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Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

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Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby Nostradamus » 13 Aug 2009, 10:46

I am a bit surprised that at this forum no one is willing to help me understand the information other than Eteponge. He has done a masterful job of providing loads of information I have been unable to discover on the web and I thank him for that. Unfortunately, the thread was locked. So I am asking other people to help clarify for me the thoughts on Dorothy Allison and her cases.

Except it was far more specific than a simplistic "I see a billboard" comparison. Therefore a false comparison tactic.


False. The comparison was based on what I had read in another source. That article, and I wish I had more to go as Eteponge has been able to provide, discussed that what seemed like an amazing claim was in fact not.

The discussion had boiled down to the notion of significance. How can we determine what is significant and what is not. Eteponge had stated that statements or clues as he called them were matched so well to a case that they must be significant findings. My position was that of the hundreds or sometimes thousands of clues provided only some of the clues appeared to be a match.

My position is that to show horn statements is theater not science. An analogy that was suggested was that 1+1=2 unless a debunker is around. Another statement was that:
This stuff would impress just about anybody, debunkers however, are never convinced.


Again we fall back to what is significance.

For instance, in regard to the Jon Benet case:
Yes, the drawing looks like the suspect, but he was cleared.

No. The drawing looks nothing like the person who claimed responsibility for the crime.

I would say that something is significant if it is unlikely to happen by chance. Probabilities are tricky. That is why well established mathematical methods have been developed that can be used to determine significance. A claim of psychic capabilities has to be measurable to test significance.

Are there others here that can shed light on significance?
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby Eteponge » 13 Aug 2009, 14:07

Nostradamus wrote:No. The drawing looks nothing like the person who claimed responsibility for the crime.

Image
I disagree.

The funny thing is, even the best eyewitnesses of a suspect that there have been, when a police artist does a sketch of who they saw (or they draw it themselves), often the result isn't an exact match with how the suspect fully looked, even when they are found. Sometimes they are a bit off, but the general profile they drew was correct enough from memory.

So yeah, there are details in the picture that are not fully on key, but no different from other police sketches from the memory of victims or witnesses.

I recall seeing an article of a Skeptic where he claimed the picture above looked nothing like the suspect, and he drew a bunch of silly parody pictures with slight alterations poking fun at it. But he doesn't realize you can do the exact same thing to practically every police artist sketch of a suspect from a victim or eyewitnesses' memory. Many, even from the best eyewitnesses, are a bit "off", but have the general look of the person right, and do resemble the suspect when they are finally caught.

The picture drawn of the suspect actually looks BETTER than some famous police sketches I've seen drawn from victim's memories of a suspect.

The problem with Dorothy Allison's cases is that the internet is almost totally vacant of indepth information on her. I had to go to sources outside of the internet to gather more indepth information on her and her cases.

The Scott Jacobson book is very indepth, uses solid sources (the police detectives, the family members of the victims, Dorothy herself, any written sources he could find in archives, etc), but doesn't cover all of her cases.

The Unsolved Mysteries Episode is significant to me solely because it contains great video interviews with the Police Detectives who worked with Dorothy, going on record about the cases, and confirming they had her clues written down before they panned out, where they were able to re-check to make sure she actually said this and that from the notes. Also, it interviewed the Father of the murdered girl, giving his testimony of how he used Dorothy's Clues to locate the exact place his daughter's body was later found. The segments in the episode also faithfully match the data in other sources. I didn't notice anything exaggerated or falsely presented in the segments, and I've re-watched it many times.

There's a New York Times article on Dorothy that has some information, Skeptic Sources has some information, MISC short articles have some information, Etc. But aside from the Scott Jacobson book, I've been unable to find other more indepth sources.

What needs to be done, is modern interviews with those same police detectives (who must be either retired or deceased by now), any surviving family members of those cases, anyone of Dorothy's personal friends and family who might could shed further light on her cases, etc.

Until that can be done, or I can gather more indepth information, Skeptics can speculate anything they want out of it.

