In 1726, Mary Toft gave birth to 17 rabbits

Originally published at:


puzzle over some medical misinformation.



The very first Google result is the Wikipedia page which also says she was immediately discovered by medical practitioners to be a fraud (duh).


I guess she was pretty disappointed, having gone to all that trouble setting up the trick… :grimacing:


Don’t piss her off.



This episode needs a trigger warning for gross.

Look, I took cadaver anat-phys. My sibling is back in school for forensic anthropology. We can go deep and wide on death and decomp over food; we have cleared restaurants talking about larvae and skin slippage.

I had to turn this episode off.

So… trigger warning.

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They say what happened without graphic description, which isn’t to invalidate your warning so much as to clarify it. If your imagination brings you there, this episode will give you just enough to send it barreling down that road.

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It may be less explicit if you’re not as intimately familiar with the anatomy involved.


Because the phrase “inside her” and breaking bones and fecal matter is pretty explicit.

That’s direct quote, not imagination.

My god, the infection potential.

I have a head canon now, that Mary’s miscarriage had something to do with Man-Midwives and their general incompetence, and this scheme wasn’t primarily a scam for money (though they took it when offered), but an attempt to ridicule the gross stupidity and ineffectiveness. I want her to be a proto-skeptic driven by rage and grief, bent on humiliating these quacks. And it didn’t work because she overestimated the general public and the general credulity of the time.

There has actually been some statistical analysis on baptismal and death records tracking the rate of Man-Midwife adoption in England. When traditional midwives were delivering babies, the maternal mortality and infant mortality rate was pretty stable over decades, suggesting the midwives were good at their jobs, trained each other well, and sufficiently clean. As Man-Midwives replaced traditional ones, both mortality rates went up, sometimes dramatically and suddenly. (I don’t have the source on me, but it’s in the footnotes of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s Midwife’s Tale).

The confidence of a mediocre white man is an old problem…



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