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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Safety vs. Risk

It's very important to put some approximate numbers to the two sides of the taser risk of death issue so that we don't get wrapped around the axle with misleading nonsense.

This post will also shred the subtle '1/N' debating trick being used by Taser et al.

To be crystal clear, we're talking about internal risk factors (such as cardiac effects, for example). We're not talking about "falling down and banging heads", nor about "drowning in puddles."

Also, we're talking about inherent risks when the X26 darts hit the chest; not diluted by all the possible external safety factors (such as misses, or fake demos).

Taser et al claim that the risk of death is "one in millions", or even "one in ten millions", of deployments. [LINK] In other words, they claim that a taser-caused death is only a theoretic risk, but that it has never happened to date. Not once. Therefore they're not liable for any deaths so far. None. Ka-ching.

Informed critics look at the available data, adjust out the intentional dilution factors - such as the many FAKE demos and training sessions, where the darts are shot or placed on the volunteers back (NEVER on the chest). Curious little detail that observation is... [LINK] [LINK]

The raw data suggests that when X26 taser darts hit the subject's chest on the street, there is a moderate risk of strangely temporally-associated death at the low end of single digits. Maybe 2%, maybe 5%. Something in that range. [LINK][LINK][LINK]

These are the taser-associated deaths that Taser et al spend so much effort trying to explain away.

But there have been more and more examples where there are no reasonable alternate explanations for a given death, and the coroner is backed into a corner with Taser lawyers on one side, and the "Excited Delirium" excuse on the other.

Many of the Taser-R-Safe studies (such as the US NIJ study - another story in itself [LINK]) have only provided evidence that there is "not a high risk of death". Not a high risk.

Well duh. We're not talking about a high risk of death. [LINK] We're worried about those occasional people that are being killed and they did not deserve to die.

At least one expert in statistics has commented that many of Taser's studies were not designed to find low to moderate risks. Their sample size was simply too small to provide any evidence whatsoever about low to moderate risks. These studies should be lining the cages of parrots somewhere. [LINK]

Now - looking at these now-hopefully clarified claims, and examining the available information, it becomes perfectly clear that Taser's safety claims are off the mark by many orders of magnitude.

Their entire justification, training, sales, policies, everything - it is all based upon these claims of essentially-perfect safety.

If the claims are wrong - then the entire basis for the taser is fatally flawed.

The distinctions in the arguments are subtle, and many of the more rabid pro-taser fan-boys may lack the intellectual capacity to comprehend.

But it is critically important to understand that the real argument is not about the various ~97% versus 100.00000...% claims of "safety".

It's about the inverse...

It is about the huge, monstrous, incredibly large difference between a claimed "0.0000001%" risk of death, and the real world facts that seem to indicate a risk of death (when totally undiluted) of about 3%

It's a huge gap. Six or seven orders of magnitude...

[This post derived from comment posted here LINK]

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