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  #1  
Old 05-15-2010, 06:34 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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If you headbutted someone in the nose, how likely would you be to kill them?

As titled. If you grabbed somebody by the sides of the his head and slammed down your forehead on the bridge of his nose as hard as you could, would you kill him?

Just curious. If it helps, you can presume I'm writing a crime novel or somethin'.
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  #2  
Old 05-15-2010, 07:40 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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I doubt that there are statistics on this sort of thing. BUT....it will require somewhere between 7 and 12 lbs of force to break the nose, and considerably more to splinter it and drive said material into the brain. That kind of blow is usually produced by a directed palm heel strike to the already broken nose. That type of strike is pretty powerful and it would be difficult to muster the requisite strength and flexibility from the neck and shoulders alone. Repeated headbutts could well do the job over time.

To sum up: Singly- probably so rare as to be "never"; in sequence- "possible but not probable". I'd put the chance of a single killing headbutt at around >5%, ( allowing for chance, odd alignment of physics, and unknown medical anomilies in the opponent) multiples at >20% simply due to unlikeliness of performing such a task.

Last edited by Acid Lamp; 05-15-2010 at 07:42 AM..
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  #3  
Old 05-15-2010, 08:02 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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The only way you could kill someone by headbutting his nose was if he were standing with his back to an open window. That whole shattered nose bone thing is a myth.
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Old 05-15-2010, 08:11 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
The only way you could kill someone by headbutting his nose was if he were standing with his back to an open window. That whole shattered nose bone thing is a myth.
To a degree. True the nose itself is cartilaginous, and the openings are too small, but it's quite possible to fracture the area of the skull between the eyes and the base of the nose.

Last edited by Acid Lamp; 05-15-2010 at 08:11 AM..
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Old 05-15-2010, 08:14 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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I doubt you could do it without causing injury to your forehead though, even if it was possible.
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Old 05-15-2010, 08:48 AM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
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Come on, everybody knows you do it with the back of your fist and you need to be looking into the victim's eyes at the instant of death so that you can steal his life force, or something. I learned this from watching that fine documentary Firestarter.

OK seriously, couldn't you at least conceivably knock the person out with the head-but or backhand and cause so many broken blood vessels that he drowns in his own blood?

Sounds like a job for mythbusters.
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  #7  
Old 05-15-2010, 09:06 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Originally Posted by Acid Lamp View Post
I'd put the chance of a single killing headbutt at around >5%....
Nitpick: I imagine you meant "<5%."
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:14 AM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is offline
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Originally Posted by Acid Lamp View Post
To a degree. True the nose itself is cartilaginous, and the openings are too small, but it's quite possible to fracture the area of the skull between the eyes and the base of the nose.
Right, but that won't drive any bone splinters into the brain. The brain is completely surrounded by its brain case, and even along the bottom (of the brain) the bone isn't very thin.
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Old 05-15-2010, 10:06 AM
ricksummon ricksummon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Lamp
I'd put the chance of a single killing headbutt at around >5%....
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Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
Nitpick: I imagine you meant "<5%."
I'm sure he meant you could only kill someone with a headbutt if you rolled a natural 20.
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  #10  
Old 05-15-2010, 10:40 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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Gah! math strikes again.
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  #11  
Old 05-15-2010, 10:47 AM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Years and years ago we had a fantastic thread asking about headbutting in a fight. It had a lot of posts and back-and-forths with some well-respected posters chiming in. One, whose name I’m pained to admit I’ve forgotten (Glee? Glue? Gnu?) was, I think, a cop (maybe) and was one of the board martial art authorities. I think. Maybe he was Wally-ing everyone and I missed the fallout. Anyway, that’s my almost useless contribution to the thread, but maybe someone out there knows what I’m talking about and can find it. It’s worth reading.


Please don't headbut me. Or eat the daisies.
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Old 05-15-2010, 10:52 AM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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This isn't what I was thinking of (though the report was written by a G-name), but it's relevant.


Staff report:
Is head-butting for real?



Any chance someone can at least help me remember who I am thinking of poster-wise?
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  #13  
Old 05-15-2010, 11:04 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
As titled. If you grabbed somebody by the sides of the his head and slammed down your forehead on the bridge of his nose as hard as you could, would you kill him?
Note: the graphic referenced in this reply shows some blood and black eyes.


I don't think so...of course, any blunt trauma to the head can kill you as the brain decelerates inside a closed space, but the idea of sort of driving the nasal bone in particular up into the skull strikes me as unrealistic. I've read novels (Eric von Lustbader, maybe?) where some sort of killing blow from a fancy schmancy martial artist consisted of driving a palm up into the face and shoving the nose up into the brain, but my observation is that on average the nose just sort of crumbles. The nasal cartilage and most of the nasal bone are frail.

Now if you are talking about a hard enough pile drive to shove the whole front part of the face into the skull, sure--that would do it. There's nothing magic about the nose's participation in that injury. And of course, late complications from a bad blow to the front of the face can include fracture into the cranial cavity with cerebrospinal fluid leak and eventual death from meningitis or something...probably not the instant killing blow you are looking for.

