Hoax Archive: Time Periods
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Medical Hoaxes (1869-1913)
The Case of the Miraculous Bullet, 1874 (November 1874)In November 1874 an unusual article appeared in the introductory volume of The American Medical Weekly, a Louisville medical journal. It was written by Dr. LeGrand G. Capers and was titled, "Attention Gynaecologists!Notes from the Diary of a Field and Hospital Surgeon, C.S.A." In the article Dr. Capers recounted an unusual case of artificial insemination he had witnessed on a Civil War battlefield in Mississippi, in which a bullet had passed through a soldier's testicles, and then traveled on before hitting a woman and impregnating her. The event was said to have occurred on May 12, 1863 at around 3 p.m. at the "battle of R." (battle of Raymond), where "Gen. G's brigade" (Brigadier General John Gregg) of the Confederate forces fought Grant's army led by "Gen. L." (Major General John A. Logan). More→
Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis (Active in the late nineteenth century)
The December 13, 1884 issue of Medical News included a letter from a correspondent who identified himself as Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis. The letter described "an uncommon form of vaginismus" that the doctor had been summoned to treat. Apparently a maid had experienced a severe vaginal spasm while engaged in sexual intercourse. Consequently her lover, the coachman, became unable to remove himself from inside of her. Dr. Davis wrote that he relaxed the woman with chloroform and managed to separate the unhappy couple.
Sir William Osler
Sir William Osler
In reality, this medical case never occurred, nor was its author, Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis, a real person. He was the pseudonym of William Osler (1849-1919), who is regarded as one of the most highly respected figures in modern medical history. Dr. Osler served for many years as Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and was instrumental in founding the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City. But throughout his illustrious career he submitted letters to medical journals under the pseudonym of Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis.
These letters often dealt with sexual subjects, such as his 1903 letter to the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal titled "Peyronie's DiseaseStrabisme du Penis" describing "an old codger" who experienced "a most remarkable change in his yard." Apparently these bizarre (and fictitious) sexual case histories were an expression of the mischievous sense of humor lurking behind the respectable façade of the famous doctor.
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