Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Looking For Madeleine: More Withering Words

More withering words from the pen of  "Vten"

Customer Review
4.0 out of 5 stars See your doctor - not a quack
16 Sep 2014
Tim Buckley

This review is from: Looking For Madeleine (Kindle Edition)
Once upon a time - a long time ago - my brother went missing. He was 5 or so. My parents were more and more desperate every 5 minutes but after 2 hours he was found, safe and sound.

We hear about so many desperately tragic stories involving abductions. The ones about children are of course the most harrowing. They are supposed to be our future and futures are not supposed be cut short. If it is through "God's will" it's difficult enough...

The Madeleine McCann disappearance is the most highlighted one in our time. Plenty of other similar stories do not at all reach our attention, or at most to a small extend. The parent's heartbreak in all these unknown stories is obviously no less than that of the McCann's.

In today's world of mass media and super fast spread of information and opinion, it is inevitable that unchecked facts and moronic opinions find their way faster than light to those who are receptive to them. In communities similar things happen in the case of witch hunts (we all know about McCarthy-ism) - where ignorance and unchecked facts could lead to the demise of innocent people and the world of medicine - where 10 quacks have more treatments than one proper doctor can ever dream up. Quackery is a business still practised by many and making victims everywhere. The victims are receptive... some of them are even considered intelligent.

I choose not to be treated by a quack. I also choose not to listen to the quacks in the world of politics and crime. I choose to believe that Elvis is really dead and that the US Government was not secretly behind the attack on the Twin Towers. I have no time for attention seekers and mad conspiracy theorists. And I am grateful that our hospitals in general are filled with good, well-educated doctors and not with quacks.
If only the same standards applied to the world of publishing and its mirror world of reviews, where well-educated, serious and commended writers can be lambasted by the "Ignoranti" and journalistic quacks, because they dared write about "Maddie" and either dismiss or disagree - implicitly - with "quack-ist" opinions and theories.

I got this book because since I read "Official & Confidential: The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover" and "The Eleventh Day", I am impressed with Summers and Swan.

They are the journalistic equivalent of proper doctors and not Quacks. That's why I got "Looking for Madeleine".

However, I don't do Idolatry either, so while I have great admiration for the team, I don't rate this a 5 star book automatically. I do however believe that anyone who is genuinely interested in how the whole workings of various authorities can hamper the efficient investigation a dramatic case, should buy this book.
Just don't expect the proper doctors to come up with a quack's solution to the disappearance.

Vten says:

Well, Tim Buckley, I almost felt like a proud father hearing 'Hallelujah' sung for the first time when I read your review.

It certainly was eye-opening and provokes some serious thought.

I was so impressed, in fact, that I went looking to see what else you've reviewed in order to find out what you think on other topics.

Funny thing though...

Not only did I notice that the only reviews in your collection were dated two days ago, including reviews for a number of books which are far older than this week's 'hot topic' titles, but I also noticed that they didn't say very much. In fact, they didn't mention any detail at all. None. Excise them from all connection to the titles they are associated with, and they're surprisingly generic... almost like the person writing them hadn't actually read them, certainly never connected with them, and was trying to make it sound to the rest of the English class and the teacher that he'd been doing his homework and had lots of good thoughts about what he'd read.

This was especially a nice touch, that instead of writing your own review for one title you, only two days ago, read through some other reviews for it, found one which was two years old, and then posted a comment which said in paraphrase 'I don't need to write my own review for this, because I agree with everything this reviewer said.'

I won't think too deeply about the interesting review for the outdated, underpowered and decidedly average computer that you paid over the odds for at the weekend after your own computer 'exploded' on your desk the weekend previous, but I'm glad that when you ordered it that weekend, it only took until Tuesday to arrive. I do appreciate Amazon's rapid delivery service almost as much as I appreciate their honest reviewers.

Thankfully I have strong faith in humanity, because certainly any lesser person than I might begin to think that you had arranged to write this most detailed 'glowing report' on this title by agenda, and that in order to not get trimmed by Amazon when the pruning of the trolls goes down, you had concocted some fake reviews in order to look like an active participant in the Amazon Review community.

Clearly that cannot be the case, and so I welcome your comments, because I too have a story...

