Category: Galway City Tribune

Blazing a trail: Irish coroner declares “first case” of spontaneous human combustion

As my day job, I’m a university lecturer in psychology (ssshhhh — don’t tell them!). One of the great pleasures of this role is running an elective class called Psychology, Science, & Pseudoscience, which I have offered for the last five years or so. This year, as a class assignment, I am encouraging the group to gather examples of pseudoscientific stories they find in the mainstream news media. Now as regular readers will know, this ain’t going to the most difficult assignment these guys will encounter during their education. So to provide some degree of challenge, I want them to critique each piece and to point out why it constitutes an example of pseudoscience. All the analyses will be posted on a special class blog called The PseudoNews Project. By way of leading by example, I’ve posted the first entry myself. And for your benefit, I reproduce it here…

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Dateline: 23 September 2011 // Posted by: Brian Hughes
Source: Galway City Tribune, Irish Times, The Guardian, NY Daily News, and many more.

Story: “Galway Pensioner Dies From Spontaneous Combusion”

Summary: A public inquiry into the death of a 76-year-old man in Galway, Ireland, late last year concluded that he was a victim of a phenomenon known as “spontaneous human combustion“. The West Galway coroner, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, declared that there was “no other adequate explanation for the death“. He further stated that it was the first time in his 25 years as a coroner that he had returned such a verdict. Continue reading “Blazing a trail: Irish coroner declares “first case” of spontaneous human combustion”

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