Today my fiance, Michael Meadon, sent me a link to a list of “10 more enigmas that defy explanation”. This is a list of ten things which might seem strange, miraculous and inexplicable at first, but which prove, after a little research, to be suspiciously easy to find an explanation for, if you just hold aside the curtains of credulity for a moment and ask some serious questions. I’m going to address as many of these claims as I can, here goes!
- Ice Woman, 1981
The claim is that a 19 year old woman, Jean Hilliard, survived having her entire body frozen solid after spending six hours passed out drunk in a heap of snow after a night on the town with her friends. The explanation given is that it was a Miracle brought about by the fervent prayers of the young woman’s parents.
First step; verify the information by trying to find the earliest, reliable report of the incident. Well, after much searching, the most reliable original source I could find was…. The Weekly World News.
Ok, I also found a brief article on the NYTIMES, but they didn’t put any more effort into it than the WWN. What we have here is clearly a case of severe hypothermia. And as miraculous as Jean’s tale sounds, it really isn’t all that unusual. Hypothermia is the medical term used to describe a mammal body with a core temperature of less than 35 deg. C (about 95 deg. F). Ms Hilliard’s reported temperature of below 88 deg. F puts her firmly in the range of stage 3, severe, hypothermia.
The following extract is from Accidental severe hypothermia, by Moss, J, soured from PubMed;
Severe hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls below 28 degrees C. The patient may be unconscious, with such severely depressed vital signs that he appears to be dead.
Moss recommends that all patients who present with severe hypothermia should be treated with cardiopulmanory resuscitation (CPR) and rewarming because;
a reliable determination of death is nearly impossible without the restoration of body temperature.
That means that no matter how cold someone may appear to be, hospital staff have to rewarm them before they are able to tell if the patient is dead. We are not talking about a chunk of frozen meat in your freezer, we are talking about a living body. The human body is remarkable, it is actually able to withstand such prolonged exposure to extreme cold, and with relatively minor side effects. This may be because the low temperature helps to mitigate the damaging effects of lack of blood flow and oxygen to the cells. The cold also considerably lowers a person’s metabolism which makes it possible for the brain to survive a much longer period of oxygen deprivation than a warm body.
I did find one newspaper article, printed in the Ocala Star on 11 January, 1981 which is actually the only piece of decent reporting on this event (until now, of course), here it is (click the image to see it bigger);
Thank you Doctor Iseke.
There is one other point that I would like to settle in the case of Jean Hilliard; the inference that prayer saved her life. It the earlier reports, the prayers of her parents are mentioned as an aside, just enough to give the reader the impression that maybe there was more than human physiology at play here. But in more recent reports one is literally beaten over the head with it. Like all good tales, this one has been amplified by the internet into a full-blown MIRACLE, and the facts are smudged, significantly.
What was, in 1981, Hilliard’s parents praying at her bedside, has snowballed out of control and become, according to Guideposts magazine;
Mrs. Erickson hurried to her office and made a phone call to the prayer chain chairman at the Baptist church where her husband is pastor. The prayer chain was set in motion.
The prayer chain was lengthening. Mrs. Erickson called the pastors of the Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist and Bethel Assembly churches in Fosston. They, in turn, called the chairmen of their prayer chain groups, who passed the word along.
During the first hours that the prayer chain was underway, my legs and feet, instead of getting darker as Dr. Sather expected, started to lighten and regain their natural color. One after another, the doctors and nurses filed in to marvel at the pinkish tinge appearing at the line of demarcation where the darkness started on my upper thighs—the place where Dr. Sather said he thought they might have to amputate.
The prayer chain spread to the nearby towns of Crookston and Bemidji, and into Grand Forks, North Dakota. Soon hundreds, then thousands of people were aware that a young woman had been brought in to the Fosston hospital frozen solid and was in desperate need of God’s miraculous healing.
Yeah, ok. I don’t have to mention that prayers have been PROVEN NOT TO WORK for healing of this nature, do I? You should read that article, it’s good. Here is a small excerpt;
Praying for the health of strangers who have undergone heart surgery has no effect, according to the largest scientific study ever commissioned to calculate the healing power of prayer.
In fact, patients who know they are being prayed for suffer a noticeably higher rate of complications, according to the study, which monitored the recovery of 1,800 patients after heart bypass surgery in the US.
P.S. – A diagram doesn’t make it science;