I was present, much more recently than 'long ago', when a child in my holiday group went missing. They didn't go missing from an unattended apartment. They didn't go missing from childcare facilities. Their parents were very present when they vanished. They were included in all the family activities, watched like a hawk throughout, and their parents didn't go out eating, drinking and attending quiz night while they cried themselves to sleep every night, alone and in an unsecured apartment in a strange holiday resort. They actually didn't go missing in anything resembling avoidable circumstances, or as a result of anything resembling neglect. Instead, they darted the wrong direction in a crowded place, letting go of the hand they were holding on to, and became disorientated and wandered further and further, looking to objects and locations that piqued their interest. Thankfully they were found a few minutes later, safe and sound. Curiously, their mum and dad cannot stop telling people, months on, how guilty they felt for that moment of lapse, and how they would never again be lacking in vigilance. But then, their mum and dad also insist on having family meals, family activities, keeping babysitters to a minimum, and being present all the time on family holidays. The one thing that couple, my friends, do not do is look at the McCann's and say 'it's only sheer luck that we're not just like them today... oh there but for the grace of God...'

I'll tell you what else...

When that child disappeared, no one screamed... no one threw a tantrum... no one began immediately ringing the press in another country... no one rang the foreign office... no one even screamed for the police to come... no one shouted 'the f****** b******* have taken her', no one began pointing in random directions and claiming that some stranger must have spirited them away... Know why? Because in the moment of shock, disbelief kicks in. The brain, courtesy of the flow of adrenaline and other hormones, prompts the 'fight or flight' mode, which is universally acknowledged as utterly precluding calculations, elaborate reckonings, wild hypothesising, and theorising - all of which take time. Instead what is provoked is the most basic reaction of all... to look, personally, for YOUR child, as YOUR responsibility, in YOUR charge, as if YOU and YOU ALONE had the ONLY hope and duty of finding that child. It takes several moments of burning the adrenaline and diluting the other hormones and calming the heart rate before you're even capable of something more, something which does not come as a 'reaction' but as a 'realisation' (a process of rationality, not impulse) - that something is very wrong, cannot be solved imminently, has utterly escaped your control, and you need help.

To further highlight just how true to profile this accounting of reactions actually is, it is common policy of most Western police departments to be wary of, and not panicked by the frantic finger pointing and theorising of parents and guardians, whether they are agonised in their fear or not, and to allow a due process to take place by which hysterical and knee-jerk reactions and overblown responses (call out the helicopters, close the borders, 'they' could be getting away) are avoided UNLESS there is evidence, physical or eyewitness, which highlights a scenario of abduction. Why? Because the vast majority of children which parents would report as 'missing' are either found not far away, unharmed and wandered, or are in the custody of someone close to them and known to the parents, as was the case earlier this year in Australia, and as, it seems, was the case of 'Daniel' in Portugal earlier this year in an instance which was heralded by the media as 'the New Maddie.'

Now... to the commentary on the book.

You make frequent reference to 'unchecked facts' and 'moronic opinions.' The material that you're referring to is also known as the 'Case File' belonging to the Portuguese Policia Judicia. It is a matter of public record and freely available. Frankly, if those 'facts' are not checked and valid, then there are actually NO facts for the authors of this book to write anything based on, since all that will be left is the opinions of the parents, their friends, and a whole lot of people who weren't there, but have vested interests in claiming to be authorities on what took place.

Herein lies the enigma. Without the detail of what was reported to Portuguese police, you have nothing. Nothing, that is, except for British parents with a child missing, who say that she went missing in Portugal in a resort, but you would have only their word and that of their friends that they were ever there... If you're going to accept SOME of the objective facts reported to the Portuguese police in their investigation, then you have to accept ALL of what is reported in that investigation. You can't take some, and not others, because to do so means that you have to have a standard of choosing which states 'I reject X because the people with the most to lose say I should reject it' and 'I accept Y because the people with the most to gain say I should accept it.' If those police files aren't the sum total of every material fact known about this case, then nothing is. There's nothing to work from.

The authors acknowledge this, but they don't like its implications. The parents acknowledge this, but they don't like its implications. Neither of them have contended that the material in the police files is false. Neither dispute that what Kate and Gerry and others reported to the police, or saw collected and taken from their property, or watched being removed from their rental home, is not real nor accurately recorded in the police files. They just have a reaction to the conclusions that the evidence leads objective, intelligent detectives to reach. In fact, the ONLY conclusion that CAN be reached considering all the available evidence.

