For many of us it is extremely easy to dismiss a theory by someone that claims they got beamed up to the Mother Ship, had tea with the alien queen, and was sent on a quest. However, it is a bit different when it is a scientist with a computer model and reams of math equations who regards anyone that questions their theory like they have the intelligence of a cockroach. Maybe that is why it is so much easier for them to get people to swallow theories that aren’t much more than educated guesses, if you can even call it that.
This is an underhanded tactic from the science field that I have sadly seen too many times. They write extremely technical, usually formula-heavy articles that are extremely hard for a layman to read. I sometimes wonder how many people start to read the article, find themselves in a bewildering forest of technobabble where they can’t even tell what point the paragraph is trying to make, and finally give up and decide that the people must know what they’re talking about because they’re super smart, and they did all those experiments, and it’s based on a computer model. Computers are never wrong. Nobody ever seems to be suspicious that the people writing the article are counting on that, because their technical jargon, computer models, and pages of of math equation are hiding several major problems that can be spotted with good, old-fashioned common sense once the scientific and intellectual veneer is pushed aside.
Reading the study, it is obvious that its proponents believe that the major advantage it has over other theories is its explanation for the chest and skull injuries to some of the hikers. Quoted from the study: “Dynamic avalanche simulations suggest that even a relatively small slab could lead to severe, but non-lethal thorax and skull injuries, as reported by the post-mortem examination.” Wonderful. So are we to assume that Rustem got his skull cracked because of an avalanche, and maybe that’s how Alexander got the hole behind his ear? The hikers that had blood in their chest cavity, which the medical examiner took to be a sign of hypothermia must have actually had cracked ribs they got from the avalanche because I cannot think of anyone else this study would apply to. Semyon, Kolya, and Luda died of their injuries, so it cannot be them.
Yes, that is the point I am making. Their study only proves that a slab avalanche could cause non-lethal thorax and chest injuries in humans. They never claim otherwise. They are always careful to say “non-lethal”. That is what the jargon and math are hiding.
Now, they do address this issue, but in a way that disguises the fact that they are hand-waving the lack of evidence away. Here is their explanation: “….while our simulations shows that in principle the observed injuries could have resulted from an avalanche impact, the impact-induced deformations of the thorax would be rather sensitive to the disintegrated slab blocks and thus to the relative positions of the bodies with respect to the cut and slope direction.”
Translation: If a human body is sandwiched between two hard surfaces because the upper surface slid off something and fell on them, our study proves they can sustain non-lethal chest and skull injuries. However, if the upper surface breaks apart when it falls, then people who are under the heavier pieces might die because the force on them is going to be greater than the force on people who were fortunate enough to be in a crack or at least under a piece that is not as big.
Did anyone need a scientific study and a bunch of mathematical principles to be convinced that if something falls on you and if there’s no give in whatever surface is below you, your insides are going to get smashed? And the bigger, or at least heavier, the thing is the more damage is going to be done, and we can only take so much damage before we die? Forgive my cynicism, but I guess they needed an explanation for why the tins of crackers weren’t smashed.
So what do we got? Luda had chest injuries because she was caught between the tent floor and the slab avalanche. She died because she was in a part of the tent where the force was greater, but we don’t have any proof and we haven’t run any simulations despite the fact that we have the physical dimensions of everyone present in their autopsy reports, and there’s only so many positions they could be in. However, that is not needed because there is an element of uncertainty to our model. So if our model does not prove it, it is uncertain and therefore not incorrect, so it is correct.
They finish this section with: “It is also possible that the thorax injuries were the result of a later snow impact in a very steep ravine where the bodies of the victims escaping the avalanche were found.”
Translation: Oh, and by the way, if she did not die like that, she fell in the ravine.
Geez, I wish Luda had had as much of a safety net as they give themselves. Her injuries were not typical of a person falling in a ravine either. The only reason the medical examiner was comfortable specifying is a shock bomb. Why did they not run simulations on the injuries that would have been caused by a fall in a ravine before they just threw that out there? We could learn that if a person hits sharp, jagged ice at just the right angle they could suffer thorax damage.
Occam’s Razor is a theory based on the least amount of assumptions. However, they might not be saying that Luda was in southeast corner of the tent lying down, but they are still assuming that she was somewhere that she would receive the maximum force from the slab avalanche, and they don’t know where she was or even what amount of force would have been needed. They don’t even know how the slab would have broken up and where the pieces would likely be deposited. A theoretical hypothesis is neither a valid theory nor an application of Occam’s Razor. When are they going to get around to doing a study on what happened to the nine hikers in Dyatlov Pass?