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.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Absence of Evidence vs. Evidence of Absence

"...many experts, including Dr. Graeme Dowling from the medical examiner's office in Edmonton, have argued there's 'no definitive case where Tasers have actually killed anybody...' "

Link= Taser Use Scrutinized

Even if we assume that his statement is true (which it isn't), it still includes an explicit error of very basic logic. He has confused 'Absence of Evidence' with 'Evidence of Absence'.

We appear to have the situation where medical examiners have spent years looking at victims of electrocution where those victims were killed by contact with commercial power. Commercial power involves very high currents and this would leave tell-tale signs of damage. Now they're presented with victims that have died after being hit with the taser and the medical examiners don't see the physical damage caused by high current electrocution (absence of evidence), and they fall into the trap of thinking that there is therefore no connection (evidence of absence). It is just as likely (if not more likely) that the evidence left in the wake of a taser death is invisible, or 'less-than-visible', using their present techniques.

(By the way: This is starting to make me think that perhaps these sorts of devices might be the 'perfect murder weapon' if the clues that they leave - other than being dead which I assume would be obvious - are so subtle that they're not visible using the technology available to the current crop of medical examiners.)

But what about the macro evidence that is in plain sight only if you step back and look at the larger picture:

1) We have so many taser death incidents that people are now starting to call themselves "experts" in the field? Interesting. It's worth thinking about that point (taser death expert) for a while. What does it mean? What does it imply? Remember that the X26 model(*) was only recently introduced (2003).

2) Taser is highly involved with coroners and medical examiners. Exactly why? What would be the motivation for Taser cultivating such relationships? Why coroners and medical examiners? What is the connection between Taser and coroners & medical examiners?

* The X26 is the newer taser model that appears to have, accidentally?, stepped away from the purported safety benefits of high frequency claimed for the older M26 model.

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