Top 3 Weird Hoaxes 

Some stories are unbelievable for a reason. Let’s explore three of the weirdest and most well known hoaxes that baffled the world.

Mary Toft, The Rabbit Queen

Mary Toft was a mostly ordinary lady from Godalming, Surry. Born in 1701, she lived a seemingly ordinary life until 1726, when she began to give birth to rabbits.

If you’re new to this story, I hope that caught you off guard.

In 1726, after giving birth to three healthy children, Mary Toft reportedly gave birth to a gaggle of animal parts. This was witnessed by a neighbour, her mother and mother-in-law, Ann Toft, who was a midwife. The elder Toft sent the pieces to physician, John Howard, who was rightly skeptical of the attached story. 

Despite this hesitation, when Mary went in to labour the next day, he visited her and witnessed – with his own two eyes – the woman give birth to animal parts. 

Over the next month or so, she also birthed: three legs of a tabby cat, one rabbit leg, miscellaneous animal guts and the backbone of an eel and nine baby rabbits – the latter occurred in a single day.

Mary’s story gained such popularity that it attracted the attention of the court of King George I, who sent surgeon, Nathaniel St. André, and secretary to the Prince of Wales, Samuel Molyneux to investigate the claims. Toft delivered a rabbit torso in their presence on numerous occasions. Upon examination, St. André concluded that rabbits were breeding in her fallopian tubes.

Mary Toft was brought to London and and although some believed the whole affaire to be a hoax, those who attended her and witnessed the bizarre births remained convinced.

The concept of ‘Maternal Impression” was prevalent at the time. This was the belief that a mother’s emotional stimulus can imprint upon her unborn child and affect their physical development – as was supposed in the case of Joseph Merrick, known as the Elephant Man – and as such, many physicians used Toft’s case to further their theory.

However, this was not to be, because, obviously, people can’t give birth to rabbits.

By December of 1726, it was discovered that Toft’s husband had been buying young rabbits. Then, a porter confessed to have been bribed by the Toft sister-in-law to smuggle a rabbit into Mary’s chamber. 

A few day’s later, albeit under intense questioning and threat of invasive surgery, Mary Toft herself, confessed. 

She explained that following her miscarriage, she an an accomplice inserted animal parts past her cervix and into her womb, allowing for her to convincingly  ‘give birth’ to them. On later occurrences, animal bits were inserted into her vagina, with equal effect.

Physicians who were convinced by the hoax became the target of public mockery, although quite why the Toft family went so far to perpetuate the story has been lost to time. 

Now, it seems that Mary herself played a small, but pivotal part in the whole affair, orchestrated by her husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law, which kind of makes the whole affair even worse. 

Sadly, there’s more questions in the Mary Toft case thank there are answers.

Was this intricate hoax an attempt to escape the crippling poverty of the 1700s? How on earth did she manage to survive such a risk of infection? Was Mary a truly willing participant?

The Cardiff Giant 

In October 1869, while digging a well on the property of William Newell, workers found the remains of a 10-foot-tall “petrified” man. 

This took place in Cardiff, New York (rather than Cardiff, South Wales), and caused such a furore, that P.T Barnum – the infamous showman – created a version of his own. A hoax within a hoax, if you will.

When the giant was exhumed, creationists touted it as proof of Genesis 6:4, claiming it was the petrified remains of a race of human-angel giant hybrids known as the Nephilim.   Other’s such as geologist John F. Boynton believed it was a statue caved by a Jesuit missionary to impress local Native Americans.

Either way, a day after its discovery, Newell erected a tent and charged people 50 cents to view the giant. Between 300-500 people a day attended, and the little town of Cardiff (not the one in South Wales) experienced a short-lived economic boom, with hotels, restaurants and wagons inundated with curiosity seekers.

Eventually however, due to a legal dispute between Barnum and the new owners of the giant, its creator exposed the truth.

The giant was created by a tobacconist named George Hull. Hull was a fierce atheist, and a strong supporter of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. So much so, that he got into an argument with the local reverend and his Methodist congregation. The argument itself centred around Genesis 6:4 and the subject of lost giants. 

Hull lost the argument, and in revenge approached sculptors to carve the figure out of gypsum. Later, he transported it to his cousin, William Newell, and buried it on his farm. 

A year later, Newell hired a team to “dig a well” and the giant was thus, found. 

In today’s money, George Hull spent approximately $53,000 on his prank, with the intention of mocking the gullibility of the local congregation, who of course, believed it was a genuine giant.

What an absolute legend.

Alien Autopsy Video

In 1995, the public were stunned by the appearance of a short film, seemingly showing the dissection of a real life alien. This alien was the apparent victim of the infamous 1947 Roswell incident, in which a supposed UFO crashed. 

With the internet in its infancy, the footage through everyone for a loop, with skeptics and believers unsure of what to make of it.

That August, Fox Television produced the renewed documentary Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction, and the world was well and truly shook. 

The documentary featured interviews with special effects artists, forensic pathologists and cinematographers, who debated the authenticity of the film. 

As is obvious, the Fox documentary aimed to present the footage with as much hyperbole as possible. However, even the director, John Jopson had his doubts about the film, with the nail in the alien’s coffin coming with his meeting with Ray Santilli, the owner of the autopsy footage.

Santilli claimed the footage was given to him by an anonymous military cameraman. If this had been the case, the Alien Autopsy wouldn’t have featured on this list.

In 2006, a documentary presented by Eamonn Holmes was released, in which Santilli admits the video is fake.

However, he does continue to claim that the video is a “reconstruction” of an earlier authentic film he viewed in 1992. Allegedly, when he was able to buy this original film, it was damaged beyond repair and only a few frames were salvageable. These frames are apparently featured in the “reconstruction”, although Santilli has yet to identify which frames these are. Other sources claim Santilli was unable to purchase the ‘original’ film at all.

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