Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#41  Postby Templeton » Jul 04, 2014 7:28 pm

I'll stick with spontaneous combustion - It agitates the poo throwing monkeys to no end :naughty2:


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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#42  Postby BlackBart » Jul 04, 2014 8:01 pm

Templeton wrote:I'll stick with spontaneous combustion - It agitates the poo throwing monkeys to no end :naughty2:


Which poo throwing monkeys would they be, Templeton?
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#43  Postby kennyc » Jul 04, 2014 8:46 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
kennyc wrote:
Soral wrote:1. I didn't know it was an old story. I saw it posted on SciForums yesterday, so I assumed it was recent.
2. It isn't a habit of mine to check dates on news stories.


Thank you. I clearly missed the date the first time as well, but better to either just ignore this this sort of thing rather than propagate it or to point out it's improbability along with the link.


Personally, I think that's the express remit of this particular subforum - to debunk claims like this. It's not propagation to post it on a site which aims to be rationally skeptical.

kennyc wrote:No offense intended but we do get a lot of disingenuous posters here as you might imagine.


That, however, is true.... but might I suggest it's still not a reason to dismiss any given topic out of hand.


I think you need to read the rest of the thread before you get all high and mighty. Of course you are welcome to your opinion in any case. :waah:

This is clearly an old report with nothing to substantiate it and a subject title that is clearly misleading and nothing but a link in the O.P.

And yes things such as this should be dismissed out of hand. What was it Hitch always said.

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
― Christopher Hitchens

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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#44  Postby Soral » Jul 04, 2014 11:52 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
Soral wrote:
I'm more concerned that people actually believe it is biologically possible.


Even with a biological background and clearly skeptical of the claim, I'm more worried that a purported phenomenon would be dismissed a priori because of a prejudgment that it's impossible. By definition, if a phenomenon is rare and unrecorded, then we can't be sure whether it's possible or not without reviewing the alleged evidence. We can't really decide in advance that something is impossible based on a data set that doesn't include the purported phenomenon. Obviously, I doubt very much that spontaneous combustion is a plausible facet of biology on Earth, but it surely doesn't hurt to examine each case individually?

However, I do agree with you regarding your tale of the woman claiming knowledge of it - that's a far more egregious mistake.


Scientists have exhaustively examined individual cases - Joe Nickel being one of them.

I do agree that this is a thing that should be dismissed out of hand but this is an example of how the media loves to sensationalise and throw in obsolete and downright impossible ideas to explain an event when there are causative factors that are within the realms of reality.

The 'mechanics' behind spontaneous combustion - with the cells being the igniting heat source, is laughable. Human flesh ignites at about 1000 degrees. Even the most thermophillic cell cannot function past 250 degrees. At 250 degrees, any given functional protein (which are required for metabolism, so no enzymes = no new heat) becomes nonfunctional within a couple of nanoseconds.


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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#45  Postby kennyc » Jul 05, 2014 12:15 am

Agreed.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#46  Postby lucek » Jul 05, 2014 12:57 am

$10 on open bottle of booze and cigarette lighter and another $25 on it didn't happen what so ever.

What do you mean I have no way of betting on this site.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#47  Postby lucek » Jul 05, 2014 1:03 am

Spearthrower wrote:
Soral wrote:
I'm more concerned that people actually believe it is biologically possible.


Even with a biological background and clearly skeptical of the claim, I'm more worried that a purported phenomenon would be dismissed a priori because of a prejudgment that it's impossible. By definition, if a phenomenon is rare and unrecorded, then we can't be sure whether it's possible or not without reviewing the alleged evidence. We can't really decide in advance that something is impossible based on a data set that doesn't include the purported phenomenon. Obviously, I doubt very much that spontaneous combustion is a plausible facet of biology on Earth, but it surely doesn't hurt to examine each case individually?

However, I do agree with you regarding your tale of the woman claiming knowledge of it - that's a far more egregious mistake.

No we can't say it's impossible but given humans are quite soggy and take a goof amount of heat to get going we can say that it is impossible if we only look at everything known, we know the answer to so many cases before and we've not seen a single case that is a real anomaly. With that I sit and wait for someone to provide data before I'll consider the possibility.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#48  Postby Soral » Jul 05, 2014 2:54 am

Argumentum ad ignorantiam.