I would expect the specific mechanism you describe.."a forehead slammed down on the bridge of a nose" to maybe give the poor guy a Laforte III but probably not kill him. On the other hand, I've seen old ladies die from bumping their head on a cupboard and getting a lethal subdural, so feel free to have a really strong guy kill someone with his really brutish forehead.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 05-15-2010 at 11:06 AM..
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  #14  
Old 05-15-2010, 11:06 AM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
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By way of comparison, Rudy Tomjanovich suffered severe damage in the nasal area from a punch from Kermit Washington in a basketball game in 1977. He even tasted cerebrospinal fluid in his mouth afterwards, which prompted his trainer to get him to the hospital stat.
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Old 05-15-2010, 11:21 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Originally Posted by lazybratsche View Post
Right, but that won't drive any bone splinters into the brain. The brain is completely surrounded by its brain case, and even along the bottom (of the brain) the bone isn't very thin.
There is in fact a large plate of bone that separates the brainpan from the sinus cavity which is nearly as thick as the frontal and parietal bones of the skull. The only fenestrae in the human skull are the two tiny holes in the back of the eye sockets that admit (and are stuffed full of) the optic nerves, and the opening at the rear base of the skull that allows blood vessels to enter and the brainstem to extend and attach to the spinal cord. All of this is surrounded by a thick layer of dermal tissue and muscle, and would take considerable force by a deeply penetrating weapon.

The only way someone is going to die from a headbutt is if the concussive impulse knocks them unconscious and they aspirate blood until they drown.

Stranger
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  #16  
Old 05-15-2010, 11:55 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
The only fenestrae in the human skull are the two tiny holes in the back of the eye sockets that admit (and are stuffed full of) the optic nerves, and the opening at the rear base of the skull that allows blood vessels to enter and the brainstem to extend and attach to the spinal cord.
This being the Dope and all, you also got your various foraminae for optic nerves and such, including the holes in the cribiform plate for the olfactory nerves. A fractured cribiform plate is a common mechanism for cerebrospinal fluid leakage into the nasal cavities with a frontal injury.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 05-15-2010 at 11:57 AM..
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  #17  
Old 05-15-2010, 12:14 PM
PlainJain PlainJain is offline
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In the early days of the UFC head-butting was allowed. There were many fights where the opponent was being pinned down (head against the floor) and was head-butted in the manner you suggest and no one died. I say not possible.
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Old 05-15-2010, 12:42 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John DiFool View Post
By way of comparison, Rudy Tomjanovich suffered severe damage in the nasal area from a punch from Kermit Washington in a basketball game in 1977. He even tasted cerebrospinal fluid in his mouth afterwards, which prompted his trainer to get him to the hospital stat.
Rudy T and "the punch" were exactly who and what I thought of when I read the op. That was pretty much a "perfect storm" of what one human could do to another with a punch - Rudy was running full speed into the punch that Washington threw with a full 180 degree windup. His injury was horrific; doctors said the posterior portion of his skull was out of alignment with the rest of the skull by a whole inch, and that his facial injuries were consistent with someone who'd been in a 50 mph car accident.

Barring special circumstances like that, though, I can't see a headbutt alone killing somebody except through a freak accident. Mind you, that's the headbutt itself - after you get headbutted (or simply punched) you have the possibility of further injury when you fall. I know of at least one assault where the victim nearly died after striking concrete with the back of his head and neck, and narrowly escaped paralysis. Details spoilered:
SPOILER:
Witnesses said it sounded like a bowling ball dropped from eye level.

Last edited by pravnik; 05-15-2010 at 12:45 PM..
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  #19  
Old 05-15-2010, 02:36 PM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
As titled. If you grabbed somebody by the sides of the his head and slammed down your forehead on the bridge of his nose as hard as you could, would you kill him?

Just curious. If it helps, you can presume I'm writing a crime novel or somethin'.
Only if the headbutt knocked him unconscious, he landed on his back, aspirated his own blood and choked to death.
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Old 05-15-2010, 03:24 PM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
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He even tasted cerebrospinal fluid in his mouth afterwards, which prompted his trainer to get him to the hospital stat.
How did he know what cerebrospinal fluid tastes like?
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  #21  
Old 05-15-2010, 03:27 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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I think it is entirely likely. If you are a rhinocerous.
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  #22  
Old 05-15-2010, 03:39 PM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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What would win in a head-butting contest between a rhino and a water buffalo?
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  #23  
Old 05-15-2010, 03:39 PM
Autolycus Autolycus is offline
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I think it is entirely likely. If you are a rhinocerous.
Preposterous.
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  #24  
Old 05-15-2010, 03:42 PM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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Preposterous.
No, rhinocerous.
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  #25  
Old 05-15-2010, 10:24 PM
lizardling lizardling is offline
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Originally Posted by Patty O'Furniture View Post
How did he know what cerebrospinal fluid tastes like?
He probably muttered something about "My mouth tastes funny, like ____" and the doctors were on the ball enough to realize that this was Really Bad (tm) on top of the skull fractures. Shudder.
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  #26  
Old 05-15-2010, 10:27 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Originally Posted by Patty O'Furniture View Post
How did he know what cerebrospinal fluid tastes like?
It was actually a head trauma doctor in the ER who told him; he had been called in by one of the team physicians as the ambulance was en route.

