There are people who, without explanation,
have suddenly combusted – and turned into ash.
– Let’s talk about that. ♪ (theme music) ♪ – Good Mythical Morning!
– Okay, so a couple weeks ago, you may remember, we tried to start
fire in weird ways. And uh… we had an incident where we nearly
combusted ourselves. – Yes.
– But we didn’t! We combusted part of Link’s chair, but we didn’t combust
ourselves. But today we’re gonna be talking about a phenomenon called
“spontaneous human combustion,” in which people suddenly burn up for no
apparent reason and nothing around them – seems to burn up. You have heard…
– Or have started the fire. It’s like they – started their own fire.
– It’s like they spontaneously combusted, and they’re a human. That’s why it’s
called spontaneous human combustion. And can this be real? I think think that’s
the operative question today. And so we’re going to analyze a few
different instances and then go thorugh – some theories Am I right?
– Yeah, that’s what we’re gonna do. Allow me to present to you the first case.
This is in Lambeth, South London. September 13, 1967. Some workers are
waiting at a bus stop in the city, and they notice smoke coming out an
upper window of an abandoned building. They call the police. The police show up,
and find the still-burning body of one Robert Bailey. Dude’s still on fire.
Nothing around him is really on fire. – But he’s dead. Okay.
– Oh, yeah. He’s already dead. – He is… he is…
– He’s not like, “Hey, put me out!” – No. He’s dead.
– He’s out. The first policeman on the scene
reported seeing a blue flame forcefully emitting from a four-inch slit in the
dude’s abdomen. – That’s pleasant.
– It was like flame found its way out. And they managed to put out the flame
by putting a garden hose or water hose or some sort of fire hose in the dude’s
abdomen and putting out the fire. – That’s a heck of a feeding tube.
– Now, a couple of things to notice. – The dude was a non-smoker.
– Okay. And there was nothing around him that
would have made him catch on fire in this abandoned building. But he was a
known alcoholic, and he was known to drink denatured alcohol, which is
basically like camping fuel. – Ugh.
– It’s not the type of stuff that you ever – wanna drink. It is highly flammable.
– Highly flammable! – But here’s the most important thing.
– Ding ding ding ding ding! His teeth were clamped down on the
staircase post. – Mm…
– Which is really fishy, right? – He’s a termite.
– Well… no… That’s an explanation. It’s like, why would you do that?
Typically, if you’re gonna amputate somebody in the Civil War, you get ’em
to bite down on wood first. – Right, yeah yeah. Uh-huh.
– Amputate an arm or something? So, self-inflicted. Is that
what you’re saying? Uh, that could be it. Or he started
burning up, and he was like, – “Guhh! I gotta bite on to something…
– “I gotta bite some wood!” …and try to endure this pain,”
not knowing that he was burning from – the inside out.
– Okay, it is mysterious. I’ve got another mysterious case: the case of John Irving
Bentley. He’s a doctor from Coudersport, Pennsylvania, and this is 1966. There’s a
meter reader, a guy who’s gonna read his electric meter or his gas meter
or something. – Okay.
– This guy’s name is Don Gosnell, the meter reader. He lets himself into
Dr. Bentley’s house, and he immediately, as he comes in there, ’cause he’s gotta
make his way down to the basement, he smells something. He said, “I smelled
something somewhat sweet, like starting up a new oil-burning central heating system.”
I love the smell of charred human remains – in the morning.
– Ooh… – He sees a…
– Sweet-smelling. On the ground in the basement, he sees
a pile of ash. Just a pile of ash sitting there, and then he looks up and
sees a hole in the ceiling above him. He goes upstairs, goes into the bathroom,
and that’s where he finds Dr. Bentley. Or at least that’s where he finds Dr.
Bentley’s right lower leg, still slippered. That was it. – He was wearing a slipper?
– Yes. Went out in style. And comfort. Went out in comfort. Well,
probably not. Probably did not feel good. He spontaneously combusted, and then the
fire of his body burned a hole through – the floor, with then he fell through.
– And then his ashes fell through… – into the basement.
– Leaving his unburned foot and slipper? Unburned foot and slipper, and nothing
else was burned in the bathroom. – So, smoker?