The notion of spontaneous human combustion being impossible is not my mere opinion as it is a statement that is grounded on fundamental physics, biology - as well as chemistry. We don't see people regularly causing hospital fires after being admitted with a fever, despite the fact that hospitals are rather dry, and the bedding flammable, they have all perished before they got to within 600 degrees of that point (give or take 100 depending on the bedding..). :P
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#49  Postby BlackBart » Jul 05, 2014 7:38 am

Soral wrote:Argumentum ad ignorantiam.


Er, no. That's remaining agnostic. Argumentum ad ignoratiam is I don't know how my claim could be false, therefore it isn't.


The notion of spontaneous human combustion being impossible is not my mere opinion as it is a statement that is grounded on fundamental physics, biology - as well as chemistry. We don't see people regularly causing hospital fires after being admitted with a fever, despite the fact that hospitals are rather dry, and the bedding flammable, they have all perished before they got to within 600 degrees of that point (give or take 100 depending on the bedding..). :P


That's all very true, but at the end of the day it's up to the claimant to provide positive evidence of their claim.. We don't have to jump through hoops proving them wrong. Burden of proof and all that.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#50  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 05, 2014 10:03 am

kennyc wrote:
I think you need to read the rest of the thread before you get all high and mighty.


First, I did read the thread. Secondly, why has this instantly become personal kennyc? What possible reason do you have for making comments about me inferring that I am being arrogant? It's not on at all. Please don't bother doing so again as I find this element of online interaction utterly tiresome and will very quickly lead to me departing from this forum again.

My point was exactly about the tone in which we interact, particularly with someone who had literally just joined the forum. I know we get repeat trolls, I know we draw cranks, and we have some very disingenuous visitors.... but someone happening by the forum and seeing a response like that doesn't make them think of 'rational skepticism'. Please note that I am not claiming to be innocent of it myself - it's easy to express confidence, but it can look like the equivalent of dogs barking.

kennyc wrote: Of course you are welcome to your opinion in any case. :waah:


You and I share the same opinion on spontaneous combustion - we don't believe it is factual. However, if there is some purported phenomenon, wouldn't you be interested to actually look at the alleged evidence? I assume you would be, and I would argue that the purpose of this forum is to look at that evidence and respond. I learned so much from this forum on topics I had next to no idea about - but it was thanks to posters providing detailed rebuttals, dismantling claims with substance.


kennyc wrote:This is clearly an old report with nothing to substantiate it and a subject title that is clearly misleading and nothing but a link in the O.P.


And that link represents 'evidence'. Everyone here would undoubtedly agree that it represents shoddy evidence, but an awful lot of people simply don't understand why a particular source is shoddy. In this case, Soral seems to agree fortunately! :)


kennyc wrote:And yes things such as this should be dismissed out of hand. What was it Hitch always said.

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
― Christopher Hitchens


I expect the Hitch would agree that it would also be wise to ask for the evidence first before dismissing it.


kennyc wrote:Carry on.


Let's just have a friendly discussion, eh? :)
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#51  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 05, 2014 10:20 am

Soral wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:
Soral wrote:
I'm more concerned that people actually believe it is biologically possible.


Even with a biological background and clearly skeptical of the claim, I'm more worried that a purported phenomenon would be dismissed a priori because of a prejudgment that it's impossible. By definition, if a phenomenon is rare and unrecorded, then we can't be sure whether it's possible or not without reviewing the alleged evidence. We can't really decide in advance that something is impossible based on a data set that doesn't include the purported phenomenon. Obviously, I doubt very much that spontaneous combustion is a plausible facet of biology on Earth, but it surely doesn't hurt to examine each case individually?

However, I do agree with you regarding your tale of the woman claiming knowledge of it - that's a far more egregious mistake.


Scientists have exhaustively examined individual cases - Joe Nickel being one of them.


I agree.... with the proviso that any further cases should be equally exhaustively examined. There's no harm in doing so, and who knows what might be discovered in passing?


Soral wrote:I do agree that this is a thing that should be dismissed out of hand but this is an example of how the media loves to sensationalise and throw in obsolete and downright impossible ideas to explain an event when there are causative factors that are within the realms of reality.


