# Is This A Hoax?

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### #1 LisaL

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 04:39 AM

Is it possible for cells to produce such temperatures?

http://www.express.c...ing-into-flames

### #2 CraigD

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 03:06 PM

http://www.express.c...ing-into-flames

I think the express article attributing a video of a man who’s cloths are burning to human spontaneous combustion is more tabloid journalism than a true hoax, because sensible people don’t expect tabloids to be truthful.

If you look carefully at a still picture of the video, you can see fire coming for what appears to be a circular can in the unfortunate man’s hand. My guess is that he was using a can of Sterno as an “camp fire” to keep warm, fell into a drunken sleep, and allowed it to set fire to his jacket and shirt. I hope the bystander taking the video or someone else put out the fire before the man was badly burned!

Is it possible for cells to produce such temperatures?

In short, not via any metabolic process. We discussed this a year or so ago in “Could A Human Cell Get Hotter Than 200 Degrees Via Its Own Chemical Reactions?”.

Human and animal bodies are made in part of flammable materials – in many ways, they’re similar in composition to wax candles – so if exposed long enough to flame, can ignite. People can, due to age, drunkenness, or other debilitation, become unable to escape a fire, such as clothing or furniture ignited by a cigarette, gas burner or fireplace fire, etc. I believe fatal burnings attributed by tabloids and fringe websites to SHC, are the result of such accidents.

### #3 LisaL

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 12:53 AM

Is it is not true or possible, why are the majority of articles on SC either supporting that it exists or are not certain? Many of them say it's an unexplained mystery.

I saw a documentary a while ago featuring  a Vermont war veteran. He and his friend say they witnessed spontaneous combustion. The war veteran has a Facebook page where he promotes a cure and his documentary. He says he's under scientific investigation and that they are testing his skin cells. https://www.facebook.com/rose.alsdorf

### #4 LaurieAG

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 05:06 AM

Like Craig D said wax candles. We are encased in a layer of fat and our clothes can act like wicks so it's not a mystery. Why do you think most modern cigarettes are self extinguishing.

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### #5 LisaL

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 08:34 AM

I am referring to cases of 'SHC survivors', or people who have been witnessed to burst into flame, such as that of Frank Baker, Kay Fletcher, and Jack Angel. In these cases, a friend or relative was there to testify for them additionally.

The link to Frank Baker's Facebook page is here - https://www.facebook.com/rose.alsdorf

There was also a news article on a German woman who was seen engulfed in flames on a park bench. She died in hospital. It was at the end of October and it was reported as a case of SHC. The article was something along the lines of ''German woman spontaneously combusts on park bench''.

Edited by Corvidus, 10 February 2016 - 08:37 AM.

### #6 JensB

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 10:32 AM

There is on average less than one reported case worldwide per year, so it's extremely difficult to study. Lots of scientists insist that it's impossible, but it's reported widely enough that SOMETHING is clearly happening. Several cases in India where homes and people have been randomly burned was explained when it was discovered that the soil (and therefore their homes) contained highly concentrated phosphorus inclusions, which are extremely volatile.

The strangest aspects are that the few very concrete examples like Henry Thomas. In such cases, even though the entire torso is completely incinerated (including bones) indoors, there is minimal damage to the rest of the body and the room, only burning part of the chair he was sitting on. It's very strange because a fire hot and large enough to do that would have to burn down the building. It's a hell of a mystery.

### #7 CraigD

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 08:25 PM

Welcome to hypography, Jens! Please feel free to start a topic in the introductions forum to tell us something about yourself.

There is on average less than one reported case worldwide per year, so it's extremely difficult to study. Lots of scientists insist that it's impossible, but it's reported widely enough that SOMETHING is clearly happening.

What consensus science rejects is that these unusual cases of human burning aren’t the result of an external flame source, such as blankets and flammable liquids ignited by flames.

By definition, spontaneous combustion doesn’t have an external ignition source. So a claims of spontaneous human combustion in not merely the claims that the cause of the burns isn’t explained, but that it was caused by something not outside of the body.

Several cases in India where homes and people have been randomly burned was explained when it was discovered that the soil (and therefore their homes) contained highly concentrated phosphorus inclusions, which are extremely volatile.

This would not be SHC.

The strangest aspects are that the few very concrete examples like Henry Thomas. In such cases, even though the entire torso is completely incinerated (including bones) indoors, there is minimal damage to the rest of the body and the room, only burning part of the chair he was sitting on. It's very strange because a fire hot and large enough to do that would have to burn down the building. It's a hell of a mystery.

I find the scientific explanation that such cases are due to the wick effect convincing.

By reproduced the conditions of a suggested SHC case using a mock-up room and a pig carcass in place of a human body, forensic science expert John D. DeHaan was able to reproduce a case of a human body so deeply burned some of the bones were reduced to ash, without seriously damaging the room in which it occurred. What occurred is a slow burn that was able to almost completely burn the carcass, including bones, without exuding enough heat to ignite the room. (source: BBC News acticle “New light on human torch mystery”)

### #8 LisaL

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Posted 18 February 2016 - 10:21 AM

One question people can never seem to answer is if it is possible for cells to get hot enough via their own processes to cause spontaneous combustion.

What about cases such as Frank Baker? (Very) elaborate hoaxes?

Edited by Corvidus, 18 February 2016 - 10:22 AM.

### #9 CraigD

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 07:07 AM

One question people can never seem to answer is if it is possible for cells to get hot enough via their own processes to cause spontaneous combustion.

If by “processes” you mean metabolic processes, then biologists have answered this question. The answer is no. The reason is that the structures – proteins – that cause the complicated chemical reactions of metabolism are fairly fragile, and break (denature) at a lower temperature than they burn. This is why the scientific consensus is that spontaneous combustion of living animals is a myth.

