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Spontaneous Human Combusion (SHC)

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

  1. Incocknito

    Incocknito Sexy Member

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    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

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    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

    nudeyorker Cherished Member

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    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

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    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

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  6. Incocknito

    Incocknito Sexy Member

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    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

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    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

    molotovmuffin Experimental Member

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

    witch Experimental Member

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    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 Expert Member

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    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 Banned

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    I thought it had something to do with very rare internal chemical reactions.
     
  12. Calboner

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    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 Banned

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    Could be. But I thought it was something even more rare and horrifying.
     
  14. AquaEyes11010

    AquaEyes11010 Expert Member

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    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 Banned

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    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 Expert Member

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    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

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    I saw this on That's Incredible, and I surprisingly didn't reflexively disbelieve it.
     
  18. B_dxjnorto

    B_dxjnorto Banned

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    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

    Incocknito Sexy Member

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    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

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    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.
     
  21. nicenycdick

    nicenycdick Sexy Member

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    Yes, I first read about this in the late '50's...and it was debunked then. It is one of those urban myths-type thing that persists despite being scientifically discounted. It always helps to trust your scepticism...
     
  22. StrictlyAvg

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    I did see the documentary a few years ago trying out the pig-in-a-blanket wicking theory (Horizon I think). Incidentally Nat Geo tried to replicate it but failed in their experiment - apparently they left the room door open and too much air got in so a proper conflagration ensued.

    But, livestock don't wear clothes/covers, only a few have the right fat content to support "SC" (hence why pigs were chosen); being livestock they tend to live either outside or in well ventilated sheds; they don't get drunk and if they suffer from diseases that would make them stay unconscious through such an incident they'd be put down... I'm sure a number of other factors could be found here.
    I can't find any instances where clothing or bedsheets etc were not involved in alleged cases of SHC. And the whole wicking process seems to rely on a closed room and clothing/coverings so oxygen doesn't get in too fast. And all too often there seems to be an ignition source involved on investigation - so hardly "spontaneous".
     
  23. witch

    witch Experimental Member

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    I remember that one …..1994, Riverside General Hospital, Gloria Ramirez ……
     
  24. SilverTrain

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    But no John Davidson, Fran Tarkenton or Cathy Lee Crosby!

    I remember seeing a grainy black and white photo of the "victim's" remains, that consisted of scattered ashes and a foot, severed at the ankle, still in it's buckled black shoe. Convincing stuff!
     
  25. Incocknito

    Incocknito Sexy Member

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    This photo?

    http://savykr.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/shc02.jpg

    I agree that its shocking stuff and you could be forgiven for believing in spontaneous human combustion - especially looking at all the other photos.

    But just because something looks shocking or extraordinary doesn't mean there isn't an ordinary explanation. The Wick Effect seems to explain SHC away.
     
  26. SilverTrain

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    Christ, I mourn the apparent demise of irony.
     
  27. 798686

    798686 Guest

    Spermtaneous cock-bustion? :biggrin1: (sorry)
     
  28. Incocknito

    Incocknito Sexy Member

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    You implying that the photo is unconvincing would also imply that the photo was staged or otherwise not geniune.

    But it is geniune and there are many other photos which I think most people would assume are quite convincing.
     
  29. ZOS23xy

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    Some of the bodies (or what's left) are completely incinerated, and nothing else in the house or room is burnt. Smoke and soot damage, but little else.
     
  30. SilverTrain

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    Speaking of assumptions........
     
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