So any counter argument against this book which stems from questions presented by the Policia Judicia Case Files is not 'unchecked facts and moronic opinions.' They're a matter of police record and the subject of extensive analytical consideration, arriving at a conclusion which is both predictable, high in likelihood and probability, and an oft-repeated, globally recognised 'principal profile' for the cause of such occurrences. It is, in short, love it or loathe it, the most statistically supportable likelihood in every modern nation on earth. Einstein said that insanity was defined as doing the same things repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. It would be insanity for any police force to actually expect the most likely scenario and the most evidentially supported scenario to be the least likely conclusion. Their experience tells them that.

That's not speculation, nor quackery.

Now... you talk about how you read this book - and believe it - because you hate conspiracy theorists and the 'quacks' who promote them, and you cite the good journalistic authorship of this book. You comment that you appreciate an author who affirms that the US Government was not secretly behind 9.11 (Summers) and you appreciated the Summers volume on J Edgar Hoover. Did you read Summers' most critically acclaimed book, the one that earned him his kudos? The one he wrote defying the official government story, and claiming that JFK died as the result of a massive conspiracy theory - a conspiracy theory which many claim is 'quackery?' A conspiracy theory that many would claim Summers is a quack for writing in support of?

Do you realise, for example, that 'conspiracy theorists' claimed that the Reichstag fire was staged, that the attack on Pearl Harbour was known to be imminent and not reacted against, that Hillsborough was covered up, that Jimmy Saville and a number of high-level establishment pedophiles including MP's were routinely and massively abusing children in the care home system, that there was never any WMD in Iraq and that the Watergate Affair was an inside job?

Do you feel more enlightened, academic and authoritative by rejecting and living in ignorance of anything that such 'conspiracy theorists' and 'quacks' say?

Personally, I'd rather not be spoonfed my information or my opinions by any 'sacred cows' of journalism in single 'definitive' volumes. I'd rather use my brain and decide for myself where the evidence leads and whether the people who make the details of the evidence, not the generalisms of the condensed and abridged summative the central topic of discussion, and I'd hope other readers do too.

Glad you enjoyed it, though. Most people would have read your comments and concluded that you'd barely read past the index, or that curiously you already knew what it was that the book said, as if by psychic impression. Obviously I wouldn't begin to imagine you were as underhand and deceitful as that.

I mean... that would be like telling people you'd written the definitive book, even though you left out most of the details and failed to mention that you weren't legally allowed to write any other, without fearing being sued. Amazon


Anonymous said...

Can I offer a sideways thought on this? It was known in days of old that journalists who could not get interesting stories published in their own newspapers went to a Private Eye lunch and often as not, the story would appear in the Eye instead.

It seems fairly clear Summers & Swan were commissioned by Team McCann to write their book. The bias is obvious. There is nothing knew. There are attempts to confuse situations. Somebody suggested the S&S book is a good companion volume to Kate's oeuvre "madeleine". In short, the Summers & Swan book is a pile of caca.

However, they spent two years working on it, no doubt with a nice literary advance which has been spent by now. They will need to meet sales targets to avoid paying any of it back so they have to puff the book as much as they can to generate sales. Their personal wealth may depend on it.

But what if in the course of the research, Mr Summers & Ms Swan looked at the evidence and thought "You know what? They do look guilty". How could they change position against the commission (the proceeds of which they were already spending).

So is vten actually Anthony Summers giving his real point of view as opposed to his commission?

Himself said...


Apart from your theory being a stretch, to say the least, not in a million years could you confuse the style and quality of the writing of the two protagonists.

But this is not to say, I don't appreciate you thinking outside the box.

I think your own summary, paragraph two, is all that needs to be said.


Himself said...

Just to add. One only needs to read the views of S&S on the events of 9/11 to come to the only conclusion possible, S&S are undeniably a pair of scurrilous hacks.

Anonymous said...

The release date of this book [Looking For Madeleine] was timed to coincide with the damages court case in Portugal, unfortunately for the authors and their paymasters, this hasn't quite worked out. There is nothing in this book that hasn't been printed in the mainstream media, save yourselves £9 and just google the case instead.

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly endorse this message from Vten. NL

Personally, I'd rather not be spoonfed my information or my opinions by any 'sacred cows' of journalism in single 'definitive' volumes. I'd rather use my brain and decide for myself where the evidence leads and whether the people who make the details of the evidence, not the generalisms of the condensed and abridged summative the central topic of discussion, and I'd hope other readers do too.

Anonymous said...

Himself said...

Who the devil is he?

But as he says, he HAS read the files.

Himself said...


"I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message."

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