– Well, he is a pipe smoker, but the pipe was in a different room, unlit. He had a
walker that had the little rubber feet on the bottom of it that was next to him,
like he had been using the walker in the bathroom. And it was unsinged, and the
rubber was unmelted. So he burned. And doctor — I mean, not doctor — but
the meter reader, Don Gosnell went back to his place of work, and he was reported
of coming in, saying “Doctor Bentley’s burned up! Doctor Bentley’s burned up!” – And was there an official pronouncement?
– The coroner did have an opinion on this. The coroner was at a loss, apparently,
because he ruled it as “death by asphyxiation and 90% burning of the body.” – “He must’ve choked. He must’ve choked”
– “He must’ve choked on the smoke… – …from his own body.”
– “I don’t know, he burned up.” “He choked, man. Don’t look at me.
I don’t know. I’m just a coroner.” – (laughing)
– “He choked, and then he burned.” – “It’s called the old choke and burn.”
– “Don’t look at me to tell you why… – …someone died. I’m just the coroner?”
– Yeah. Okay, what about a dude who spontaneously
combusted and lived to tell about it. – Ahhh. Yeah.
– June 1995. Vermont. Frank Baker was hanging out with his friend, Pete, and they
were getting ready to go on a fishing trip. And just like all people who are getting
ready to go on a fishing trip… – Yep.
– They were sitting on a couch. – Oh, yeah. That’s what I always do.
– And according to his own story, Frank just burst into flames.
And you’ve got an eye witness here, Pete. – Yeah.
– His testimony is, quote, “Frank was freaking out, and making
me freak out.” – A little bit, you think.
– “Frank, you’re freaking me out, – ’cause you’re freaking out!”
– “Yeah, stop freaking out, Frank… – …You’re freaking me out.”
– “The fire’s a big deal, too, but… …you’re freaking out, and it’s making
me freak out.” So Pete starts patting him down. I mean,
if I ever spontaneously combust… – I’ll pat you down.
– …don’t just pat. Douse, man. – Oh. With spit?
– Douse me. – What do you want me to do: pee on you?
– With whatever! – I’ll pee on you.
– With any– everything. – Whatever you need. Yeah.
– All things. At this point, I don’t think I would care. And I’d
also want to save my couch. They put the fire out. They go to
the doctor. The doctor says, “Frank, you’ve burned from the
inside out.” – Psh, okay.
– And diagnosed him with partial – spontaneous combustion…
– So the doctor was in on the diagnosis. Yeah, partial. (stammering)
Not complete… spontaneous combustion, I guess,
because he didn’t die, or something. Okay, so these are just three of
those cases. But there are hundreds of cases out there and lots of times when
people are just found burned up. So what is going on? Well, there are
some theories that have been put forth. Some a little bit scientific. Some a
little bit not-so-scientific. So let’s talk about that. One is the wick theory.
And this is someone who doesn’t believe in spontaneous human combustion,
but tried to explain why you might find just a burned up body and nothing else
burned around it. – They’re wiccans?
– Nope, they’re not wiccans. – It must be witchcraft!
– (southern accent) It’s a wiccan ceremony that ends bad. Stay away from it!
Stay away from it, kids! – No, you mean “wick” like a candle.
– No, it’s actually the body is like a wick. The body is like a candle. So you’ve got
fat in your body, which is like the wax of a candle, and then you’ve got a wick,
which like the clothing. So there are some cases in which
somebody’ll catch fire, and their clothes and then they will burn over a long period
of time and slowly turn to ash, but then places like their legs, their
lower legs, or their head sometimes won’t burn because there’s not as much
fat content. In other words, there’s no more wax for the candle to burn. That’s
a really popular theory. – But that’s external ignition source.
– Yeah. There’s one called the alcohol consumption theory, which
basically is what it says. People consume flammable alcohol,
very high alcohol content alcohol — high proof — and then somehow catch
fire, which is maybe what happened with – the homeless guy. But doctors say that…
– I think with Frank, – preparing for his trip, I think he…
– Right. …might’ve been doing a little alcohol,
as in drinking. But see here’s the thing. Most of the
time, when alcohol goes into your body, the concentration of alcohol goes
down significantly to to a place where it would not be flammable, so that’s a
little shaky. Then there is one that actually begins to get into the idea that
this is spontaneous. This is happening. There are humans who are just
spontaneously combusting. The static electricity theory: there are
some cases out there that static electricity builds in the body to a place
where there could actually be a spark and a flame, an ignition
of the body. – I like that one.