I couldn't agree more in criticism of the way the media operates - today's BBC Trust update is barely the tip of the iceberg, but an important acknowledgment of media responsibility.

However, I'd also say that the fact there are plausible natural mechanisms for an event where someone apparently catches fire does not mean that any future case can simply be waved away as one of those without inquiry. It's all knowledge, at the end of the day. For example, The Wick Effect - the inquiry into spontaneous human combustion actually lead to people experimenting and seeing whether the hypothesized plausible natural mechanism actually could be at work in these cases.


Soral wrote:The 'mechanics' behind spontaneous combustion - with the cells being the igniting heat source, is laughable. Human flesh ignites at about 1000 degrees. Even the most thermophillic cell cannot function past 250 degrees. At 250 degrees, any given functional protein (which are required for metabolism, so no enzymes = no new heat) becomes nonfunctional within a couple of nanoseconds.


Precisely why I don't consider spontaneous human combustion plausible.


Soral wrote:
I can safely dismiss each 'ghost encounter' because numerous studies have shown how consciousness is what the brain does. We know a lot about the process of cell death and how our cells correlate to consciousness, we also know a great deal regarding evolution (from where would a soul evolve into an organism? No word on bacterial ghosts or the ghosts of fish.)


Likewise, I disbelieve in ghost encounters. Perhaps I am just hanging too much on the word 'dismiss'. To me, the notion of dismiss means to not wish to engage with it. I do not understand the function of a forum called 'general debunking' where the role of people is just to express that they do not wish to engage with the topic. For me, the quality of this forum has always been that it provides substantive rebuttals.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#52  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 05, 2014 10:23 am

lucek wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:
Soral wrote:
I'm more concerned that people actually believe it is biologically possible.


Even with a biological background and clearly skeptical of the claim, I'm more worried that a purported phenomenon would be dismissed a priori because of a prejudgment that it's impossible. By definition, if a phenomenon is rare and unrecorded, then we can't be sure whether it's possible or not without reviewing the alleged evidence. We can't really decide in advance that something is impossible based on a data set that doesn't include the purported phenomenon. Obviously, I doubt very much that spontaneous combustion is a plausible facet of biology on Earth, but it surely doesn't hurt to examine each case individually?

However, I do agree with you regarding your tale of the woman claiming knowledge of it - that's a far more egregious mistake.

No we can't say it's impossible but given humans are quite soggy and take a goof amount of heat to get going we can say that it is impossible if we only look at everything known, we know the answer to so many cases before and we've not seen a single case that is a real anomaly. With that I sit and wait for someone to provide data before I'll consider the possibility.



Agreed - it's the 'provide data' bit I was suggesting would be optimal. :thumbup:
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#53  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 05, 2014 10:37 am

Soral wrote:Argumentum ad ignorantiam.

The notion of spontaneous human combustion being impossible is not my mere opinion as it is a statement that is grounded on fundamental physics, biology - as well as chemistry. We don't see people regularly causing hospital fires after being admitted with a fever, despite the fact that hospitals are rather dry, and the bedding flammable, they have all perished before they got to within 600 degrees of that point (give or take 100 depending on the bedding..). :P



Is this in response to me? :grin:

If you read my reply above again, you'll note quickly that I didn't actually employ an argument ad ignorantiam, because I didn't make a case for spontaneous combustion. I didn't say 'you can't disprove spontaneous combustion, therefore it's true'. I was merely talking about the response to new claims, specifically this forum's, but also from a scientific mind-set. Perhaps we differ in this, but I find that hard to imagine, considering your first post in this forum was just a link to the article, that you have no interest in discussing the notion of spontaneous combustion and were just posting something which you dismiss.

I certainly never so much as intimated it was your 'opinion'. In fact, I believe my first words were that I was skeptical of the claim myself. If it's an 'opinion', then it's one I share. :)

However, and I can make a new thread for this if it's unwelcome here; why would the fact that something is 'grounded on fundamental physics, biology - as well as chemistry' mean that it is no longer open to investigation, inquiry, experimentation etc? The way in which those facts were discovered was by encountering shit we needed to explain, then testing the fuck out of our proposed explanations. I don't believe that spontaneous combustion is possible, but if new evidence came to light that was very hard to explain without a model incorporating spontaneous combustion, I'd hope I would be open enough to review that evidence first before deciding, regardless of our prior scientific knowledge... else, how would we ever falsify the bad ideas we may still be holding onto?
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#54  Postby tolman » Jul 05, 2014 10:55 am

lucek wrote:No we can't say it's impossible but given humans are quite soggy and take a goof amount of heat to get going we can say that it is impossible if we only look at everything known, we know the answer to so many cases before and we've not seen a single case that is a real anomaly. With that I sit and wait for someone to provide data before I'll consider the possibility.

