Thursday, August 16, 2007

Beware web information sources

I was reading through a website recently: “The Writer’s Medical and Forensic Lab” and found it wanting (it is amazing what you can find when you wander the web). He holds himself out as an expert in Forensic Science and Medicine, and the purpose of at least a part of his website is answering questions from writers about death and medical issues for the things they are writing.

It is wanting because while his answers aren’t wrong the answers he offers are often not quite right or complete either. For example, in his answer to a question 3-14-07 about “psychological paralysis” he fails to mention that the definitive test to rule out extremity paralysis would be an EMG (electromyography), instead he states after ruling out head injury with various tests, “A psychiatrist would be brought in and the diagnosis would be made.” While that is likely when treatment would begin, it would not likely be how the “diagnosis” would be made.

In another answer (7-27-07) he states that the trachea and the larynx “could collapse and block the passage of air” when stuck though by a sharpened drum stick. Both of those structures are essentially rigid cartilaginous structures that can be fractured, crushed or lacerated, but they will not “collapse” due to a single sharp object transversing them.

I haven’t read this guy’s books, but I’d have to wonder how “good” they are. I do however like his last caveat on his home page:
The information found on this site is not to be used for any criminal activity or to bring harm to anyone.

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