Spontaneous Human Combusion (SHC)

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Incocknito, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. Incocknito

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,567
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    La monde
    Taken from the Wiki:

    Objections to natural explanations usually revolve around the degree of burning of the body with respect to its surroundings. Indeed, one of the common markers of a case of SHC is that the body — or part of it — has suffered an extraordinarily large degree of burning, with surroundings or lower limbs comparatively undamaged.[1]

    Science Article:

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/shc.htm

    What do you think?
     
    #1 Incocknito, Apr 11, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2010
  2. BigDallasDick8x6

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Messages:
    4,012
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    163
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Dallas TX (North Oak Cliff)
    I first read about this years ago and it blew me away. I think it was in The Book of Lists or one of the sequels. I think at that time there were six "confirmed" cases? One was in front of a crowd at a dance! Another was sitting in a chair and the body was burned but the chair was just scorched.

    It's easy to say something doesn't exist if you don't understand it. Thomas Jefferson once wrote that you would never be able to convince him that stones can fall from the sky. We now know about meteroites, and yes, stones can fall from the sky. Even as far as we have come, our knowledge is still imperfect. There is more to be discovered, Horatio.
     
  3. nudeyorker

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Messages:
    42,918
    Likes Received:
    36
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    NYC/Honolulu
    I remember reading about this in the early 80's, as I recall a woman in Chicago spontaneously combusted due to chemo therapy and drug therapy. I'll have to do some research to see if I can find the story.
    Meanwhile I'm sure the same thing could happen to me if I was stranded on a deserted island with Sarah Palin and Fred Phelps.
     
  4. D_Andreas Sukov

    D_Andreas Sukov Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    Messages:
    2,933
    Likes Received:
    3
    I have watched a documentary about it and this guy apparently survived twice by patting himself down as if he was actually on fire. Its a real interesting phenominom. Im looking forward to where this thread goes.
     
  5. Calboner

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Messages:
    9,026
    Albums:
    5
    Likes Received:
    2,465
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
  6. Incocknito

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,567
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    La monde
    Well in the Science Article link I clicked the BBC link where apparently the cause of spontaneous human combustion has been found.

    It is apparently caused by the "wick effect".

    Similar to how a candle burns, when a piece of clothing is burnt (by a match or cigarette etc), the burned section acts as a wick.

    The heat then splits the top layer of skin below the "wick" which slowly releases subcutaneous fat (fat from under the skin). Apparently this allows a body to burn continously.

    Since there is no fat / fuel in the surrounding areas it explains why the surrounding areas are usually unaffected.

    However, turning bones to ash doesn't even happen in crematoriums. But to get that same affect, they found that they had to leave the "wick effect" in action for five hours. Then the bones would begin to disintegrate.

    The experiment was done on a dead pig. The scientists used a rag with some oil on it, placed on top of the pig and then dropped a small ignition source onto it.

    It sounds solved to me.
     
  7. Calboner

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Messages:
    9,026
    Albums:
    5
    Likes Received:
    2,465
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    Actually, after posting my ":rolleyes:," I read the article and also another in the Skeptic's Dictionary. The "wick theory" is already reported in the latter, which is dated 2004, so this is not breaking news (though I don't see any date on the article linked in the original post). I would note that the combustion requires that someone be set on fire by an external source, so it's not really spontaneous.
     
  8. molotovmuffin

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Messages:
    7,485
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Female

    Step away from the exploding muffin :wink:
     
  9. witch

    witch Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Messages:
    505
    Likes Received:
    1
    A couple of times in menopause I swear I came close ………… but the urge to kill small furry things and those of my family who made “hot flashes” jokes still lingers :D
     
  10. AquaEyes11010

    AquaEyes11010 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    789
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    39
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Brunswick, NJ (from Long Island, NY)
    I've read about this off and on over the years. I can't recall specifics off the top of my head, but I do remember one interesting note: many of the cases of "spontaneous human combustion" where remnants of bodies were found partially consumed involved individuals who were known smokers. Since the term involves the word "spontaneous" I believe that at least those cases can be discounted, as the fire source was almost certainly external. I can't comment further at the moment because I haven't read up on it in a long time. I would be curious to know the most recent case, and question if it came after regulations were imposed regarding flamibility of fabrics.

    :)
     
  11. B_dxjnorto

    B_dxjnorto New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    7,319
    Likes Received:
    21
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Southwest U.S.
    I thought it had something to do with very rare internal chemical reactions.
     