– There’s one that’s a little bit shaky: the subatomic pyrotron theory. This has
been put forth by a couple of people, saying that there is a subatomic particle
called a pyrotron, which when it comes into contact with other particles,
sometimes it causes fire. – A pyrotron?
– That just sounds like something you made up for a TV show. Now, listen. That
doesn’t sound real. And then there’s the acetone theory, that basically acetone
is building up in the body through alcoholism, because basically if you’re
using alcohol a lot, you produce acetone in your body. But also if you’re
on a low-carb diet! You can produce acetone. So if you’re an alcoholic who’s
on Atkin’s diet, you could potentially have a lot of acetone in your body and
potentially explode. – What if you only eat staircase posts?
– Uh, well. Kindling. – Exactly.
– That’s what it was. it was kindling. – He was eating the campfire.
– Now here’s the thing. I don’t think any of these theories really hold water,
and I’m not trying to make a pun about water and fire at this point. I’m just
saying I don’t think that any of these are legitimate, and so what I have dome,
as opposed to trying to tie myself to one of these theories,
I have gone through the exercise of developing my own theory of
spontaneous human combustion, and I would like to present it to you
and the Mythical Beasts right now. – Okay, well please do.
– Please allow me to present Rhett’s Unified Theory of
Spontaneous Human Combustion. I could make the rather obvious
observation that all victims of spontaneous human combustion were
simply engaged in the sophomoric slumber party activity of lighting their
own flatulence on fire, commonly known as the fart torch. But that would be
juvenile, and I’m anything but juvenile. Rather, I believe there’s something much
more interesting going on than any previous theories have suggested. Recent
developments in the metaphysical study of noetics suggest that thoughts and
feelings may actually contain mass, and therefore may exhibit physical
properties.You’ve probably heard the expression “hot under the collar” used to
communicate a feeling of anger. Might it be that angry feeling actually
have pyrotechnic properties? And rather than letting anger dissipate naturally
through cursing or kicking things, some people internalize their anger,
pressing it down into themselves where it binds with other previously suppressed
anger, forming a small particle called the fireseed of anger. Then when the pressure
and heat have reached sufficient levels, the seed bursts forth into a flame that
systematically consumes the subject. So don’t hold your anger inside!
Let it out! Come on! Do it! Just do it! Don’t let your
dreams be dreams. Yesterday, you said tomorrow. Just do it! Make your
dreams come true. Just ffff do it! Wow. It’s as if a fireseed of — what?
A fireseed of what? – Anger.
– A fireseed of anger has, uh… I thought you were gonna spontaneously
combust. That’s all I was thinking. – (exhales)
– Right here you’re as red as my shirt, dude. – Yeah.
– Calm down. You know, I would tell you what I thought
of your theory, but I’m a little afraid of you right now, so instead I’m just gonna
leave it to the comments. Let us know. – Thanks for liking and subscribing as well.
– You know what time is it. Hey, guys. I’m Daniel from Palo Alto,
California, and it’s time to spin – The Wheel of Mythicality.
– If watching this show is just not enough an you need a little bit more,
but not more than 140 characters at a time, you can follow us on Twitter!
@rhettandlink! Do it! Click through to Good Mythical
More. We’re gonna examine one of the most recent cases of human spontaneous
combustion from 2010. (Rhett) “Unisong about glue guns.” (shaky unison) ♪ (Well, have you heard about) ♪ ♪ (that gun that’s got some glue inside it) ♪ ♪ (It’s one thing I can’t
leave home without it) ♪ – (Rhett laughing)
– ♪ (‘Cause it makes things) ♪ ♪ (adhere to one another and) ♪ ♪ (if you don’t watch out,
it might burn your hand) ♪ – (high five)
– Yeah! [Captioned by Kevin:
GMM Captioning Team]