Mission Statement - De-Spinning the Pro-Taser Propaganda

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

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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.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Misadventures in nomenclaturism

'billo' recently left an otherwise well-written comment [LINK] about the so-called medical condition 'excited delirium' on an older post [LINK] on this blog, and I responded with my own fairly gentle rebuttal comment [ibid].

I then took the time to follow the tracks back to his own personal blog (Billoblog [LINK]) to see who he is, and to learn more about his interests (just innocent curiosity, not stalking). Yikes...

There was one taser-related post on his blog, posted in August 2005. Here is an extract: "A person hit with a taser stands a one-in-a-million chance of significant injury..." Yep - he actually wrote that, "...one-in-a-million...", regarding the risk of significant injury. (Keep in mind that Taser claims 700,000 total taser deployments. You do the math...)

Now, Billo is (according to his blog) quite well educated and he seems to be involved with medicine (pathology of some sort). I present this as an example of someone having a good education, but their ignorance of the taser issue is immense. Or perhaps he just hasn't been following the news...


I must add that we did seem to agree on this: 'Excited Delirium' is just a placeholder name. It marks the spot where expert knowledge ends and professional ignorance begins. It's a name for nothing except a collection of symptoms that occurred BEFORE the death. It leaves no postmortem clues, otherwise it wouldn't be such an unknown.

And therefore, logically, it shouldn't be assigned as a cause of death. If the expert cannot connect the dots (leading to the exact mechanism of death), then they shouldn't be permitted to slap a name on the unknown, blame the name, and thereby lay the blame at the feet of nothingness.

The real culprit's escape may be aided by such a misdirection.

And that's the crux of the complaint about Excited Delirium.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

'billo', it turns out, is a Regional Medical Examiner for a southern US state. His employer is not relevant and will not be mentioned here, but his field of employment is certainly relevant.

Taser-critics have had run-ins with Medical Examiners before. Some of them seem to have bought into the propaganda from Taser.

Now 'billo' is also on the NIJ's taser panel. So you have someone that wrote "one-in-a-million" and he's considered enough of an 'expert' to influence taser policies across the US and around the world.

{ROLLS-EYES}

billo said...

I will refer you to my response on my website. The bottom line is that in that article, I was thinking primarily about life threatening events such as ventricular fibrillation and asystole, not falling down and breaking a bone.

As we wrote in the NIJ recommendations, it is certainly possible for things to happen secondary to TASER application. If one is TASER'd while standing on a cliff, one might fall off the cliff, if one is TASER'd while doused in gasoline, one might get set on fire by the spark, etc.

But that doesn't really address most of the attacks on the use of TASER, which center around the claim that it somehow causes death not due to these kinds of secondary events -- but instead causes sudden death in people by itself.

I will refer you to John Webster's work on ventricular fibrillation and TASER application. He and his graduate student do a very good job of calculating these probabilities. The bottom line is that to induce ventricular fibrillation, it is necessary to get the probe very close to the myocardium. That means, essentially, that it is necessary to shoot a naked skinny guy between ribs in the lower chest on the left just next to the sternum.

The calculated probability of that happening is between 1 in a million and 1 in 10 million.

See:
Wu JY, Sun H, O'Rourke AP, Huebner S, Rahko PS, Will JA, Webster JG aser dart-to-heart distance that causes ventricular fibrillation in pigs. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2007 Mar;54(3):503-8.
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billo said...

"Taser-critics have had run-ins with Medical Examiners before. Some of them seem to have bought into the propaganda from Taser."

Heh. I guess that's why TASER keeps suing Medical Examiners -- us being in their pockets and all.

Well, if the pro-TASER folk are complaining that I'm holding a grudge against TASER, and the anti-TASER folk are complaining that I'm in TASER's pocket, I'm probably in about the right place.

Anonymous said...

Taser wines and dines friendly medical examiners.

Taser sues the medical examiners (where they're allowed) to change the findings that the taser was a cause of death.

Anonymous said...

I've responded in the blog.

Anonymous said...

Recent finding: taser shocks cause cardiac death. Sucks to be Taser these days.

For the complete E-D / Billo argument, please search this blog for 'Billo'. You will find that each and every one of his arguments have been shredded.