Although with the release of my “Memo for the controversial bloggers” I am generally moving on from beating up on Roberto Muehlenkamp’s incompetence (amusing though the exchanges have been), his latest post, replying to this post of mine, has enough comedy value that I’ll fire off a quick reply. He even manages to top his previous argument that information derived from a sales manager about the product he sells is obviously totally reliable.
He first turns to his point “a”, which I ignored as he doesn’t give any numbers. His repetitions here are besides the point because they deal with air curtain incineration, which as I have already explained is a completely different process from open air burning.
With respect to AusVetPlan, Muehlenkamp states that
the relatively high weight considered per bovine carcass (500 kg, vs. e.g. 373 kg in the 2001 paper Foot and Mouth Disease Epidemic. Disposal of culled stock by burial: guidance and reference data for the protection of controlled waters) suggests that the AUSVETPLAN’s authors also had comparatively high weights for sheep and pigs in mind.
In fact, as I wrote in the post in which I introduced the paper which Muehlenkamp cites as giving a weight of 373 kg:
(Note that the average mass of the animals is lower than the figures sometimes given. This is because these figures are inclusive of the juveniles.)
The figures are lower because they include juveniles. When considering adults, the authorities during the 2001 UK FMD epidemic used the figures 500/100/50 kg for the weights of cows/pigs/sheep. Thus, the use of 500 kg for cows in this case does not in any sense indicate that larger animals are assumed – on the contrary.
Pursuing his strategy of arguing that average livestock weights must be very large, Muehlenkamp insinuates that we may be dealing with some truly enormous pigs and sheep. He states, for instance, that
Regarding sheep: There are breeds in which at least the male animal can reach a mature weight above 100 kg, e.g. Aussiedown, Border Leicester, Charollais, Dorset Horn, Hampshire, Lincoln, Ramboiullet, Suffolk. Mature weights of these breeds are not as highly in excess of 100 kg as in some of the heavier breeds of pigs mentioned above, but on the other hand the fat content is probably lower than in these pigs. All in all, considering an average mature weight of 125 kg per head for the purpose of estimating fuel requirements also seems appropriate in sheep.
Recall that adult sheep were estimated at 50 kg each during the 2001 UK FMD epidemic. The distinction between the average weight of an adult and the weights which the breed can reach does not seem to have occurred to Muehlenkamp. Let’s take a look at our body composition table for sheep again:
Notice that both Suffolks and Hampshires – which Muehlenkamp supposes to be particularly large – are included in this data. A Rambouillet (not Ramboiullet, as Muehlenkamp spells it) cross-breed is included as well, as is a Hampshire-Suffolk-Shropshire cross. From this data, it’s clear that if these sheep did reach the weights that Muehlenkamp supposes, they would have enormous levels of body fat. Muehlenkamp’s claim of an average weight of 125 kg for sheep has to take its place (along with his famous “shitty argument”, which suggested that Jews would be easy to cremate because decomposing shit releases lots of methane) in the dumbest-arguments hall of fame.
Just for fun, let’s take a look at some of these giant Australian sheep:
Oh, yes. Those must be 125 kg apiece. No doubt about it.
Muehlenkamp also suggests that cremation taking place in order to “erase the evidence” does not require the same degree of destruction as cremation taking place for sanitary purposes in dealing with epidemics. His arguments, as usual, are based on misreading texts, wilfully picking out isolated words without any appreciation for context of meaning. In fact, the opposite is true. “Erasing the evidence” requires much more thorough cremation than dealing with epidemics. Bacteria and viruses are not that difficult to destroy with levels of heat far short of the levels needed to “dispose of the evidence” (even if one supposes that the burning process was followed by manual post-processing). TSEs (such as “mad cow disease”) are a different matter, and require very high temperatures to destroy, but open-air burning is not an accepted method for TSE-related carcass disposal, so this is beside the point. Muehlenkamp’s newer line of argument moves ever further away from empirical evidence, in favor of the following two imbecile contentions: (1) they didn’t really need to burn the carcasses very well in order to destroy the evidence, and (2) fuel demands were limited because of some vague analogy with “spontaneous human combustion”.
Pursuing his “they didn’t need much fuel because they didn’t burn the bodies very thoroughly” gambit, Muehlenkamp points to what he calls incomplete cremation at the Reinhardt camps:
As already mentioned in the previous blog of this series, there is evidence that cremation on the pyres at Bełżec and Treblinka was not exactly complete. Such evidence (the discovery of considerable quantities of bones and other human remains larger than cremation remains that could be called “ashes”) is also mentioned in the reports about crime site investigations and archaeological research quoted or referred to on pp. 383 to 400 of the critique and in the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (1). The results of cremation at Treblinka, according to Sara Berger (EdV, p. 213), included large bones so incompletely burned that they had to be placed on the rosters once again together with the next load of corpses, whereas smaller bones were beaten and ground to smaller parts – supposedly as fine as powder, but the physical evidence found on site shows that this was often not so) with spades and other tools.
Such insufficient cremation results were hardly what the authors of the AVP3 had in mind when writing down their recommendations about fuel requirements.
Truly, Muehlenkamp knows nothing about cremation. Consider his reference to the presence of “bones and other human remains larger than cremation remains that could be called ‘ashes'”. He imagines that this indicated “insufficient” cremation. In reality, such remains are always present, even in cremation in crematory ovens, as I recently had occasion to point out, and as I had discussed at greater length quite some time ago. As for Muehlenkamp’s contention that fuel requirements in the Reinhardt cremations were less because parts of the remains were incompletely cremated and had to be put on the next pyre, this is a simple logical error. The fuel requirements of one pyre are decreased if it’s allowed to leave uncremated remains, but if the next pyre is required to dispose of those remains in addition to its normal carcass loading then the fuel requirements of that latter pyre are increased, so things even out.
Finally, after droning on irrelevantly for a while, Muehlenkamp asks
shall we consider economies of scale in mass cremation according to Lothes & Profé’s method, Mr. Jansson?
The proper place to begin when considering these economies of scale would be Indian funeral pyres. That said, there’s nothing like dramatic irony. Yes, Roberto, do tell me all about Lothes and Profé. Go right ahead and reiterate your arguments on that front. Nothing would please me more.