Nostradamus wrote:The discussion had boiled down to the notion of significance. How can we determine what is significant and what is not. Eteponge had stated that statements or clues as he called them were matched so well to a case that they must be significant findings. My position was that of the hundreds or sometimes thousands of clues provided only some of the clues appeared to be a match.

And I responded that in the general missing persons cases she dealt with (the main ones I discussed), it was usually a dozen to several dozen clues at the most that were given. And these are all presented in context in the indepth Scott Jacobson book, the ones that were verified, the ones that were misdirected, the ones that were outright misses, and the ones that were partially right but not entirely on target.

The big murder investigations she did give out many many many more clues than the general cases she worked on, it would seem.

I've seen Dorothy admit on camera that there have been cases where she got nothing significant on, "and to this day I don't know why". So, this was not hidden. She was honest about it at least.

Now, her fans have made wild claims like "she has found many bodies, imprisoned many murderers", etc, but you have to separate the statements of fluff bunny fans from the facts.

Nostradamus wrote:False. The comparison was based on what I had read in another source. That article, and I wish I had more to go as Eteponge has been able to provide, discussed that what seemed like an amazing claim was in fact not.

So, what you are saying is that in some cases, there have been claims of big hits, that when examined further, turn out to be not as significant?

While that may be in certain cases, so far I haven't seen this in Dorothy's cases.

The only one to come close would be the Jon Benet Sketch incident, but this was long after her death, and it was a case of her fans touting it as proof of her psychic ability.

I don't see the Police Detectives and Family Members in the cases I profiled, giving their information matter-of-factly in video interviews and in Scott Jacobson's book as distorting facts, leaving out information, not being fully truthful, etc. Unless evidence comes to light of this.

Just because some cases may have that being the case, doesn't mean they all are.

But yeah, further research is key.
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby ProfWag » 14 Aug 2009, 03:05

Please allow me interject something here. First, Unsolved Mysteries is a GREAT show. I used to watch it religiously. ( I was also a great fan of the "In Search Of" series with Spock.) What I have come to realize over the years, however, is that they would not have had a show if they gave info on mysteries, then followed that by critical analysis. It was purely for entertainment and NOT for research. Sure, they may have interviewed all sorts of people supporting the Dorothy Allison story, but they may NOT have interviewed others who would have given a different story. I'm not saying they did this as I have no proof on that particular episode, but logic tells me that if they had interviewed those who dispute the story, they wouldn't have had a program and they were, remember, in the business to make a profit.
Take, for example, the Bermuda Triangle. They showed an episode on the mysteries of this area. Charles Berlitz wrote a NYT Bestseller and sold millions. Since then, however, this whole mystery is being exposed as nothing (at least from us "skeptics" point of view). (We can start another thread if need be so I don't want to go into detail on the Triangle here.)
The point I'm trying to make is that even though there was a TV show, a book, and interviews, that does not mean you have heard the entire story or that many of the things you have heard haven't been embelished.
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby NinjaPuppy » 14 Aug 2009, 04:13

ProfWag wrote:Please allow me interject something here. First, Unsolved Mysteries is a GREAT show. I used to watch it religiously. ( I was also a great fan of the "In Search Of" series with Spock.) What I have come to realize over the years, however, is that they would not have had a show if they gave info on mysteries, then followed that by critical analysis. It was purely for entertainment and NOT for research. Sure, they may have interviewed all sorts of people supporting the Dorothy Allison story, but they may NOT have interviewed others who would have given a different story. I'm not saying they did this as I have no proof on that particular episode, but logic tells me that if they had interviewed those who dispute the story, they wouldn't have had a program and they were, remember, in the business to make a profit.


Agree. However I am curious as to your particular quote below-

Sure, they may have interviewed all sorts of people supporting the Dorothy Allison story, but they may NOT have interviewed others who would have given a different story.


As I agree that there are always two sides to every story, the facts presented in the videos provided seem pretty cut and dry. Ms. Allison gave information to the police official investigating this particular case and he himself verified in his professional opinion that her claims were accurate. Granted there is certainly room for discussion as to the TV shows presentation of what they choose to show the viewers for maximum interest and ratings of an entertainment product that is profit based. That remains an unknown factor in this and any discussion where the information is obtained from any media source.

Who particularly would you indicate as someone who is indicated as possibly capable of disputing this story? I would think that if there were anyone capable of disputing this information, they would have come forward in court during the trial proceedings.

Hopefully we are discussing the original links posted on the other Dorothy Allison video thread and I am not confusing this issue further with another "Unsolved Mystery" reference that I haven't seen. I seem to be capable of being labeled 'easily confused' lately.
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby ProfWag » 14 Aug 2009, 20:59

If you watch CNN cover a story, you will get a list of the facts as they want you to see. They will interview people who have a distinct liberal stance in their discussions and for the most part, dismiss the conservative point of view. Conversely, Fox News does exactly the same thing except opposite. Who is right? Depends on your point of view and which side you tend to agree with.
I wasn't at the trial and I, unfortunately, can't spend hours and hours studying the transcripts. All I am suggesting is that just because a TV show interviews people who give their side of the story about how accurate Dorothy was in her predictions, doesn't mean there wasn't other people who did not see it the same way. People in general, i believe, enjoy having some time in the spotlight. Hey, if a TV series came to my house and wanted to do a segment on the two UFO's I have seen, I'd be all over it and probably even embellish the story a bit. I could tell them it was the triangle shaped UFO, with spotlights coming down, flying low and slow, etc. All that would make for a great story. However, if at the end of my story I also told them that what I believe I saw was a classified Air Force spy plane, do you think that would make the final cut? Of course not, that wouldn't be a story. So, all I'm saying is that I can appreciate someone having an opinion that favors the talents of Dorothy Allison. Much evidence on the surface seems to support her abilities. On the flip side of the coin, much evidence in psychic abilities can also be disputed.
If I get called "naive" for having evidence from the top scientific committe in the country, then perhaps evidence from TV shows should also be taken with a grain of salt. What kind of evidence is acceptable? I can tell you from an academic standpoint, it wouldn't be the TV show, but it is fun thinking about possibilities.

Wag
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby NinjaPuppy » 14 Aug 2009, 21:36

ProfWag wrote:Hey, if a TV series came to my house and wanted to do a segment on the two UFO's I have seen, I'd be all over it and probably even embellish the story a bit. I could tell them it was the triangle shaped UFO, with spotlights coming down, flying low and slow, etc. All that would make for a great story. However, if at the end of my story I also told them that what I believe I saw was a classified Air Force spy plane, do you think that would make the final cut? Of course not, that wouldn't be a story. So, all I'm saying is that I can appreciate someone having an opinion that favors the talents of Dorothy Allison. Much evidence on the surface seems to support her abilities. On the flip side of the coin, much evidence in psychic abilities can also be disputed.
If I get called "naive" for having evidence from the top scientific committe in the country, then perhaps evidence from TV shows should also be taken with a grain of salt. What kind of evidence is acceptable? I can tell you from an academic standpoint, it wouldn't be the TV show, but it is fun thinking about possibilities.


Point taken and very well presented ProfWag.
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby Nostradamus » 14 Aug 2009, 21:40

I have to completely disagree with the drawing looking like Karr. My first impression had been there was something wrong with the mouth. In a second I realized it was the shape of the face was all wrong. The forehead was wrong as well. This wasn’t a case of details being wrong, but gross morphological differences between the drawing and Karr. About the only thing in common is race, maybe age, and short hair.

I looked up the “silly parody pictures” and immediately saw that the caricatures revealed the same basic gross differences between Karr and the drawing I had seen. Silly? Absolutely not.

