A thread to try and assess what we really think about the medicos back in 1888.
Here it is:
Since I started posting at Casebook, four of the major debates I have been involved in have concerned the doctors of the day. Interestingly, I find I have sided with the doctors at each and every occasion, choosing their wiews over the ones put forward by fellow posters on the boards.
These are the four cases:
1. It was thrown forward that Edward Johnston, Dr Blackwells assistant, smeared his hand with Strides blood as he examined her. After that, he is supposed to have transferred the blood to Strides right hand, explaining "The mystery of the bloody right hand". Afterwards, he supposedly shut his mouth about his own role in it, and the other doc´s did not give him away for collegial reasons.
Crap, if you ask me.
2. It was stated that Dr Killeen would not have been able to distinguish the stabs made by a smallish blade from those produced by a big, sturdy one. Therefore we need not lend any weight to Killeens assertion that Tabram was stabbed by two different blades.
Crap, if you ask me.
3. It was reasoned that Dr Phillips assertion that he was absolutely sure that Kelly had been moved after she had her throat cut in the top right hand corner of her bed would have been wrong - the blood on the partition wall would have spurted over the bed and ended up there, and it was added that we actually could see the bloodied sheet all the way up to directly behind Kellys neck in the picture, something I say is absolutely impossible.
So, yes, crap if you ask me.
4. And right now, I am discussing Dr Bonds suggestion that Kellys sheet was pulled over her face as her killer cut it. An argument stating that Dr Bond was trying to do a Sherlock Holmes and that he must have misinterpreted the whole thing altogether has been thrown forward, with no real evidence to support this accusation at all as far as I can see.
So, nothing tangible in the criticism of Bond either, to my mind.
What do the rest of you out there reckon? Am I being foolishly and slavishly following bad suggestions and Sherlock Holmesian escapades on behalf of ignorant doctors, or do we perhaps feel a little bit to much at ease to call into question the good judgement of highly trained medicos, some of them with loads of experience?
You know where I throw my tuppence in - but how do you spend yours?
Well, you know where I throw my tuppence in for #3; on pictorial evidence, where there is evident blood staining directly behind the neck and continuing in patches all the way to the partition, thereby casting serious doubt on the suggestion that she was moved, and certainly nullifying any consideration that she must have been pressed up to the partition when she was attacked.
But since we've had that discussion, and we couldn't resolve our differing stances on that occasion, it's probably best to agree to disagree on that one and resolve ourselves to the fact that we've hurled our "tuppence" in different directions. As a friendly tip, though, I might caution against inflammatory references to alternative viewpoints as "crap".
On your more general observation, however, the simplest explanation is that sometimes the doctors were right and at other times they were wrong. Clearly they can't possibly all have been correct all the time, since their opinions differed markedly on several key issues. Phillips believed that Chapman's killer was endowed with a great deal of anatomical knowledge and surgical skill, and I'd hazard a guess that you're at odds with him on this point.
In Sweden, Ben, we have a proverb that goes something like "Snuff is snuff, no matter if it comes in golden jars".
The things I refer to as crap are things I regard as crap, no more, no less. If I am wrong, so much the more embarrasing for me - but I am willing to live with that risk since I regard it as less than tiny.
In the cases where I use the expression in question, I am of the opinion that the suggestions made are totally incompatible with the existing evidence. But of course I could have used a more neutral vocabulary. "Simply wrong" or "obviously faulty" covers it nicely too - but that is just a way of serving snuff in golden jars as far as I´m concerned.
Anyways, your contribution to the real issue here - are we too hard on the medicos of the day - has been noted. Thanks.
Last edited by Fisherman : 01-19-2009 at 11:14 PM.
Looking at Bond's testimony in other cases, I'd have to say that he was both competent and ahead of his time as far as forensics go. The assumption that Bond was just making it up as he went along, or that the police didn't have awareness of the value of forensic medicine is both outdated and incorrect.
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