Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

Yeah right, 'Excited Delirium' my ass...


The primary purpose of this blog is to provide an outlet for my observations and analysis about tasers, taser "associated" deaths, and the behaviour exhibited by the management, employees and minions of Taser International. In general, everything is linked back to external sources, often via previous posts on the same topic, so that readers can fact-check to their heart's content. This blog was started in late-2007 when Canadians were enraged by the taser death of Robert Dziekanski and four others in a short three month period. The cocky attitude exhibited by the Taser International spokespuppet, and his preposterous proposal that Mr. Dziekanski coincidentally died of "excited delirium" at the time of his taser-death, led me to choose the blog name I did and provides my motivation. I have zero financial ties to this issue.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

'Expert opinions' versus reality

National Post - "Webster said that even in the worst-case scenario -- in which Taser darts hit a thin person between the ribs within 11 millimetres or less of the heart -- the probability of ventricular fibrillation -- a potentially fatal series of rapid heart contractions -- would be something in the order of six in a million." [LINK]

Webster says that even in the worst case - the odds are just 6 in a million. And this is just in the worst case. So he's essentially claiming that the death rate in the average case (as opposed to the worst case) is astoundingly, amazingly, incredibly low - it's so low that it appears that he can't even put a numerical value on it, preferring to stick to just the much larger value for the worst case.

In other words, based on the stated number of taser deployments (a few hundred thousand, depending on what's included), he's claiming that there has perhaps never been a taser death related to cardiac effects.

Webster has apparently been wrong before:

Webster expected to prove his hypothesis that Tasers cannot electrocute the heart. But Webster has now posted an abstract on his Web site with results that he did not anticipate:
It is possible to cause ventricular fibrillation in pigs using a Taser...” The experimenters were also able to induce ventricular fibrillation in all the animals. ... Webster realized that
[previous studies were flawed] because pigs are naturally protected from electrocution by thick layers of fat and muscle that are not found in humans. When Webster shocked the pigs after removing the animals’ extra tissue in order to approximate the thickness found in humans, the Taser was a far cry from a nonlethal weapon. [LINK]

So having found that the taser can in fact affect the pigs' hearts, 'they' had to determine a new way forward. Must... eliminate... these... swine experiments...

In a recent e-mail to PETA, Webster explained that Taser’s animal data initially led him to think that “it was not possible to electrocute the heart with a Taser. Working with colleagues who understand the differences between pigs and humans, we changed our mind.” [ibid]

Ah, so all these pig studies (costing US$500,000?) are useless?

And these colleagues, any connection to this character?

Dr. Mark Kroll, ...head of the TASER Scientific and Medical Advisory Board ... "Pigs are easy to fibrillate..." [LINK]

Let's review:
1) Swine studies, lots of swine studies
2) Don't like the recent results (ventricle fibrillation)
3) So discount and discredit all studies involving swine

Spin spin spin.

Here is my ball-park estimation of the taser-associate death rate for full-on taser deployments where the barbs actually land on the chest. This ball-park estimation is based on a massive unwitting trial involving actual human subjects - it's called "Reality - 2007 British Columbia". [LINK]

Six in a million (worst case) simply doesn't match what we are seeing in the real world.

I'm actually glad that he chose such a silly value. It's extremely obvious that it is out-of-alignment with reality.

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