Image

To test the issue I collected a few photos of people and placed them with the drawing. People begin by pointing at Karr’s photo and ask why he is familiar. I repeat my direction, “Which person do you think looks most like the drawing.” Five people selected the photo 2 to the right of the drawing. One person chose the rightmost drawing (Clipped on my browser). None of the people chose Karr’s photo despite some curiosity about his familiar looks.

I’ll have to see if I can locate a copy of the Jacobson book.

So, what you are saying is that in some cases, there have been claims of big hits, that when examined further, turn out to be not as significant?


What is of interest here is to get a better defined notion of significance. In what I reported I stated that the billboard clue was just bad. It was meaningless.

I would agree with ProfWag that UM is a piece of entertainment, not information. It is not of interest to the show to tell the listener that after all is said and done that the tale presented is a murky mess with no mystery involved. That would lose viewers fast.

Getting back to the notion of significance, how can we measure this? Putting a measure on this would help reduce the subjective desire of skeptics and believers alike to dismiss or accept a statement based on personal wishes. If you begin an analysis with the belief it must be true or it must be false, then it is trivial to say significant or not significant without thinking about the issues at hand.

Anyone have suggestions on how to make this measurable?
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby NinjaPuppy » 14 Aug 2009, 21:59

Nostradamus wrote:Getting back to the notion of significance, how can we measure this? Putting a measure on this would help reduce the subjective desire of skeptics and believers alike to dismiss or accept a statement based on personal wishes. If you begin an analysis with the belief it must be true or it must be false, then it is trivial to say significant or not significant without thinking about the issues at hand.

Anyone have suggestions on how to make this measurable?


In this situation (Dorothy Allison/UM) significance is defined by the police official who was working the case. The new question is how accurate was the UM presentation of his information?
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby brett » 14 Aug 2009, 22:24

i am NOT going to comment on this case as other than what i have read here i, i have no knowledge of it - but placing significance on things ,even such as physical evidence is , er tricky ,to say the best and measurable ?? - depends on the context .

for example : ( going to use some fire service analogies here ) say for instance you where called to a building that was "well alight " ( eg going well ) - there is no one trapped - and no danger to other buildings or people - and the building is isolated from others but in a residential area , so you look at the building and start looking for reasons - collecting "clues " to what had happened .

so lets take our hypothetical building - a standard 2 up 2 down brick built dwelling - with no gas ( only electric ) - unoccupied at the time of your arrival .

so initial appraisal : you have taken 3 minutes to arrive - witnesses say that the building "exploded " in to flame - significance ?? - well buildings only usually do this with the aid of an accelerant ( as far as i know there have been no cases of "spontaneous combustion " of normal houses ) so clue number one ??

the fire has spread to all floors and the roof - you know that the call and time to arrive was a total of say 5 minutes - based on your knowledge of the mechanics of "normal " fire spread you also know that this fire has developed WAY too quickly -even allowing for say 5-10 minutes for the fire to be noticed - clue number two - significance ??

during the operation to tackle the fire - one of you men reports the find of two empty petrol cans lying in the garden - significance ??

amongst the crowd of onlookers you spot a well known local arsonist ,watching proceedings - significance ??

the owner of the building turns up and seems a little too calm for someone whose house is burning down - significance ??

his children are with him and are looking frightened - significance ??

the owner is in deep financial trouble and about to go bankrupt -significance ??

the mans wife left him a few weeks ago - following a major row - significance ??

OK i wont take this any further for now - have a think about each of these things and draw a conclusion - i appreciate you may not have any knowledge of firefighting and investigation so i have made this one fairly easy for you - but what i would like you to do is rate ,from one to ten each of these and give your reasons for your marks

this is actually based on a true scenario - so i know the answer ;)

any one want to take a stab at it ??
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby NinjaPuppy » 14 Aug 2009, 22:45

brett wrote:i am NOT going to comment on this case as other than what i have read here i, i have no knowledge of it - but placing significance on things ,even such as physical evidence is , er tricky ,to say the best and measurable ?? - depends on the context .