I wonder, have there ever even been any claims of a naked human bursting into flames?
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#55  Postby kennyc » Jul 05, 2014 11:34 am

tolman wrote:
lucek wrote:No we can't say it's impossible but given humans are quite soggy and take a goof amount of heat to get going we can say that it is impossible if we only look at everything known, we know the answer to so many cases before and we've not seen a single case that is a real anomaly. With that I sit and wait for someone to provide data before I'll consider the possibility.

I wonder, have there ever even been any claims of a naked human bursting into flames?


No. And there is no science that supports such a claim. This is why it can be dismissed out of hand barring any extraordinary evidence. And none has been produced in all the decades that spontaneous human combustion has been claimed. It's no different than ghosts, ufos, etc.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#56  Postby lucek » Jul 05, 2014 12:35 pm

kennyc wrote:
tolman wrote:
lucek wrote:No we can't say it's impossible but given humans are quite soggy and take a goof amount of heat to get going we can say that it is impossible if we only look at everything known, we know the answer to so many cases before and we've not seen a single case that is a real anomaly. With that I sit and wait for someone to provide data before I'll consider the possibility.

I wonder, have there ever even been any claims of a naked human bursting into flames?


No. And there is no science that supports such a claim. This is why it can be dismissed out of hand barring any extraordinary evidence. And none has been produced in all the decades that spontaneous human combustion has been claimed. It's no different than ghosts, ufos, etc.

Not true. UFOs are very real. People just mistake what that term means. Just because it's unidentified flying and an object doesn't mean it's alien or daemons or time traveling super intelligent Nazi velociraptors.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#57  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 06, 2014 1:00 pm

Given that Hitchens has been quoted, it's interesting to look at where he got the original idea from: Carl Sagan. I have a lot of respect for the Hitch, but he was a polemicist, not a scientist. Sagan, on the other hand, employed the true scientific mind-set of being open to new evidence should it come to light.

The original formulation, which Hitchens amended, was 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'. It infers that the bar of skepticism should be set higher for claims that apparently contradict previously established points. However, just as important is Sagan's point that 'absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'. Dismissing something out of hand based on previous unfulfilled claims doesn't achieve anything, and can close us to the truth; which is presumably what we're all after.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#58  Postby lucek » Jul 06, 2014 3:38 pm

Spearthrower wrote:Given that Hitchens has been quoted, it's interesting to look at where he got the original idea from: Carl Sagan. I have a lot of respect for the Hitch, but he was a polemicist, not a scientist. Sagan, on the other hand, employed the true scientific mind-set of being open to new evidence should it come to light.

The original formulation, which Hitchens amended, was 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'. It infers that the bar of skepticism should be set higher for claims that apparently contradict previously established points. However, just as important is Sagan's point that 'absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'. Dismissing something out of hand based on previous unfulfilled claims doesn't achieve anything, and can close us to the truth; which is presumably what we're all after.

But that too can be twisted. Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, however not having a positive result isn't absence of evidence it's negative evidence.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#59  Postby DavidMcC » Jul 06, 2014 4:18 pm

Varangian wrote:Funny - that thing didn't make the news here in Sweden AFAIK.

Bear in mind the incident occurred in November 2011.
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Re: Swedish man bursts into flames at train station.

#60  Postby Soral » Jul 07, 2014 2:02 am

Absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. If you're ringing my door every day and I don't answer, then that's evidence that I'm away. Incidentally my fist isn't suddenly going to go straight through some solid wall, because such a practice doesn't go well with physics.

There is no evidence to disprove shapeshifting reptilians, but with everything we know about biology (we're speaking hundreds of years worth of research), logic demands dismissal of such claims. The same applies for this.
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