left biblioblography: Slaughtering The Dissonance – Part One

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Slaughtering The Dissonance – Part One

I’ve already bitched about the book ‘The Slaughter Of The Dissidents’ – I’ll dissect some of the more ridiculous claims of  the ‘dissidents’.

Aforementioned ‘dissidents’ are mentioned here. As I don’t own the book, I’ll start (and likely end) with the ones mentioned on the internet.

Let’s start with the alleged ‘inventor of the MRI’, Raymond Damadian:

Raymond Vahan Damadian (born March 16, 1936) is an American practitioner of magnetic resonance imaging. In 2001, the Lemelson-MIT Prize Program bestowed its $100,000 Lifetime Achievement Award on Damadian as "the man who invented the MRI scanner." He went on to collaborate with Wilson Greatbach, one early developer of the implantable pacemaker, to develop an MRI-compatible pacemaker. The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia gave its recognition of Damadian's work on MRI with the Bower Award in Business Leadership. He was also named Knights of Vartan 2003 "Man of the Year". He received a National Medal of Technology in 1988 and was inducted in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1989.

Sounds interesting, no? The entry on his work says:

In a 1971 paper in the journal Science , SUNY Downstate Medical Center professor Damadian reported that tumors and normal tissue can be distinguished in vitro by nuclear magnetic resonance ("NMR"). He suggested that these differences could be used to diagnose cancer, though later research would find that these differences, while real, are too variable for diagnostic purposes. Damadian's initial methods were flawed for practical use, relying on a point-by-point scan of the entire body and using relaxation rates, which turned out to not be an effective indicator of cancerous tissue. Nonetheless, in 1974, he received the first patent in the field of MRI when he patented the concept of NMR for detecting cancer after filing an application in 1972. As the National Science Foundation notes, "The patent included the idea of using NMR to 'scan' the human body to locate cancerous tissue." However, it did not describe a method for generating pictures from such a scan or precisely how such a scan might be done. Raymond Damadian's "Apparatus and method for detecting cancer in tissue."

In the 1950s, Herman Carr reported  creating a one-dimensional MR image. Prompted by Damadian's report on the potential medical uses of NMR, Paul Lauterbur expanded on Carr's technique and developed a way to generate the first MRI images, in 2D and 3D, using gradients. Peter Mansfield from the University of Nottingham then developed a mathematical technique that would allow scans to take seconds rather than hours and produce clearer images than Lauterbur had. While Lauterbur and Mansfield focused on animals and human limbs, Damadian built the first full-body MRI machine[7] and produced the first full magnetic resonance imaging ("MRI") scan of the human body, albeit using a "focused field" technique that differs considerably from modern imaging.

In recording the history of MRI, Mattson and Simon (1996) credit Damadian with describing the concept of whole-body NMR scanning, as well as discovering the NMR tissue relaxation differences that made this feasible.

So, has the good professor been recognized at all? Why, yes he has:

Damadian received a National Medal of Technology in 1988 and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1989. His original MRI full-body scanner was given to the Smithsonian Institution in the 1980s and is now on loan and on display at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Ohio.

In 2001, the Lemelson-MIT Prize Program bestowed its $100,000 Lifetime Achievement Award on Damadian as "the man who invented the MRI scanner." The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia gave its recognition of Damadian's work on MRI with the Bower Award in Business Leadership. He was also named the Knights of Vartan 2003 "Man of the Year." In September 2003, he was honored with the Innovation Award in Bioscience from The Economist.

Thus far, on the up and up. Here’s where it gets ugly (and preposterous):

On July 3, 1977, the first MRI body exam was performed on a human being (the first human scan was performed by Sir Peter Mansfield's team in Nottingham a year earlier - but this was a cross-sectional image through a finger rather than a body scan).

It took almost five hours to produce one image. The images were, by modern standards, rudimentary. Dr. Raymond Damadian, a physician and scientist, along with colleagues Dr. Larry Minkoff and Dr. Michael Goldsmith, labored tirelessly for seven long years to reach this point. They named their original machine "Indomitable" to capture the spirit of their struggle to do what many said could not be done... but no systems would ever use Damadian's method however. His technique of imaging was never made a practically useable method and has never been used in what is considered MR imaging as we know it today and this is probably why the Nobel prize committee did not feel Damadian and his work deserved inclusion in the prize for physics when it was awarded to Lauterbur and Mansfield for "Inventing Magnetic Resonance Imaging" in 2003. His 1972 patent never described an imaging device but a method of "detecting" cancer... more of a Geiger counter approach for cancer 'detection'. Also, his patent followed on the heels of rumors already floating throughout the scientific community of Lauterbur's proposed idea of using NMR 'in vivo' (still in the human body... an imaging device) rather than Damadian's idea to use NMR as a 'in vitro' (or excised tissue) technique for differentiating cancerous from normal tissue. Damadian has continually argued that was what he meant but the truth is in the details. Damadian may have inspired Lauterbur's idea but Damadian did NOT invent MRI and careful review of Damadian's patent does not support his arguments (even the title of the patent states DETECTING); so, his 'FIRST body MRI' on July 3, 1977 is not actually the first MRI. It was his first attempt at a technique which was un-useable and ultimately abandoned even by him.

