Spontaneous Human Combustion Essay

Spontaneous Human Combustion Essay

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Spontaneous Human Combustion The world is full of the unexplained and mysterious, but is spontaneous human combustion truly spontaneous caused by the paranormal, or just simply human combustion? Most people think of spontaneous human combustion, or SHC, as "...the reduction of an otherwise normal, healthy human body to a pile of fine black ash, the consistency of which is finer than that of a cremated corpse" (Spontaneous). This is simply not true. First of all, it is not complete consumption because in most cases extremities and internal organs remain because the high temperature outside the body does not penetrate internally. Secondly, the fact that the ash is so fine is often used by SHC proponents as to why the fire must by paranormal. They say that the fire has to be extremely hot because even in a crematorium calcified bones often remain, but this fine ash can also be attributed to simple combustion. To learn more about SHC and how it works we must take a look at the victims. Victims of SHC are mainly elderly females that smoke. Almost all the victims have weight problems. They are often at least overweight. It must be understood that no well-documented cases of infant SHC have ever been reported. Some researchers say that there is "...a fairly equal representation of the sexes among the victims, with ages ranging from infancy to 114 years ;many were abstemious and thin" (Mysteries 80). To get a personal opinion on this matter, one must research this kind of information for themselves since much of it can be misconstrued. Some may believe the SHC phenomenon has only been around for the past few decades but "...spontaneous human combustion (SHC) began to appear in medical reports as far back as the 17th century..." (Mysteries 80). Rare and abnormal deaths caused by fire were just as common back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as they are nowadays. To find a logical explanation scientists looked for a common thread in the cases. This common thread seemed to be alcohol. During this Victorian era, an evil of the Christian society was drink. SHC "...was viewed as a sort of a moral punishment for drunkenness" (Cohen 195). Since the cause of SHC was believed to be drinking, many had oral remedies for SHC. "In Germany the common people had great faith in liquid manure as a preventive for spontaneous combustion..." (Bondeson 7). If you lived in Scandinavia at that time you may have had heard of an even more unlikely preventive. "Swedish and Norwegian folklore prescribed human urine, preferably freshly voided by a woman, to be thrown into the mouth of a flowing drunkard..." (Bondeson 7). During this Victorian era SHC became popular in literature. Mark Twain was one writer who popularized SHC in his book, Life on the Mississippi, during early America. "Jimmy Finn was not burned in a calaboose, but died a natural death in a vat of a combination of delirium tremens and spontaneous combustion." (quoted in Cohen 192). Charles Dickens also wrote about SHC in his book, Bleak House, and he attributed it to alcohol. Dickens described the death of the drunken man, Krook, in the following manner: Here is a small burnt patch of flooring ;here is the tender from a little bundle of burnt paper, but not so light as usual, seeming to be steeped in something ;and here is- is it the cinder of a small charred and broken log of wood sprinkled with white ashes, or is it coal, O Horror, he is here! and this, from which we run away, striking out the light and overturning one another into the street, is all that represents him. (quoted in Cohen 193) Dickens was so avid about the topic that when the book was reprinted, a slip was added that quoted Dickens on his support of SHC. It can only be believed that alcohol would have only attributed to the death but did not directly cause it. There has been a lot of paranormal phenomenon that has been used to explain alleged spontaneous human combustion. "Cases of individuals capable of generating explosive bursts of electrical energy by manipulating internal organs appear throughout the world and... amongst the Chinese and Pacific Asian cultures" (Spontaneous). Some cases are reported in which electromagnetic fields are seen, and "...fluorescent light-tubes illuminate when held underneath... pylons, apparently from the intense ionization and electromagnetic field filling the surrounding air" (Randles 14). They have been associated with SHC. According to Yoga, Kundelini is "an energy that is supposed to pervade the individual's astral body..." (Bondeson 14). If it is released uncontrollably, it is believed a person could combust. Some have postulated "the existence of a pyrotron, a... particle, capable of starting a chain reaction that vaporizes the entire human being" (Bondeson 14-15). Such evidence for such a particle is still to be seen. Phosphinic farts and methane gases produced by the body during digestion have been used to explain SHC. It is known both of these gases are volatile and combustible. There are many believers that say SHC is started by static electricity: Some people have been known to build up... charges, occasionally
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