If you include chemical processes that occur in the absence of metabolism – for example, those that occur in a decaying animal body – I suspect spontaneous combustion is possible, in the right circumstances. Mixtures of about 50% water and 50% Triglyceride oils from plants have been observed to self-heat and ignite. Animals are rich with similar oils from fat, so I suspect that is it decayed in a very peculiar way, the same thing might happen with an animal body. The animal would, of course, need to be dead.

(source: http://www.tis-gdv.d...elbsterhitzung)

What about cases such as Frank Baker? (Very) elaborate hoaxes?

I think “Frank Baker” is engaging in a very simple hoax – they claim to be a decorated US military veteran suffering from injuries due to SHC, and ask for money. This is the same basic scam as falsely claiming to be a woman with a young child fleeing an abusive husband, destitute after losing a job, etc, and asking for money, except instead of a plausible scenario, “Frank Baker” chose a scientifically impossible one.

“Frank Baker” has been debunked on several internet forums, such as http://skeptics252.r...8/all_p128.html and http://www.skepticfo...=21872&start=80 .
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### #10 LisaL

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 10:12 AM

If S.C is not possible, then why is it touted as such a big unexplained mystery and gets in the news from time to time?

### #11 CraigD

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Posted 22 February 2016 - 08:11 PM

If S.C is not possible, then why is it touted as such a big unexplained mystery and gets in the news from time to time?

I think SHC is touted as a big, unexplained mystery in some news/entertainment organs because these ventures are able to make money by doing so, much like stories about the Loch Ness monster, haunted houses, chupacabras, fairies, and other scientifically discredited things.

Newpaper, magazine, website, and online video makers are considered entertainers, and are under no legal compulsion to verify their stories, so something being is in a newspaper, magazine, or website, is no guarantee of its scientific accuracy. In the US, radio and television broadcast are subject to FCC rules, and can in principle be fined or even have their licenses revoked for “distorting” factual information. However, I think this is very unlikely, since one of the largest broadcasters of ghost stories and pseudoscientific documentaries, Discovery Communication, has to the best of my knowledge never been even cautions by the FCC. Most of these shows include a “fine print” disclaimer stating that they are entertainment, not credible science education.

No credible encyclopedia or scientific reference of which I’m aware suggest that SHC occurs, or that the cause of burned human bodies some claim to have been causes by SHC are not explained as having ordinary causes.

All I know is that I know nothing.

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 08:38 PM

As the original article stated:

"The burning man appears to lay there calmly despite his clothes around his torso becoming engulfed.

Spontaneous human combustion is an instance when a person starts burning apparently without coming into contact with any flame.

Often just the feet or lower legs are left and it is thought a mixture of alcohol and smoking could be responsible."

Alcohol burns with a faint blue flame that is difficult to see. Someone who is extremely drunk could have spilled alcohol on himself and lit a cigarette setting himself alight.  Someone who is unconscious or barely conscious would not or could not act to preserve themselves. The human body is made of 70% water, and as you know water does not burn.  Something as thin and dry as book paper does not burn until 451F.  Any body temperature in excess of 110F will cause irreparable brain damage, and any body temperature in excess of 130`F would cause certain death of the individual and his body cells.  In short it is physically impossible for a human body to burn without an outside heat source and human body cells cannot produce temperatures high enough to cause auto-ignition.  Tabloid "entertainment" media likes to promote sensational, but fictitious stories to promote sales of their filthy rags.  If there is no documented scientific proof of an event and it cannot be reproduced under documented conditions, then it is rumor, hoax, prevarication, supposition, or outright fantasy.

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 08:43 PM

Note to Craig D on post #11:  I still find it hilarious that the History Channel has a program named "Ancient Aliens".

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 08:52 PM

Watching the video again I noted that the flame was yellow, not blue, and would remind readers that street gangs have been known to beat and set on fire homeless people and drunks.  What seems more credible?  The person spontaneously combusted for some scientifically impossible reason or was intentionally set on fire?

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 09:50 PM

I had one case several years ago when I worked for the next town up where a house had partially burned and the fire department found a woman's partly burned body on the bed.  The police were called in and the coroner.  I didn't get to view the scene until the next morning after the body had been removed.  As I understand it from Fire and Police personnel, the torso was largely burned up but the legs, arms, and head were more or less intact.  There was enough evidence to show she had been choked to death and set on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime.  The gas can was still in the room, and the door was closed when the fire department arrived (from 1 mile down the road)  Anyhow, as the Building Official I was there to assess the condition of the structure.  The closed door limited the amount of oxygen to the fire, and I can only assume that the killer did not anticipate how quickly gasoline ignited, dropped the can, and closed the door as he hurried to escape.  The roof rafters were burned and the floor decking was charred.  The Police released the crime scene a year later, and I had the house demolished to the relief of the neighborhood.  The demolition company gave us a greatly reduced rate since the woman who was killed used to work with them.  Although several suspects were interviewed, the case remains unsolved.

### #16 Farming guy

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 03:36 PM

Note to Craig D on post #11:  I still find it hilarious that the History Channel has a program named "Ancient Aliens".

I loved that show, until it got repetitive.  I found it hilarious that they believed any sign of any advanced knowledge of any sort by ancient civilizations could  have only come from aliens!

### #17 LisaL

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Posted 09 April 2016 - 03:07 PM

what about the frank baker case/documentary on the science channel? (and similar cases) was that a hoax too? I remember reading about it in the Mirror (news website) and some woman left a comment implying she knew him (or his wife) and called him and his friend out for lying. He also refused a polygraph.

however watching the documentary he seems sincere. he also set up a facebook page about raising money to fund a cure for his condition.

Edited by LisaL, 09 April 2016 - 03:08 PM.