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Unexplained death by fire in London
#1
Courtesy of the Daily Grail, here's a report of a man apparently catching fire as he walked along a street in London. He later died in hospital. No obvious reason was found for the fire:
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/m...20161.html
"There are more things in philosophy than are dreamt of in heaven and earth."
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#2
Yeah, I like Joe Nickell try to explain that away as an “wick effect” . Wink
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#3
I remember reading about this many years ago (late 70s?). Spontaneous human combustion, I think it was called, I'm not aware of having heard anything similar until now.
Oh my God, I hate all this.   Surprise
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#4
(12-16-2017, 10:48 AM)Stan Woolley Wrote: I remember reading about this many years ago (late 70s?). Spontaneous human combustion, I think it was called, I'm not aware of having heard anything similar until now.

Yes, it has quite a long history. Dickens used it to kill off a character in Bleak House. (I'm not sure whether that was a more or less convincing way of killing a villain than getting a house to collapse on him suddenly.)
"There are more things in philosophy than are dreamt of in heaven and earth."
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#5
(12-16-2017, 10:28 AM)Pollux Wrote: Yeah, I like Joe Nickell try to explain that away as an “wick effect” . Wink

Here's a rather fuller report in the Daily Telegraph: 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/...afflement/

A former Home Office pathologist is quoted. He refers to the "wick effect" but seems to acknowledge that it can't be the explanation in this case. (If I understand correctly the idea of the "wick effect" is that the fat in the body burns like a candle, with the victim's clothing acting as an external wick.)

Reading between the lines, the victim here may have been a heavy drinker, which - as the article says - is commonly associated with such cases.

The article also refers to a recent open-air case in Germany. Here's a report of that one:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/...21941.html
And here's a sceptical commentary by Sharon Hill, suggesting that a conventional explanation would probably be found in the German case:
http://doubtfulnews.com/2015/11/media-li...t-so-fast/
But I can't see any later reports of that case, and it's not even clear whether or not the victim survived.
"There are more things in philosophy than are dreamt of in heaven and earth."
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#6
(12-16-2017, 04:34 PM)Chris Wrote: Reading between the lines, the victim here may have been a heavy drinker, which - as the article says - is commonly associated with such cases.

IIRC, the Dickens character in Bleak House was an alcoholic too. I remember he was played by Jonny Vegas in the BBC production.

Ahh, yes, my memory serves me well in this case:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/f...house-plot

Quote:Not surprisingly, Dickens has come in for plenty of stick for this incendiary moment. A contemporary critic, GH Lewes, quickly declared that "according to all known chemical and physiological laws, spontaneous combustion is an impossibility."

That such criticism stung is shown by the way Dickens hit back – at length, in a preface to the novel:

"The possibility of what is called spontaneous combustion has been denied since the death of Mr. Krook … I have no need to observe that I do not wilfully or negligently mislead my readers and that before I wrote that description I took pains to investigate the subject."

He goes on to list notable cases before adding: "I do not think it necessary to add to these notable facts … contenting myself with observing that I shall not abandon the facts until there shall have been a considerable spontaneous combustion of the testimony on which human occurrences are usually received."
"I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” ― C.G. Jung
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#7
(12-16-2017, 04:34 PM)Chris Wrote: Here's a rather fuller report in the Daily Telegraph: 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/...afflement/

A former Home Office pathologist is quoted. He refers to the "wick effect" but seems to acknowledge that it can't be the explanation in this case. (If I understand correctly the idea of the "wick effect" is that the fat in the body burns like a candle, with the victim's clothing acting as an external wick.)

Reading between the lines, the victim here may have been a heavy drinker, which - as the article says - is commonly associated with such cases.

The article also refers to a recent open-air case in Germany. Here's a report of that one:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/...21941.html
And here's a sceptical commentary by Sharon Hill, suggesting that a conventional explanation would probably be found in the German case:
http://doubtfulnews.com/2015/11/media-li...t-so-fast/
But I can't see any later reports of that case, and it's not even clear whether or not the victim survived.

Yeah, but how much hard liquor does one have to drink to spontaneously combust while walking down the street?
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