for example : ( going to use some fire service analogies here ) say for instance you where called to a building that was "well alight " ( eg going well ) - there is no one trapped - and no danger to other buildings or people - and the building is isolated from others but in a residential area , so you look at the building and start looking for reasons - collecting "clues " to what had happened .

so lets take our hypothetical building - a standard 2 up 2 down brick built dwelling - with no gas ( only electric ) - unoccupied at the time of your arrival .


so initial appraisal : you have taken 3 minutes to arrive - witnesses say that the building "exploded " in to flame - significance ?? - well buildings only usually do this with the aid of an accelerant ( as far as i know there have been no cases of "spontaneous combustion " of normal houses ) so clue number one ??


I would take the witness information "exploded" into consideration but since you don't say that any of them are aquainted with firefighting terminology, their account would be less significant without asking for more details.

the fire has spread to all floors and the roof - you know that the call and time to arrive was a total of say 5 minutes - based on your knowledge of the mechanics of "normal " fire spread you also know that this fire has developed WAY too quickly -even allowing for say 5-10 minutes for the fire to be noticed - clue number two - significance ??


Significant, yes. But only after the rest of the facts are collected to draw any conclusions.

during the operation to tackle the fire - one of you men reports the find of two empty petrol cans lying in the garden - significance ??


Same as above.

amongst the crowd of onlookers you spot a well known local arsonist ,watching proceedings - significance ??


Yes. Same as above.

the owner of the building turns up and seems a little too calm for someone whose house is burning down - significance ??

his children are with him and are looking frightened - significance ??

the owner is in deep financial trouble and about to go bankrupt -significance ??

the mans wife left him a few weeks ago - following a major row - significance ??


Yes, yes, yes, yes but same as above.

OK i wont take this any further for now - have a think about each of these things and draw a conclusion - i appreciate you may not have any knowledge of firefighting and investigation so i have made this one fairly easy for you - but what i would like you to do is rate ,from one to ten each of these and give your reasons for your marks


Even with all the details that you have provided, I can not say that I can come to an educated conclusion with only these facts.

this is actually based on a true scenario - so i know the answer ;)


That's why we have 'professionals' in these specialty fields.

any one want to take a stab at it ??


I thought I did..... LOL.
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby brett » 14 Aug 2009, 23:01

ok fair enough - lets see if any one else has a go .... :D
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby ProfWag » 14 Aug 2009, 23:36

I would think that every clue was equally significant, regardless of how it looks initially. Investigators should never jump to conclusions without weighing all the evidence equally. Just my untrained thought, anyway.
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby Eteponge » 15 Aug 2009, 03:28

Nostradamus wrote:I have to completely disagree with the drawing looking like Karr. My first impression had been there was something wrong with the mouth. In a second I realized it was the shape of the face was all wrong. The forehead was wrong as well. This wasn’t a case of details being wrong, but gross morphological differences between the drawing and Karr. About the only thing in common is race, maybe age, and short hair.

I looked up the “silly parody pictures” and immediately saw that the caricatures revealed the same basic gross differences between Karr and the drawing I had seen. Silly? Absolutely not.

Image

To test the issue I collected a few photos of people and placed them with the drawing. People begin by pointing at Karr’s photo and ask why he is familiar. I repeat my direction, “Which person do you think looks most like the drawing.” Five people selected the photo 2 to the right of the drawing. One person chose the rightmost drawing (Clipped on my browser). None of the people chose Karr’s photo despite some curiosity about his familiar looks.

And like I said, which you have apparently ignored, you can do the *exact* same thing to other famous police sketches of suspects drawn from the memories of victims and eyewitnesses. You can play the same game. Many police sketches of suspects are usually quite a bit "off" to the degree that you could drag in many different people and they could possibly match the drawn suspect. This is ignored.

