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Taser Consultant's Talk Yanked Off YouTube Amid a Cloud of Questions
by junya
Sunday Aug 12th, 2007 2:52 PM
What began with questionable claims made to Palo Alto's Taser task force has now been spun into a claim of copyright infringement.
When Jeffrey D. Ho came to Palo Alto CA to tell its Taser task force about his research on the effects of Tasers, his backing was no secret. The March 30 Palo Alto Weekly reported:

"...Dr. Jeffrey one of only a few medical researchers examining the use of Tasers on humans, but his research is financed by manufacturer Taser International."

Those suspecting that Ho's presentation might be something less objective than "Just the facts, Ma'am", had their suspicions confirmed immediately, when Ho began with:

"Headlines would lead you to believe that, yes, they [Tasers] are very dangerous. This actually sways public opinion. It encourages a misapplication of logic, which I'll talk you through..."

Clearly, we were faced with a man on a mission: to guide the ignorant Unwashed Masses out of their headline-induced delusions. Noble? Perhaps - but definitely not objective. (Although one might naively assume that the people chosen by Palo Alto's mayor to guide the city's decision on Tasers did not need an emergency physician flown in to teach them how to read the morning headlines - the task force included a deputy public defender, deputy district attorney, rabbi, local emergency physician, engineer, school nurse, and a mediator with a Harvard B.A. and Stanford PhD. - perhaps the doctor's diagnosis was not entirely incorrect: the deputy district attorney later stated that Ho's presentation alleviated many of his concerns!).

Given the lack of objectivity, it was hardly surprising to hear Ho tell the task force that his researchers could not find any change in rested adults after they were Tasered: "We did not find a thing", he declared. But it was odd that he seemed to be dissuading his audience from reading the actual publication of his research findings, by describing it as "medically-oriented. It's probably a little boring".

The paper was not boring - in fact, it was an eye-opener (despite the bizarre language born from the marriage between medical and law enforcement obfuscation: e.g., using "subjects who experience an ICD event" to mean "persons who die in custody"). Although Ho told the task force "We did not find a thing", his paper reached a different conclusion. Substituting the more generic term "Conducted Electrical Weapon" or "CEW" for the trademark "Taser", and the more genteel term "exposure" for "shock", the study tracked levels of substances found in blood that are used to identify whether a person has muscle injury. Regarding those substances, the paper clearly states:

"... we did demonstrate increased levels after CEW exposure"

In plain English: after Taser shocks, the blood tests showed signs of muscle injury, similar to that seen following exertion, even though the subjects were at rest. This is not consistent with Ho's claim: "We did not find a thing". The paper goes on to state:

"These findings were not unexpected..."

This directly refutes Ho's other claim made to the task force:

"We really expected to see something, even if it was minuscule change...we didn't find that...".

The paper shows that they found what they expected: signs of muscle injury. The paper also revealed a noteworthy event omitted entirely from the presentation: one test subject was admitted to the hospital for cardiac evaluation after the Taser shocks, when blood tests revealed elevated levels of an indicator of damage to the heart muscle.

The significant discrepancies between Ho's published report of his study, and what he told the Palo Alto Taser task force, called for clarification. Seeking that clarification, I sent email to Ho on June 4 but received no response. On July 21 I asked again, this time hoping I might jog his memory by including a YouTube link to the relevant 3-minute excerpt from my video recording of his 35-minute presentation (the excerpt shown below). I also copied the task force and city council on the email - but still no response.

On Aug.6 the silence was finally broken - well, sort of. YouTube notified me that they removed the video excerpt, in response to a copyright infringement claim! The notification never stated who made the claim. Worse, it never stated exactly what I supposedly didn't have the rights to: the video itself, or Ho's words, or Ho's image - or some other image that appears? Fortunately, the case for copyright protection in a public meeting is virtually unsupported, so those details are not needed to refute the claim. California law, the Brown Act, clearly states that a public meeting can be recorded and broadcast by any member of the public. That squashes any copyright claim of the images. It also states that any writings distributed to officials in a meeting are public records. As the presentation began, after a request from the deputy district attorney, Ho agreed that the words of his presentation would be distributed to task force members (shown in the video below). That squashes any copyright claim on the words.

So what are we left with? Unanswered questions:

  • How does Ho explain the significant difference between what he published and what he told the task force?
  • Why is the city council not seeking clarification of the only medical presentation received by its Taser task force?
  • Why has the process of arming Palo Alto's police with Tasers been rife with lies and deception?
Listen to the silence.

Strange Fruit: The Task of Forcing Tasers on Palo Alto
Taser Task Force and the Death of Innocence (unedited)

by junya
Sunday Aug 12th, 2007 3:04 PM
3-minute excerpt from video recording of Jeffrey Ho's 35-minute presentation:
Jeffrey Ho, M.D. on Effects of Taser on Resting Adults

Jeffrey Ho, M.D., Agrees To Distribute His Presentation to Palo Alto Taser Task Force

by Brett Nelson
Thursday Oct 7th, 2010 4:12 PM
I read Dr. Ho's scientific paper on the testing with Tasers. The blood levels were slightly higher for certain chemicals after the shocking, but certainly not anywhere in the range needed to cause a cardiac arrest. He also has shown the same level of chemical rise in subjects who ran a 100 yard dash or after hitting a punching bag repeatedly.

I think that's what he meant to say.

I don't have a dog in this hunt, but am interested in the controversy. Thanks for your views.

Brett Nelson
by junya
Friday Feb 11th, 2011 4:18 PM
Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Your interpretation of the article agrees with what is stated above:

"In plain English: after Taser shocks, the blood tests showed signs of muscle injury, similar to that seen following exertion, even though the subjects were at rest."

Yet Ho claimed, repeated and emphatically: "We did not find a thing...even if it was minuscule change...we didn't find that...".

Ho was presenting his "scientific" assessment of Tasers. As seen in the videos, he does so in careful and precise language. It is quite a stretch to imagine that he meant something other than what he said. In science, when addressing experts or laypersons, "We did not find a thing" and "We found changes that we do not believe are significant" are two completely different statements: the former states observation, while the latter states observation and interpretation. No one in science past sophomore year confuses the two.

The fashionable political term for Ho's action is "misrepresenting". In plain English: he was lying.

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