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Thread: Human combustion

  1. #1 Human combustion 
    Forum Ph.D.
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    I was surprised to see a thread about human spontaneous combustion in the trash. Not that it was not trash but that no one had mentioned the perfectly reasonable explanation of the purported cases of "spontaneous Human combustion".

    The truth is that a human body, particularly a somewhat corpulent human body, will burn. Now it will not burst into flame by itself. Also a live human will not burn. A dead human body will however, under some circumstances, support combustion. What is needed is a dead person, some wicking matterial and a source of ignition. The ideal case would be an overweight smoker with a bad heart. He has a cardiac arrest while seated in his favorite uplostered chair and and drops his lit pipe or cigar into the space between his leg and the arm of the chair. The smoldering fire melts body fat which wicks into the surrounding fabric and sustains a small steady flame. This small fire can over hours of time consume most of the flesh on the body. This produces the gruesome chared corpse sitting in an unburned room which is the principle evidence for the "spontaneous human combustion" cult.


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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    It is not clear which of the threads you are referring to. However, in at least one of them, the well documented cases, and rational explanations (such as the one you describe) were presented only to be rejected in favour of ridiculous fantasies. The proponent of these ludicrous ideas has since created several sock puppets (including one in the name of a supposed survivor of "internal combustion") to support her(?) insane theories.

    She(?) has also presented a number of other Amazing True Stories such as people being strangled by their own internal organs.


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  4. #3  
    exchemist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    I was surprised to see a thread about human spontaneous combustion in the trash. Not that it was not trash but that no one had mentioned the perfectly reasonable explanation of the purported cases of "spontaneous Human combustion".

    The truth is that a human body, particularly a somewhat corpulent human body, will burn. Now it will not burst into flame by itself. Also a live human will not burn. A dead human body will however, under some circumstances, support combustion. What is needed is a dead person, some wicking matterial and a source of ignition. The ideal case would be an overweight smoker with a bad heart. He has a cardiac arrest while seated in his favorite uplostered chair and and drops his lit pipe or cigar into the space between his leg and the arm of the chair. The smoldering fire melts body fat which wicks into the surrounding fabric and sustains a small steady flame. This small fire can over hours of time consume most of the flesh on the body. This produces the gruesome chared corpse sitting in an unburned room which is the principle evidence for the "spontaneous human combustion" cult.
    Yes. Krook in "Bleak House". "Spontaneous combustion. That and none other, of all the deaths that can be died."

    Strange is right about the reasons why this particular vexatious thread was trashed. This Frank Gaga individual is a classic troll. And your points, though valid of course, have been made before, when Frank Gaga posted his similar threads on the same topic in the past.

    So really it's a case of "Move along ladies and gentlemen, there's nothing to see here"…...
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  5. #4  
    Forum Professor astromark's Avatar
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    ~ I did not need to be told of the ways in which a body can burn.. My grotesque and loathsome mind can well imagine such as you well explain.. we the science minded do not find as true.. spontaneous combustion.. So any such raving is hence forth ignored..
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  6. #5  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    I was surprised to see a thread about human spontaneous combustion in the trash. Not that it was not trash but that no one had mentioned the perfectly reasonable explanation of the purported cases of "spontaneous Human combustion".

    The truth is that a human body, particularly a somewhat corpulent human body, will burn. Now it will not burst into flame by itself. Also a live human will not burn. A dead human body will however, under some circumstances, support combustion. What is needed is a dead person, some wicking matterial and a source of ignition. The ideal case would be an overweight smoker with a bad heart. He has a cardiac arrest while seated in his favorite uplostered chair and and drops his lit pipe or cigar into the space between his leg and the arm of the chair. The smoldering fire melts body fat which wicks into the surrounding fabric and sustains a small steady flame. This small fire can over hours of time consume most of the flesh on the body. This produces the gruesome chared corpse sitting in an unburned room which is the principle evidence for the "spontaneous human combustion" cult.

    Yes. Krook in "Bleak House". "Spontaneous combustion. That and none other, of all the deaths that can be died."

    Strange is right about the reasons why this particular vexatious thread was trashed. This Frank Gaga individual is a classic troll. And your points, though valid of course, have been made before, when Frank Gaga posted his similar threads on the same topic in the past.

    So really it's a case of "Move along ladies and gentlemen, there's nothing to see here"…...
    Bleak House was the book were the first use of the word "boredom" is recorded. Apt as that's the feeling I get reading Frank's bullshit threads...
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  7. #6  
    exchemist
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    I was surprised to see a thread about human spontaneous combustion in the trash. Not that it was not trash but that no one had mentioned the perfectly reasonable explanation of the purported cases of "spontaneous Human combustion".

    The truth is that a human body, particularly a somewhat corpulent human body, will burn. Now it will not burst into flame by itself. Also a live human will not burn. A dead human body will however, under some circumstances, support combustion. What is needed is a dead person, some wicking matterial and a source of ignition. The ideal case would be an overweight smoker with a bad heart. He has a cardiac arrest while seated in his favorite uplostered chair and and drops his lit pipe or cigar into the space between his leg and the arm of the chair. The smoldering fire melts body fat which wicks into the surrounding fabric and sustains a small steady flame. This small fire can over hours of time consume most of the flesh on the body. This produces the gruesome chared corpse sitting in an unburned room which is the principle evidence for the "spontaneous human combustion" cult.

    Yes. Krook in "Bleak House". "Spontaneous combustion. That and none other, of all the deaths that can be died."

    Strange is right about the reasons why this particular vexatious thread was trashed. This Frank Gaga individual is a classic troll. And your points, though valid of course, have been made before, when Frank Gaga posted his similar threads on the same topic in the past.

    So really it's a case of "Move along ladies and gentlemen, there's nothing to see here"…...
    Bleak House was the book were the first use of the word "boredom" is recorded. Apt as that's the feeling I get reading Frank's bullshit threads...
    I didn't know that. Sounds like a Trivial Pursuit answer.

    Bleak House is in fact my favourite Dickens novel - that's to say the one I most enjoyed reading, about 25 years ago.
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  8. #7  
    Bullshit Intolerant PhDemon's Avatar
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    I remember hearing it from "Dictionary Corner" on Countdown so it must be true!
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  9. #8  
    exchemist
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhDemon View Post
    I remember hearing it from "Dictionary Corner" on Countdown so it must be true!
    Interestingly*, My OED gives 3 meanings to "boredom", of which this is the second - and indeed Bleak House is given as the reference, so full marks for that. The other 2 meanings are firstly, the art of being a bore and thirdly, the class of people who are bores. Could be handy for one of your pub quizzes, perhaps.


    * well, slightly, I suppose...
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  10. #9  
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    I propose a "bore" of woodworms as a term for the group.

    By the way my own doctor (also the county coroner ) actually diagnosed a death as from "spontaneous human combustion" and nobody called him a half wick.

    Man died from spontaneous human combustion, inquest finds - Independent.ie

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGVHQyIONdM
    Last edited by geordief; June 5th, 2014 at 07:15 AM.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    I propose a "bore" of woodworms as a term for the group.

    By the way my own doctor (also the county coroner ) actually diagnosed a death as from "spontaneous human combustion" and nobody called him a half wick.

    Man died from spontaneous human combustion, inquest finds - Independent.ie

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGVHQyIONdM
    Arf arf.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    By the way my own doctor (also the county coroner ) actually diagnosed a death as from "spontaneous human combustion" and nobody called him a half wick.

    Man died from spontaneous human combustion, inquest finds - Independent.ie

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGVHQyIONdM

    From BBC News:
    (...) Retired professor of pathology Mike Green said he had examined one suspected case in his career.
    He said he would not use the term spontaneous combustion, as there had to be some source of ignition, possibly a lit match or cigarette.
    "There is a source of ignition somewhere, but because the body is so badly destroyed the source can't be found," he said.
    He said the circumstances in the Galway case were very similar to other possible cases. (...)

    That is the same explanation as member Sealeaf posted and I concur with his explanation.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    By the way my own doctor (also the county coroner ) actually diagnosed a death as from "spontaneous human combustion" and nobody called him a half wick.

    Man died from spontaneous human combustion, inquest finds - Independent.ie

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGVHQyIONdM

    From BBC News:
    (...) Retired professor of pathology Mike Green said he had examined one suspected case in his career.
    He said he would not use the term spontaneous combustion, as there had to be some source of ignition, possibly a lit match or cigarette.
    "There is a source of ignition somewhere, but because the body is so badly destroyed the source can't be found," he said.
    He said the circumstances in the Galway case were very similar to other possible cases. (...)

    That is the same explanation as member Sealeaf posted and I concur with his explanation.
    Yes, this is very rare and only ever happens when people are drunk, drugged or otherwise incapacitated, within easy reach of a source of ignition, alone, and wearing clothes than can provide a wick for melting fat. QED.
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  14. #13  
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    By the way my own doctor (also the county coroner ) actually diagnosed a death as from "spontaneous human combustion" and nobody called him a half wick.

    Because people believe all sorts of other crazy crap, are non critical thinkers, gullible and eager consumers the garbage put out by attention hogs and greedy exploiters of other's superstitions (that doctor).


    The previous thread about spontaneous combustion was trashed because there are absolutely no credible cases (observation) nor any viable hypothesis to explain it.

    I will however take it with a big grain of salt and promote this thread to pseudoscience rather than trash.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Because people believe all sorts of other crazy crap, are non critical thinkers, gullible and eager consumers the garbage put out by attention hogs and greedy exploiters of other's superstitions (that doctor).
    As I implied I do know the man personally to a small extent.I wouldn't agree that he was a priori a "greedy exploiter of others' superstitions " .

    How do you suppose he was able to benefit from making his finding?

    Wasn't he just performing his duties to the best of his his abilities?

    Is he not entitled to make a genuine mistake (as I would assume it was) without being alluded to in this way?

    As far as I know not too much was made of it apart from an odd article in the paper and items on the television and radio .

    He came into far greater prominence a year or so later as he chaired an inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital where she died from septic shock during childbirth although it seems she had asked for a termination (which can be problematic in Ireland)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Savita_Halappanavar

    No mention was ever made , so far as I know to his previous finding during the long course of the inquiry.
    Last edited by geordief; June 5th, 2014 at 05:38 PM.
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  16. #15  
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    Wasn't he just performing his duties to the best of his his abilities?

    Is he not entitled to make a genuine mistake (as I would assume it was) without being alluded to in this way?

    No. He obviously doesn't have a clue about how to conduct a credible investigation and as such fully deserves criticism for being a moron or charlatan.
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  17. #16  
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    He came into far greater prominence a year or so later as he chaired an inquiry into the death of SavitaHalappanavar in a Galway hospital where she died from septic shock during childbirth although it seems she had asked for a termination (which can be problematic in Ireland)
    She hadn't "asked for a termination".

    She was suffering from miscarriage of a doomed, dying foetus. The correct medical treatment of a woman in that condition is to urgently expedite the process to avoid the fatal possibilities of haemorrhage and/or septicemia. IIRC all she wanted was for this health emergency to be over so that she and her husband could try again in the hope of a successful pregnancy. Her main concern was how long they'd have to wait before they could get on with having the child they wanted. She was wrong. Her main concern should have been that the doctors and the hospital would allow her to die from the septicemia she was already showing signs of.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post

    She hadn't "asked for a termination".
    Are you quite sure? I heard it said a few times that she had asked for this and this article in the Guardian seems to corroborate that.

    The midwife who told the truth in the Savita Halappanavar abortion case | Emer O'Toole | Comment is free | theguardian.com

    "At the inquest, Halappanavar's consultant, Dr Katherine Astbury, said that she met her patient's request for an abortion with the explanation that a poor foetal prognosis does not provide legal grounds for termination in the Republic."

    Is that report incorrect?
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    "At the inquest, Halappanavar's consultant, Dr Katherine Astbury, said that she met her patient's request for an abortion with the explanation that a poor foetal prognosis does not provide legal grounds for termination in the Republic."

    Is that report incorrect?
    It correctly reports the doctor trying to excuse her own medical incompetence/negligence/cowardice by reframing the request for proper medical care in terms of a woman "wanting" a termination. What this woman wanted was a baby, but this pregnancy wasn't going to give her one. This doctor is also the person who thinks that the right interpretation of the wording of the law saying that termination is "permitted" when the mother's life is in danger means that the danger of imminent death of the mother must be 51% or more before any medical intervention is indicated. They weren't even giving the mother the right kind of antibiotics while they were waiting for her to get sicker/the foetus's heart to stop beating.

    I don't know about you, but I wouldn't entrust the care of any family member of mine to a doctor who refuses any and all life-saving intervention until that point.

    Savita Halappanavar would probably be alive now if she had had that termination » Butterflies and Wheels

    As one of the commenters says on that post,

    I’m dumbfounded by this, how can a doctor spout such idiocy, 20-40% is what he would consider “substantial” are all doctors in Ireland such idiots, or is it only when it comes to the life of women that they can so casually disregard reality.
    His low number is a 1 in 5 chance of dying!
    I would have been appalled if he had said 1% is where he would consider it substantial, but 20%, is he insane? There have been assassination plots with less than 20% chance of success.

    Theology killed Savita Halappanavar » Butterflies and Wheels
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  20. #19  
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    No I do agree with you. Words fail me actually.

    However my first inclination is to place the blame on the system rather than the staff unless there is good reason to think otherwise (which is not to exonerate them but they should not be easy targets either- we have to raise our sights a little higher).
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  21. #20  
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    I suppose this case really gets to me because I can see myself in those shoes. Like most women who've had children, I've also miscarried.

    For me, it was fairly simple. Things started going wrong. I called the obstetrician and got an appointment within an hour or so. He said it was hopeless and his nurse was supposed to be comforting** me as I was weeping while he* went off to organise an emergency hospital admission. Two hours later it was all over.

    If I'd been treated as this woman was, I might have died too.

    And that was 35 years ago. You'd think that Ireland could have got itself up to date with best medical practice in that time.

    * My doctor was one of those who would never in a million years have done a termination by request. But he had no hesitation about making the right medical decision when it was needed.

    **The reason I remember so vividly was that this woman was one of the most hamfisted people anyone could ever have chosen as a nurse in an obstetrician's practice. She managed to find exactly the wrong thing to say practically every time I had to deal with her.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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