"The July 22 letter from Nancy A. Cowles and Rachel Weintraub regarding an IKEA furniture recall shows the authors disturbingly unable to grasp the meaning of numbers. Numeracy is crucial to evaluating risk and danger—and that level of ignorance from two apparent professionals in consumer product safety is frightening.
Twenty-nine million IKEA units caused six child deaths over 27 years. If a single-unit recall costs a modest $25, that means $725 million is required upfront to prevent six deaths over the next 27 years (at 5% a year, a final cost of $450 million per death). That is surreal waste (if not to class-action lawyers). The authors assert, inanely: “the ‘millions were sold and only six children died’ argument is specious.” No, to the educated it is called “rational.” If the IKEA units were as safe as an average vehicle they would have caused 67,000 deaths, not six. As it is, a unit’s owner would wait on average 130 million years before a child death. Yet the Consumer Product Safety Commission director urged owners to respond quickly.
For decades the Journal has exposed frivolous tort litigation and warned about its consequences. Innumeracy, like junk science, is often crucial to such claims."
Andrew K. Gabriel, Ph.D.
South Pasadena, Calif."
Saturday, July 30, 2016
If the IKEA units were as safe as an average vehicle they would have caused 67,000 deaths, not six
See Wasting Resources in the Name of Protection. Letter to the editor of the WSJ by