After Dr. Damadian's outrageous, numerous public tantrums over his exclusion, a New York Times columnist criticized Damadian's behavior by saying... "there is no Nobel Prize for whining".

None the less his 'machine', which could never be considered an actual MRI, is now in the Smithsonian Institution. As late as 1982, there were but a handful of MRI scanners in the entire United States. Today there are thousands. It is possible to image in seconds what used to take hours but not using any of Damadian's imaging methods of "field focused nuclear magnetic resonance".

So…Damadian was not the inventor of the MRI – contingent on whether one grants inventor status on the idea or the actual non-prototypical device itself. And the fact is, while the aforementioned trio did the pioneering work, the MRI is the result of many other scientists pitching in piecemeal. And from what I can extrapolate, it’s a combination of a few missed swings and a great deal of Damadian’s lack of people skills that denied him his part in the Nobel. Personally I think he should’ve gotten an honorable mention in the very least. However, he’s won a few awards and a great deal of recognition for his work.

To top it off, a quote from the professor:

Damadian himself said, "Before this happened, nobody ever said to me 'They will not give you the Nobel Prize for Medicine because you are a creation scientist.'... If people were actively campaigning against me because of that, I never knew it."

There’s absolutely no proof that this happened, not in the slightest. So I’m going to have to deem this YALTCT (Yet Another Lie The Christians Tell).

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Kevin said...

OK, so you "bitched" about the book, yet you admittedly don't even own a copy (probably wouldn't borrow one from your nearest neighborhood creationist either...).

As for Damadian being the "alleged" inventor of the MRI, no, he IS the undisputed inventor of the MRI according to many esteemed organzations - many of which you listed - plus many nmore.

I won't dispute any of the research you've quoted (much of seems on the face to be accurate...) but I would make the following point made in SOD:

"The Wright brothers achieved the specific discoveries that made the first heaver-than-air manned flights possible, but their crude, rickety contraption clearly was impractical." They couldn't take on a bunch of passengers. Their plane didn't have bomb bays enabling them to drop tons of ordinance on hapless victims. Just because those "improvements" were made later, should we then say that TWA or BOEING invented flight? Of course not. But that's exactly what you are arguing for.

Many important improvements were made to the Wright brother's invention, "such as Glenn Curtiss, who invented the hinged aileron (a development that even the Wright brother's planes later used). Does that mean we should claim that Curtiss invented flight?

I hope you wouldn't go that far.

Yet, you WOULD go that far in this post concerning Damadian.

Whoo Hoo! I guess that means we should designate Thomas Edison as the inventor of the light bulb because he managed to create improvements that eventually made light bulbs commercially feasible, right? Or maybe we could say Marilyn Monroe was the inventor of sex because she made sex so popular. I dunno - maybe you have some other examples about inventions that your really cool research could turn up.

So the bottom line here is, yeah - other scientists ** did ** pitch in and make improvements - but let's not forget that THAT IS what they were: improvements. Just like an aileron is to an airplane.

Oh - and then there are the patents related to MRI technology. Lauterbur has four, and Mansfield has a total of 17. Damadian, on the other hand, has a paltry 60 patents. Gosh, I guess he's just riding on the coattails of Lauterbur and Mansfield, eh? Did that little tidbit show up in your research?

People skills should not be a reason to deny someone their rightful place in history. Many Nobel recipients have personality issues - which really has nothing at ALL to do with whether such an award is deserved. To put a finer point on it, the Nobel Committee allows for up to three people to receive a Nobel. It was a clear slap in the face to Damadian that Lauterbur and Mansfield were so honorred without any credit whatsoever being given to Damadian.

Yet in spite of recognizing that Damadian should have "at least gotten an honorable mention" and "he’s won a few awards and a great deal of recognition for his work" you still end your post with this lame comment:

"There’s absolutely no proof that this happened, not in the slightest. So I’m going to have to deem this YALTCT (Yet Another Lie The Christians Tell)."

It's not even close to a lie - it's just a strong supposition. The book never makes the CLAIM that Damadian WAS denied the Nobel because of his creationist beliefs -- it merely asked the question in the very first line of the chapter about Damadian: "Can a person's beliefs about the role of an intelligent creator prevent an otherwise deserving scientist from being awarded a Nobel Prize?"

But I guess that doesn't interest you, since reading the book before you bitch is optional.

Next time, read the book before your spout off. You'll score more points with your readers.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Obviously, Kevin, you read what you wanted to.
A. Damadian worked shoulder to shoulder w/2 other men for 7 years. EVERYTHING I've read in the creationist literature infers he's the SOLE INVENTOR.
B. I never said people skills should be a reason to deny anyone the recognition they deserve. I think that sucks. Sadly, that's the way the world works. You can bet Pauling had to butter somebody's bread @ some time.
C. The picture painted, even quoted FROM YOUR BOOK, makes it seem as if Damadian's life was ruined. Yet he's been awarded SO MANY AWARDS regardless of his beliefs. He's lauded & well recognized. Someone even rewarded him $100,000 - more than many people in this country make in a year.

Your 'examples' are fairly ridiculous - I even say in the post, that inventor status is contingent on whether or not you award the person who came up w/the idea, or the person who implements it.

& to be honest, I've not found an honest creationist, though like some internet Diogenes, I go looking near and far.

Krystalline Apostate said...

& I'm still awaiting a response from my last post on this topic.