Science Hoax of the Week: Artificial Insemination with a Bullet



‘Son of a gun’ 

Dr Capers
 The day was May 12th 1874. Dr Legrand Capers was serving with the Confederate Army in the battle of Raymond. Suddenly, a young man fighting next to him screamed, his tibia had been fractured. The bullet had then ricocheted off the bone, obliterating his left testicle and disappeared. After quickly patching up his comrade he was immediately rushed off to tend to a nearby young woman who had been shot in the abdomen, the bullet had passed into her uterus and “was lost”. Both patients thankfully recovered. But, the girl’s stomach became distended. Dismissing this as a side effect of the injury Capers was shocked when 278 days after her injury she gave birth to boy. However, the greatest shock was still to come when 3 weeks after his birth the baby displayed an unusual scrotal defect. Capers immediately performed surgery and found a small damaged bullet. He then published his findings in the American Medical Weekly in 1874 declaring it to be the same bullet that had injured both patients, thus giving the first example of human artificial insemination by bullet!

There is one slight catch in the story. None of it happened, it was a joke story. This however, did not stop the spreading and becoming widely accepted, as late as 1959 it was being cited as fact by the New York Journal of Medicine.

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3 thoughts on “Science Hoax of the Week: Artificial Insemination with a Bullet

  1. The give-away was the baby scrotal defect. It’s lamarkian at best and cluelessly naive about human development. Can you imagine that zygote forming around the lump of lead?! Ha!

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