After I devoted one post to refuting Roberto Muehlenkamp’s insinuation that the Cimetière des Innocents demonstrates the possibility of remarkably dense burials, and another to pointing out that that Muehlenkamp’s analysis implies that pigs will self-cremate, I was well aware that some spittle from that blogger would soon be flying my way, and indeed, Muehlenkamp has responded with two long-winded blog posts which, however, offer nothing new. In fact, Muehlenkamp is reduced to quoting his manifesto contributions without correcting any of the errors, including one whopper which I pointed out to him a couple of years ago. As I have no intention of serving as a volunteer proofreader for his contribution to the Manifesto version 2, I will not be descending into the details, particularly since Muehlenkamp has not yet bothered to fix all the errors that have been pointed out to him. I will, however, offer some brief comments, but I warn the reader in advance that given how incoherent and vacuous Muehlenkamp’s postings are, these comments are of limited interest.
Before addressing the scanty arguments which Muehlenkamp offers, one preliminary and one methodological point are necessary. First, while Muehlenkamp suggests that I pointed out the fact that he is claiming that pigs are self-incinerating because I was “unable to respond” to his previous blog post. In fact, I had written and scheduled the post in question – and the analysis of Sergey Romanov’s nonsense about fat collection – before Muehlenkamp’s first post appeared.
Second, Muehlenkamp claims to have “mathematically demonstrated” the possibility of burying a certain number of bodies in a certain burial space. What he means to say is that he has built a mathematical model that spits out the numbers he desires. This is a meaningless accomplishment. It’s always easy to tweak a model to get the results you want; the trick is to make the model correspond to reality. When reality and a mathematical model conflict, reality is not thereby refuted. The model is. This has evident consequences for Muehlenkamp’s claim that my examination of actual data on burial density is irrelevant because he has built a mathematical model that gives different results.
With regard to the Cimetière des Innocents, Muehlenkamp wastes a lot of words without making any discernible argument, while engaging in extensive but pointless speculation. As he is attempting to use the site to prove that extraordinarily dense burials are possible, he must prove his claims; to speculate as he does on what might have been possible does him no good. If I were claiming that I have a ten-foot vertical jump, I would need to prove that by jumping that high, not speculating that “I may have been able to increase my vertical jump by two feet through the use of special shoes”, “a diet of 100% carrot juice may have added a foot to my vertical jump”, “zinc supplements may have added 23% to my vertical jump”, etc. Muehlenkamp’s speculations, consequently, are worthless and require no response.
Muehlenkamp even suggests that as his model of burial space suggests a much higher burial capacity for the site than that recorded by Henri Bayard, more bodies must of been buried there than historians claim. This is a classical circular argument: Muehlenkamp brings up the Cimetière des Innocents in order to corroborate the results of his modelling of burial space, but now is reduced to assuming the validity of his model in order to refute the history of the very same Cimetière des Innocents.
The remainder of Muehlenkamp’s analysis, insofar as an argument can be discerned at all, is based on the reasoning that “a lot of people died in Paris over the centuries, and most of them must have been buried in the Cimetière des Innocents. Of course, he offers no substantive sources to prove that so many bodies were buried in this particular cemetery. Having attained “celebrity” status, the Cimetière des Innocents attracts lots of unsubstantiated claims. Repeating these, without confirmation from primary sources, demonstrates precisely nothing.
Muehlenkamp does make one further argument, which is that when the graves were emptied after a burial cycle, the bones were taken to the ossuaries, and thus remained in a sense on-site. However, what happened after that? Muehlenkamp assumes that several centuries’ worth of bones accumulated in the ossuaries. What proof does he have that no bones were ever removed from said ossuaries? In the next cycle of the graves, or the next, or the next, were the older bones ever removed from the site? Muehlenkamp assumes not, but has no proof.
In short, Muehlenkamp has struck out on all aspects of the Cimetière des Innocents, and has been reduced to incoherent wall-of-text spam that falls short of offering anything to support his initial allegation, namely that the Cimetière des Innocents offers proof of the feasibility of extraordinarily high burial densities.