You could take the infamous police sketch of the Son of Sam killer drawn by a victim / eyewitness (where it does resemble him at bit, but the features are noticeably off, even more off than the Dorothy Allison drawing of the Jon Benet suspect) and could apply it to many different people. Does this mean the eyewitness didn't see the Son of Sam killer? No. The point is, many famous police sketches are "off", getting stuff wrong with the mouth, the eyes, other features, etc. But the general profile resembles them to a degree.

Nostradamus wrote:I’ll have to see if I can locate a copy of the Jacobson book.

It's like 99 cent at Amazon.com, used...

http://www.amazon.com/Dorothy-Allison-P ... 836&sr=8-1

Nostradamus wrote:I would agree with ProfWag that UM is a piece of entertainment, not information. It is not of interest to the show to tell the listener that after all is said and done that the tale presented is a murky mess with no mystery involved. That would lose viewers fast.

You keep ignoring over and over the significance context I give to the UM Episode, that it contains video interviews with the actual police detectives and family members of the victims who Dorothy Allison worked with, giving their testimonies of what happened, in context.
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby ProfWag » 15 Aug 2009, 03:46

Eteponge wrote:[And like I said, which you have apparently ignored, you can do the *exact* same thing to other famous police sketches of suspects drawn from the memories of victims and eyewitnesses. You can play the same game. Many police sketches of suspects are usually quite a bit "off" to the degree that you could drag in many different people and they could possibly match the drawn suspect. This is ignored.

You could take the infamous police sketch of the Son of Sam killer drawn by a victim / eyewitness (where it does resemble him at bit, but the features are noticeably off, even more off than the Dorothy Allison drawing of the Jon Benet suspect) and could apply it to many different people. Does this mean the eyewitness didn't see the Son of Sam killer? No. The point is, many famous police sketches are "off", getting stuff wrong with the mouth, the eyes, other features, etc. But the general profile resembles them to a degree.

Nostradamus wrote:
Nostradamus wrote:I would agree with ProfWag that UM is a piece of entertainment, not information. It is not of interest to the show to tell the listener that after all is said and done that the tale presented is a murky mess with no mystery involved. That would lose viewers fast.

You keep ignoring over and over the significance context I give to the UM Episode, that it contains video interviews with the actual police detectives and family members of the victims who Dorothy Allison worked with, giving their testimonies of what happened, in context.

First, are you aware, Eteponge, that your comments almost single-handedly gives significant credence to the non-believe of paranormal activity? We skeptics really do believe that many, if not most, people BELIEVE that they see something, but unfortunately, memory is far from perfect...
And second, I don't believe anyone has ignored your insistence on the significance of UM. I can't speek for nostrodamus, but personally I feel I have satisfactorily shown the insignificance of that show, hence there is nothing new you have presented to get excited about. Give us something more than that, otherwise it will continue to be a boring my side/your side never-ending debate.
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Re: Dorothy Allison and the COncept of Significance

Postby Eteponge » 15 Aug 2009, 03:52

ProfWag wrote:First, are you aware, Eteponge, that your comments almost single-handedly gives significant credence to the non-believe of paranormal activity? We skeptics really do believe that many, if not most, people BELIEVE that they see something, but unfortunately, memory is far from perfect...

No, the point with the suspect drawing statements was that these people did see the suspects in question, but the police sketches were noticeably "off" (sometimes due to misremembering yes, other times due to the skill of the sketch artist) but still resembled the suspect to a degree, and that if you lined up many similar looking people, would likewise have people choosing all over the map who they think the drawing is of, just like Nostrodamus did with the Jon Benet Sketch.

ProfWag wrote:And second, I don't believe anyone has ignored your insistence on the significance of UM. I can't speek for nostrodamus, but personally I feel I have satisfactorily shown the insignificance of that show, hence there is nothing new you have presented to get excited about. Give us something more than that, otherwise it will continue to be a boring my side/your side never-ending debate.

So the actual police detectives giving their personal account of what happened, on video, in context, their testimonies matching information in the Scott Jacobson book among other sources, means nothing?
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