Quote:
In Tomjanovich's mind at that moment, he was about to walk out of the emergency room, hail a cab, and go back to the Forum. Not play for the rest of the season? Now he really wanted to get Kermit Washington, regardless of the consequences. "I can't ever remember being angrier than I was at that moment," he said.

Toffel's face didn't change expression. His voice was very soft. "Rudy, let me ask you a question," he said. "Do you have any kind of funny taste in your mouth?"

Tomjanovich's eyes opened slightly. "Yeah, I do," he said. "It doesn't taste like blood either. It's very bitter. What is it?"

"Spinal fluid," Toffel said. "You're leaking spinal fluid from your brain. We're going to get you up to ICU in a few minutes and we're going to hope your brain capsule seals very soon. Do you know what the ICU is, Rudy?"

Tomjanovich nodded. He knew what ICU stood for: intensive care unit. The rage was gone. It had been replaced by fear.
Book Excerpt: 'The Punch,' by John Feinstein

Last edited by pravnik; 05-15-2010 at 10:28 PM..
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  #27  
Old 05-15-2010, 10:40 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is online now
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We covered this before:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=330571
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  #28  
Old 05-16-2010, 05:31 PM
GreedySmurf GreedySmurf is offline
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Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
The only way someone is going to die from a headbutt is if the concussive impulse knocks them unconscious and they aspirate blood until they drown.

Stranger
Not necessarily the only way. If their head connects with the ground after having been knocked unconscious that can have severe consequences.

Their were two incidents in the space of a year in my home city (Brisbane), where someone was punched and died from injuries sustained as their heads hit the (concrete) ground.
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  #29  
Old 05-17-2010, 10:16 AM
Livardo Livardo is offline
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A couple of months ago some drunk fratboys picked a fight with me and my brother in Las Vegas. One of the guys approached and without warning headbutted my brother pretty badly and sent him off into the ground. After it was all over he had pretty good bump at the bridge of his nose but didn't fracture anything. I think he would have had to be running full speed and do a football type of lunge to do any type of severe damage.
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Old 05-17-2010, 11:40 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Not necessarily the only way. If their head connects with the ground after having been knocked unconscious that can have severe consequences.

Their were two incidents in the space of a year in my home city (Brisbane), where someone was punched and died from injuries sustained as their heads hit the (concrete) ground.
Sure, but that isn't a unique consequence of being the recipient of a headbutt. Any impulse that causes to someone to fall backwards or sideways in an uncontrolled manner can cause this type of injury.

Stranger
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  #31  
Old 05-17-2010, 11:53 AM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl View Post
Years and years ago we had a fantastic thread asking about headbutting in a fight. It had a lot of posts and back-and-forths with some well-respected posters chiming in. One, whose name I’m pained to admit I’ve forgotten (Glee? Glue? Gnu?) was, I think, a cop (maybe) and was one of the board martial art authorities. I think. Maybe he was Wally-ing everyone and I missed the fallout. Anyway, that’s my almost useless contribution to the thread, but maybe someone out there knows what I’m talking about and can find it. It’s worth reading.
The poster was Glitch. Not as grandiose a thread as I remembered; maybe I just remember Glitch's posts being a worthy read or I was conflating it with Crafter_Man's link. But there it is.

Whatever happened to Glitch? Anyone else remember him?

Last edited by Rhythmdvl; 05-17-2010 at 11:53 AM.. Reason: Code fun!
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  #32  
Old 05-17-2010, 06:38 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
As titled. If you grabbed somebody by the sides of the his head and slammed down your forehead on the bridge of his nose as hard as you could, would you kill him?

Just curious. If it helps, you can presume I'm writing a crime novel or somethin'.
I was under the impression that almost all deaths resulting from punching/kicking/headbutting (anything with just your body rather than a weapon of some kind) an upright, conscious individual were caused by them falling over and hitting the ground (or another hard object) with their head, not from the hit itself.

Last edited by griffin1977; 05-17-2010 at 06:39 PM..
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  #33  
Old 05-17-2010, 07:30 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Well, that settles it, I'm off. Wish me luck!
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  #34  
Old 05-18-2010, 11:08 AM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
Well, that settles it, I'm off. Wish me luck!
Well if that doesn't work just go around behind them and give their head a quick twist. It will immediately break their neck.
And if you have a gun with you hit them in the back of the head with it. You'd think they'd be like "Ow, goddamn it, that hurt" but in actuality it knocks them right out. When they eventually come to they'll be just fine with no after effects. Just like waking up from a short nap.
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