Regarding cremation, Muehlenkamp mainly confines himself to repeating his analysis from the manifesto. He does, however, confirm that be believes that bones and pigs
once ignited, can sustain their own combustion, which in turn means that no more additional fuel is required to combust them than is required to make a fire in which they ignite
Hilariously enough, in the context of the collection of human fat from Auschwitz cremation pyres, Muehlenkamp’s colleague Sergey Romanov has argued that human fat cannot sustain its own combustion, but will stop burning after removal from an external source of heat. Muehlenkamp has even defended this argument himself during forum debate. Another discovery from the great researchers of Holocaust Controversies: human bones are more flammable than human fat!
Of course, real experiments involving heating bones in a furnace to study their oxidation contradict Muehlenkamp’s belief in merrily crackling fires fueled by bones. Likewise, the actual experience of mass cremation of livestock contradicts his belief that mass cremation can be attained with a minimal amount of fuel. Now, bones are readily available at the supermarket or butcher. If Muehlenkamp has confidence in his analysis, why does he not buy 20 euros’ worth of bones, pile them up in his back yard, slather them with gasoline or diesel fuel, ignite them, and see what happens? The reason, of course, is that Muehlenkamp is terrified of actual empirical results, which interfere with his freedom to speculate wildly and extrapolate creatively.
To the very limited extent that Muehlenkamp’s post offers anything new, it indicates that he is moving towards placing an increased emphasis on the phenomenon of “spontaneous human combustion”. This quite real phenomenon is somewhat misleadingly named, for it is not truly spontaneous, but involves initiation by an external fire lasting long enough to split the skin and allow rendering of the fat into an absorbent material, allowing gradual continued burning via the wick effect. The phenomenon, which takes place in circumstances quite different from that prevailing in mass cremation, has generally been observed in the case of obese individuals (were the Jews of Poland typically obese, Roberto?), and generally does not consume the entire body, but only most of the trunk. The fact that scientists, intrigued by this rare phenomenon, have managed to replicate it under carefully managed laboratory conditions, has no bearing whatsoever on the fuel requirements of practical mass cremation. Muehlenkamp has no excuse for the fact that his analysis of fuel requirements for mass cremation ignores all results of mass cremations whose fuel requirements have been documented. (Note: these documented quantities are sometimes only for the initial pyre, and may not include fuel added later. This possible error, however, would work in Muehlenkamp’s favor, so he has no excuse there.) If Muehlenkamp’s increasingly desperate appeals to the phenomenon of “spontaneous human combustion” are any indication of the direction in which his contribution to Manifesto-v2 is heading, then we are going to be treated to some entertainment indeed – but nothing of relevance to the problem of mass cremation.
One further vital point: Muehlenkamp complains that the fuel requirement of the cremations to which I referred are higher than those in certain other cases of cremation. (I will spare the reader the tedious demonstration that the figures Muehlenkamp gives for these other cases are often inaccurate. Despite the fact that these errors have been pointed out to him by both the present author and by Carlo Mattogno, he continues to spam the same text, and I have no intention of wasting my time in repeating corrections.)
Now, Muehlenkamp is drawing comparisons in terms of amounts of wood required per kilogram of carcass mass to be cremated. The sources on mass cremation indicate that cattle require less fuel on a per-kilogram basis than do pigs and sheep. Typically it is stated that four pigs or shorn sheep require the same amount of fuel as a cow, despite the fact that cattle are (at least in the numbers given for the 2001 UK FMD epidemic) 10 times the mass of sheep and 5 times the mass of pigs. The reasons that cattle require less fuel (per unit of mass) are unclear. Perhaps the larger body allows for a longer-burning, more localized fire to make more efficient use of the carcass’ fat mass. Alternately, perhaps this is simply an artefact of the common use quantities of fuel involved in building the pyre in place of the actual total for the cremation. Thus, it may be that more fuel is added to pyres involving cattle after the initial fuel is largely burned down than is added to pyres involving smaller stock, as the larger animals take longer to burn. In this case, the ostensibly lesser fuel requirement on a per-kg basis would simply be the result of poor reporting of data. These possibilities are, naturally, merely speculation. Whatever the reasons for this phenomenon, when faced with data showing higher fuel requirements on a per kilogram basis for human-sized animals than for cattle, it is deceitful to extrapolate, as Muehlenkamp does, fuel requirements from cattle (or horses) back to humans on a per-kilogram basis.