disagreement aren’t important, but the fact of the non sequitur mention of BP is very telling of how they see themselves and the role they play in promoting certain news.


    Aside from that “Toyota tried to silence critic” from AP, its interesting how they’ve handle the recent NHTSA report on driver error and SUA, the only article they put is “Gov’t says it’s made no conclusions in Toyota case”.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TOYOTA_RECALL?SITE=SCCOL&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    Its an almost a begrudgingly written article, as if they really didn’t want to write anything that wasn’t negative about Toyota. Most of it is a cut-and-paste job of all the negative things they can say about Toyota. They even mention the dubious NHTSA deaths claim taken from databases.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/89-dead-in-the-nhtsa-complaint-database-it%E2%80%99s-a-sham/

  • avatar
    Morea

    Toyota should have given SIU MORE money. For non-profit organizations, with donations comes power and ultimately control. Ask any university president about large donors, naming buildings after them is only the tip of the iceberg. A coup for Toyota would have been to endow an engineering chair and fill it with someone who could directly contradict Prof Gilbert’s findings. (Bet those faculty metings would be a hoot!) Say, “The Toyota Motor Corporation Chair in Automotive Safety”.

  • avatar
    Alcibiades

    Not Southern Indiana University, as NexWest said. There is no such place for one thing–(its the University of Southern Indiana, which I think used to be the University of Evansville, although I haven’t looked it up). Gilbert is a Saluki. I know all those Midwestern states that begin with an I look alike, but they really are different.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Had the claims about Toyota’s design flaws been proven true, I would strongly object to their removal of support for the school. Truth is a defense. As the the NHSTA’s findings do not substantiate the school’s claims, I believe that Toyota is justified in their actions. You shouldn’t have to support those who make false claims about you.

    To Somedude -

    Dude, give it up. It’s gone.

    When you rewire a circuit to the extent Gilbert went to, it’s no longer the same circuit. What he did is like showing how a giraffe can fly. You can make it happen if you just make enough changes.

    However, while it might be possible in the lab, but the odds of it happening naturally are Infinitesimal.*

    *Think Elvis reappearing from a Martian spaceship riding a dinosaur.

    • 0 avatar
      thats one fast cat

      +1. Har Har Har.

      I did a back of the envelope calculation, Lokki, and I think you missed a decimal place. The odds are somewhat less than what you suggested….


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