#9: The Vomit-Drinking Doctor
How far would you go to prove a theory? Stubbins Ffirth, a doctor-in-training living in Philadelphia during the early nineteenth century, went further than most. Way further.
Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
Having observed that yellow fever ran riot during the summer, but disappeared during the winter, Ffirth concluded that it was not a contagious disease. Instead, he theorized it was caused by an excess of stimulants such as heat, food, and noise.
To prove his theory, Ffirth set out to demonstrate that no matter how much he exposed himself to yellow fever, he wouldn't catch it. He started by making small incisions on his arms and pouring "fresh black vomit" obtained from a yellow-fever patient into the cuts. He didn't get sick.
Next he dribbled some vomit in his eyes. He fried some up on a skillet and inhaled the fumes. He fashioned some into a pill and swallowed it. Finally he took to drinking entire glasses of pure, undiluted black vomit. And still he didn't get sick.
Ffirth rounded out his experiment by liberally smearing himself with other yellow-fever tainted fluids: blood, saliva, perspiration, and urine. Healthy as ever, he declared his theory proven. Unfortunately, he was wrong. Yellow fever is very contagious, but it requires direct transmission into the blood stream, usually by a mosquito, to cause infection. But considering all Ffirth did to infect himself, it is a bit of a miracle he remained alive.
Typo: ran riot during the summer, but disappeared during the summer
Posted by Rg on Wed Aug 29, 2007 at 01:47 PM
it proves another thing: that if we are really convinced that we won't get sick, chances are bigger that we will remain healthy. Placebo effect
Posted by zekon on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 08:46 PM
After all that, I think I'd much rather just get yellow fever.
Posted by Dylan on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 12:59 AM
Maybe he had acquired immunity at some point.
Posted by Sean on Tue Sep 18, 2007 at 05:50 PM
I think it's possible there was more "going on" with Ffirth than mere scientific investigation...
Posted by John S in Berkeley, CA on Sat Sep 22, 2007 at 05:07 AM
He should have taken a mosquito directly from a yellow fever patient, and forced it to drink his blood.
Posted by Aqua on Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 06:44 PM
Posted by frankie. on Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 04:35 AM
I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.
Posted by Courtney in Montana on Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 04:26 PM
i think he was just looking for an excuse to publicly display his odd fetishes...
Posted by justsumguy on Mon Aug 25, 2008 at 09:31 PM
ugh, that's just so disgusting. crazy to go so far, i can't even hear ppl throw up, ew xD
Posted by koti on Tue Oct 27, 2009 at 12:59 PM
that is truly the most disgusting thing i have ever heard in my life. how on earth did he manage to swallow it? i can barely stand having it go up how could he have it go down? thats just sick
Posted by Anna in Texas on Mon Oct 25, 2010 at 08:32 PM