  12. Calboner

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Messages:
    9,026
    Albums:
    5
    Likes Received:
    2,465
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    You must be referring to Randy Marsh's hypothesis that it is caused by holding in farts: Spontaneous Combustion (South Park, season 3)
     
  13. B_dxjnorto

    B_dxjnorto New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    7,319
    Likes Received:
    21
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Southwest U.S.
    Could be. But I thought it was something even more rare and horrifying.
     
  14. AquaEyes11010

    AquaEyes11010 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    789
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    39
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Brunswick, NJ (from Long Island, NY)
    I think it's interesting that we seek to find highly unlikely reasons for things that could be better explained by more likely possibilities...like falling asleep with a lit cigarette.

    :)
     
  15. B_dxjnorto

    B_dxjnorto New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    7,319
    Likes Received:
    21
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Southwest U.S.
    How could you burn like a lit candle without awakening and trying to put it out? I guess you'd be insensible until too late? Even then though wouldn't you go screaming through the house setting other things afire? From what I understand people are found with most of their bodies consumed quickly, maybe a limb remaining, while apparently at rest in a chair (or some such scenario).
     
  16. AquaEyes11010

    AquaEyes11010 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    789
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    39
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Brunswick, NJ (from Long Island, NY)
    Again, I haven't kept up to date on the topic, because, well, I basically lost interest, but what I remember is that most of the victims were elderly, lived alone, and were smokers. One possibility is that they had heart attacks or strokes or otherwise went unconscious or even died before their bodies caught fire.

    The difficulty here is that we're looking at end-results that appear similar, and we're drawing the conclusion that the initial causes must have also been similar, when in reality we don't know. One person could have been dead from something totally unrelated, and then the body caught fire from something afterward but burned out on its own before being totally consumed. Another person could have lit himself on fire and not awoken because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

    The "phenomena" reminds me of the cow-mutilation "phenomena" that surrounded finding cattle carcasses drained of blood, missing genitalia, udders, eyes and/or other soft parts via "laser-precision cuts", but otherwise remaining intact. People jumped to the wild conclusion that aliens, devil-worshippers or mythic creatures were to blame. Then some scientists decided to conduct a test.

    They brought a totally intact cow carcass to an open field and monitored it with cameras. No large animal, person, alien or mythic creature was seen in any images, yet in only a matter of days, the same "laser-precision cuts" were found, the same soft parts were missing, and no blood around or in the animal was left. How'd it happen? Maggots. They gain entry via soft parts (eyes, mouth, rectum, vagina) and meticulously nibble away whatever is soft enough (leaving the tough hide intact). They also slurp up every drop of blood, and in a few days, they go through metamorphosis and fly away.

    And there's another factor involved -- circumventing human blame. It seems the ranchers were more content to say that their cattle died under mysterious circumstances than perhaps admitting that sometimes there will be losses (and sometimes these losses are due to less-than-ideal animal management...). After all, how can someone be at fault when "mysterious forces" are at play? Perhaps there would be more pity for an unfortunate victim of "spontaneous human combustion" than someone who passed out drunk (or over-medicated, or from a stroke, or diabetic coma...) while smoking a cigarette in bed (or on the sofa, or in a recliner....).

    I can't explain every situation. I'm just offering the suggestion that sometimes more likely explanations should be pursued before leaping to the highly improbable.

    :)
     
  17. SilverTrain

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2008
    Messages:
    4,582
    Albums:
    8
    Likes Received:
    404
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    I saw this on That's Incredible, and I surprisingly didn't reflexively disbelieve it.
     
  18. B_dxjnorto

    B_dxjnorto New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    7,319
    Likes Received:
    21
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Southwest U.S.
    I remember a few years ago there was a news story about several health care workers who were overcome by fumes emanating from a very seriously sick patient. [insert detail - I don't remember] I wonder if there are certain conditions of sickness that could cause chemical combustion? It does seem bizarre though. Given that human beings like to play with fire. You never hear of spontaneous combustion of livestock.
     
  19. Incocknito

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,567
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    La monde
    Apparently the FBI also debunked it in the 50's. Taken from the 'article':

    [SIZE=+1]On July 1, the grandmotherly 67-year-old -- upset over a delay in plans to move back to Pennsylvania -- took a dose of the sleeping pill Seconal to calm herself and settled into her easy chair to have a smoke.[/SIZE]

    FBI Debunks Spontaneous Human Combustion

    A lot of spontaneous combusters were also alcoholic. Assuming they were drunk when they "combusted", they may have been drunk to the point of unconscious or drunk to the point where they couldn't put out the fire.
     
  20. Calboner

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Messages:
    9,026
    Albums:
    5
    Likes Received:
    2,465
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    You might enjoy That's Amazing, an Australian show with Carl Hooper (actually part of an English television show with Simon Day). In this episode, he talks to a guy named Dick about a monster.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted