COMBUSTIÓN ESPONTÁNEA EN IRLANDA

Causa de muerte: combustión espontánea

El cadáver apareció carbonizado cerca de una estufa, pero el fuego encendido en esta no fue la causa de la muerte. La conclusión forense causó sorpresa: combustión humana espontánea.

La víctima de lo que se considera como el primer caso de su tipo registrado en Irlanda era un hombre de 76 años de edad llamado Michael Faherty, quien murió en su casa en Clareview Park, Ballybane, Galway, el 22 de diciembre de 2010.

 La causa de su muerte intrigó a los especialistas hasta que finalmente un médico forense, Ciaran McLoughlin, dictaminó combustión espontánea.

McLoughlin explicó que en 25 años de práctica profesional nunca había visto un caso similar.

“El incendio fue investigado de forma exhaustiva. Mi conclusión es que corresponde a la categoría de combustión humana espontánea, para la que no existe una explicación adecuada”, añadió.

El fenómeno es descrito como la incineración de personas vivas sin una fuente externa de ignición aparente.

Y aunque, según la prensa británica, se han reportado unos 200.000 supuestos casos en todo el mundo en los últimos 300 años, la mayor parte de ellos no han sido verdaderamente investigados.

Por lo tanto, persiste cierto grado de escepticismo.

Los casos modernos en general se han reportado cuando los investigadores policiales y los bomberos han encontrado cadáveres quemados, pero no muebles u otros objetos cercanos al cuerpo, como ocurrió en el caso de Michael Faherty

El cuerpo humano está formado sobre todo de agua, y sus únicos componentes que se queman fácilmente son el tejido graso y el gas metano, por lo que las posibilidades de la combustión espontánea parecen remotas.

Pero los partidarios de la teoría han ofrecido explicaciones tan variadas como el alcoholismo, la intervención divina, la obesidad y la electricidad estática.

Sin causas aparentes

Al examinar la casa de Faherty, los expertos forenses encontraron un fuego en la estufa de la sala de estar pero ninguna causa que explicara suicidio o asesinato.

Se descartó la presencia de sustancias inflamables o de que alguna persona haya entrado en la vivienda.

Aunque en un inicio la policía selló la propiedad temiendo que se tratara de un crimen, lo único que se encontró fue el cuerpo carbonizado, así como el techo quemado encima del cadáver y el fragmento del suelo donde estaba tendido.

El doctor McLoughlin dijo que había consultado libros de texto médicos y llevado a cabo otras investigaciones en un intento de encontrar una explicación al fenómeno.

Al final determinó que su veredicto de combustión espontánea es el más adecuado. La familia del fallecido está de acuerdo con el fallo aunque lamenta la ausencia de explicaciones concluyentes.

BBCNews

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2 comentarios en “COMBUSTIÓN ESPONTÁNEA EN IRLANDA

  1. Saludos, Libertalia. Te añado una info que vincula el fenómeno de la combustión espontánea con los alienígenas.
    Lo que nos dice el Profesor CORRADO MALANGA:

    * El inusual fenómeno de la combustión espontánea. Menciona a Alex Torinesi, con quien ha escrito un artículo al respecto. El profesor señala que su enfoque inicial (que la combustión era provocada ‘accidentalmente’ por el manejo de tecnología de rayos por parte del ‘gris’ que procede a una abducción) hoy la considera errónea.
    Las estadísticas señalan que el fenómeno es más frecuente en mujeres que en varones. Menciona los casos de dos abducidas cuyas madres habían muerto por esa razón, por lo cual comenzó a relacionar ambos fenómenos: ‘Nos dimos cuenta que, cuando la parte anímica entraba o salía del propio contenedor, se creaban situaciones de aparente calor (…) Es una situación arquetípica, el arquetipo, el símbolo, la imagen, el fonema, sientes dentro que te estás calentando, pero no quiere decir que esto suceda realmente, es una sensación. Habíamos interpretado que (cosa que aparenta ser cierta) cuando la parte anímica se separa del propio contenedor se tiene una sensación de frío y que, en cambio, cuando se entra se tiene una sensación de calor. Esto podría ser explicado técnicamente por el Tercer Principio de la Termodinámica, con la energía de cohesión, que es la que dice que cuando un protón y un electrón se ponen juntos para dar un neutrón, surge calor. Está claro, es la energía de cohesión. Esto significa que la parte anímica era termodinámicamente más estable cuando estaba ligada a las otras partes del cuerpo. Entonces, cuando está ligada a las otras partes del cuerpo, saca la energía. En cambio, cuando lo tienes que separar, tú le tienes que dar energía. Entonces, ¿qué sucede? Que se enfría el cuerpo (…) Entonces empezamos a pensar que la voluntad de la parte anímica la que provocase ese extraño fenómeno de calor. (…) O sea, ¿y si fuera que la parte anímica da, en ciertas situaciones, demasiado calor al propio contenedor y, por algún misterioso motivo, lo acaba fundiendo? (…) La solución: el sujeto, la parte anímica, cuando inconscientemente se siente atacada por el parásito, inconscientemente, emite un acto de voluntad que hace que suceda un milagro. Un acto de voluntad que tiende a destruir físicamente al propio Lux, por ejemplo, que es el parásito luminoso. Cuando esto sucede, si el cuerpo está cerca, pobrecito, la parte anímica tal vez exagera un poco y quema, además, al contenedor’.
    Malanga cuenta el caso de una paciente que lleva tratando en varias sesiones. Lo ha llamado y le cuenta un sueño, que consiste en visita a dormitorio de dos entes tipo militar que tratan de llevársela mientras ella se resiste. Lo notorio, según la chica, es que al despertar encuentra su almohada quemada. En otro episodio, esta vez mientras está estudiando sentada en silla de plástico, siente la necesidad imperiosa de levantarse inmediatamente. Lo hace y, instantáneamente, la silla es cortada misteriosamente como por una espada láser, que la funde en dos. A fin de comprender lo ocurrido, el profesor la induce a estado hipnótico: ‘La escena que ella describe en el sueño, que no es un sueño, es la siguiente. En cierto punto, digámoslo con palabras simples, se bloquea el tiempo. Todo está detenido. No hay más nadie. Ella se da la vuelta y dice no está ni siquiera el pez en la pecera. La mamá no está, porque cuando llega el alienígena, ya lo sabemos, tú estás en una burbuja espacio-temporal, por lo cual está sólo tú dentro de ella; con los objetos, o sea, con todo lo que no tiene consciencia. Todo lo que tiene consciencia continuó hacia adelante en el film; tú quedaste retrasado (…) en una pseudodimensión en donde no hay nada, está sólo el alienígena que interactúa contigo. Entran estos que no son militares, sino tres alienígenas del tipo ese que llamamos ranas, de los que tienen las yemas de los dedos grandes. Uno de ellos pone a la chica al hombro y trata de salir, pero la chica se resiste y se golpea la rodilla. Pero en un cierto momento, la escena cambia. La parte anímica se separa de su contenedor y continúa viendo la escena desde arriba, y en ese instante, a los dos que están detrás se le prenden fuego las ropas. Y pregunto, en la reconstrucción (sesión hipnosis), mientras esto sucede, a la parte anímica: ¿qué es lo que está sucediendo? Y ella responde: Fui yo quien prendió fuego a las ropas. De hecho, estos dos, en la tentativa de apagarse, se escapan y salen de la casa. Entonces yo, que siempre soy un poco malvado, le pregunto: ¿por qué no prendes fuego también al tercero? Y la respuesta de la parte anímica es simple: No puedo, ese tiene mi contenedor en el hombro. No lo voy a quemar, a mí, el contenedor me sirve. En ese momento, la chica es tirada velozmente sobre la cama y el tercer tipo escapa, y lo que sucede es que la chica, la parte anímica vuelve a entrar como una tele cámara…

    Abril 2011
    Slovak mystery: woman allegedly consumed by spontaneous human combustion

    Bratislava – An incredible case of death caused by spontaneous combustion shocked Slovakia. On March 10 of this year an older woman from Bratislava burned without any evidence of external source of fire or evidence of involvement of another person. According to TV Markíza police investigators and mystery hunters have been agonizing over the case for the past month.
    In the Bratislava apartment on Krížna Street firefighters and paramedics found the charred body of an older woman without any fire damage around it. It is not clear what was the source of the fire. Around the world there have been known cases of spontaneous human combustion, therefore there has been talk of this being the cause of death.
    A burned human body with no obvious source of fire was found lying on a tile floor. Apart from the chair on which the person sat nothing else was damaged by flames,” said Milan Grossman the chief of fire-fighting operations.
    According to preliminary results of the investigation, an older woman sat down on a chair two meters away from a stove and her body caught fire. Nothing was found in the apartment that could be seen as the cause of the fire, there were no candles, cigarettes, matches or plugged in stove.
    More past cases of spontaneous combustion, scientists dismiss them.
    A similar case happened in Slovakia 50 years ago, when a pair of lovers caught on fire in a car. The bodies were charred but the interior of the car was undamaged. During the 20th century throughout the world about 40 cases of spontaneous human combustion have been documented. The fire usually started in the abdomen and moved upwards. Often the lower limbs remained intact and the fire did not damage clothing or objects near the body.
    Mystery hunters talk about demon involvement, a disruption of electromagnetic fields or auto-aggression. Stories circulate about cases where a young girl at a dance began to burn in the arms of her partner or the dead body of a woman whose body began to burn in the hearse.
    But scientists reject the theory of spontaneous combustion. They point out that the human body contains large amounts of water, therefore the possibility of spontaneous combustion is very unlikely. The theory of spontaneous combustion is also refuted by cremation furnaces. It takes seventy minutes for a body to burn completely at 1200 degrees.

    http://www.sott.net/articles/show/227495-Slovak-mystery-woman-allegedly-consumed-by-spontaneous-human-combustion

    Enero de 2011
    Spontaneous Human Combustion? 15-year-old girl dies of mystery burns

    A 15-year-old girl died after suffering burn injuries under mysterious circumstances at Howrah’s Bantra on Tuesday. Police have started a probe.
    Police said that Binita Puri, a Class IX student and resident of Hooghly’s Pandua, was visiting her maternal uncle Kalachand Puri’s house at Brindavan Mullick Lane at Bantra.
    Kalachand lives on the ground floor of a highrise building. His wife Seema Puri was cooking when Binita suddenly shouted from inside the toilet. When everybody rushed in, she was found aflame. To save Binita, her aunt Seema rushed to her and tried to douse the fire by wrapping a cloth around her. Seema, too, sustained serious burns. Both were rushed to Howrah district hospital, where Binita was declared dead. Kalachand, who runs a cable business, was not at home then.
    Seema was later shifted to SSKM in critical condition. Doctors said that she had sustained about 60% burns. Binita’s father Bimal Puri runs a tea stall at Pandua.
    Police find the incident baffling. The relatives told them that there was probably a gas leak when Seema was cooking. The police wonder how, if Binita was in the toilet and Seema in the kitchen, did the former catch fire? Police are probing all angles.

    http://www.sott.net/articles/show/221765-Spontaneous-Human-Combustion-15-year-old-girl-dies-of-mystery-burns

    2007
    Spontaneous Human Combustion Eye witness cases in more detail

    The case of Robert Francis Bailey

    Early in the morning of 13 September 1967, some people walking to work in Lambeth, South London, noticed a bright light inside a derelict house at 49 Auckland Street.
    At 5:19 AM, one of them telephoned the emergency services. At 5:24, the Lambeth Fire Brigade arrived with Brigade Commander John Stacey.
    The crew entered the building and discovered the bright light was the burning body of a local alcoholic, Robert Bailey, who had sought shelter in the abandoned house overnight. Strangely, though, neither the fabric of the house itself, nor its internal fittings was damaged. The only thing on fire was Bailey himself.
    “When we entered the building,” said Stacey, “he was lying on the bottom of the stairs half-turned onto his left side and his knees were drawn up as though he was trying to bend the pain from his stomach.”
    Stacey said, ‘There was about a four inch slit in his stomach and the flame was emanating from that four-inch slit like a blow-torch. It was a blue flame.’
    Thinking the man might possibly still be alive, Stacey and his men emptied several fire extinguishers over the body, putting out the flame but with difficulty.
    “The flame was actually coming from the body itself,” said Stacey, “from inside the body. He was burning literally from the inside out. And it was definitely under pressure. And it was impinging on the timber flooring below the body, so much so that the heat from the flame was charred into the woodwork.”
    One especially bizarre feature of the case was that Bailey, while still alive and apparently convulsed in agony, had bitten deeply into the solid mahogany newel post of the stairs. His body remained with its teeth locked into the wood and had to be prised open by the firemen.
    Bailey’s clothing was undamaged except in the area of his abdomen. The area around him was largely undamaged except for the wooden planking immediately under his abdomen where a hole had been burnt. Combustible material only inches away was unburnt.
    An inquest sat under coroner Dr Gavin Thurston, who initially wished to list the death as “asphyxia due to inhalation of fire fumes”. However a second hearing found that Bailey’s death was due to “unknown causes”.
    Subsequent investigation by fire and police disclosed no source of ignition. The mains supply of gas and electricity had been cut off in the house and no matches were found.
    Even if the unfortunate Bailey had fallen asleep and dropped a cigarette on himself, the kind of burning seen at first hand and extinguished by the fireman on the scene cannot be accounted for by the ‘wick effect’. It was a rapid, acute burning episode, highly localised in the victim’s abdomen, producing a flame ‘like a blow torch’ that an experienced professional fire fighter found difficult to extinguish immediately.
    Importantly, too, the firemen were on the scene within 5 minutes of being called, and the body they found had no fire damage apart from the small area in the abdomen, showing that it had only recently begun to burn. The flame was a “bright” blue flame — bright enough to attract the attention of passers-by in the street. This, too, is not characteristic of a ‘wick-effect’ fire.
    Source: Fire Brigade Commander John Stacey, interviewed by Larry Arnold and quoted in Ablaze! P 202.

    The case of Jean Lucille Saffin

    In September 1982, a mentally handicapped London woman, Jeannie Saffin aged 61, burst into flames while sitting on a wooden Windsor chair in the kitchen of her home in Edmonton. Her father, who was seated at a nearby table, said he saw a flash of light out of the corner of his eye and turned to Jeannie to ask if she had seen it. He was astonished to find that she was enveloped in flames, mainly around her face and hands.
    Mr. Saffin said Jeannie did not cry out or move, but merely sat there with her hands in her lap. He pulled her over to the sink, starting trying to douse the flames with water and called to his son-in-law, Donald Carroll. The younger man ran into the kitchen to see Jeannie standing with flames ‘roaring’ from her face and abdomen. The two men managed to douse the flames with pans of water and called the emergency services.
    According to the ambulance men who took Jeannie to hospital, the kitchen itself was undamaged by smoke or flame and her clothing was undamaged except for a part of her red nylon cardigan which had melted.
    Both Donald Carroll, the son-in-law and Mr. Saffin (a First World War veteran) spoke of the flames coming from Jeannie as making a ‘roaring noise’.
    Jeannie appeared to be conscious and aware in hospital but did not speak. The third degree burns on her body covered only the parts of her that had been unclothed, her face and hands, apart from her abdomen, where she had held her hands clasped while sitting. She lapsed into a coma and died after 8 days.
    Perhaps the most important fact that the eyewitness testimony provides is that the burning episode in the kitchen lasted at most a minute or two before the flames were doused, rather than hours..
    An inquest was held into Ms. Saffin’s death and police enquiries were ordered by the coroner, Dr. J. Burton to determine how she caught fire. The policeman who conducted the enquiry reported to the coroner’s court that no cause could be found. He told Ms. Saffin’s relatives that he believed her to be a victim of Spontaneous Human Combustion.
    In his evidence to the inquest, Ms. Saffin’s brother-in-law, Donald Carrol, said that she had died as a result of SHC. ‘The flames were coming from her mouth like a dragon and they were making a roaring noise.’ He told the coroner.
    However, the coroner reached a verdict of misadventure. To the family the coroner, Dr. Burton, said, ‘I sympathise with you but I cannot put down SHC because there is no such thing. I will have to put down misadventure or open verdict.’
    Source: Larry Arnold, quoted in Ablaze! P208.

    The case of Helen Conway

    The case of Helen Conway was referred to in the BBC TV film Spontaneous Human Combustion but only as evidence rebutting the reality of such cases.
    The unrecognisably charred remains of Mrs Conway were discovered in her bedroom on 8 November 1964 in Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania. Her case has been widely debated as possibly due to spontaneous human combustion — a conclusion hotly denied by skeptics.
    At the beginning of the film, the fire chief who had attended the scene, Paul Haggarty, spoke on camera telling how he believed it must have been a case of SHC.
    At the end of the film, however, the narrator said, “Similarly, in the Conway case, the cause of the fire is known. Shortly before Mrs Conway’s death, her grandaughter brought her a new book of matches.”
    Mrs Conway is acknowledged to have been a careless smoker whose room contained evidence of many cigarette burns. Thus the Conway case was dismissed without further comment.
    What the film makers neglected to say, however, is that the time that elapsed between the grand-daughter handing Mrs Conway the matches and the firemen arriving to discover her completely consumed remains, was at most about 20 minutes and could have been as little as 6 minutes.
    This information comes from Robert Meslin, a volunteer fireman (later Fire Marshall) in Upper Darby Township at the time of the fire, and one of the first on the scene. (It was Meslin who took the famous photographs of Mrs Conway’s charred remains.)
    “The amazing part of the incident in my opinion”, says Meslin, “is the time element.” Meslin said that the grand-daughter made the fire alarm call within “three minutes” of having last spoken to her grandmother. That meant Mrs Conway was alive at 8:42 AM. The firemen arrived to find her remains at 8:48 AM.
    Once again, the “wick effect” can be completely ruled out. It is absolutely inexplicable that the makers of the BBC TV QED film should have stated that the “cause of the fire is known” when they must also have known that the fire that consumed Helen Conway did so in a time interval of not more than 20 and not less than 6 minutes. The film maker’s own experiment showed them conclusively that the ‘wick effect’ would have taken a minimum of 7 hours to consume Mrs Conway.
    Source: Fire Marshall Robert Meslin, interviewed by Larry Arnold and quoted in Ablaze!

    The case of Agnes Phillips

    Probably the most recent case where a victim has caught fire, lived for a short time and where the event was witnessed by more than one person, happened on 24 August 1998 in Sydney, Australia.
    Jackie Park collected her mother, Agnes Phillips, from a nursing home in a Sydney Suburb on this day. Mrs Park liked to take her mother, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, out for the day. About an hour later, she parked in front of the 4-Square Store in Balgownie Road and left her mother asleep in the car while she went to the shop.
    Minutes later Mrs Park saw smoke coming from the car, followed by an explosion of flames and ran back. A passer-by, Bradley Silva, managed to drag Mrs Phillips from the car and put out the flames. The old lady was reported as remaining remarkably calm throughout the ordeal, only muttering ‘It’s too hot, it’s too hot’ as her daughter held her at the side of the road.
    Mrs Phillips suffered burns to her chest, abdomen, neck, arms and legs that were described as ‘severe and extreme’. She was taken to hospital where she died just over a week later.
    At the inquest in April 1999, New South Wales Fire Brigade Inspector Donald Walshe said he could not determine where the fire originated. The car engine was not running; there was no trace of liquid accelerants and no faulty wiring. Neither Mrs Phillips nor Mrs Park were smokers and the maximum temperature in Wollongong on the day of the fire was 16º Celsius. The coroner, recorded an open verdict.
    Inspector Walshe illogically commented that spontaneous human combustion was ruled out ‘because of evidence from previous cases and experience over the years. This fire took place over a very short period of time and it does take a lot of time for that scenario (SHC) to take place.’
    Presumably, Inspector Walshe was thinking of the ‘wick effect’, which does indeed take many hours. But Mrs Phillips, like the other victims described here, caught fire and burned in a matter of minutes, not the hours required by the ‘wick effect’.
    Sources: Sydney Daily Telegraph, Brisbane Courier Mail, 9 April, South China Morning Post, 10 April 1999. See Fortean Times web site.
    The case of Agnes Phillips may sound unique, yet there are other strikingly similar cases.

    The case of Olga Worth Stephens

    On 16 October 1964, Mrs. Olga Worth Stephens, age 75, was driven into Dallas, Texas, by her nephew. Her nephew parked the car and went to buy a cold drink leaving his aunt in the car. A few minutes later Mrs Stephens burst into flames. She was pulled from the car badly burned and taken to hospital where she died eight days later. According to the Dallas Morning News, reporting her death, she was treated for ‘burns received in mysterious circumstances.’
    Homicide detectives and firemen investigated the incident and found that the car itself had not burnt, only Mrs Stephens. They also found no evidence of combustible materials in the car and ruled out the (somewhat bizarre) possibility of suicide by self-immolation.
    Sources: Dallas Morning News, 24 October 1964, Mysteries of the unexplained, Reader’s Digest. 1982, p. 92, Larry Arnold, Ablaze!, 1995.

    The case of Jeanna Winchester

    On 9 October 1980, Jeanna Winchester, a naval airwoman, burst into flames while sitting in a car next to Leslie Scott, a friend. They were driving along Seaboard Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida, when flames suddenly appeared around Winchester who screamed “Get me out of here!” Scott tried to beat out the flames with her hands, and the car ran into a telephone pole.
    Miss Winchester was taken to hospital and survived the experience, although 20 percent of her body was covered by burns, comprising her right shoulder and arm, neck, side and back.
    Police patrolman T.G. Hendrix who investigated said he found no spilled petrol or other accelerant in the car. “The white leather she was sitting on was a little browned and the door panel had a little black on it. Otherwise there was no fire damage.”
    Miss Winchester told the local newspaper that she couldn’t remember anything between riding uneventfully in the car and waking up in hospital. ‘At first I thought there had to be a logical explanation,’ she said, ‘but I couldn’t find any. I wasn’t smoking anything. The window was up, so somebody couldn’t have thrown anything in. The car didn’t burn. I finally thought about spontaneous human combustion when I couldn’t find anything else.’
    Sources: The Light (San Antonio newspaper) 16 November 1980. Colin Wilson, The Encyclopaedia of Unsolved Mysteries, 1988. Larry Arnold, Ablaze! 1995.

    Conclusions

    None of these cases is conclusive evidence for the existence of ‘Spontaneous Human Combustion’, but they do show three important things.
    First, that the ‘wick effect’ often proposed by ‘skeptics’ for apparent cases of SHC, and the primary conclusion offered by the ‘QED’ film, is not only an inadequate explanation, it is conclusively ruled out in every single case for which there are surviving witnesses — the only cases that matter as far as evidence of cause is concerned.
    Second, that there are some members of the scientific community and the media, who regard themselves as ‘skeptics’, but who are more interested in debunking what they regard as paranormal nonsense than they are in determining the true facts.
    And third, that the statements of such scientists and reporters should be treated with the deepest skepticism (of the true kind) even when they are given a platform by an organisation as authoritative as BBC TV.
    The lesson of this case is the same as that of every case described on this web site. Insist on consulting primary sources of evidence for yourself. Do not let anyone purporting to be a scientific expert tell you what the facts mean. Decide for yourself what conclusion the primary evidence supports.

    http://www.sott.net/articles/show/133945-Spontaneous-Human-Combustion-Eye-witness-cases-in-more-detail

    2007
    Spontaneous Human Combustion

    In August 1999, BBC TV broadcast in prime time a film in its prestigious science series ‘QED’, entitled Spontaneous Human Combustion.
    The film was ambitious both as science and as reporting, for it set out to debunk once and for all the centuries-old belief that, under some mysterious circumstances, humans can catch fire and be almost entirely consumed, even in the security of their own homes.
    Most impressive of all, the film set out to debunk the idea not merely with argument and theories, but with an actual experimental demonstration on camera in which the carcass of a pig was substituted for that of a human body.
    The film’s narrator, Samuel West, told viewers that, ‘This film has brought together for the first time the world’s top fire experts and follows their quest to solve the mystery of Spontaneous Human Combustion.’
    The film’s method was persuasive. First it showed experienced, intelligent and sincere professionals — a fire chief and a police officer — swearing that the bodies they found could only be cases of Spontaneous Human Combustion.
    Later, though, evidence was produced of possible sources of flame, in one case a book-match, in another a small candle, and the professionals were compelled to admit they could have been mistaken. Viewers saw for themselves how even the experts can be misled, and how easy it is to imagine extraordinary or paranormal causes for what are really quite mundane events.
    Home Office Pathologist professor Mike Green, of Southampton University, made it clear that he did not believe in spontaneous human combustion. ‘The way the body burns — the so-called wick effect,’ he said, ‘seems to me and to my colleagues to be the most scientifically credible hypothesis.’
    Then the film makers, producer Jan Klimkowski and director Stephen Leslie, enlarged on this scientific explanation.
    ‘Forensic scientists . . .’ they told viewers, ‘. . . are convinced that, like other fires, these fires are most commonly started by a careless match or cigarette and they believe there is a simple explanation of how this can reduce the body to ash.’
    ‘The scientific explanation — the ‘wick effect’ — proposes that in certain rare circumstances the human being can burn like a candle.’
    The explanation advanced by the film makers was that a clothed human body is like an inside-out candle where the fat, or fuel source, is inside and the wick is outside. Once burning begins, the melted fat seeps into the clothing and burns like a wick, slowly over a period of many hours.
    Dr John DeHaan of the California Criminalistics Institute demonstrated this theory by burning the body of a pig wrapped in a blanket to simulate a clothed human being, using about a litre of petrol as an initial accelerant.
    The film makers concluded emphatically, ‘The scientists have clearly demonstrated how the classic features of spontaneous human combustion can occur through normal processes.’
    Importantly, the ‘wick effect’ explanation proposed in the film necessarily entails three key features:-
    It is a slow, gradual process taking many hours, typically 5 to 10 hours or more. In the DeHaan experiment, the pig carcass was still not fully consumed after 7 hours.
    There is always a source of combustion — matches, cigarette, candle, gas fire, coal fire etc, and some initial accelerant — perfume, alcohol, or some other spirit.
    Because it is a long slow process involving the melting of body fat, the victim must necessarily be killed.
    Why is this an example of pseudoscience?
    Almost incredibly, the reporters who made the film and the scientists who took part in it, chose to ignore completely the fact that there are a number of recent, well-documented cases of people who have experienced or witnessed spontaneous human combustion at first hand and who lived to tell what happened. And the first-hand experience of these witnesses completely contradicts the key features of the ‘scientific explanation’ in every detail.
    First, there is the case of Fire Brigade Commander John Stacey, called to a house fire in Lambeth in 1967, who discovered Robert Bailey in the early stages of combustion and burning from inside his abdomen ‘like a blow torch’ in a derelict house where gas and electricity had been turned off and where there were no other sources of ignition. [Click here to read details of this and other cases and a discussion of their significance.]
    Second, there is the 1982 case of 62-year old Jean Saffin who burst into flames while sitting at the table of her kitchen in Edmonton, London, in the presence of her father and her brother-in-law, Donald Carroll, who was called to the room. Ms Saffin burned in front of them and died later in hospital. Despite the eyewitness evidence given at the inquest on her death, the coroner, Dr. J. Burton, said ‘I sympathise with you but I cannot put down SHC because there is no such thing. I will have to put down misadventure or open verdict.’
    Third, there is the 1998 case of Agnes Phillips who burst into flames while sitting in her daughter’s parked car in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, while on a shopping trip with her daughter. Mrs. Phillips burned in front of her daughter and a passer-by, Bradley Silva, who beat out the flames, and died a week later in hospital. The New South Wales Fire Inspector told the inquest that at the time she caught fire, the car engine was not running; there was no trace of liquid accelerants and no faulty wiring. Neither Mrs Phillips nor her daughter were smokers and the maximum temperature on the day of the fire was 16º C.
    Other well documented eyewitness cases include:

    Helen Conway

    Olga Stephens

    Jeanna Winchester

    But how could the film makers be expected to know about cases such as these?

    The QED team expressed their thanks at the end of the film to Larry Arnold. Arnold heads an organisation called ParaScience International and has been collecting cases of possible spontaneous human combustion for over twenty years. He is the author of the 1995 book on the subject entitled Ablaze! which contains details of more than 400 cases including numerous well-documented survivor cases.
    Even had they been overcome by group amnesia after looking through the voluminous files and books of Larry Arnold, the researchers could still have browsed the Internet, where they would have found the case of Agnes Phillips on the Fortean Times web site, or simply visited the public library and borrowed a copy of the 1982 Reader’s Digest Mysteries of the Unexplained where further cases of SHC survival were reported. Or Colin Wilson’s 1988 Encyclopaedia of unexplained mysteries, where again they would have found similar cases.
    In other words, even the most superficial research by the film makers would have alerted them to the existence of living eye-witnesses whose testimony they could have sought, and who flatly contradict everything advanced in their conjectural theory.
    The fact that they chose to ignore this contradictory evidence and to rely solely instead on the theories of scientific rationalists who set out to debunk what they perceive as just another piece of paranormal nonsense, shows that the film makers’ minds were already made up before they started filming. They completely failed in their most elementary duty — to check both sides of the story.
    Possibly this was because they themselves were pursuing some misguided notions of defending ‘scientific rationalism’ against new age credulity.
    Whatever the reason, the reality is that it was they, the film makers, who were the agents of pseudoscience in this case.
    In my opinion, BBC TV and its QED team, if they wish to retain their deservedly high reputation for honesty, accuracy and impartiality, should publicly dissociate themselves from these film makers and their fundamentally flawed film, a film that has been passed off on a trusting public as scientifically credible and as representing the authoritative ‘scientific’ viewpoint.

    http://www.sott.net/articles/show/134028-Spontaneous-Human-Combustion

  2. libertaliadehatali

    Gracias a ti Tavo por tu aportación, hasta ahora no tenía ni idea de esa relación que menciona el artículo que has enviado, y por tu blog.

    Saludos, Pedro

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