Can you explain this picture?

Spontaneous human combustion” (SHC) is the term for people catching fire without any explanation. Some people just seem to go up in flames in their sleep, leaving the bed or chair and rest of the room unburnt. It’s a scary idea, but a two-year research project in the 80s found that there are natural explanations for a lot of these – victims were drinkers and smokers, or fell asleep near fireplaces and candles. Other people believe methane in the body might be sparked by enzymes to start a fire inside the body, or that static electricity is to blame. Some even say that fat in the body works like a candle, the ‘wick effect’, burning through the hot parts of the body and leaving hands and feet untouched. It’s pretty gruesome and thankfully, extremely rare. Have a look at Larry Arnold’s book on the subject, and do a Google image search, if you have a strong stomach!

The REAL exorcism of Emily Rose

The devil has all the best illusions

How about a spooky story for Halloween? Remember a film called The Exorcism of Emily Rose that came out a few years ago? Scary, wasn’t it? Well, this is worse…

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This will make you look away

Christian Bale in the Prestige. There’s only one way he can do that trick… isn’t there?

Has a friend ever told you they’ve seen someone who looked just like you? It’s not that hard to find people who look similar (and it can be quite useful in certain magic tricks as you can imagine!) but there’s a slightly more creepy kind of ‘doppelganger’. Legend has it there are ghost-like beings that take on the form of their victims, and whose appearances are a bad omen.

The internet is full of spooky doppelganger stories (the story of Emilie Sagée will give you goosebumps) and a few famous people are said to have had visits from mysterious doubles.

Abraham Lincoln supposedly saw a vision in the mirror of his face reflected twice, one paler than the other – his wife thought this meant he would be re-elected, but die in his second term, as indeed he did. The poet Shelley saw a vision of himself pointing to the sea shortly before drowning in it, and writer Guy de Maupassant’s double helpfully dictated his work for him. After Queen Elizabeth I saw her dying double in her deathbed, she soon followed suit.

What do you think? Is it just electrical stimulation of the brain, a glimpse into a parallel universe, a side-effect of too much absinthe… or are there things out there we can’t explain?