Museum of Hoaxes
"Very well-researched and delivered in an engaging, breezy, wink-wink tone similar to that of Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg's Why Do Men Have Nipples?, this will likely be enjoyed equally by science buffs and casual aficionados of the curious. One of the finest science/history bathroom books of all time."
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Web Hoax Museum


#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.

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.

Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
Typo: ran riot during the summer, but disappeared during the summer
Posted by Rg  on  Wed Aug 29, 2007  at  11:47 AM
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  06:46 PM
After all that, I think I'd much rather just get yellow fever.
Posted by Dylan  on  Sun Sep 02, 2007  at  10:59 PM
Maybe he had acquired immunity at some point.
Posted by Sean  on  Tue Sep 18, 2007  at  03:50 PM
I think it's possible there was more "going on" with Ffirth than mere scientific investigation...
Posted by John S  on  Sat Sep 22, 2007  at  03:07 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  04:44 PM
Posted by frankie.  on  Mon Feb 04, 2008  at  02:35 AM
I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. :sick:
Posted by Courtney  on  Sat Apr 19, 2008  at  02:26 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  07:31 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  10:59 AM
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  on  Mon Oct 25, 2010  at  06:32 PM

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